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Wednesday 24 October 2018

Cowman Triathlon: Mono-Boob, The Poo Fairy & Reckless Recceing

Does anything else panic triathletes like no visit from the Poo Fairy on the morning before the race? No-one wants to be that person who halfway through the race is crying and has poo down their legs. NO-ONE.

Despite being chilled out at the start of this one, the Poo Fairy did not visit. I had all the coffee. No visit. At what point do I call the race off? I do not want to be Mrs Soils-Her-Trisuit. 

And then Newport Pagnell Services. NPS I love you. Poo Fairy I love you too. 

ALL THE FILTERS. It's early, ok??

Finally got to the start of The Cowman about 30 mins before the transition closed. I saw another tri buddy, JS and a FrontRunner buddy Raph who was about to complete his first-ever triathlon. Nice to have tri buddies especially if you strike a start line deal that no-one kicks anyone else in the head during the swim.I was wearing 2 hats since nearly losing my goggles at the Vitruvian Triathlon in a previous event due to a head strike by a friend. I don't know why she's doing triathlon as judging by the kick she would be AMAZING at cagefighting. 

Start of Swim
It was a deep water start so I climbed into lake avoiding the floating Carling can at the waters edge. The water was so warm it was almost bath temperature. I'm not sure whether it was due to the heat of the day or the fact that 100 triathletes were already wee-ing in it but it was nice to have a warm start whatever the reason. 

Avoiding the Carling cans
There was a bit of smacking and kicking at the start but there was no panic at all and the bashing didn't even interrupt my breathing rhythm. I picked up a pair of feet early on going the right speed and hung on. It seemed I'd picked a winner, he was a nice consistent swimmer so easy to follow and he was going close to the buoys and sighting well. 

Someone else was trying to draft same pair of feet at one point so I nudged them away. Often if this happens I give way but I was comfortable today so gave them the bugger off cues. Occasionally I felt a touch on my feet so knew someone else was following my toes like a front crawl train. 

It was over quickly and before I knew it the blue gantry was visible on the bank and everyone took off like they had engines, churning the water with their arms and legs. I  cracked on at my own pace and swam right up to the arch and was helped up by the marshals. I stoped my watch for for the swim and was amazed to see it read 32 ... a 6 minute swim Pb. 

I smiled my way out into transition. Knowing that even if everything else went to hell today I’d had a cracking swim. 

Slapped the helmet on and the glasses, glove-free today and ran the bike out of transition grinning like a chimp.  Standard Sarah.

As usual there were the usual group clogging up the mount / dismount line trying in vain to swing their legs over their bikes without smacking each other and attempting to clip in. These are often the fast swimmers to whom cycling is as mysterious as successful DIY is to me. I pushed my bike past the lot of them and did a flying mount about 10 metres past the mount line and got a clap from the marshal. Why thank you. I’ve been practising. Or maybe it was my thighs smacking together as I tried to clip in. Who knows. 

The bike out was along a lane and through a fenced off layby so you had to cycle on a bit of trail and out through a garden gate sized gap at the end. Managed it without any problems except still being far too excited about my swim time which was demonstrated by me bellowing “Wooo! Going cross country!!” at the bemused marshal.

Out onto the familiar roads of Olney that I’d recced previously in preparation for the triathlon. I wanted this race to be a good one so I’d ridden the cycle loops 4 or 5 times. There were no cars queuing along the roads this time which meant the ride through the town was a lot smoother. Overtook a female cyclist going through the town and turned left up the hill.

As I got to the roundabout a Sunday group of 20 cyclists came from the right but cleared just as I went past - perfect timing. I waved at the marshal as I went past. And set out down the hill … where I fumbled my first drinks bottle and heard the thump as it hit the road. Bollocks.  

The road out of Olney is undulating and the surface is a little rough in places but it’s interesting without any proper climbs. Bumpy, lumpy without any standy-uppy. 

After a couple of miles it turns left onto a busier road with a better road surface. A couple of miles towards Denton, under the yellow speed cameras, up the hill and then a left into the lanes for a fast sweeping section … except everyone went on past the turn. Uh … what?

No really. What? Has someone moved the signs?? I had a bit of A Moment. I’d listened to the race briefing. Of course I had. But I didn’t remember anything about a different race route. I could see cyclists on the hill in front of me carrying on ahead. 

Just at my crisis crescendo a yellow arrow appeared on a signpost pointing ahead. The panic died down a little but I’m a suspicious cow. What if some sod had been out changing the arrows?

I carried on following the cyclists ahead expecting there to be a left turn any moment … any moment … any moment now … any moment NOW …. nothing. At this rate the lot of us were going to end up in Northampton. 

I went to grab a drink to calm my nerves about getting on the Northampton dual carriageway and getting mown down by Bounds Taxis and a Travis Perkins lorry when **thump** the second drinks bottle hit the road. I was now lost, with no water and about to meet my imminent death on the A45.

On Pinky the borrowed bike 

But finally a left turn arrow! Up a hill. A bloody hill. I recognised this hill. It was my sweary hill which I used to run when I worked in Northampton. We did nearly end up in bloody Northampton. Bloody hills. Bloody Northampton. AND I'd told my training buddy there was only one hill on the course. She was going to kill. me. I sped up a bit. She'd have to catch me first. 

But I was now lost AND confused. This bike course was meant to be 2 loops  I caught another cyclist up going up the hill. I knew he wanted to talk to me by the way his mouth was open, panting. Just the time for a chat, right? I checked whether this was a 2 lap course. Nope apparently just 1 big lap now. I MUST learn to listen more to race briefings. II did attend but apparently I also took nothing in. Maybe we'd been told about it when I was looking at that duck. 

Coming back out onto the Newport Pagnell Road, I was in familiar territory. The road was quieter here and interesting. It was windy and undulating and felt a bit more like a country road than the busy A428. Except what was that strange noise? 

Nope. Not a duck. Tyres seemed ok. Not a puncture. I took a quick peek between my legs and spotted the toolkit hanging off the back of the saddle and dragging on the rear tyre. No wonder that hill had felt like hard work. I tried to get it back on while moving but it wasn't having it. I slowed down, stopped and ripped it off the saddle and shoved it down the front of my trisuit. Sorted. I now had a massive lump at the front of my trisuit and a mono boob. Not very aero and I looked as though I'd had a boob job mid-race which had gone horribly wrong. And every time I went over a bump my tits jingled.

Needless to say the race photos were interesting. And did not get bought. 


Finally came into transition and racked the bike. And couldn't get the toolkit out of my trisuit. Standing up off the bike had allowed gravity to get involved and I had to stick my hand down the front of my trisuit and have a good old rummage around before I could snag it and pull it out of the neck of the suit. Must have looked like I was doing an impromptu lucky dip and winning a tool kit, Thankfully no-one else asked to have a go.  

And out on the run. Well this went just about as well as the bike. Not only was it baking hot, it turned out I'd recced the wrong direction. This was turning into a bit of theme. 

The run was pretty. Really pretty. And would have been really lovely it was just 1 of the 5km loops. It had hills, narrow trails, farm tracks, hills, cars and combine harvesters and hills. It also had 28*c heat. 

I love a pretty run. When I'm allowed to go slow and stop occasionally to look at ducks and walk up the hills. This was tough. Really tough. The trails were rough underfeet and were rutted farm trails so big holes, stones and quite angled at points. I was overheating and had a moment (don't lie, Sarah, SEVERAL moments) where I thought “At least if I pass out from heat stroke I get a lie down”. It really was THAT tough. 

I stopped at the water station every time and I could have cried as I saw my time slipping away. Despite the toolkit and the bottle problems on the bike, I was hitting some good paces but the heat and the run were taking my margin away. I just wanted to stop. I'd had enough. I was tired, overheating and in pain. 

Coming away from the water station, a man in front of me was obviously suffering from the heat too. I asked him if he wanted to run with me (we were going at similar paces) and we ran together for 2 laps, the chat being a welcome distraction from the pain and the searing heat. He ran off through the finish funnel and I carried on for my final lap, marvelling at how the company of a stranger can help move the miles past. 

Don't cry, don't cry, don't pass out ...

The last lap was a relief and it's amazing how much better you feel when you know you're on the home stretch despite the accumulated miles in your legs. The finish was made better by Simon cheering me through the finish funnel and I was finally allowed to stop bloody running.

Nearly ice cream time!!
A lady was at the finish funnel with sponges sponging the triathletes after their race. I went through 3 times. And told her I loved her. I really did. 

Thank you Sponge Lady.

Total: 5:22:09
Swim 33:51
T1 01:47
Bike 02:44:12 (longer than usual)
T2 01:10
Run 01:51:07 (argh!!)

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