Cotswold Classic Middle Distance Race Report

I thought it best to try tap out my race report on my iphone during my morning commute lest this become an unfulfilled ambition.

What a great race!

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This became an unplanned event by virtue of my planned race at Bamburgh Castle being cancelled as a result of dangerous conditions. However with a planned event looming at the end of August I couldn’t ‘time out’ to taper properly after my recent un-utilised taper (and my scrambling efforts to recover a training week while on a family holiday). Mark kindly suggested the Cotswold Classic as a form of big training day for ourselves. With no especially careful preparation called for.

After indulging upon the race organisers to include us both at short notice (thank you Graeme @ 113 events – you rock) we were set.

We skipped our normal half-marathon training run on Friday morning, as well as the normal bike intervals on Saturday and instead found ourselves mounting bikes on bike racks on top of Marks car at 3am on the Sunday morning. It must say something of my confidence levels that I am now happy to take on a middle distance race with such little consideration (stupid??).

We were allowed on the morning registration by special arrangement, and racked up as dawn was breaking next to a stunning lake. Some will complain about a long run from transition to the cycle course (~200m). Personally to me this wasn’t a big deal. The short run was carpeted securely and of no great consequence, although I do believe this is to be changed next year.

The swim took place in a clear lake although I would have preferred large hi-vis buoys for sighting as opposed to small yachts. The swim entry was a small beach and the exit a small slip way with strong arms hauling you out.

My race strategy was to measure and pace myself strictly throughout the race as part of my new effort to not blow out on the run. This meant holding back on the swim and not going anaerobic very difficult especially when there is a swimmer or two being very aggressive who you knew you could smoke. But I focused on the race and not the leg. Mark was swimming close to me all the way which was pretty cool. Coming into T1 I felt incredibly relaxed and at ease after the warm-up. Mark gave us a good natured ‘hurry up’.

I had probably my best T1 ever as a consequence of leaving my cycle shoes clipped in for rapid mounting. And leaving the hair dryer at home.

The cycle course is wonderfully flat and rolling (2 laps), with a bit of wind later in the day to exercise aero discipline. I held myself to my strategy of a slow start, eating and trying to ignore the rest of the field. This was perhaps a bit difficult since the course was a bit winding in the first half meaning you spend time moving to and fro with other competitors as you lost momentum around corners. The latter part of the course was perfect for being on TT bike.

The run circuits the lake as well as a brief sojourn onto some tarred roads, three laps of running (dis)pleasure. In my instance it was a chance to learn if all my keeping the foot of the gas had paid off. My takeaways being that it would have been nice to have finished eating and drinking on the bike a tad earlier (perhaps this was down to the slightly short bike course of 82km). And unfortunately while I felt a lot better compared to other races I have done my run pace did not reflect my half marathon ability.

Closure, we, both Mark and I had a great time out for seemingly little preparation or planning. I’d certainly race the Cotswold again if not the full distance course. I believe from the organisers next year (2014) both course are to be redesigned, but will embrace the same ethos.

For me the highlight was breaking below 5 hours for a middle distance, am so very chuffed!!

Go for it!

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