After the disappointments of Bala it was only two weeks to wait until a chance for redemption at the A Day In The Lakes middle distance tri. I did this race last year too and a had a good time so was happy to get my entry in when it was proposed as a “group” event with loads of Man Tri racing.
Travelled up on Saturday afternoon with Andy Q and we arrived just in time to register, stick up the tents then head off to Pooley Bridge for tea with Rich and Dan. Of the pubs in Pooley Bridge the first two didn’t like the look of us and were “fully booked” but fortunately the third and final had a table so we piled in for some pub grub and a pint. I would have been more than happy to stay here for a second but was overruled in favour of seeing what was happening in the campsite bar. This turned out to be a kids conga line so we made our excuses and went back to the tents. Bit of nattering in the “quiet Glastonbury” of the triathlon camping area (lots of middle class people in a damp field) until such time as it was socially acceptable to go to bed (about 9:45pm!)
Good nights sleep and woke feeling fresh and ready for breakfast in bed. What was noticeable, though, was that the tent was being battered by a strong wind which could have led to an interesting swim. Fortunately, though, the organizers decided to shorten the swim to about 1.2km due to choppy condition on the lake and I wasn’t complaining a bit. Rich was though!
Into the water and it was quite a bit colder than it had been last year (which I remember as being quite pleasant) and a bit bumpy. Decided to mix it up a bit and started towards the front in the middle (I’m normally a side/back guy) which worked out OK. The leg across the lake was fine, but after rounding the first buoy I could not for the life of me see the 2nd one, even with a few bursts of head-up breastroke. So decided to follow everyone else, but it turned out that everyone else couldn’t see the buoy either and we all went the wrong way far too far left, eventually seeing the buoy way over to the right! No problems from there to the end and came out of the water in 25 mins just sneaking in to the top third of swim splits – happy with that.
Reasonable T1 – decided to put a bike jersey on as it looked pretty murky down the valley towards Kirkstone – then off out on the bike. Riding road bike with clip-on tri bars so as to get used to this set-up which I will use at Alpe d’Huez. Passed John soon after the start then settled down to business along the road by Ullswater heading down the valley. Passed Viv and Pauline before Kirkstone then Sarah towards the top, all of whom would come back past me again – damn these fast girls (and trying to stick to power zones)! Very foggy over the top and wet roads so took it easy on the descent, not that I had much choice due to a slow driver in front of me. Probably a good thing as saw a couple of bloodied riders extracting themselves from the wall on a corner.
By the time I reached the climb up Shap Fell the weather had brightened up and was beginning to regret putting on the bike jersey. Held up by the temporary traffic lights briefly and met Rich here. The Shap Fell climb is just a steady tempo climb really and soon over the top and enjoying the long fast descent. As I remember from last year the final few miles drag on a bit especially at the end when the route turns back into the wind. Remembered to do the triathlon-y things in the last few hundred metres like taking feet out of shoes and smoothly into T2 with a 3:07 bike split (average power 202W).
Felt pretty good starting the run, the main aim of which was to not further damage my bad left ankle. Only half a mile of flat warm-up before starting the first climb up onto Askham Fell. It was also pretty bloody hot now too and with the first aid station at 5 miles I had a quick stop at every decent stream I crossed for a quick slurp of water (proper fellrunner me, member of the FRA and everything!). We went further up the first climb this year before turning right to descend to Howtown – apparently last year the route was wrong here, and this added the best part of half a mile on. It’s a long steady descent and lost a bit of time having to take it steady to protect the ankle. Through the aid station then start the long slog up Fusedale, the effort rewarded at the top by great views. The last time I had been up here was during the Lakeland 50 last year where we turned left at the top to continue climbing up to High Kop. So it was nice to instead turn left and after a short climb over the ridge enjoy the descent back down to the valley. An up and down back to the aid station then onto the road for the final 3 miles to the finish. Decided to just jog it in and the only interest was caused by telling a fellow competitor to go back and pick up the sponge he’d just thrown on the ground – I hate litter!
A 1:57 run gave me a total time of 5:33:38 for 50th place (39th excluding relays) a slight improvement on last year’s 51st place – I’m nothing if not consistent! Sat down on the grass to watch the guys come in and then share stories from the day. Very close between lots of the Man Tri guys with Pauline though Schoey, Viv, John, Andy to Rich (minus his shoes!) separated by just 10 minutes. After 10 minutes spent standing in the lake we realised that it was getting on for 4pm and we’d better head for home. All in all a good weekend and great prep for Alpe d’Huez – where at least the run should be easier!