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Dom Clacy recently reviewed the Dambuster Triathlon:
It was the day I had been waiting for…further that, the day I had been training for. The winter base and months of following training would all amount to this race, the Dambuster.
The Dambuster Triathlon, one of pacesetter events finest would be my first Olympic distance event. Not only that, it would be the qualifier for the world championships later this year in Hamburg Germany. How badly did I want to qualify? Badly enough to have already written the date in my diary and ensured that there would be nothing going on in the two weeks before the event so I could progress through my taper without any disruption!
Set in some of Leicestershires most spectacular scenery with the centre point being a Dammed lake in Rutland I would never have even dreamed of the gruelling challenge that lay before me.
Upon arriving at Rutland Water on the Friday (22nd) me and my dad, who I must add always travels with me to all my events, set up camp near to the lake before heading off the check out the course. We had already driven the famed ‘Rutland Ripple’ on the way in, a punishing set of up hill drags that seemed keep repeating themselves just when you thought they were over! My dad of course, always keeping a sensible head reminded me that “For every up, there is always a down!”, a comment that would stick with me when edging up those hills the next day. The swim was a diamond like route, 1500m around 5 buoys, fantastic! There is nothing worse for me than a straight out and back swim, it just looks so far! Onto transition to find that I actually had me own named area of transition set apart with a little sticker, I would have felt like a professional had the same not been done for everybody else. Still a great touch, well done pacesetter! The run route would take me and all the other potential qualifiers around the lake and out to the dam where an interval type sprint out and back across the dam twice before heading back to the start would make up the 10km. With everything planned out it was back to the tent for some sought after grub!
A typical campsite, with groups of men/women all staying together would typically be expected to be noisy through most of the night. One of the things I absolutely love about triathletes that would seem peculiar to anyone not accustomed to the sport is that we all need our sleep, and we know it! Half past ten and the campsite was dead to the world, not even a whisper! Fair enough really when the first wave of swimmers was off at 06:40! In fact even if you weren’t in the first wave, you still had to be in transition for 06:00, that mean getting up at 5:00 for me for an early breakfast!
Oats and bananas, thats what I have found works best for me over the last year or so. Still feeling full after a mountain of pasta the night before I had to keep breakfast reasonably light. I decided to get into my trisuit early, why not be prepared? I`m the kind of person who needs to have everything planned, probably due to the fact that I have to live my life by timetables in order to fit all the training in for 3 sports. As well as this I have a girlfriend, Rachael, probably the most understanding person in my life, who always stands by me with my sport but I would hate to take more time than necessary away from her. Hence all the timetables;to ensure I am getting everything done at times when it doesn’t affect anything or anyone else, this normally means the mornings! After racking up I applied the baby oil and got into my wetsuit. It was 0630 so I headed down to the water.
The mass start for the swim was brutal, I didn’t want to start at the front because I didn’t deem myself quick enough, there were 90 of us in the 18-24 category and I was in the middle of the pack. After a few kicks taken and a few handed out I found a bit of space and swam parallel to another guy, who I kept track of because I recognized his Orca wetsuit. I find normally when I swim I pass the time by counting my strokes per length, in open water there are no lengths…the swim seemed to go on forever! 26minutes to be exact, 4 minutes over my pool time. I couldn’t believe it, to qualify I needed to be in the top 4, I was 50th out the water!
After a reasonably quick transition jumped onto my bike and begin to pedal….there was a problem, I was spinning more than a washing machine….my chain was off. What are the chances, the most important race of the year and my chain fell off! After solving the problem I knew I had to make up alot of time, it was a case of just putting your head down and pedalling. After 6 or so miles we hit the Rutland Ripple, I say we because it was almost like a queue of traffic up the hills. This was where I could make up my time, I was used to hills, I train on hills and so I decided to stay in the saddle and spin up the hills. It hurt, the expression on my face in the photos says that, but I managed to overtake a fair few cyclists until that is, on the second hill, half way up my chain came off again….I cannot state the words that came out my mouth! But it had happened, so I jumped off, flicked it back on and continued with the struggle!
On the hour I had completed 22.5miles and so coming back into transition I had a fairly fast time of 1hr 12mins for 26.6miles. My legs felt good and I had pulled back a number of places. Now I was onto the run, I ran off the bike quickly, with my dad running parallel shouting advice. The run was mainly track but also a little cross country. The backdrop of the lake was great if you wanted to take your mind off the run. I decided to run the first 2km under 20min 5k pace. I wanted to get under 40mins for the run so badly, I originally opted for 36mins. I can run a 17min 5km and so though 36mins for 10km would work. Straight away I knew that was out of the question. Still I stuck with my plan for 2km and then cooled after a little for the next 4km. Running out and back across the dam meant I could see the opposition heading back the opposite direction. They were fast, some wearing GB tri-suit-what was I trying to do? Qualify against these guys…still anything was possible. I tried to run the last 4km hard but I was already too far behind. I finished the run in 40mins 30secs. Not fast enough but still a personal best over 10km.
I ended up 17th in my age group and so didn’t qualify for the Worlds. Disappointed…yes but coming back from 50th to 17th is something I am personally proud of. I have the Wakefield triathlon in a couple of weeks, a last change to qualify. Although this will be the national age group championships as well and so the race will be by no means easy. I just hope that since there are 8 qualifying places per age group I will stand a better chance of getting a place!
Posted in: Triathlon Events