Local triathlete Lizzy Brama took the win in the “The Chantilly” 1500m/42km/10km class at the Castle Triathlon Series, Chantilly, France in preparation for her race at the Ironman World Champoinships in Kona in early October 2011. Lizzy was riding a pair of 58/88 carbon wheels from Strada and emailed me to say “I took the wheels to France last weekend for the Castle Triathlon and am happy to report that they and I racked up a win! Very pleased with them. They are much stiffer than my Planet X ones and the bearings are so much smoother too“. Well done Lizzy, you can read her race report below.
Another castle, another race. However, despite many laughing at me when I voiced the hope that Northern France might not be too hilly – ‘It’s a castle, they are usually built on a hill!’ – I struck lucky here. Picture book castle with a moat, but no hill in sight. Score #1!
Once again employing the first class pre & post race services of my dear friend Vince, I was picked up from my house on Saturday, and driven and ferried to Chantilly. I even found time to do some work on the ferry putting my guilty mind at ease for spending a long weekend on a road trip to France. A quick run in torrential rain to shake out the legs when we arrived felt remarkably good, given that I’d just recovered from a mean head cold, and had a vivid memory of Wednesday’s bike ride being riddled by coughing fits.
Not much to be said about race morning, it’s such a routine by now. I guess after as many triathlons as I have done you get somewhat blasé about the whole process. Soon enough we were in the water and off for the swim. I got into a bit of a fight, and made a head start on my hydration. Everything settled after a few 100 m, and I was swimming behind a very suitable pair of feet as far as pace was concerned. Unfortunately I was reminded of a sea swim here. One second the feet were in front of me, the next 2 m to the right, then 2 m to the left. How he or she managed that I have no idea, we were swimming in the pancake flat ‘Grand Canal’ and the buoys were big and luminous. I gave up trying to follow the zig zag pattern after a while, I didn’t fancy swimming twice the distance. Shame really, as it would have been a perfect draft otherwise.
Out of the water, and up some stairs to transition. Cue to step on some gravel and bruise heel. T1 was a bit on the slow side, for some reason my wetsuit put up a bit of a fight, strange after 7 years of loyal service.
The first km or so of the bike course was interesting. More gravel filled potholes than road leading out of the estate, I was a little worried my race might end with a puncture right there and then. Luckily this didn’t materialize, and I set about putting some time into the competition – I knew I’d need it for the run. Apart from some twisty turns in villages, there was a LOT of very straight roads, with remarkably little hills, and smooooooth surface. Perfect for an athlete who carries a little excess flab still. Within 7 km I was at the front of the women’s race, just where I like to be. From then on it was mostly a matter of keeping the pressure on the pedals, and getting some nutrition on board. Until the end of lap 2 where in the distance I could see something that looked like a group ride. As I got closer I could see white race numbers on the riders’ backs. Knowing that these where likely people from wave 2 and on their first lap, my first thought was simply, ‘Shame on them, they’re only cheating themselves!’. But before I could get round to overtaking them a coach pulled past me, and then back in behind them. So I was freewheeling in the coach’s draft with nowhere to go. That’s when I got angry. Now they were affecting my race. It was solely the fact that there was about 20 of them and they were riding three abreast that made it impossible for the coach driver to overtake. Luckily it was only another km until the next turn, at which point I surged, flew past them, and vented some of my anger at them. Bunch of cheaters!
Coming into T2 I was still fuming but decided to use this as fuel for the run. At Milton Keynes I had discovered that my racing flats have a hole. But once I realised it’s not getting bigger, and ever on a budget I decided that they can make it through 2 more races until the end of the season. One should, however, take care to insert all 5 toes when putting on holed shoes. I ran the first km or so with my left pinkie sticking out the side of my shoe. It was only when I got the feeling in my toes back that I noticed that something was off!
One problem with being in the lead is that you often don’t know how big the gap is. So I run out pretty hard. Quite frankly I felt good. And I was leading, and I wanted to win, and it was ‘only’ an Olympic distance race. Strange things happened, because I still felt good going into the second lap, run my heart out, and didn’t blow up. My run pace where I had only hoped it would be given the grass, and wet trails the run course entailed. I guess training works, and all is not lost.
I crossed the line with a 2:20 min margin over 2nd, which is important (don’t laugh) to me, because the run was about 800 m short – but I’d still have won if it had been accurate. So all in all a much-needed confident boost, a great weekend away, and the win earned me fair wad of cash, which will undoubtedly help immensely with financing the Kona trip.