Manic May part 2: Clay Cross Sprint Triathlon

I had a choice of two events this Sunday, and almost opted for the One Step Beyond 'Speedy Beaver' Sprint at Belvoir Castle, but was wary of doing the longer (750m) open water swim with minimal practice.  I'd only had one (very cold) opportunity to try and get used to swimming in a wetsuit - and not turning round every 25m - by the time I had to make a decision, so I went with the pool-based PMA Racing Clay Cross 'Coalman' Sprint instead.  As it happened, I did a comfortable open water swim of about 2,200 metres the day before - which is well over the half-Ironman distance, never mind a sprint - so it would have been fine, but there will be plenty of open water opportunities in the future.  The Clay Cross event was new this year, and it seemed to show in the numbers signed up - only 150 or so, compared to the 300-500 that might typically be expected.

I had a much earlier start time than Ashbourne, so was flying solo again - and actually ended up cutting it a bit fine due to a bit of dithering while unloading the car.  I was still in transition about 13 minutes before my start time when we were supposed to be poolside by ten minutes before.  Fortunately, the pool wasn't that far away.

The swim was pleasantly uncrowded - only one other person in my lane at the start, and a different one at the end.  I was a bit frustrated with my time - I've fairly consistently clocked 7m45 to 7m50 in all the events I've done so far, then on the previous Wednesday had done a 7m17 set in training after I'd already swum 2000m, so to end up just under 8 minutes here was disappointing.  I know why - partly starting from cold, but mostly being rubbish at pacing myself in the context of a race.  My first length pace, if I could have sustained it for a further fifteen, would have put me in the top ten swim splits.  Obviously I can't, and there were a few later lengths that were ten seconds slower.  A bit of work to do, although in the overall scheme of things, I'm losing a lot more time on the bike and run than I could ever gain in the swim (I might put together a proper post-mortem data-nerding post at some point). 

Out of the pool and through T1, made slightly awkward by closely spaced concrete bollards separating tarmac from grass all around the transition area (not really a lot the organisers could have done to avoid this) and earlier starters coming back in from the bike.  I managed to avoid any collisions on the way out - although you can see me making a fairly abrupt direction change in the photo below to avoid winding up in a fence after having to dodge another competitor coming across the timing mats. 

(Photo courtesy of PMA Racing and Sport Sunday Photography) 

The bike course was best described as 'rolling'.  No massive climbs, but fairly frequent ramps and some very fast descents, on mostly quiet roads between Clay Cross and the M1.  There were some pretty horrible road surfaces in places as well.   I went past a few others, and was in turn passed by a few - carrying #40 putting me close enough to the sharp end of the field to have some seriously quick people coming through - although not all as quick as they seemed, at least a couple coming flying through on the flat then slowing in front of me on the climbs.  The last few miles was a bit brutal - straight into a strong wind, then uphill to the leisure centre and T2.   

The run was two 'T' shaped laps, out of the back of the leisure centre then up and down a wide pavement cycle path, climbing back into the leisure centre (the upright of the T) twice, once for the turnaround and once for the finish.  I wound up 58th in 01:15:59.

(Photo courtesy of PMA Racing and Sport Sunday Photography)