Monster Middle Triathlon, Ely Cambridgeshire

The Monster Middle in Ely proved to be a tougher than expected day and gave an opportunity to see where my fitness really was at.

Introduction

The Monster Middle had been on my bucket list for a couple of years and having had to pull Challenge Regensburg from the race schedule it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the trip to the flat lands of The Fens.

Logistics

Getting me and the triathlon kit from Cornwall to The Fens was going to prove an interesting challenge. A train from Cornwall to London then hauling the Bike box and triathlon kit across to St Pancras on The Tube to pick up another train service taking me up and eastwards to the flatlands.

Step free access from Paddington to St Pancras made transporting the kit easy

Step free access from Paddington to St Pancras made transporting the kit easy

My hosts for the weekend were Sue and Carl James who kindly put me up, fed me, and were generally awesome.
Carl would be racing the next day as well, and Darryl Carter our coach had provided us with our respective race briefs to pour over the night before.

Studying the race and nutrition plans 

Studying the race and nutrition plans 

With Carl in with a shout of a potential podium place, barring trying to hang on to his feet in the swim we weren’t going to be seeing much of each other during the race.

Race Day

For those of you that are unacquainted with triathlon and more specifically longer course triathlon, the day was to start with a murky 1.9km swim in The Great Ouse River followed by a bike of 2 laps of 46 km each around The Fens, then finished off with a 21km run around the streets and cathedral of Ely itself.

Swim

The swim was preceded by 1.9k walk down the river to the start point. Into the water which was warm but extremely murky making any prospect of trying to sight for fast feet under the water fairly difficult.

Pre Swim Pic

Pre Swim Pic

On the plus side river swims never need much else in terms of sighting, it's just a case of making sure you keep the same distance between the two banks, and then concentrate the rest of ones energies on drafting tactics.

Try as I might I couldn’t make the jump to the front pack and seemed to spend the majority of time in my own water, so any hopes of catching a free ride to T1 (swim to bike transition) were dashed. So much for drafting tactics!

Out of the Swim, a little dizzy. Onwards to the bike

Out of the Swim, a little dizzy. Onwards to the bike

T1 (Swim to Bike Transition)

Coming out of the swim is always an interesting experience having spent the last thirty or so minutes horizontal in an oxygen deprived state with an elevated heart rate, then be unceremoniously hauled out of the water into an upright position and expected to run, strip off and start pedalling a bike can leave you a little light headed.

Out of T1 to the cheers of the crowd it was now time to experience what The Fens had to offer.

Bike

Now its fair to say that the biking is one element of the triathlon thing I haven’t totally nailed, Whilst I have made huge improvements in the Swim and the Run, finding the magic formula for cracking the biking code has eluded me and today was going to be no exception.

The Fens are flat and windy with roads that are straight and sparsely populated with traffic. In theory that should have been a perfect opportunity to get my head down and power on through and see what I had in me. In reality I went from feeling invincible with the wind behind me to then feeling like an old granny as soon as the course turned into the not insignificant head wind.

It's flat, it's windy, Ely Cathedral on the horizon

It's flat, it's windy, Ely Cathedral on the horizon

Call of nature

On the bike you stop for nothing, this includes answering the call of nature. However, peeing on the bike isn’t as easy as you might think, and is not helped when a certain amount of “stage fright” kicks in.

On the bike you stop for nothing, this includes answering the call of nature.

After what seemed like and age of freewheeling things started to flow and I was finally able to concentrate on pushing pedals around in circles again as opposed to mild stomach cramps.

T2 (Bike to Run Transition)

Back into Ely and having narrowly avoided being disqualified for failing to get off the bike before the dismount line it was onwards to the run.

Run

This is where I can usually claw back time and positions that I have lost on the bike. Often as not I effectively get the first few kilometres for free. Today, however, only the first km came easily the rest had to be earned.

Suffering on the run course around Ely Cathedral 

Suffering on the run course around Ely Cathedral 

Try as I might to get my pace up, the legs were threatening to cramp up and my guts were not feeling that great either. I struggled round trying to hold it together as best as possible without anymore of the wheels falling off. I crossed the finish line, feeling relatively indifferent about my performance.
Carls day on the other hand had gone exceedingly well and podium glory was his, after the presentations it was back off to one of the riverside pubs for a late lunch and to “chew the fat” of the days performances.

Post finish line pose at the Monster Middle Distance Triathlon 2016

Post finish line pose at the Monster Middle Distance Triathlon 2016

Big Shout Outs

Sue James for being awesome support crew for me for the day, taking great pics and generally giving me some motivation to carry on when my head wasn’t really in the game.
Carl James for being pre event tour guide, and general entertainment value.
Darryl Carter Awesome coach just sorry I couldn’t deliver the goods at Ely, take a look at his website
Monster Racing for putting on a great event that was slickly organised and run. Catch up with their race schedule here

Official Stats

Swim 31:10
T1 1:51
Bike3:14:48
T2 1:50
Run 1:47:45
Total 5:38:52

Next Stop Ironman 70.3 Antayla Turkey

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