The Beaver (Belvoir) middle distance race
The beaver is a middle distance race I’ve heard a lot about over the last couple of years and it’s always gets a good report so I decided to enter this year as an early season warm up race. Friday afternoon we drove to Belvoir castle to check in to the hotel we had booked. We went over the race site and I was instantly taken by how relaxed the whole event seemed. I took a look at the lake, which is rumored to be the muddiest swim you will ever do in a race but it looked beautiful. I didn’t have a plan in mind for this race other than to get around it comfortably and hope my knee wouldn’t play up on me being as this would be the longest run I had done since I started rehab for a knee issue 3 months ago.
Race morning was soon here and I had my usual race breakfast of ambrosia cream rice, a very strong coffee and a bottle of RaceRx, we headed over to rack my bike and get ready to race. Again, the atmosphere at this race was so relaxed and friendly, it was a really nice vibe. At the race briefing the guy said if anyone gets into trouble in the swim, we normally recommend turning on to your back and raising one arm, however, in this lake we recommend you stand up and walk to the edge, haha, it really is a shallow lake then!
For the swim I was in the second wave and I positioned myself right at the front as usual, I somehow managed to get off on the gun much better than the previous week when I seemed to be overtaken in milli-seconds by loads of athletes. The swim was fairly uneventful, a 2 lap course, was pretty slow and steady, I went hard for the first 500m or so to stay near the front then relaxed into a comfortable stroke for the rest of the 1.9km.
Out of the swim I was really happy, and started on the long run up the hill to transition – it’s half a km up the hill so the swim times reflect this as the timing mat is part way up the hill (Swim 34:56). Into T1 (1:42) and I grabbed my helmet and ran of with my bike to do a speedy mount over the mount line, unfortunately I couldn’t get my freezing feet into the shoes on the bike and no matter how many times I tride they would go in so I had to stop, get of my bike, take the shoes of the pedals and out them them on then ride off – I felt a right idiot but needs must!
The bike course is lovely, mostly flat with a long steady climb about half way around, would have been a fast course if it wasn’t for the 20mph winds with 30mph gusts. First lap I barely used the aero position as was trying to get a sense of how far over the road I would getting blown about, turned out not to be so bad as the wind was more head on, so whilst it made for a hard bike, it felt safer than side on gusts blowing you over so for the 2nd and 3rd laps I maintained a proper aero position for most of the course. It has to be said I was pleased to get off the bike (2:45), T 2 was smoother and I was out on the run course (2:03).
The run course is 4 laps and I knew what to expect as mark had run it the day before as training so he told me it was basically one long hill up then a turnaround and one long hill down X 4 laps!
First lap I went really slow and steady and drank a bottle of ATF whilst letting my HR come right down, 2lap I turned up the pace a little and kept it pretty constant for the 3rd lap although my mind was playing games with me and I was having so of those dark thoughts you get on the long run legs of races, lap 4 came around and I thought ok, one more lap, let’s smash this. My knee was feeling good, I had some energy left and I thought lets just go for it, I managed to pass a lot of people on this lap and was really pushing the whole way around. Just coming into the finish arena I sensed another woman behind me so went for a sprint over the finish – which hurt – a lot, but as it happens she looked about my age so I please I pushed that final 100m stretch. (1:50.)
My initial reaction to the race was that my times were poor. Although I didn’t know what the course was really like or what was classed as a good or bad time, I hade guessed that because of the much shorter bike course than Majorca I would have been on for a 5:00- 5:05 race. I went to the timing tent to see what my splits are as was pretty disappointed looking at my bike and run, but then I saw a number 2 – I asked the guy, ‘what’s that then?’ and he said, ‘you got second place in your AG’! I didn’t believe him and muttered something about thinking I’d been crap, to which he replied, ‘oh well if you were crap, everyone else was more crap’, that really made me smile and made me realize you can’t judge or try and guess your race time, it is what it is on the day and there are so many factors that change even the same course one year to the next. So whilst I still don’t think it was a great performance, overall I’m happy with my day – 2 early season races now under my belt and a nice trophy to show for it!
Thanks as always goes out to our squad sponsors; Triathlon Zone of St Albans, MPG, Bowller and HKR Architects.