This started when Coach Kev said that the Knockburn Tri’s are fantastic and that the Standard at the end of the season could be something to aim for (?!!!). Luckily for me, the Knockburn Sprint came up while on the lookout for something to do in June and I figured that this could be a good push to start open water training (gleep!) and recce the routes to see what I could be letting myself in for……
Our club is fantastic for so many things and I was very grateful that in the couple of weeks leading up to Knockburn, timings worked out for some open water practice (thanks to everyone involved).
The day came by so quickly. Having finished work, fed the animals and family and dropped a car-full of kids at swim training I set off into the sunset (literally) on my own due to Guy being on parent duty at a swimming gala with Holly the next day. It was a gorgeous night but I was very thankful that the satnav finally started working just before I came off the A90 as I’d have struggled to find it otherwise.
I made it to beautiful Knockburn at 9.30pm the night before having booked into the only available room nearby (with “external bathroom”!). Flags and tape were everywhere. There was a great entry and exit from the water (gentle slope with astro carpets) and a lovely flat, spacious, grassy transition area. I was getting excited about the next day and headed out around the bike route. The 4k hill highlighted in the competitor pack turned out to be pretty typical of the country roads we have around here so all looked good and I was happy.
After a decent night’s sleep (thankfully didn’t need the ‘external bathroom’!), the sky clouded over, the winds REALLY picked up and the loch looked …… well, brrrrrrr. There were some seriously fast looking people (even if they were very friendly), and amazing bikes. Time to listen to Coach Kev and take the ‘this is training’ approach.
Of all the times for goggles to leak, they chose the swim to the deep-water start to do it. Several attempts to sort had to be abandoned when the horn went but thankfully they held up. The busy start (150 starters in 2 waves) was actually fine (thanks to weekly practice in the turbulence of Commy Pool training on Tuesdays) and although I ended up slightly off course a couple of times (forgot to sight – oops) I was surprised that there were more people behind me than in front exiting the water – which we did with the luxury of a marshal at each side helping us to our feet!
The short run to the bike transition was fine – no stones – but I got stuck in my wetsuit resulting in a pants transition time. Clearly need more practice. The claps, cheers, cowbells and words of encouragement for all competitors was awesome and really gave a lift. The bike leg is my fave and getting out on that was just brill fun. The route was gorgeous with country roads going mainly through woodland so we weren’t affected by the winds. I pushed it as much as I could while holding hopefully enough back for the legs on the run.
T2 (more cowbells etc) went ok and I headed off on the VERY WINDY run which took us around the loch and was a mix of slightly rough trails, some mown tracks, hills, gravel, tarmac and forest. It felt a bit like the ‘Going on a bear hunt’ book – stumble-trip-stumble-trip-stumble-trip! The first lap went OK; jelly legs disappeared fairly quickly and I managed to hold what felt like an ok pace (although we would always like to be able to go faster!). At the start of the second lap, I heard someone on my shoulder so spent that lap battling with the wind and trying to pull away (managed on the hills, caught on the flat). I’d decided to keep pushing and to give it everything at the final 500 in the hopes of getting away once and for all – and praying that I wouldn’t keel over before I made it to the end (more cowbells, claps, cheers – so encouraging). Thankfully I got there and was descended on by marhalls – one taking the chip, one handing me water, another explaining the lunch choices (yes – lunch given to all athletes) and fruit selections.
I decided to stay on for the prizegiving ahead of the journey back to see the types of athletes that win these things. A mix as it turns out. But it was the biggest shock to hear my name called for the 1st Veteran Female prize!
So overall – Knockburn IS amazing; so well organised, friendly and such a beautiful setting. The routes are fab and there’s a fantastic café for friends and supporters with great nosh and yummy coffee. If you have to go on your own, you’re never lonely 😊 I would say that if you are going to go and want to stay the night before – book accommodation early especially if you’re taking the family.
Knockburn Standard? That is SERIOUSLY tempting!!!