Cotswold Classic – Mark Pimblett

Cotswolds Classic Post Race Report
before i start i would just like to say how inspired & humbled i felt by the Team True Spirit / Help for Heroes team as i know this is something close to many of you. Truly inspirational and humbling sharing a course with them, plus they got to take the P*** out of me as they recognised the club kit

i would also like to say how well organised and run the whole event was and a credit to 113 events. The marshalls were fantastic all day and even when waiting for me on my last lap, were all still offering encouragement

onto my race. as you know i deferred entry from the June race for various reasons, but still hadnt run since i completed Southport Tri in May. Even up until Saturday i was considering whether to travel down or not, but i’d paid for it and didnt want a DNS against my name again

Got my kit packed and it felt like i was going away for the week. i only have 5 pairs of shoes and 4 of them were travelling down to Cotswolds with me (and the crocs stayed there). Bag packed, bike checked and into back of car. Last minute detour as i ordered a CO2 pump, which decided to arrive Saturday dinner at the Click and Collect

Set off just after dinner on Saturday and endured the joys of our motorway system – M6 50 mph for what seemed like an eternity and the M6 / M5 interchange where it felt like i was going slower than i run

Arrive at Cotswolds and park up in the new parking field and then wander over to register. Registration flowed through seamlessly and then wandered over to where Graeme was completing the afternoon briefing. Had a chat with Darren and Ian before they set off to entertain the kids

Registration completed, but at this point nowhere to stay. Had a quick drive round and tried the campsites which were all booked up, so went over to Cirencester to get something to eat. Headed back to the car park and considered setting up my tent there, but to be honest i dont think the blue glitter and stars would look too good on my kit (daughters festival tent), so at about 8.30 decided to try and google to see if there were any local B&B. Fortunately i managed to find one in Swindon to headed over there and got myself all setup for Sunday morning

Alarm on for 4.30, nice brew and a banana and punnet of blueberries for breakfast, then set off about 5.00. slight delay parking as there was only 1 entrace to the car park and with over 1100 competitors and supporters it was always going to slow things down.
Headed over to transition and get everything setup and ready. just looked like i had so much stuff, 4 bananas, 3 small bars of chocolate, flap jack type bars, energy gels & pain killers, along with Towel, cycling top, cycling shoes, trainers, socks, running top. Transition didnt need to be cleared as quickly as briefed as the car park had obviously slowed some people down, so one of the support guys went round and let everyone know

Kit all set, walked over to swim start to watch the 1 wave set off. it was then that i knew it was going to be a hot one, there was an eerie mist on the lake, with the Sun rising over the trees in the distance, and it was this point that i thought i should have carried on swimming bilaterally, as i would be looking into the sun breathing to my right all down the back straight. the next hour seemed to fly by, as had a chat with Darren & Ian, Gemma and other competitors.
7.20 called over for our pre race brief and have a look at the swim route and then into the water. water was chilly but a nice temperature considering time of day and looked lovely and clear.

7.30 and the whistle goes and off we set. i manage to find a clear bit of water pretty quickly, and i seem to be feeling relaxed and going along quite nicely, albeit slowly. However i then started to forget to breathe and that was pretty much my swim for the next 55 minutes or so, swim well for a little bit, and then forget to breathe. i did swim front crawl for the whole distance, with spells of treading water to get my breathing back on track, before setting off again. as i headed into the final stretch managed a chat with one of the kayak support team and to thank him for supporting us. Dave was shouting at me and another competitor at the swim exit, and god was the pull up needed to get me out of there.
into transition and stuck in the wetsuit, quick wipe down with hand towel. i thought i’d try and wear my cycling top so i could carry some bars / gels, but took me a good couple of minutes to get that on and pull it over my wet trisuit, almost 10 minutes in T1, must have had lessons of Stephen H.

off onto bike leg where i felt really good early on and was going along quite nicely, but somewhere between 10-15 miles just seemed to drop energy completely and my pace dropped off. got to the hill and struggled up it, but then knew that was it for the 1st lap and headed back to the start. probably the best hydrated i have ever been on a bike ride as i took 2 bottles with the feed station took on another 2. 2nd lap was a more lonely affair as i headed out again, seeing the masses heading into T2 for the 1st 5-6 miles. Overall i was a little bit disappointed with my ride as i was hoping for around 3h15, but it was only my 2nd 50 ride of the year, so cant grumble too much and the 2nd lap i finished it stronger than the 1st lap (or thats what Strava says ).

T2 was quicker than T1, left the cycling top on and headed off on my 1st lap. Legs felt heavy initially, so started off with Run / Walk, and was progressively getting quicker as the 1st lap went on. Lap 1 completed and had a quick chat with Darren as i came through, some real supportive words from Darren – get a move on you look fresh – i felt knackered . Onto lap 2 and then around 5-6 miles in the blisters kicked in, and the running effectively stopped. i found it easier on the tarmac to run than the hardcore / muddy footpaths at this point, so persisted with a more walk / run type process. As i was heading towards the feedstation on lap 2 i saw Gemma come bounding round as she was heading towards the finish, looking fresh as a daisy and going really well. I decided that the support crew were raising the log at the feedstation as it seemed to get higher each time i came around. Completed lap2, Gemma and Richard supporting as i went past the finish post onto my final lap. At this point one of the support crew joined me, and asked if i fancied running as he hadnt done any training, think i disappointed him as only managed about 200m before back to walking and chatting with him. on our way round we caught up with another straggler, so the 3 of us made our way round together. with 1 mile to go i asked if Simon was up to running, but his legs were gone, so i set off to run the final mile. Unfortunately, didnt quite happen how i wanted as i got cramp in both calves, but managed to run it off and run into the finish.
it wont go down as the quickest half marathon that has been completed, but also wont be the slowest. however from a personal perspective i have only ever run 10k twice (1 when i was in the cubs / scouts & the 2nd was Southport Tri), so i knew that it would be tough

Before the race i could only think of 2 phrases of encouragement from Rolf and Sutty. Dont be Shit (Rolf on Friday night) although i felt it at times on the course yesterday, think i just about managed to not be shit and Sutty – consistency is key. i have been consistent with my inconsistency all year as i dont think i have managed 1 training session but completed 3 tri. what i take away from that is if i can train consistently my performances will only go one way and improve significantly

got to say it is the most difficult thing i have ever done, but shows me that i can keep going when it gets tough, and things are going to plan and looking forward to completing it next year (will post the dates later as i have the post race email), hopefully on my terms

one final thing – the tuck shop on the run – Jamaica ginger cake, figs, bananas, jelly tots, jelly babies, crisps, nuts, biscuits, gels, water, High5, coke etc bloody fantastic.