Cheltenham Triathlon Club
For experienced and aspiring triathletes
Paul in America

Hope all is well back in Cheltenham and the club had an enjoyable and successful triathlon season. Thought I would just drop you a line to let you know how the Cheltenham Tri Club Texas section is going!

It's strange to see the club competition final results (congratulations to all who raced and especially to the winners) as I just competed in my first race of the year; the weather here is a bit too hot throughout June, July and August and there are very few races organised in those months. However, come September there are races and I raced last Sunday in what, I guess, is now my hometown tri, the Memorial Hermann Houston Triathlon.

If this is the norm, then tri's are different over here; bigger and, possibly, better (maybe more expensive also; this one cost $120). There was a sprint race and an Olympic, 1500 athletes total with 800 in the Olympic; so quite a big field.

The swim was open-water but no wetsuits (that was a first for me) as the water temp was around 28-29 degrees. While we waited to start we had a pastor say prayers for us (he probably didn't know that by the time we get to the run most of us are praying for deliverance anyway!) and then, of course, we had a rendition of the 'Star-spangled Banner'. The swim was good with the usual scrums around the bouys. Because it's been too hot to do much else but swim, I think my swimming has improved and I came out of the water in 8th in my age-group; highly unusual!

The bike course was completely closed roads, pretty much pancake flat but very windy, so really quite different to most races back home; also began to notice the heat on the bike and had to be really conscious of trying to stay hydrated. One thing I liked about the race was that they marked the back of your left calf with your age, so you could tell if you passed or were passed by someone in your age group; I thought that was a great idea.

Got through the bike okay and out onto the run and that is where the heat really hit me. It was only about ten o'clock but the temperature turned out to be around 36-37 degrees, full sun, no shade and most of it on concrete paths, which just seemed to reflect the heat and sunlight straight back at me. Quite different to normal UK weather but I spoke to a couple of guys I've been training with afterwards, they're locals and they also thought it was hot, which made me feel a little better.

Once I got over the finish line I began to get good value for money on my entry fee. I must have looked a sweaty mess, as after I got my finishers medal I was immediately offered the use of the the medical tent! I declined, but accepted the offer of an ice bath; what a brilliant experience that was. A personal tub with a steady stream of volunteers topping me up with bags of ice, I stayed in that thing up to my neck in ice cold water for about ten minutes and felt unbelievably better. I then headed straight for the post race buffet (these guys know how to eat out here!); three different types of pizza, pasta dishes, rissotto, four different types of energy bar, gatorade, coke, water, recovery drink and loads of it all. I had my fair share, checked the results; just missed out on the prizes/podium as usual, 4th in my age-group, 28th from 800 overall and headed home, first US race completed.

My next race is Austin 70.3 in October, so with Mr Armstrong now returned to his original sport I'm hoping that he will decide to enter his hometown race; it would be cool to see my age-group results with Lance Armstrong in there! Here's hoping.

Paul.

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