Four months ago, completing a triathlon would have been a nonstarter. I wouldn't have even entertained the idea, my response would have been I'm scared of water, can't ride a bike, not doing it, no way! The idea was planted into my brain a few months ago by @TheIron_Bear, although it took me some time to agree to it, or more importantly to believe that I could do it. But I have done it, yesterday I completed my first ever triathlon, with a gammy swim stroke, a shitty bike and a dodgy run! Believe me, it won't be my last!
I was lucky that a fellow Regency Runner, Anne had also entered the Tri, so I had had someone to train with over the last few weeks, and also someone to share my worries with about the day itself. With a week to go, I had no worries about the actual swim, ride or run; it was putting it all together, and the transitions. I had a million things going through my head, how do I do this, what do I do with that, where do I go for this, when do I do this. I knew that no matter how prepared I was, until I got there, I wouldn't know for sure.
Anne and I had decided to register the day before, just in case it was too busy on race day, so we were able to have a look at them setting up transition and exits and entrances, which settled us a little bit. We had also decided to get to the venue for around 10am, which was two hours before our call time.
The time flew by, we had a walk around and made sure we knew where everything was, and by watching others in transition we could see exactly what we needed to do and it answered all our questions. We then went and had a look at the other competitors during the swim and again this settled our nerves, as we saw many of the swimmers swimming off of nans! I could do that before the training!
We weren't allowed to rack our bikes until 15 minutes before our start time, which gave us only 5 minutes to rack our bikes, lay out our kit and get to the pool. We found a space to rack the bikes and I took note of where the bike was before stripping off into swim kit. Anne had had the sensible idea of buying a tri suit, I was just going to brave it in my swim suit, but I had a last minute fear of getting out my wobbly bits so made the decision to wear some cycle shorts underneath, this was a stupid idea, and I paid for it later on! So with wobbly bits hidden we walked through to the pool and listened to the safety brief, where we were told it was perfect weather, and no wind (liar!) and given a swimming cap to put on, I have never worn one of these in my life so getting it on was an issue and it snapped in my eye in the process, ok good, things are going well!
We then lined up in numerical order ready for the off, Anne was 5 places in front of me, and we had already discussed competing for ourselves, so we had agreed to meet at the end. The first couple of lengths were challenging, it usually takes me 250m or so to warm up so with only a 200m swim this could be a problem, but after that first 60 odd metres I felt good and overtook a couple of people, then for my last 2 lengths I felt good and was able to crawl where I went passed a couple more people but then was delayed getting out the pool as there was a small queue, I exited the water in just over 6 minutes.
I ran down into transition and saw Anne heading out on her bike; I found my bike easily enough and set about getting my kit on. Getting my capris on was a bit of a panic as they were sticking to my wet legs and this then made me panic and trying to get on all my kit at the same time, I had one sock on, one glove on, no t-shirt and a trainer in my hand.....I went to pick up my helmet then realised I was being ridiculous so composed myself and got dressed like an adult, then got my trusty mountain bike off the rack and off I went on the 23k ride.
The start of the bike course is in Stratford town centre so there are pedestrian crossings to get through before you get on the main road out of the town, of course all three were on red so this slowed me down as I had to stop at each one, then a car decided to park in the middle of the road so not a great start! It was only a mile or so before I started to get overtaken by a few faster riders on roadbikes (me and Anne were the only people there with mountain bikes!!) but I did pass a few riders in the first half of the ride. About halfway I started to regret wearing shorts under my swim suit, I was a little (very) uncomfortable so I started to countdown the miles, 8 to go!
As turned onto the A46 to head back to Stratford the wind nearly blew me backwards! Just in time for the bloody great hill, ok good. I thought I was going to die up that hill, it just seemed never ending and the wind was relentless, but again I managed to pass a few people on the way up, but still the riders on road bikes were gliding passed, making it look easy! I was seriously hurting, and they were out on a Sunday ride! After the hill it was then mainly downhill into Stratford and back to the leisure centre., I managed to get off the bike in the right place and went to run with my bike to rack it up, one problem, my legs were like lead, I just did it anyway, racked the bike and took a few seconds to have a drink, and take off my helmet. By this time it had started to rain, which is my favourite to run in.
I ran through transition to go off on the run and my legs were still like lead! In the brick sessions I had done previously my legs had run away with me so I wasn't expecting them to be so heavy, but I kept going and figured they would wake up at some point, and if they didn't, they would only have to drag me around for 2.5k! The run was an out and back, so me and Anne passed each other as she was on her way back and we gave each other a high five, I got to the turn point and then the legs woke up, and I was able to put my foot down, a guy passed me with about 750m to go, he wasn't motoring along so I decided to try and stay with him, which I did until he bolted for a sprint finish, I had nothing more as I already felt like I was sprinting!! I crossed the line in 1:37:07, and placing 29th! Anne had done brilliants and finished in 1:31:49 and placing 19th!
Looking at the winners times, I was faster than her in the water and only 4 seconds behind her in the run, yet her ride was 15 minutes faster!
The point of today was to learn from the event, not to compete. So what have I learnt today?
1. Me and Anne are brilliant
2. I love triathlons
3. Me and Anne are brilliant
4. I need a road bike
5. Me and Anne are brilliant
6. Don't layer up (whispers) "down there"
7. Me and Anne are brilliant
8. Tri suits and elastic laces are the way forward
9. Me and Anne are brilliant
10. I need to carry on losing weight to stop it being so hard
11. Me and Anne are brilliant
12. If you want something bad enough, you can do anything
As always after my races my first interest is the medal, I want to make sure it’s worth it! This one didn't disappoint!
So, am I still scared of water? No, but I'm not 100% comfortable in the pool. Can I ride a bike? Of sorts, I can point it in the right direction and pedal. It’s a long way to go, a lot more weight to lose and a lot of training to do but I have got this far. Over the last 18 months I've seen how hard @TheIron_Bear has worked to get to where he is today, and I never doubted for a minute that he would do it, can I do it too? I wouldn't bet against me. The serious stuff starts now!