After a broken night’s sleep I turned up at my local sports centre nice and early to get registered and set up with plenty of time to spare, turned out a few of other folk had the same plan and it was busy in transition by the time I took my kit in, I had drawn plan of how I wanted to get my kit laid out and thankfully I had plenty of space to get things just how I wanted and was set up in no time, so walked the transition route from the pool, then out to the bike and back from the bike and out to the run, then I headed out onto the run course for a little jog as a warm up and to try and dissipate some of my nerves, not the best plan I’ve ever had as it was a cross country run and the week of rain leading up to the event meant the course was muddy so if anything I was more nervous than if I hadn’t seen the course!
I was off pretty close to the start (30th into the water) so it there wa
sn’t much time to worry about things as I got myself changed and headed to the pool, the wife and child were there to support so I dropped my locker key and a jacket off with them so I’d not have to wait for transition to open before I could get warmed up after the race, standing on the side of the pool I was next to another newbie and we discussed the swim, he was as nervous as me and expecting the same
sort of swim time so I felt like at least I wasn’t going to be the only one struggling through, as I crept nearer the front of the line I watched the others going through their pre swim routines and tried to keep calm and in no time it was my turn to jump in, the swim was 500m 4 lengths in a lane then under the rope and repeat till you reached the other end and headed out to transition, goggles on, into the pool 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and I’m off, concentrate on long smooth stokes and don’t go off to hard was the plan and for the first 100m all was going well, I ducked under the rope into a far busier lane and suddenly I had slower swimmers in front of me which started to mess with my rhythm, despite me constantly tapping their feel no one seemed to want to let me past so in a rush of blood a went for an overtake, this is new to me as I’m never quicker than anyone but remarkably I got round and was on my way again, to my surprise I managed to pass 5 folk in the swim and when I saw the float indicating 2 laps to go I pushed on and in to time I was climbing out the pool.
Transition was about 150 yards away and I jog/walked it to try and shake the swim out of my system, the spectators cheering everyone on at the entrance was really nice especially early on a wet and windy Sunday morning. I’d decided to go with a gilet and socks, it made for a slow transition and I’ll be practising getting my wet feet into socks before my next tri, all the kit on, push/run the bike to the mount line to jump on, spin round the sports centre and out onto the open roads, this was the first time I’d been out on the bike after a swim, I don’t know what I was expecting but the cold from being wet caught me out a bit to begin with, I settled down into a rhythm fairly quickly and started to pass a few folk on the hills, the bike leg was 23km on a route I know fairly well so I pushed on where I could but wanted to keep something in my legs for the run, especially after seeing how muddy it was during my warm up. With about 5k to go I was passed for the only time by a bloke on a fancy carbon TT bike, the temptation to give him chase was huge but I was determined to stick to my plan and ride my own race (looking at my data on strava I didn’t get anywhere near my previous times for the segments the route converted so I definitely could have pushed harder). Off at the mount line and the stumble to transition was a wobbly experience, running off the bike is hard enough, doing it in cycling shoes over pavement was something else.
Bike racked and trainers on it was out to the run, had a bit of a faff trying to turn my number round with cold fingers but I suppose that’s just one of them things, so off I went across the rugby pitches and out into the fields, it took best part of a mile for my legs to start to feel like they were ready to run at any sort of pace and that turned out to be just the point where I had to run through an ankle deep puddle (we’d be warned about this at the race briefing) feet soaked and the route headed up 200ft in half a mile might not sound like much but it was tough going for my heavy legs, at this point I was passed by a bloke in a GB kit so I assumed the rest fast pack must be heading my way, and as I edged my way up to the turn-around point I was passed by a group of 5/6 that were really gunning for it, I upped my pace after grabbing a drink at the turn knowing that
it was back downhill for most of the way, another soaking in the puddle and back across the fields to the finish and a nice cold pint of Guinness.
Final time was 1:27:25 which was under my 1:30 target and I know I could have pushed harder and been more controlled in transition but I’m over the moon to have done my first tri and I suppose now I can call myself a triathlete.
Swim + T1: 13:19
Bike + T2: 46:26