Today I completed my first sprint Triathlon, it has taken me about 9 months since I committed to this goal to get here, and despite all that time I still wasn't ready, but that is no way to start a story
A long time ago I decided to do a triathlon, but I kept putting it off and finding excuses not to commit to it, after all there is always time to do things later .............. except there isn't ...... always time that is........
Last year I stopped putting things off and started just doing things ......... I hiked up Snowdon in Wales - twice ............. I ran my first 10k ............. I reached my goal weigh .......... and ran out of excuses not to Tri ..............
So 2015 became my Year to Tri - 12 events in 12 months consisting of 4 5ks, 4 10ks, 2 half marathons and 2 triathlons - a different event in a different place each month (my info page lays out the plan, subject to change of course)
Training for the run wasn't an issue - completing an event each month means that I have already trained for and finished 5 events this year (2 x 5k, 2 x 10k and a half marathon).
I enjoy swimming, and finally joined a Triathlon club in April - which gave me much needed exposure to open water swimming, and highlighted just how slow I am - having said that I just keep going - like the Duracell bunny
Then there is the cycling - I got the bike, and failed to use it as much as I should - I have lots of reasons why, but they are all excuses - having said that today has re-invigorated me, and my bike is going to get a lot more use.
Fast forward in time to yesterday - and my first trip to Ragley Hall, to register for the day. This was a great idea - it gave me a chance to get lost on the way (TWICE) and workout how long it would take me today. It also gave me a chance to pick up my stuff:
So I was up bright and early - had a couple of slices of toast, 2 cups of coffee and a litre of water before I left the house....... We loaded the car ...... bike...... wetsuit ........... isotonic drinks ....... jelly beans & dolly mixtures ........ hydration belt ........... 2 pairs of trainers ....... silicone hat ............ googles .......... socks .......... 3 towels .......... fleece with number on back ......... t-shirt with number on front ....... running shorts ............ spare clothes ............ envelope of stuff ............ and set off
Five minutes down the road I shriek ......... cycle helmet .............. we turn round and drive back home ..........
Now I am stressed about the event and stressed about the time I 'lost' daughter runs in picks up cycle helmet (by front door) and third pair of trainers to wear as the other two are for the cycle and run and will need to be left in transition ...........
The journey was uneventful mercifully, and we arrived a good 40 minutes before the briefing, so time to unpack the car and lug it all down to transition.
We approach transition and I put on my helmet so they can check it fits ......... and I get told to stick a number on my bike, which I duly do ........ then off to rack my bike and set up my stuff ......... apologies for a lack of piccys .......... DH was holding my phone and only competitors are allowed in transition ........
I had a nice chat with those setting up around me, then off to the porta-potties before pulling on my wetsuit
The brief took us through the basics of the course and warned us to be aware of the other competitors on the course - two waves of half ironman triathletes, a wave of olympic distance triathletes, and those doing a 10k run round the grounds. Then off down to the lake.
Another chance to make new friends as we chatter nervously at the edge, me declaring I will start at the back as I will be the slowest, and various people say no you won't ........... how little they knew.
Five minutes to go and we enter the water - if you have never open water swum in a wetsuit there is a trick to it ........ get in ........... let the water into your wetsuit as that is what keeps you warm .......... and get your face in the water .......... cold water on your face makes you hold your breath, so you need to acclimatize to the water or you find yourself gasping for air.
And we are off .... I am swimming my hardest and watching everyone disappear into the distance, so I quickly settle into my own rhythm, with my own personal kayak safety boat escorting me round the lake....
650 m later and I am staggering out of the water (and my legs are always wobbly immediately on getting out, so it is stagger) and there is the run (sort of) up to transition.
I locate my bike, a solitary creature - abandoned and alone - well almost alone, one of the other competitors is sat wrapped in a towel - she is withdrawing - and the marshals are talking about another withdrawal - so all I need to do is finish and I have 'beaten' two people.
I finish getting ready for the cycle - strip off wetsuit, pull on running shorts and first t-shirt over wet swimsuit, put on numbered fleece and hydration belt, neck half and isotonic drink, make sure my helmet is properly attached, then run my bike to the mount line.
I would love to say I leapt gracefully onto my bike - but I would be lying. I carefully got onto my bike and with a wobble off I set
Now remember I said unprepared - the farthest I have cycled on a real bike (stationary bikes are not the same) up until this point was 5.7 miles today's ride was 22.1km or 13.7 miles. The best pace I had managed was 6:37 per mile and today I was hoping for sub 5 minute miles.
So head down I started pedalling - oh my the hills - they seemed to be a lot of them - I tried to change gears - not my specialty - the 3rd or 4th time, just as I thought I had the hang of it - I threw my chain.
So I reattached my chain and then was really nervous about changing gear.
Still being the last by so much meant that I got my own personal motorcycle outrider, checking on my progress, and making sure I didn't get lost.
I made it back approached the dismount line braked hard and just about fell off my bike, much to the amusement of spectators, and a marshal said 'you look glad to get off that'
Then the run back into transition - re-racking of bike - remove helmet - discard fleece - change t-shirt to the one with the number on - change to running trainers. All the while talking to the guy 3 bikes down who has his finishers medal and is getting ready to leave - suddenly he clocks my name and realises that we are 'friends' via therunningbug.co.uk website. It is the first time he has met a real life bug (as in running bug) and the same for me. He wishes me luck and off I stagger for the last 5.2km of this event.
The run was a slog, I walked in places, I think I was averaging about 8minutes a km which is about a third slower than usual. The countryside was beautiful, but I spent a fair amount of time watching where I put my feet so I didn't end with a turned ankle due to a rabbit hole.
As I was doing the sprint I had the joy of lots of the more serious athletes on the circuit, so for the first time I wasn't alone, which was nice. Also because I was on a short run I got to take 2 short cuts as well so that was nice.
In fact before I knew it I was approaching the lake and the final push to the finish line:
The run hadn't felt like 5.2km. It had barely felt like 4.
Still there was a young lady with a medal, and there were chocolate fingers!!!!!!! and the normal apples and bananas ........ did I tell you there were chocolate fingers!!!!!!!
Sorry for the darkness of the picture, I think my daughter was at the can't be bothered stage by this point, I know from the sprint competitors, I finished dead last, but I finished
The rest is fairly boring - repacking the car, getting my free pasta meal, chats with other competitors.
On the way home we stopped at McDonalds so I could use the bathroom and get a coffee - lets just say just walking past the porta potties you knew you didn't want to use them, running can do funny things to your insides.
Anyhow I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror and my face is covered in white - I look closer, no my nose isn't peeling, I have SALT crystals all over my face - now that is a sweat.
Finally a close up of my medal
and a reminder for the day
Any way nuff said - movin' on