Well, I did it! I did the biggest thing on my year-list! An olympic triathlon, and I was lucky enough to do it just the day after amazing inspiration from the Olympic olympic triathlon!
I was fairly confident that I could do the distance, since I did most of it as a training day way back in May. However, since then I’d not done as much trainng as I would have liked. I went up for a familiarisation visit the day before the race which meant I got to get in the water and also recce the run route. This was mostly great – it meant I knew my road shoes wouldn’t cut it for one thing. The negative side:- I got a lot of weird looks when I said this was my first ever triathlon & I was going for the Olympic distance.
I arrived at the lake an hour before the start, having driven through torrential rain for the previous hour. It didn’t stop through set up and I was pretty much resigned to being wet for the next few hours. I did have a minor panic about the fact that I’d never ridden a road bike on wet roads, but it was a bit late to do anything about it so I figured I’d worry about it later, after the swim.
I wasn’t too nervous of the swimming since I’ve been doing a bit of open water swimming over the last month having been introduced to an amazing triathlon-lake in north bristol. The biggest surprise of my triathlon career is that I LOVE open water swimming, it’s so amazing to see the sky and trees, although I’m not too keen on fish. I think my absolute favourite bit was the swim start. I’d been warned about this being quite scary, but coming to triathlon from the slightly unusual Taekwondo background has one advantage. I am not afraid of the one part colleagues highlighted as the scariest: ‘getting punched in the face at the start’. Ha. I’m cool with getting punched in the face. Getting punched in the face is pretty much my comfort zone. It’s riding a bike I was worrying about!!
In the event, I actually didn’t get punched in the face. I did have to stand my ground (or, err, lay in my water) against getting barged out of the way a bit though. Probably because I started pretty much at the front. I climbed out of the water as the race director was shouting start warnings to the next group, which means I finished my 1500m in just under 30 minutes.
I was surprised how quickly I managed to get my wetsuit off; I definitely wasn’t slick, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I must have spent a couple of minutes trying to get my bike gloves on though!
The bike is my weakest section, I hadn’t ridden it enough and I got some clip-in pedals about a month ago and I’m definitely still a bit scared of them (after a couple of near misses and an amusing face-plant about 100m into my clippy-pedals life.) I think I enjoyed it. You know that kind of “yeah, moments of that were fun, looking back” kind of enjoyed it. I haven’t really learned how hard to push on a bike, I know at times I rode like I was going for a sunday stroll, but I definitely felt I was racing at other times. In part, I found it hard to keep myself in race mode because the bike course was 2 20km laps and it was quite rare to see another competitor. I did manage to get my water bottle, have a drink, and get it back in the cage – on the second attempt. New tricks 😉
Once the bike was finally over, I headed back into transition, changed my shoes and embarked on the first run lap. As I went out through the taped lanes, a guy asked my number and shouted it out “150…. finishing” err, WHAT?! I’d managed to go the wrong way and into the finish rather than the lap tapes. Probably had a World class time for a moment there! Redirected back up to the actual lap start, I tried again. I was really not looking forward to a six lap run, I’m not into running laps and generally get a bit grumpy if I feel I’m running a pointless loop. The route was a lap of the swim lake, on a tree-lined mile long mud-slip. I actually didn’t find the repetitiveness of it too bad, I liked seeing the other competitors more often that I would have on a single loop course. I was so so glad that I’d known to bring my off-road shoes though!
After 6 laps, I ran into the finish for a second time(!), when I stopped my Garmin at the end I was shocked to see a 59 on the screen. I’m awaiting the official results so I don’t want to guess.
All I had to do now was get home, clean my bike and deal with the massive bag of muddy, sweaty, lake-scented stuff.
Whatever happens I’m proud of myself.