So, time to fess up – I actually haven’t done a triathlon in nearly two years. Not since Hever Castle. I mean, I’ve done duathlons a plenty, runs a plenty, lots of open water swimming and lots of cycling. But not so much “putting them together” – so, I decided I wanted to get a couple in this season, and the first was last weekend.
The Herts triathlon is run by Active Training World (who organise a lot of races in my local area) – it’s held at Stanborough Park in Welwyn, which was a peachy 32 minute drive from home. Which is nice when you have to leave before 6am. YAWN. Did the usual night before “frantically googling triathlon packing lists to check I don’t forget anything” and set my alarm for 5.30. Obviously then spent the drive there worrying I had forgotten something vital, plagued by stories of people who forget things like cycling shoes and helmets.
You can park at the lake itself – I think we paid about £3.50 for 3 hours parking, which is fine by me. Mum handled the parking ticket whilst I went off to register and rack up (always handy to take a willing volunteer for tasks like this and holding bags) and it became apparent that I hadn’t forgotten anything!
There were both sprint and standard races, starting at 7.30 and 7.45 respectively. Obviously I was doing the sprint because I am in no way in any decent shape to do anything further any justice. It’s not a huge event, so picking up my race pack was super quick, and then into transition. The racks are numbered, which is always a relief as less “where shall I put my bike” and more “well, at least if I lose it I know where it will be by the numbers”
Faffed a bit, put as much talcum powder as I could into my shoes and socks, popped my snazzy “eat my bubbles” hat on, wandered to start, got into water, stubbed toe on step. A good start. (P.S I swear by my Zoggs Predators)
Swim – 16.08
Water was a balmy (or barmy, could be either) 18.5 degrees. The swim is never my strong point, never will be, and is very much what will push me down the field. As usual, I had a great time in the washing machine start, and then it calmed down. It’s an easy one lap loop but the water looked pretty gross and particularly murky, but nothing too awful.
I’m going to say the actual swimming part took me just under 15 minutes (which I’m happy with, all things considering) but the staggering out of the water and running on stones was a) slow and b) not very elegant and c) not entirely sure how long it took me, should probably have looked at my watch. Here is a suitable picture of me coming out of the water
In-out talcum powder all about. This photo looks like I’m walking, I promise I wasn’t! At this point I was glad my shoes weren’t attached to the bike – the guy in front was struggling on the surface!
It’s a tad undulating as a course, but nothing to really worry yourself about – but the super exciting bits were the two “foot down points”, where you had to do as it said on the tin or it was DQ! (safety reasons) Played a bit of cat and mouse at the start, but things then settled down and no one really passed each other after that. Roads were quiet (I mean, it was 8am on a Sunday) and the route is a 1 or 2 lap lollipop shape so you know what is coming for the second half- plus it felt like the second half involved a lot more downhill which is how I like it!
Knew I had a lady ahead of me and one behind me but no idea about anything else. Had a gel somewhere. Was allowed to ignore temporary traffic lights. Was sunny. Quite like bike riding.
Got much better at being on the bars, so much so that I realised one was coming a little loose. Which was fine when I was ON the bars as my weight held it in place…but when I wasn’t (I.e anytime vaguely downhill!) it was rattling around. And wiggling. So then at the second last roundabout I just pulled it out before it fell out going down the hill. So I er, carried it.
Not entirely sure why I didn’t just lob it at my mum when I rode past, instead choosing to wave it at her and giggle. This shows how serious an athlete I am and I probably (definitely) lost time because of faffing and amusing myself at the ridiculousness of it all. But overall, 19.4mph average bike which isn’t too bad, and tri bar confidence is building every ride.
T2 – 48 seconds
So, in I ran with a bike in one hand and a tri bar in the other…and then out the other end.
Run – 21.12
You run out of transition STRAIGHT up a little hill, so that was fun. I then rounded a corner and spotted the lady ahead of me who had been about 100m ahead of me for the majority of the bike and my goal was set – catch up.
I caught her up at the end of the first lap (go me) – it’s a two lap course, entirely on grass with a couple of undulations, so I didn’t expect it to be super speedy and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I did it as much justice as I could have, as I didn’t collapse over the finish line – which lots of WTS viewing has showed me I should have.
You can see most of the course as you go round, so you have a good idea of what’s to come and how the race is playing out ahead of you (hence why I probably was able to pick her off as you can see everyone ahead) There is a drinks station on the run, but I chose not to partake. There is a particularly irritating incline around 400m from the end of the lap which I can imagine would be even more irritating if you were doing the standard distance and had to do it 4 times!
It was over pretty quickly and comfortably and then I was DONE. Turned out I was 4th female and 2nd AG. LOL that wasn’t expected!
The winner had the same bike time as me, I was nearly a minute faster on the run but she had about 5 minutes on me for the swim. So yeah, I’d say that it’s very much keeping me from the top in smaller races….(understatement!) But this was a nice surprise in terms of being able just to slot back in and do OKish without it being a specific goal race.
Total time 1:22:19 – my first proper sprint tri (my previous one was a pool swim) so technically a PB! However, in a purely spur of the moment action, I’ve signed up for another one next week. So it might be a short lived PB.
Big thanks to ATW for another well organised event (and a couple of photos!), and also my long suffering mother for getting up so early in the morning, carrying my bags and taking some photos of me.