Two weeks ago I attempted my first sprint distance triathlon. I cannot remember when I entered it, but with the marathon training taking over my life until the end of April, I was worried that I hadn’t done enough training – especially in the open water.
On the day, it was too late to worry but from the moment I woke up, I was full of nervous energy and excitement as I didn’t quite know what to expect. I wasn’t going in the water until 4:45pm – but me being me had to get there early and was like a cat on a hot tin roof until we set off from the house.
I didn’t need to be as nervous as I’d been told that this event was very well organised and the helpers/wardens along the course were usually excellent.
So we got there and parked up right next to the swim area. It was quiet but you could see there was an event taking place. The water looked cold, and I could see some jelly fish floating about. My stomach turned.
After a spot of lunch and registration for the event it was time to get my kit over to transition. Apparently ‘Transition’ is the fourth area of triathlon and for the first timer can be a nightmare to navigate. I’d decided to take my time in transition just to get it right. I’d been told there would be race referees there to watch people make the change from swim>bike>run. One mistake and I’d be disqualified. Great!!
So I took my bike and trug over. Playing it cool I watched other people lay things out. I seemed to have it sussed as I was doing things the same as everyone else. I racked my bike, laid out my towel, bike shoes, running shoes, helmet, race belt and number etc etc. Everything was in order. I placed my trug out of the way ready to throw things into in between stages. Then it was out of the transition area – once out, you were not allowed back in unless you were wearing your race number.
Then it was back over to the van and into my wetsuit and around over to the swim start. Wave One went first after their briefing – some ahead of the start point. Once they started it was time for my briefing. Very good too. Plenty of nervous first timers. Then into the cold Swansea Dock water.
The Swim: 30 second warning was given and then the hooter went after about 10. Off I went. I stayed at the back as I was worried about being swam over. As it happens I overtook several people but ended up fighting my way around as some people clearly were not looking where they were going. Sighting is one of the areas I need to work on, but other people were just plain blind! I got clattered a few times and had slowed to breaststroke to see what was happening. My technique of counting to six strokes and then looking seemed to be working. I made the first buoy – happy. Swam pretty close around it and over to the next one. Around that and then into the final straight. I started to tire. The final 100 metres towards the exit point tougher than the start as everyone tried to fit into a two metre wide exit gate. I was ready for it this time and was a bit more ruthless and just swam – regardless of who was around. I remember pushing one guy out of the way as he tried to come past me. The marshall helped me up onto the ramp as I was a bit dizzy. The swim was done. The worry was out of the way.
T1: Short 350 metre run over to transition and onto the bike. Race Referee’s in attendance to watch we were doing it all correctly. Sun glasses on, helmet on, shoes on, bike off the rack and a gentle jog to the mount line.
Bike: I got on the bike and was off out onto the flat roads of Swansea. What a buzz. I was smiling. I’d made the swim and onto the bike. I was buzzing with excitement. I pedalled – trying to remember everything I had done at Cycle Specific classes. Turn the legs, heel down, keep moving. No drafting….. I thought I was going fast, but the guys on Aero bikes were flying along. Amazing to watch. First lap and I took the corner too wide and nearly ended up cycling into transition. Quick adjustment on the corner and it was off to the second lap. I saw my family waving and shouting – cowbells rattling. The bike was over in a flash and my legs seemed strong.
T2: – The second transition was empty when I got there. There was an Referee watching my row. Damn – I had to be spot on. Rack the bike before taking helmet off. I did it all in the right order, chatted to another guy who was also competing in his first tri. We seemed to be doing it right. We decided to run together.
Run: Leaving T2 and it out onto the Swansea promenade for the run. There is no better than Swansea on a nice day. I found it tough and the guy I was running with soon broke away. My legs started hurting but I reached the turn point. I knew I was nearly there so dug deep. A cruel climb over the Leisure Centre bridge and it was into Castle Gardens and the supporting crowd. I’d promised my children that if I saw them I would pick them over the barrier and they could run to the finish line with me. This was not about a good time for me so when I saw them I stopped and we lifted them onto the course. They ran with me to the finish line where they too were given medals.
I’d done. Completed my first triathlon. I was and am a triathlete. I was chuffed to bits and smiling. I’d put down 1:45 when entering, but had revised my thoughts to Sub 2 hours. A check of the watch showed 1:37-ish. Brilliant. I was amazed. My watch wasn’t that that far out either when compared to the official time.
Final thoughts: So final thoughts – what an amazing event, helped by the good weather and the crowds turning out in force. As a new triathlete I would recommend this event to all those thinking about going into it. From registration through to the race day it has gone really well.
Kit: I’ll post about my kit later this week.
My only real complaint: I took my family (wife and two children, 7 and 5). There was not much for them to do during the day around the triathlon area. A few mobile ice cream vans would have been handy although they could have gone into the various pubs. The lack of toilet cubicles around was also an issue. There should have been some around the transition area. Several of the pubs had free toilets for the day – but not ideal taking two young children in and out.