Saturday, July 7, 2012

Things I learnt from my first triathlon

it doesn't matter who has the biggest muscles for the swim
This was the part of the triathlon that I was most worried about.  I had worked hard to get my swimming to a level that I thought was acceptable and held back from entering events until this time.  What I learnt was that there are all different standards of swimmers and that you are put with a group of a similar standard.  Sitting on the side of the pool, watching the groups swim before me, I was relieved to see people doing doggy style or stopping for a rest after a few lengths.  The main thing I learnt here was that I could have entered an event much sooner.

I estimated a swim time of 13.30 for the 500m swim.  I had timed myself in the pool and came in at 13 minutes and so I thought that a time of 13.30 would allow me to take it easy, saving some energy for later in the triathlon.  I was actually much faster than that.  my swim time was 12.39 and felt really really easy.  I was held up a bit by someone who was running out of steam.  Probably the occasion and the support made me go faster and so the next time I will take this into account when estimating a time.

now, where did I put my bike?
 As I am not an elite swimmer doing flip turns, I was employing the method of grabbing the side of the pool and then pushing back off.  As this was a pool I was not familiar with, I was a bit thrown by the different edges to the end of the pool.  At the deep end there was a shelf to hold onto before turning around.  At the shallow end, it was the top of the pool.  This seems like a minor thing but I think it really swallowed up some time.  20 lengths means 20 opportunities to get this wrong.

Probably the second most nerve-racking element of the triathlon.  I had remembered to put my helmet on before touching my bike.  I had laid things out in the order that I would need them.  My transition was very very slow.  I wasn't rushing.  I probably need to rush a bit more.  Not being able to afford, and partly not feeling at all comfortable in, a tri-suit was always going to mean that I would take longer changing from swim to bike attire.  The biggest thing I learnt here is that it's really hard to put a top on when you are wet.  The other main thing I learnt is to work out where you will enter and exit the transition for the bike and run.  I had a walk around the transition area before the event and noted the exit and entry parts but this was before an elaborate system of cones and traffic tape was laid out on the course to funnel competitors into the area.  I relied on some very helpful marshals to point me in the right direction.

support vehicle
It's probably worth knowing the bike course.  I didn't which meant I had to slow down a few times until I saw a helpful marshal point me in the right direction.

My strategy was to refuel on the bike and I had a bottle of sports drink to take in.  It worked really well, I had a very slight slump of energy on the run but overall felt energised throughout the event.  I really didn't feel as though I needed a drink on the bike but took it on board as I was sure I would be feeling low on the run.

cool, a medal
The run is where you see what energy you have left.  For the last part of the run I felt very very strong to the point where I thought I should have put more effort into the bike.  I suppose this is always going to be a process of estimating and adjusting and I felt great having such energy at the end rather than struggling back to the finish.


Nobody really knows how slow you are.  Because everyone sets off at different times, you will not be the last to finish.

It's a great workout.  I had fallen slightly into the trap of thinking that, I can swim 500metres, I can ride my bike for 20k and I can easily run a 5k so there should be no problem doing one after  the other.  It actually is a little bit harder doing one after the other.  It's probably a good idea to remember this.  It is a great workout though.  I needed two chocolate brownie oat slices at the cafe in Whinlatter forest afterwards.

It's great fun.
It really is great fun.  I got such a sense of achievement from completing the race.

It's addictive.
Yep, next triathlon is in about four weeks time.

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