Feeling elated! After about a year spent longing to take part in a triathlon but procrastinating and worrying whether I’d make a fool of myself, I finally entered and finished my first sprint triathlon. One step closer in a quest to finish some insane, massively life affirming event like an Ironman, that I can document with a GoPro and overlay with music by bands like Sigur Ros or Mogwai.
So, with ironmans in mind, back to the sprint triathlon. Well, actually it wasn’t even a sprint triathlon. It was technically a super sprint since the swim part was only 400m. I decided about 2 months ago that I would make the Nuffield Super Sprint Triathlon my first triathlon since whilst the point of my first triathlon was to get experience of the basic ins and outs of triathlon, I also wanted a race with a short swim but cycle and run legs long enough to get properly stuck in to. Also, I’ve been to Eton Dorney, the location of the race, a number of times for rowing races and so I new in advance that this would be possibly the most straight forward course possible, literally!
Race Day Review
On the day, I was so excited I got up at about 6.30, much to the delight of my girlfriend. I wolfed down some porridge and banana and we made the drive to Eton Dorney. Once we got there I unloaded my bike and as soon as I touched the front tire to check its pressure it both exploded. Talk about a bad omen on your first event.
I rode my bike to the registration area and on the way was able to catch a glimpse of the swim leg of an earlier wave. My heart leaped at the site of people swimming breast stroke. Woohoo, I might end up not being the slowest person there. I registered, spent about 45 minutes getting ready (good thing i got there ridiculously early right) and wandered around the site, admiring all the bikes on show.
At about 10.10 I headed to where my wave was supposed to stand for a briefing before getting into the water. Funnily enough I overhead a bunch of people talking about how this was their first event but how they were building up to an Ironman. See I’m not the only person with delusions of grandeur.
There were about 50 people in my wave. Earlier in the day I’d decided, since I didn’t really know where I’d stack up, the easiest option would be to start at the back of the pack to the side furthest the buoys. However, as the guy at the start line started counting down I decided I didn’t I didn’t want to risk potentially being faster than other people and stuck trying to swim through them all so positioned myself right near the front. No Guts, no glory! The buzzer went and I quickly settled into a comfortable pace I could manage over 400m. To my surprise I got to the first buoy having passed a number of people and having been passed by only a couple. Everything was going fine until I realised I’d swam about 50m away from the group and had to sprint back to the right line. Sighting needs work it seems! I had no idea what my time was as I’d forgotten to check my Garmin, however, I could see there were lots of people behind me so that was good enough for me. I later found out I’d done the 400m in 6.42 which is good as I was expecting I’d be closer to 7.30.
Once at my bike I tried getting ready by putting on my helmet, sunglasses, etc, etc but my head was still spinning from the swim and so had to sit down and take a second. Pretty weird sensation! I have no idea whether it’s normal to feel like that but I guess I’ll need to practice transitioning more. Once I had my cycling shoes on I waddled to the start of the bike leg. Not as elegant as the pros, but we can work on this later. All-in-all T1 took 3.11 which is pretty terrible but also good in that there’s lots of room for improvement.
Once on the bike I settled at about 18 mph. The course is flat as a pancake and it wasn’t particularly windy so I could put my head down and focus on not overdoing it. I’d spent the last few weekends training in the Chilterns which is pretty hilly by my standards so this was pretty easy. I felt pretty good and I was passing quite a few people, though admittedly most them were poodling around on mountain bikes. That said, The only people over- taking me were those people adorning aero helmets and riding ridiculously expensive tri bikes. I have to assume they’ve been training a lot longer than I have. I also spotted a couple of Ironman tattoos so I didn’t mind being overtaken by those guys. The bike leg took 45.00.
I got to T2 and this was a hell of a lot more straight forward than the first time round. I clippidy clopped over to the bike racks, hung my bike, put on some trainers and dashed over to the start of the run. All done in 1.20.
Running after having cycled for 21km is weird. Your legs are jelly and you feel like there’s no energy, but things normalize quickly. That said, it was probably the toughest 5km I’ve ever done. There was just no energy there. On top of that, the Eton Dorney course runs along the rowing lake and so is dead straight and boring as hell. This makes keeping your mind off the pain pretty tricky. I stumbled across the line in an embarrassing 31.00. Again, a pretty terrible time, but easy to see how I’ll make up time in the next triathlon.
That’s it! That was the race. Next, I’ll enter a proper sprint triathlon and the goal will be to finish with a quicker time despite the swim being almost double the distance.
Swim (400m): 6:42 T1: 3:11 Bike (21.5km): 45:49 T2: 1:30 Run (5km): 31:02
Total Time: 1:28.14