Sunday, 25 July 2010

I tri-ed it and I liked it

From my previous post you can probably tell that I was a wee bit nervous about doing my first triathlon. Thankfully, a few people got in touch after reading it to give me some handy hints and tips. As helpful as all of those tips were, not one prevented me from being in a total state of blind panic when I woke up this morning.

It is worth noting here that I consumed a grand total of sixteen ice creams yesterday at the Ben & Jerrys Festival and was understandably a little concerned that a) I was not going to be able to fit the tri suit over my bulging belly and b) tht I may - at any time - sick up some or all of the vast mixture of flavours that I had devoured. Not concerned enough - the day before a triathlon - to be sensible and eat less, but concerned nonetheless.

Fortunately I could still squeeze into the tri suit and the only problem with my stomach was the bog-standard, jittery, nervous twitchy thing that happens before any exciting event.

We arrived at the venue a little later than I had wanted to but I had about 50 minutes to sort myself out and get organised. After registering, getting my race numbers and being branded in permanent marker, I headed back to the car to get all the gear out. As I lifted the lovely Bianca out of the boot I noticed she was feeling a bit squidgier than normal. Error no. 1: Forgot to pump up the tyres before leaving the house. Error no. 2: Forgot to even bring my track pump, despite it being right next to the bag with the the kit in.

The palpitations were starting to come back...

The man in the car next to us had a pump that I could borrow. It was particularly tempramental and ended up flattening the tyres even further, so we gave up with that. Then I spotted another club member, Kate, who let me borrow hers. On using it I continued to let more and more air out of my tyres (perhaps what I need is to attend a track-pump usage workshop) and delved further into a pit of pulsing palpitations.

I do keep a pump on the bike for punctures on the road. It's a tiny thing that is such an effort to use, so I save it strictly for the purposes of an emergency. This was now an emergency. Once my Dad had calmly taken over and inflated my tubes for me (thanks Dad!) we hastily made our way to the transition area so I could rack my bike and set out all my kit in a sensible, methodical manner.

However, it appeared I was now out of time. They were calling for my wave to get ready for the race briefing. I wasn't even dressed yet! Liz and Kate, my two saviours, tried to shield my modesty but to no avail. I ran into the nearest building for a speedy change. When I ran back they were starting the briefing - I hadn't put my numbers on the race belt or bike or anything! The girls sorted me out, pulling my swimming stuff out for me and getting the race belt ready as I pegged it to the briefing. Deep breath...

There I was, by the pool. I was actually going to do this. That warm, muggy, chlorinated poolside environment hit me in the throat and I quickly realised Error no. 3: I had forgotten to drink anything. I had been in such a rush I had forgotten the most basic, fundamentally important rule of exercise and of life - well done Eggsy. Too late now, I was going to have to wait.

The nerves were erupting from every pore and here it was.. Error no. 4: I had also forgotten to go to the toilet - bugger. Worst-case scenario I suppose is I'd have to pull a Paula Radcliffe and just stop at the side of the road (just for the record, it did not come to this).

Once the swim began, a wave of calm swept over me. All those pre-race nerves vanished and I just focused on remembering to breathe. You're supposed to keep count of your own lengths but I managed to lose count at the very large number of four, so for the next fourteen I had absolutely no grasp of how far I had to go. The "two-length-reminder-paddle" came surprisingly quickly though and before I knew it I was at my bike and deciding to ditch the idea of putting socks on.

The ride was fantastic and I finally gorged on all the liquid I could. I chose to do this race 'on feel' so I had no clue whatsoever of my pacing. My technique mostly involved pushing as hard as possible and trying to catch whoever was in front of me.

I quickly decided in T2 that socks would now be a good option so I took the penalty of about 25 seconds in exchange for 5 miles of increased comfort.

Post-cycle running is a very unusual sensation. Your legs feel so light and as a result, it's easy to set off too quickly whilst at the same time thinking that you're barely moving at all. Once I figured out that I was indeed running and that it was all ok, we hit the first hill. At the 2km marker I developed a killer stitch and took on a weird running style to compensate that involved holding one arm still whilst slightly bending to one side and trying to take shallow breaths. As ridiculous as I'm sure it looked, it worked, and I was now at the halfway marker.

I was absolutely chuffed as I managed to overtake two chaps on the run and once I hit the 6km marker I knew I was nearly there. I sprinted into the finish, knackered and completely elated.

At that point I suddenly wondered what all the stress had been about - this was all just brilliant!

Things to learn for next time: arrive earlier, bring your own pump, wee and drink before you do anything else (two separate activities - just to clarify) and probably don't eat 16 ice creams the day before.

Time to start planning the next one...

1 comment:

  1. go on, admit it - you peed in the pool didn't you :P Glad it all went well - you are my fitness hero! Charlie xx