My running holiday in Transylvania was not to be, but within a week I found myself packing my car ready for my first triathlon of the season, in East Leake.
I have competed in the start of season East Leake triathlon once before, so for me it was a race against myself as much as anyone else. The weather was still poor, which would slow me down in transition and possible on the bike and run, but the days I was supposed to be in Romania were spent honing some swimming skills, so I was hopeful that I would beat my course PB. In the days leading up to the event, it was touch and go whether the event would even proceed!
I rocked up in East Leake the night before the event, so had my transition area set up shortly after it opened. It was still bitterly cold but there was no sign of frost or ice on the roads. This year I had even remembered to pack my front wheel! (Was that ever embarrassing a couple of years back having to scrounge a front wheel on the morning of the race!)
The swim went well. I overtook both the guys in my lane and had a strategic kit bag by the pool exit to towel down, get footwear on as we’ll as a gilet before the short run to transition. I spent far too long in transition, messing about with tight fitting socks and getting extra layers on to brace the cold for the bike ride. A least when I pushed out of transition I had the right clothing layers, but at the expense of transition time. I could really do with practicing transition, but hopefully for mid season triathlons the weather will be more favourable.
I had not spent much time on my bike this year. In fact, I’ll admit, apart from one 6 mile round trip commuter journey I had not even sat on my road bike! Nevertheless, this was all calculated in my training, to focus on the run and swim. And it was grand- I was strong on the bike, powerful on the outbound stretch and of the out-and-back ride, overtaking other competitors. From the sequential competitor numbering, I felt assured that I was doing well as I overtook competitors. However, I had been staying at a bed and breakfast. And maybe I should mention that after setting up transition I returned to the B&B, where the very friendly owner had prepared me a substantial fried full English breakfast, that I did not have the heart to leave unfinished… Cue the queasiness. Riding on aero bars exacerbated the situation as I felt I digested breakfast squelching about. I was on the return leg of the ride, but I couldn’t help it: I waited till the last second, dropped gear, slammed the brakes, let the remainder of my breakfast exit my system rapidly, wiped my mouth and accelerated off within thirty seconds! I think I learnt a valuable lesson about not deviating from plan.
I came in from the ride strong, and had a rapid transition to run, which consisted of three laps. The first lap was run at a casual pace, whilst I waited for my jelly legs to ease. The second lap was faster and I let her rip for the final lap, with a blur of support cheering me on to the finish line. If you’ve never had it, that tunnel vision you get when you’re 100% dialled in on your physical event is a special thing. I saw photographs afterwards, and I realised I hadn’t even noticed the source f the support at the time- the world was just a corridor to the finish line which I went charging though.
After the race, I felt good. I was fourth in age group at that point, but I knew that the faster swimmers would still be coming through (the race starts the slowest swimmers first and progresses to the fastest). With many things in my life, it’s the things I don’t know to anticipate that sidelines me. On the day of the triathlon it was a slow first transition that cost me minutes, and I had never thought of rehearsing a cold weather transition.
My next tri is the London Triathlon, but I hope to squeeze one or two sprint triathlons before it. There are even plans afoot with some friends and I for something much bigger next year, reassembling an Ironman… But more on that once it’s confirmed!