It’s four minutes until I report poolside to start my first ever triathlon, as I write I am sat in the changing rooms just waiting for this adventure to begin!
The butterflies in my stomach won’t rest until I make a start and remembering the training plan it’s going to have to be a smooth and relaxed start and wait until the bike to let go and attack it; then see what’s left in the legs and smooth out a decently paced run.
Arriving at the event its clear that this is a taster for many dipping their toes into the world of triathlon, the transition area is full of gear and athletes of all ages and abilities. Its clear that many will be using this as a season starting event, building up to longer events like me and others for half and full ironman(s); some may never do it again, but hopefully they will. Unpacking for me at transition is a big learning curve, I chatted to a couple of fellow athletes as the excitement and nerves within me kept building and made a mental note of where my bike was ready for later.
Standing at the poolside having the safety briefing with the rest of my heat it dawned on me what a mad event a triathlon actually is, I had a pair of tri shorts on and some goggles and was a bout to travel 14 miles with water, wheels and my feet; powered only by my heart and lungs – gulp!
I forgot what I planned as a strategy and went about hitting the swim as fast and as hard as I could, big mistake, I blew my breathing and had to breathe every two strokes instead of three and gradually brought myself back finishing in my usual slow and steady style.
Always Test Your Gear
The bike ride was another learning curve, the day before the triathlon I bought a new pump that would clip on to my frame, as I would have no pockets. Problem was the pump fell off and I had to stop, get off, and hold it in my hand for 8 miles. Won’t make that mistake again. The ride was all up and down, some good climbing and down hills with very little flat making it a good leveler and a lot of fun too.
Then came the run, a little bit of unexpected cross country adding to a mix of scenery, I felt good on my feet and still haven’t experienced the strange sensation I’ve read about when going from the bike to the run – maybe it will happen on longer events but hopefully I’m immune or something, but I doubt it.
Into the last mile I upped the pace a little and was able to finish with a little flourish, which I suppose, is a strong sign that my training has gone really well. Covering the last few metres in the beautiful sunshine to a rousing applause was a moment I wont forget; after months of training in the dark, the rain and the wind I had visualized crossing the line but never imagined how great it would feel, ‘I am a Triathlete’ I thought to myself, I’ve done it, I couldn’t stop smiling.
From the moment I started to the moment I finished the encouragement from the stewards and event supporters was superb and made me and the other athletes feel like a million dollars. The event was so well organized, signposted and supported; the Cardiff Tri club has left a high bar for the other events I will be participating in as part of the 260-mile series.
For those out there that want a fresh challenge, a great event with some amazing atmosphere I couldn’t recommend triathlon highly enough. It will make you fit, sociable and even (for me at least) do the unthinkable and buy a vest. Through the training I’ve lost over a stone in weight and am probably the fittest I have ever been.
I now have a PB of 1hr 31 minutes to aim for at the next triathlon, which is in Brecon at the end of the month; I have three weeks to improve and work on the three events one of which will be on holidays in Majorca. Much to look forward to and reflect upon after an absolutely amazing weekend.
Thanks for reading guys!