2014 for me was all about doing something I have only ever done once before…being a Dad of a newborn.
Why is this fact significant? Because I didn’t know what to expect and when Sam was born in 2010 I wasn’t into racing as much as I am now so how would I be able to concentrate on training with a new baby and a energetic 3 year old. Sounds like an excuse but I’m not talking about a kettlebell or Bulgarian bag session I mean a 2+hour run in prep for a spring marathon so I chose to have a year away from the quest for the sub 3 hour. I did however plan to do the Adidas half marathon at Silverstone but pulled out due to injury, so the start of the race calendar fell on May the 4th…would the force be with me?
To be fair and I am writing this 2 days after the event but I think I was relying on some force to fly me through the swim and bike phase of the Thorpe Triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike & 5km run) as I’d not done that much swimming or cycling.
So first race and obviously my first triathlon of the year came about a month after I joined the Viceroy’s Triathlon Club, a very friendly club who I know (Viceroys are infectious) will drive me onwards to my ultimate goal of doing an Ironman in 2015 (goal I set in 2012). Since joining, I’ve done one ‘developmental’ cycle ride and one ‘intermediate’…and expecting to ride fast at Thorpe?!?! And I’ve recently joined Virgin Active and swam 4 times…and again expecting to swim fast at Thorpe?!?! Simple answer is Yes, yes I did expect that and this is a lesson I’m learning the hard way that just because I’m fit and can run fast that I should be able to do the other 2 disciplines well.
I’m being very hard on myself…because that’s me but I’m not being very fair on myself and this is where I need to change and change quickly as I have two half iron distance triathlons coming up in a few months.
What Thorpe Triathlon also taught me a harsh lesson in ‘money doesn’t buy speed’…my Shiv didn’t suddenly make me a better cyclist…SHOCK!!! I really need to put in the time and dedication to my cycling (and swimming) as I do when I’m training for a marathon.
Anyway, now that’s off of my chest…
The Thorpe Triathlon is right next to the famous Thorpe Park and the swim is in the Thorpe Waterski park which is fortunately for me approximately 9 miles away. The race briefing was to start at 6.35am with the transition area closing 5 mins before so the alarm was set very early.
I arrived around 5.50am to register and then rack up. “Can you spot your name on the list?” said the woman behind the desk. “Erm, yes! I’m number 1…gulp!”. Now I was only number 1 due to the fact that my surname was first but I felt some pressure…number 1 in a race means the winner or the fastest and I know If I cycled or swam past number 1 I’d allow myself a little smirk so here I was collecting a target instead of a number.
The day before the Viceroy’s main man Mark Yeoman took some of us for a ‘transition workshop’ that I attended to learn how to attach my bike shoes to the bike for a speedy exit from the swim to the cycle aka Transition 1 (T1). I then spent the afternoon practising the my ‘laccy bands’ in a park and being pretty succesful and confident that I’d ‘ping’ it at Thorpe. However, on racking my bike I noticed it was on an uphill and the ground was very sandy and gritty so I decided today was not the day to try it…roll on Windsor Triathlon.
Bike racked, wetsuit on I then made my way to the swim start. The nerves were setting in but in a good way. I wasn’t phased but what did slightly concern me was that this was my first open water swim of 2014 and I didn’t know how could it would be. Viceroy Collette had swam at Thorpe a few weeks before and said it was fine but I wanted to experience it myself.
I was one of the first to get in so I had longer to get used to it and do a quick warm up. It wasn’t that bad (I was wearing 2 swim caps), my hands felt fine but my feet felt cold. The hooter went and we were off. I set off at a steady pace as I knew I wasn’t ‘swim fit’ and although I felt I was near the back I felt ok. As soon as Shepperton is open I’ll try to be there every Saturday morning, before Bushy parkrun of course.
I came out of the water in 14.02 and made my way to my bike. Wetsuit took a wee bit longer to get off than expected but it was the 1st time since September last year (Practise?!?), then bike shoes, sunglasses and helmet on…GO!!! I felt initially ok on the bike but couldn’t feel my feet. The bike course was reasonably flat except for one hill that wasn’t that hard but hard enough. I recall hearing the guy who fitted me for the Shiv saying that this bike wasn’t great on hills and as it was its first outing on hills I understood what he meant. The gears are designed to make it go fast and on the downhill it did but not on the slight incline or hill. I can and WILL make it go faster…I simply have to. I was initially overtaken by a few and on the hill too but caught a few up on the down hills.
Transition 2 (T2) couldn’t come soon enough, 40.07 and then it was time to run…YES!!! T2 was pretty quick and then I set off on the run. I had one real goal at the start of this tri and that was to do a sub 19 5km. The race director had said that the run was muddy and more of a X-Country route but I still thought I would give my goal a go. It was muddy and slippery and with my feet still numb it was difficult but I was catching people and feeling ‘in the zone’. The only problem I had is in the last mile I felt I couldn’t breath properly, like two-thirds of my lungs were unavailable. It felt like when I get hay fever at night and sometimes feel the urge to cough. After a few minutes of trying I just settled for shallow breathing. The run route was exactly the route I love with twists and turns going around a lake with a couple of bridges thrown in too. A slight incline to the finish and I had done it. As soon as I crossed the line I helped myself to some recovery drinks and water and then went to see my time on the conveniently placed laptop. My eyes were drawn to the runtime 19.02…Grrrrrrrr 3 secs.
I made my way back to transition with my first medal of 2014 and was asked what time I’d done…I didn’t know. This was significant for me as It made me realise that I was still thinking as a runner. I have done seven triathlons before today and was not remotely interested in the other 2 disciplines and the total time. I NEED TO CHANGE and I need to become interested and a bit geeky. If I want to improve then I must treat the disciplines as equals.
Anyway I did it in 1.15.00. Swim – 14.02, Bike -40.07, Run 19.02 and have had a big kick up the backside. Once I have completed this blog post I am going to finish of my training plan to enable me to achieve my Olympic Distance Triathlon goal of sub 2.20 at Windsor (PB is 2.20.05 at the 2013 London Triathlon) and to complete the Swashbuckler triathlon in July and the Midnight Man Triathlon 70.3 in August.
Next race is my 4th Strongman Run (3m.05 into the video!)…mud, freezing water, electric shocks and Germans…loads of them! 😉