Triathlon. Quite a daunting word. I’m not sure what it is, but the thought of doing a triathlon always scared me- far more than entering a marathon ever did. However, I’ve recently started dabbling with it as a sport and all I can say to those people debating it- stop debating and start doing- its brilliant! I did my first sprint distance event last September after approx. 2x bike rides and a little bit of swimming in the 4 months prior. I had debated joining a club, but that was even more terrifying a thought and so I figured I’d just have a go! What is great is that there are loads of people doing the exact same thing. Sure, there are the super athletes in teensy tiny lycra suits and space style bike helmets; but there are also men and women of all shapes, sizes and ages. In the pool there are a wide range of swim styles on show and the bikes range from top end carbon numbers to mountain bikes and commuter hybrids. The atmosphere tends to be laid back and there is a real sense of camaraderie between competitors. I’m sure it gets a bit more serious amongst the racing snakes, but at the level I am at its very welcoming and more friendly than most average running events.
After my Tri-debut (which I loved!) I decided to join a club and I am SO glad I did. I am very lucky to have a super friendly club on my doorstep, with great members and coaches who have been very encouraging and open to all of my stupid questions about (especially) the bike! My 400m swim time has reduced by over a minute and I am definitely stronger and more confident on the bike. Although I do admit to being a bit half-hearted about the bike element of training. It still frightens me a bit (well the cars on the roads do) and I struggle to fit everything in with all of my ultra running training, but I’m getting better! What I most enjoy is having a break from pure running, especially if I have any niggles- I can just swap to swimming and biking and at least retain some cardio fitness.
Today was my second sprint triathlon event. I’ve had a rubbish week at work, picked up a cold and also found out that the Manchester Marathon that I ran in 2014 was measured 380m too short! This means that my marathon PB of 03:58:00 now doesn’t count. On the positive side my PB is now 04:24:09 which is infinitely more beatable, but I have to admit that I’m a bit gutted. My aim when I started running marathons was to run a sub-4 and I was so chuffed to have achieved it… and now it appears I’ll have to do all the training to try and do it again! So, I was really glad that this weekend was about anything other than running! The event today was the ‘Milltown to Moors’ Oldham Triathlon: a sprint distance event, which was billed as a ‘tough one’. Well, that was the understatement of the century: both the run and the bike routes involved some serious climbing and some steep descents! As an ultra-runner you’d think I’d be good at hills, but I’m better at walking them whilst stuffing my face with cake rather than trying to run them on post-bike rubber legs!
I thoroughly enjoyed the event. The swim went pretty well- I clocked 08:41 on my watch and 08:52 on the official chip (which involved a little run out of the pool area)- either way this was a minute or so faster than in September, a great improvement. I still need to work on my breathing pattern during faster work as it gets a little rough around the edges, but it’s definitely better than it was. I lost loads of time in transition faffing with my jacket and shoes, but finally I made it out onto the bike leg of the course. This was very, er, “undulating” and bloody freezing (it was actually snowing at the top of some of the hills- I now know why triathlon is a summer sport!), especially on the downhills. I was very glad I’d bothered faffing with my jacket as those in just wet trisuits must have been like ice cubes! Setting off on the run (after another bout of faffing with my shoes- must get some elastic laces!) I couldn’t feel my hands or feet, but my jelly legs seemed to be behaving at least. What I was NOT expecting was an absolutely epic mile-long climb. I had to resort to the ultra-runner’s favourite: run walking and gasping for breath. The view at the top was lovely and the downhill was great fun and (almost) worth the climb! My final time was 1:44:37 which put me 24th out of 51 ladies 🙂
I’m now back home, I’ve thawed out with a boiling hot bath (with Epsom salts to help with recovery) and I’m settling down to watch the amazing exploits from the London marathon with a giant slice of cake and a bottle of cider!
Hope you have a lovely week and if anyone has any triathlon tips for me, please send them over!