Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

GO TRI

on 19 April 2016

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I like to occasionally try new sporting activities, but I also like to try them in ‘taster mode’ so I don’t have to spend a fortune on kit or dedicate three months of my life to a different type of training in order to finish it – this is why I’ve never done more than a 5k mud/obstacle/paint run – 5k is enough for me to experience them without the full on tiring slog or insane amount of ingested paint of the bigger 10k and even 10 mile events, and I can decide what I think of them without risking ending up passing out in a heap too badly by the end of the day. It’s also cheaper doing the smaller ones than forking out for a 50 gazillion obstacle race and finding out by obstacle 10 that it’s not your cup of tea and you’ve got another 3 hours to go but you can’t pull out because you sold three kidneys to get in. And hey, if you do like it, you can escalate from the tiny tapas plate to the full whack next time!

When I saw that one of the local triathlon groups (Castle Tri in Prudhoe) was doing a beginner triathlon at the town where I used to live, I saw an opportunity: I would get to try doing a triathlon without actually doing anything that would result in me drowning in a lake, ending up in a ditch across a mountain side with my wheels in the air, or falling flat on my face in a field with a broken ankle (well, less chance of this than usual!). So, knowing nothing more about triathlons than that swimming, cycling and running were involved, N and I booked onto it, and then promptly forgot about it for the next however many months as something to be thought about once I’d got Kielder out the way.

As the event got closer, I started getting a bit apprehensive; I’d been in a pool once in the last few years, and had been more tired than I’d cared to admit after what I rather wish was a longer number of lengths; I am a haphazard flat-route cyclist at best; and I had no idea how triathlons worked. Do you really go straight from the pool/lake/sea to your bike and just throw your trainers on and go?! (YES) Even if you’re doing like a million mile cycle ride and the wind is blowing a gale?! (YES) Doesn’t everyone get pneumonia and turn into icepeople?! (MAYBE?!) What am I supposed to do about my lady-holsters?! I’m not doing a run with just my swimsuit! Apparently one wears one’s necessities under one’s swimming garb and just has it soggy but hopefully supportive all day!

This was starting to look a bit bigger than a quick dip in the pool, a gentle cycle in the country and a pootle in the park. The mysterious ‘Transition’, the fourth event of the triathlon obviously needed more thinking than I had previously considered! I felt a bit better when the pre-race info came out; some more detail on the routes and a kit list, and some info on transition, backed up and elaborated on nearer the time by some helpful posts on the Running Ninjas facebook page by others who would also be attempting this feat!

The problem with having lived in Prudhoe, is I know that between the 3 and 5 mile markers on the cycle route is one very long uphill…I drive it every weekday and it feels like it takes forever sometimes in a car let alone pedalling away like a little hamster in a wheel and going about as far and nowhere near as fast!!!

I went to the pool twice before the event – I did still float. I went on my bike once on a flat route – I didn’t fall off (I did manage to lose my chain on a hill turning the gears the wrong way but we won’t go into that!). I was unsurprisingly not worried about a 1.5 mile run around the playpark. I packed all of the things in many bags to take. Trained and ready? No, not really, but we’ll give it a go anyway!

N picked me up on the Sunday morning, complete with bags, bike, helmet and other faffy bits, and we headed off to Waterworld to register. Stickers on helmets, numbers on arms, swim-times on hands we headed off to attempt to set up for transition before the event start. I’m not sure where the time went between turning up (early I thought) and the pre-event speeches, but it’s a good thing we weren’t in the 8am swim wave or I would NOT have been ready!

We dumped all our stuff on towels by our bikes and then headed back into the leisure centre (and the warm!) to watch the first few groups of swimmers set off. The weather was fortunately much better than Saturday, where we’d had sun, wind, rain, hail, sleet and snow all by 1pm, but there was still a bit of a chill in the air for standing around outside at 8am.

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We were in the 08:50 wave, and it wasn’t long before we decided we should go and get ready and stand on the poolside incase we missed something or one of us got tangled in a sock or something. These things happen. I mean, not on this occasion but they could have done! The swim was 4 lengths of the pool, swimming around floating buoys (spelling is important!), getting out and back to the start and doing it again before heading out the door. Waterworld pool is both shorter and shallower than the pool at the Louisa Centre I have been dipping a toe into, and I actually found it harder. Using the buoys to turn around instead of the pool wall actually made the lengths almost too short (don’t get me wrong, I was still knackered by the end of each set!), and it was actually easier to walk around the buoys than try and swim around them; but it was harder to try and push yourself back off again from the floor for the next stretch! Floundering is definitely the appropriate word to describe me here.

Swimming is definitely not my forté and I was very glad to finish! Particularly as there was just about enough sun now that the chill had gone so I wasn’t actually frozen to the bone the second I stepped out the door! Transition is weird. You’re still on the clock so you don’t want to spend ages towelling off, but trousers, socks and trainers do not go easily onto wet feet, and you don’t want blisters from trying to run in soggy stockings… N had taken advice from some of the Ninjas and filled her socks and shoes with talcum powder (not quite full to the brim!), I don’t know if it actually helped… You also don’t really get a breather, so if you’re like me and came out the pool gasping like you’ve just been drowned and then dashed to your bike and had to wrestle your clothes you’re probably not looking or feeling your best!

Helmets on, we grabbed our bikes and headed to the bike ‘mount/dismount’ line – another previously unheard of triathlon thingie. It’s been an education if nothing else! N’s Dad joined us for this leg and it’s a good thing he did! N’s seat needed readjusting at the bottom of The Hill as being lower was naffing her knees (say that after a few drinks!), and I made it about 3/4 of the way up before needing to stop completely for 10-15 seconds to get my breath back and quell the rising over-exertion nausea. I have a habit when I go on a bike (those rare occasions!) of expecting to zoom off into the distance at a rate of knots, and as a result set off far too quickly for my own capabilities. Both the weekend before and for this race, I’d made a conscious effort not to do this and hopefully set off at something sustainable, but that hill was a teensy weensy bit too far…

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We did manage to zoom along Prudhoe Front Street back to Waterworld without further hiccups, ditched helmets, bikes and dads off at the transition again and headed straight off into the run. This felt like it should have been a breeze. I don’t know if you’ve ever gone straight from riding a bike with your little legs spinning round to trying to run almost immediately, but I found it to be a very very weird sensation! My feet were flapping along and moving forward, but I couldn’t really feel anything other than tarmac-vibration from mid-thigh to waist so god only knows what my hip joints were doing! I was also knackered. N seemed to find a bit more vim than me and was mustering a lot more enthusiasm for waving at the marshalls than I had! We walked the little hill at the back of the leisure centre, and jogged (I’d like to say ran but it wasn’t) the downhill and along the front back to the start of the loop. Three times round and we could finally head to the finish line!

We came in 4 seconds under the 1hr mark, which I’ve decided is a good time and I’m pleased with – I have no benchmarks at all from my own experience!

race results

Each of these sections on their own; 200m swim, 10km bike ride, 2.5km run would have been ok to fine on their own, but trying to do all three together my god was I tired by the finish! I was really glad to have N with me, I would have been positively mopey trying to slog round on my own! I have a newfound respect for triathletes and the incredible fitness they must have to complete some of the events they do, especially in open water and hilly or mountainous territories! I’m very grateful I didn’t attempt to try anything longer than this quite frankly baby tri, and while I’m pleased to have finished, ticked something off the bucket list and proven I can do it, I will not be doing another one!!! As it says on the finisher’s tops, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt”! The event was well-organised and well-marshalled by Castle Tri, and I nommed all the sweeties in the goody bag 🙂

I’m intending to try and work some swimming and cycling into my fitness as cross-training for my running, but I think I’m going to alternate them so I do each once a fortnight, and one of the two once a week – but I’m no swimmer or cyclist, so I don’t think you’ll see me doing any more events for either any time soon!

Just running for the next one I think 😉

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