With three multi-discipline events in eight days, you could say that I’ve caught the triathlon bug…
I was lucky enough to win at place at Tri for Life through Sian’s blog. Given a choice of three distance options, I decided to push myself further than the sprint distance and opt for an 800m swim, 32.5km cycle and 7.5km run. This would be my furthest triathlon distance to date, and I decided to target this event as my main race for the season, with the aim of progressing to an Olympic distance in 2015.
The event was held in the stunning grounds of Woburn Abbey, a stately home which is the residence of the Duke of Bedford. There was also a children’s ‘scootathlon’ taking place on the same day, which looked like loads of fun for the kids!
I was a guest at a wedding in Hemel Hempstead on the evening before the triathlon, which worked out quite nicely as it was just a short drive to the venue on the morning of the race. However, it meant no alcohol and an early night!
Registration was straightforward- I collected my race pack, timing chip and handed over my sponsorship money. After setting up in the transition area, I wandered over to the lake to watch the Olympic wave setting off on their swim. The pre-race nerves started to kick in, as I panicked about remembering to count my own laps and whether I had prepared everything I needed for transition.
It was soon time to start and my wave was called over to the briefing area beside the lake.
The swim course was two square-shaped laps of the lake marked with inflatable buoys.
As we entered the lake, I realized that the water was very shallow- at no point was it any deeper than shoulder height.
The water was very dark and murky, with lots of weeds under the surface. As I swam my legs and arms tangled in the weeds, and it was a battle to keep moving through the water. My sighting was also hindered by a clump of pond-weed lodged on my goggles!
I started towards the back of my swim wave, but soon found myself passing people and moving towards the front of the pack. As usual in open water swimming, I received a few kicks in the stomach and elbows in the face!
Spectators were able to come right to the edge of the lake- Glen got some great shots of me in the water. I tend to drift over towards the right as I am swimming, which means I constantly have to realign myself and try to stay in line with the buoy.
I completed the 800m swim in 18:25- very pleased with that time!
The ramp to climb out of the lake was a little slippery- I needed a hand from a marshall to get on my feet!
The transition area was located right outside the Abbey, which meant we had a bit of a distance to cover between the lake and the bike racks. As I ran, I unzipped my wetsuit and removed the sleeves, while Glen ran alongside me cheering me on.
I found my bike and kit fairly easily, slid off my wetsuit and prepared the cycle. I opted to wear socks for this race, after cutting my feet at Aquathlon earlier in the week- definitely a good choice!
Transition took 6:15.
Making the most of the stunning area, the cycle route winds it’s way through the beautiful deer park, picturesque country lanes and villages around Woburn Abbey. The roads were completely closed to traffic, making for a safe and speedy race.
The course was fairly undulating, with signs indicating “steep climb” followed by “fast descent”. Descending used to terrify me, but after all the cycle training I’ve put in this summer I was able to handle the downhills more confidently. I found it helped to scream the entire way down the hill!
There was one particularly steep incline which had several competitors climbing off of their bikes and walking, however I was determined to power up the hill. The cycle route was three laps- after completing the first loop, I was familiar with the terrain and able to anticipate my gearing as I approached each climb.
My cycle took 1:14:43- I’m really pleased with how much quicker my cycling has gotten, considering in my first triathlon the 19.8km cycle took 1:00:05!
My second transition was much quicker- I racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed a drink and was off into the “run out” funnel within 1:34….
Three laps alongside the lake made up the running portion of the triathlon. The weather was getting warmer as the day went on, and I could really feel the sun beaming down as I ran. At least my tri-suit had dried out quickly!
I struggled with energy levels on the run- I’d forgotten to pack any gels or fuel and started to feel the effects as I was running- I need something to give me a boost! Glen cheered me on as I passed him on each lap. I felt as though I was running incredibly slowly, but I was actually doing just over a 9 min/mile.
The final stretch to the finish line was a steep uphill on grass- it felt so tough- I was tempted to walk but wanted to finish strong so I pushed on.
I finished the run in 42:30, giving me a total time of 2:23:25. I came in as 9th female out of 24 for the ‘sprint plus’ distance.
Tri for Life was organised to raise vital funds for several charities including Great Ormond Street, Teenage Cancer Trust and Rays of Sunshine. The £200 I raised contributed to an amazing total of £300,000 collected on the day. The race was well organised, in a gorgeous location and the weather was perfect for race day.
Overall a great event to round off the season, I loved the swim and cycle portions. Strangely the run is becoming my least favourite and weakest area- surprising as I would have said running was my strongest triathlon discipline 6 months ago.