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Friday, 3 April 2015

Challenge Four - Bicester Triathlon - Sunday 29 March 2015

After months of training and preparation the day had finally arrived for me to take part in my first ever Triathlon!  2 years ago it was merely a pipe dream, more of an item on a bucket list than anything.  Now here I was, the night before my first ever race, packing my kit and going through it over and over again!

The time had come for me to tick that item off the list - it was time to put myself to the test!

Sunday morning arrived and I was up bright and early going through my kit list and making sure I got some breakfast in.  My start time wasn't until 1120 so I had plenty of time to get myself together and get to the event.  I left home about 0840 and hit the road to Bicester which was about a 90 minute drive.

TriathlonBox staying strong
Now before leaving I had done the obligatory weather check and it wasn't looking good! The rain was forecast all day and the wind looked strong.  The forecast said 35mph cross winds.  That I was not looking forward to one bit!  My first ever Tri and I'd be dealing with rain and intense winds!  If it wasn't challenge enough the weather gods were going to make it harder.

I arrived at the event and to be fair the organisers at 'On Your Marks' had done a wonderful job setting up with the wind in full force.  Marshals were constantly picking up fences and peoples hats as the wind took a real hold.  I'd arrived just before 10 which meant I had a bit of time to register, grab my kit and get into transition to set up.  Again the transition marshals were on fire! Constantly picking up lids and empty plastic boxes blowing around as well as towels and bottles of talc!

I did notice however there was one particular box that didn't fly away, TriathlonBox!

Kit ready in transition
As this was my first ever triathlon I wasn't entirely sure how to set my kit up.  I put the bike on the rack, attached my number to my race belt which I then clipped to my bag.  Placed both my bike shoes and running shoes next to my bag with my helmet ready to go too.  Both sets of shoes were full of talc! That was it, I was ready to go - I hoped!

The nerves were running wild now!  I'd been working for this for months, was I ready? Had I done enough? I didn't want to fall at this last hurdle, the race itself.  The crew at Stonehenge Triathlon and Road Club had put me through my paces in the pool and on the hills of Salisbury Plain and I really wanted the hard work to pay off!  Now the time had come to put it all to the test - it was 1120 and I was stood on the side of the pool waiting for the nod from the Swim Director to get in the pool and begin my first EVER triathlon!!!!

The Swim

The 'nod' was given and I got into the pool.  My heart rate was pounding now, this was it the time had come.  3,2,1 and the whistle was blown - I was off!

There was only one other swimmer in my lane and he was about 75m ahead of me having started before me.  My first 50 flew by I wasn't even convinced I'd done 50m but I had.  Before I knew it I'd done 100m and I'd caught the other chap and passed him at the turn.  I couldn't believe how well it was going.  200m down, 300m down and I was in full flow feeling great.  Now I had an issue, I'd lost count! I looked down at my watch to see where I was distance wise but the backlight was off and I couldn't see it properly.  So in my infinite wisdom I hit the stop button!! Idiot! I quickly restarted the watch and managed to get the backlight on, all whilst still swimming! I caught the distance - 400m. I'd finished the swim - however - I was at the wrong end of the pool! So I had to do an extra length to finish! 450m and the swim was done - 50m more than needed.

I climbed out of the pool and hit the lap button to start transition 1.  My Garmin said I'd swam 450m in 7.50!! The perfect start!

Transition 1

The run from the pool to the transition was about 50-60m.  I got to my bike, chucked my helmet on, strapped my number belt on - forced on my shoes took a quick swig of drink whilst slipping some High5 energy gels in my suit.  I grabbed my bike and ran out towards the mount line!  The very friendly marshal at the line informed me that the wind speeds had increased and that the cross winds were now stronger than they had been all day.  I was about to find out for myself!

The Bike

Apart from a mishap with my Garmin at the start of the ride (which I wont bore you with) it all started pretty well.  I felt strong out of the pool and got into a good rhythm quickly.  However that was all about to change.  The bright yellow boards with black arrows pointed to the left, so I obliged. Unfortunately the strong winds we had been warned about were stronger than I had anticipated.  The strong, fast rhythm I had built suddenly dropped and I was pedaling so fast but hardly moving!

I could not believe how strong the winds were.  Most of the ride was spent trying to stay upright and not be blown into the hedgerow or worse, traffic! Speed was no longer a goal for the ride just getting to the end of the ride was the goal now.  I kept pedaling and ended up overtaking a few on the first lap.  There was a short section of the ride where the wind was behind me and the road was a tad flat which gave me the opportunity to open up and get some speed going.  That was very short lived though as we had to turn left and do another lap of the 'wind tunnel.'

Lap 2 was a killer though.  Either lap one had sapped the energy out of me and I was just struggling or the wind had picked up but it was certainly a harder lap.  All I wanted to do was get to the tail wind section as I knew that the wind would be behind me all the way back to transition. Thankfully the tail wind gave me a chance to slow my cadence down but keep the speed up into transition. Which, mercifully, I was approaching.
The staff done a wonderful job.

Transition 2

Into transition I ran and found my kit.  I racked my bike and started taking of my helmet.  Off came the cycle shoes and on went the well talc'd running shoes.  Now I was very nervous.  I suppose now is a good as time as any to confess that until this very moment in time I hadn't actually done a run straight off the bike.  I know that's not a good thing given that I was currently taking part in a triathlon but we were about to find out if all the training I had done was going to pay off!

The Run

This was it! 5km, 3 miles, 5 laps of the field next to transition however it was measured this was the last leg. Out of transition, having reattached my number thanks to the wind, incredibly I felt great. Given the horrible winds on the ride and the fact I'd never ran straight of the bike before I felt strong and confident.  I was catching people which was boosting my confidence even more.  The wind was still playing its part on sections of the lap but nothing like the ride.

As the laps ticked by my pace felt good.
 I didn't look at my Garmin I just kept running at a pace that felt fast and more importantly that I could keep up.  It all went by pretty quickly and without any real problems.  The last lap flew by and before I knew it I was sprinting, yes sprinting, towards the finish.....and across the line!!

Another medal for the rack
I had done it! I had taken part in and completed a triathlon! A massive sense of pride hit me.  Knowing where I had started 2 years ago and where I was right now I knew it had all been worth it.  The great staff on the finish line hung a medal around my neck, handed me a bottle of water and recovered the timing chip from my ankle.  Oh yeah time! Before the race I had set myself a target of 1 hour 30 minutes to complete the race.  Looking at my watch the unofficial time was 1 hour 20 minutes.  I was overwhelmed and delighted.

Challenge 4 was done. I felt great and was already planning how to attack the next challenge before I'd even had a shower. How to shave time off in transition etc.  But for now I was just basking in my own glory at finishing the race.  The official time was announced at 1 hour 23 minutes which I was still amazed at! My aim now was to get those 3 minutes off at the next race.

So the race was done and of course its all for charity.  So if having read this and you've thought you know what this lads done good, then feel free to text KOMS99 plus your donation to 70070 or visit my Just Giving Page Just Giving Page - with all your amazing support so far I have managed to raise £909!  So lets get to £1000 by the end of the next race on the 12th April.

Thanks Everyone.