My first triathlon of the season and although still early days I was keen to see if the ‘proper’ training I had been doing since January was working. I’m not training for sprint triathlon at the moment – my goal race is the Outlaw Half in June and I’ve been following a plan set by GreenlightPT so very little out and out speed work has been done but this would still be a good test.
Due to my swim improvement over the last year, I was given a start time of 13:03 – some five hours into the event – although there were still a fair few waves after me (400m times posted at 4:30) – not quite at that level yet! This was a bit strange as most triathlons are started at stupid o clock in the morning when you get up, pack the car and go. Yesterday was different – I got up, had a leisurely breakfast, sauntered round the house packing up kit, checked online to see team mates were already racing and in some cases finished before I’d even left the house – all a bit surreal!
The event is run by JustRacing who organise many events locally around here plus the Challenge Weymouth event (formerly Challenge Henley) and I usually have a go at their final event at Roade each year so knew this would be a slick well organised affair. And it was – car parking easy, registration quick, plus a t shirt. I set up my transition area – in a bin bag as it was raining and went to find the family and team mates in the warm.
I haven’t done a sprint triathlon since September last year so this would be a good tester of how training has been going. It would be a 400m pool swim, 20km testing bike ride plus a reasonably flat 5km round the outskirts of the village of Duston. All distances are much shorter than what I’ve been training for but still a good training session if nothing else.
Each swim wave had 5 competitors and set off every three minutes. 16 lengths, jump out and get on the bike. For some reason my lane seemed to be short of people from the wave before and the wave after so when I started a guy from two waves previous was just finishing and I then had the lane to myself for around 6 minutes. In some ways this was great, but there was no one to race after so I was kind of left to my own devices – and lost count of my lengths – luckily the guy who started in my wave 2 lanes across was a similar speed to me so when he stopped – so did I. At the end you had to haul yourself out and run out of the pool complex – easier said than done! We were at the deep end so nothing to push off and I couldn’t pull myself up – I ended swinging a leg up and rolling out on my tummy only to find there were steps next to me – never to late to learn to scope things out first! Anyway out of the pool and a quick run outside to the bike.
A quick loading of helmet, glasses and shoes and I was off, utilising my new found running with the bike skills. The bike route could only be described as undulating and to be honest I really struggled to get going for about 6-7 miles. A few guys on TT bikes came past me but kept my head down and kept pushing. The road came out of Duston and onto the A428, a reasonably busy road. The surface was not the best and led for a very bumpy and lumpy few miles. About 5 miles down we turned and headed towards the village of Great Brington – this is the fabled hill that many competitors talk about but having just cycled over the Brickhills this week I wasn’t too worried and sure enough the turbo sessions kicked in and I whipped up it. According to Strava it’s 12% in places but didn’t seem that bad.
The hill seemed to kick start my legs and suddenly I felt comfortable on the bike and my speed came back. I got my head down through the next village and worked hard to get to the road that would take us back to Duston. I took on a gel – all good practice although with one hand on the tri bars, one hand on a gel while passing a gateway with strong winds wasn’t my finest hour – need to plan the best way to do that a bit better in the future. With the gel out of the way there was a quick 3/4 miles back to transition. With the school in sight, down the gears to get the legs spinning and T2 appeared.
I dumped the bike and set off on my run. As I left T2 my brother in law came into transition – I had a six minute head start on him from the swim so my first goal of the day was achieved, to get back to T2 before he caught me! We were a good 1/2 mile into the run before he passed me so I was quite pleased with myself! The run started well – no real jelly leg feeling (brick runs are working!) and I settled into a steady pace. I had no Garmin on me so was running by feel. A few guys came past me but no women so figured I was doing ok. The circuit of the village was a long drag out initially but this then ensured there was a reasonably downhill section towards the finish. The last 400m were tough but finished strong.
Just Racing offer an immediate results service so you can see how you’ve done as soon as you finish. I was a bit disappointed with my swim although those who had watches on showed the actual swim time was about 20-30 seconds faster – it just depended how long it took to get out of the pool and cross the timing mat! In my case probably nearer 30 seconds so must have a been around 6:30 for the swim which I’m more than happy with.
My T1 and T2 times were both less than a minute so the transition training we’ve done with Adam at the GreenlightPT turbo sessions are paying off.
I felt my bike was a bit slow. I’ve not done any speedwork on the bike – all long rides have been well over 20 miles but when you factor the wind and the undulating route my average speed was still higher than normal so not too bad considering but still a ‘could do better’ or ‘room for improvement’!
I was pleased with the run. Without a watch I actually ran over 30 seconds quicker than my Parkrun PB so was really stoked about that. I was even more pleased to then find out later on that I had won my age group as well – got to stand on a podium and received some nice glassware for the mantlepiece.
All in all, a good day out. My training plan from GreenlightPT is working, I’m swimming, cycling and running as fast as I ever have, in fact several of us from the team got podium places in our age groups and there were good results all round.
I would recommend the Duston Triathlon – a really well organised event and totally inclusive – there were complete novices through to GB Age-Groupers taking part. Just nicer weather next time please?