Sitting in the car watching the torrential rain drench everyone outside I questioned why I’d said yes to taking on a triathlon. I am not a particularly strong swimmer, I am a scardey cat on the bike and can run, but badly when it’s straight off the bike.
Luckily the rain eased off, and I ventured out to collect my timing chip, and rack my bike. Getting in to transition was easy, with a full row dedicated to our Super Sprint Wave. Our race entailed a 400m swim, 13.2km bike and 3.1km run, with a 400m uiphill run from the swim are to transition.
I tried to watch the lady next to me to see how she was setting out her kit, but she wasn’t very helpful. The ground was soaked so I hung my towel over the bar to keep it dry, and balanced my helmet on the saddle so that it was easy to find, and to remind myself that I needed to put the helmet on before unpacking my bike.
Once I’d finished faffing around in the transition area, I wanted to watch the swim starts before mine so we made our way to the banks of the lake (via a very slippery, muddy walk). Some people seemed to have arrived in their wetsuits, while I chose to put mine on about half an hour before my start time. I got my Mum to put vaseline on my neck, and baby oil over my legs and arms- sounds lazy but actually it was to try to stop getting it on my hands and therefore all over my goggles.
Wetsuits are not the most flattering of attire. Nor are swimming caps. But at least the sun had come out by this point.
We watched the two waves before me start their swim, and I was relieved to see that some swimmers were doing breast stroke; if all went wrong I wouldn’t be the only one.
20 minutes before our 1.10pm start time we were called into the swim area, given our red hats and given a safety briefing, which included numerous hugs with your neighbours and a round of Happy Birthday for two ladies in our wave.
The look of pure fear.
I was most nervous about the swim leg, having never swum in open water, unless you count bobbing about in the sea when on holiday. However, I was reassured when it became clear that it was the majority of people in my waves first ever triathlon.
I eased myself in at the side, and was told by a lovely lady to let a little water in to my wetsuit. We had to tread water for a few minutes, before trying to get into an appropriate position between the starting buoys. I decided to start right in the middle- clearly all reason going out of my head, although I did managed to choose somewhere with a bit of space.
The klaxon started and we were off. I put my head in and could immediately feel my heart rate increase and breath become shallow. I did not want to have a panic attack, and certainly not at this stage. I couldn’t see anything. I told myself that I just had to do a few strokes of front crawl and then I could do breaststroke if I wanted.
Head down. Breathe on every second stroke.
Stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, stroke breathe.
Before I knew it I was overtaking people. I was trying to keep sighting on most breaths so as not to become completely disorientated. The buoys still felt really far away, and I started to panic, maybe I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t breathe.
Two strokes of breaststroke and I told myself to pull it together. Back to the stroke, stroke breathe rhythm.
I made it to the turn and could see the finish. With less than 100m to go, I started to go a little off track before a kind man in a kayak shooed me back on course.
And just like that the swim was over. 8.56- faster than I expected and a whole lot more enjoyable.
I pulled off my goggles and hat, and fumbled with the wetsuit to unzip it halfway while attempting to jog up the 400m uphill path to the transition area. I ran past a few people walking here but I was full of smiles knowing that I’d completed the swim and was a third of the way through.
I easily found my bike, stripped off my wetsuit, and decided not to towel off and instead just throw on my helmet and trainers. I was glad to have my Decathlon Tri suit on underneath the wetsuit, it made the transition very quick and smooth. I pulled my bike off the rack and jogged towards the bike start- being cheered on my a colleague from work who was marshalling in the transition area.
T1- 4.59 (includes the 400m jog)
Two loops of a pretty undulating bike course through the stunning grounds of Blenheim Palace. I used the bike laps to drink some Nuun, trying to work hard on the uphills, and cruise on the downhill sections.
So this is cool even though it looks backwards!
I am not a confident cyclist and get very nervous on the downhills and tight corners. Coupled with the fact that most of the other riders were on road bikes and you might presume that I was overtaken a lot on the bike section. You would be right. One saving grace was that without coloured bibs you couldn’t tell who was doing the same distance race as you. I have a lot of work to improve my cycling fitness.
Not having clip in shoes made T2 super easy, literally just rack the bike, helmet off and on my way.
Going in to the run I thought it would be my best leg, given that I run quite a bit. I was anticipating that my legs would feel like lead or jelly, but I thought it to pass quite quickly.
I felt like I was shuffling for the entirety of the run. I was running so slowly but physically couldn’t move my legs faster. I also had a bit of a stitch which was less than ideal. The course however was gorgeous, and despite the discomfort I couldn’t believe how much I was enjoying myself. I ran past two friends from school that cheered me on and up one of the slight inclines, and although slow I maintained a steady pace.
Before I knew it the finish line was in sight. Run 16.29.
Official time: 1.06.45
This actually turned out to be 13th fastest in the Women’s Super Sprint, and 1st in the 25-29 age group!
They were giving out well deserved beers (although apparently alcohol free?) as soon as you crossed the finish line as well as a bit of bling to add to the collection.
I surprised myself with my performance and even more so with how much I loved the race. It was incredibly well organised, with extremely friendly volunteers and supporters. My only gripe was that spectators have to pay to watch (£6-10 in advance, or £12 on the day), I think it’s a little steep considering the triathlon entries themselves aren’t cheap. Other than that, I have no complaints whatsoever, and can’t wait for next years race!
I was given complimentary entry to the Blenheim Triathlon, however I really did think it was amazing and will definitely be entering next year!