Wargrave Triathlon Race Recap
The water is so cold it seems to take my breath away. I try to start swimming as the klaxon goes off. And my breathing is quick and shallow. I can’t get into a rhythm. Then I start to panic.
I ask the man near me who looks like he’s standing if the water is shallower where he is. We walk together along the river for a minute before I start to calm down again.
However, over the 750m river swim, I never get my groove.
Two years ago I swam the Henley Classic and had no issues in the open water. And have done a lot more training this time around so I wasn’t expecting the swim to be quite so tough.
I was one of the last swimmers in the water, and thinking back, I wonder if I should have got in earlier to allow my body to get used to the temperature. And to control my breathing before we started swimming.
I spent a lot of the first 325m doing breast stroke, occasionally flipping to my back to try to regulate my breathing. Although I knew that I would be killing my legs, in the moment I just wanted to keep moving forwards. Turning around at the buoy to go with the current was much better. And I did manage to swim some of it front crawl.
Getting out of the water, I knew I was one of the last, but I didn’t care. I was just pleased that I hadn’t given up.
I struggled to get out of my wetsuit. Feeling constricted and still like I wasn’t able to fully catch my breath. My Mum and Step-Dad had come to support and they were there to run/walk in to transition. I told my Mum I did not want to do an Ironman anymore!
I ran the 1/4 mile to transition 1 in my flip-flops. Then struggled to get out of my wetsuit, put my tank and shoes on, then push my bike out.
Take off my chip timer to remove my wetsuit more easily (or manoeuvre my wetsuit over it more carefully so that it doesn’t get stuck). Oh and buy a trisuit!
Within minutes on the bike I was overtaken by two others and later on, by a third rider. I was alone for most of the 20KM loop. My goal was to maintain a 12mph average, which would be an improvement on my previous rides! I hadn’t anticipated the very long hill in the second half of the loop, and I found myself once again re-thinking the Ironman.
One success was that I managed to drink my entire bottle while on the bike, which had 150kcal in as my fluid and fuel for the triathlon.
I would probably take more fuel for that distance next time.
I was on my old, cheap road bike for the first time in a while after punctures plagued my training this week. However, we both held up OK.
The dismount spot was another 0.15 mile away from transition, and my legs felt like jelly when I started running. But I soon got into my stride. The run course was two 2.5KM laps, and I really liked having people to overtake during my first lap (they were on their second lap!!). The marshals were amazing and so encouraging, and they all commented on my earrings (cheap plastic pearls to make me look a bit more glam!)
It surprised me that I was able to maintain an 8.30 min mile pace during the run, despite feeling like my legs were toast when I first stopped riding. The second lap there were still a few people out on the course doing their first/second loops, and I managed to overtake another few runners. I felt strong and it reminded me how much I love (and miss!) marathon training!
I finished in 1.58, and 85/90 participants (more proof that I have a LOT to learn!) And I was immediately handed a glass of Champagne and a medal by the organisers – enough to convince me to sign up again next year.
All in all, this race was an incredibly well organised, friendly and supportive local race. It did however raise a lot of questions, concerns and fears within me. But that’s for another blog post on another day!
As always, so grateful for my Mum and Dave for supporting (they managed to get to the swim, two spots on the bike, and on the run!) plus all the photos!
Very well done. Sounds really tough. And to Mum and Dave too of course!
Yeah triathlon is a totally different beast isn’t it. My weakness is swimming, I learnt to swim a few years ago to do my first triathlon & loved it but haven’t done one since. Well done for pushing through, you’ll smash the Ironman I’m sure!
Thanks lovely! Got to keep working on those weaknesses!
They are the best supporters!
Congratulations! Do you have advice on what to wear (or not to wear) for a tri? That’s always been a part that intimidates me!
I didn’t have a tri suit so wore padded cycling shorts and a sports bra under my wetsuit, then put a tight tank on for the ride and run (it was a little bit of a struggle!)
Well done! Good parental support too. G.
Very good support! looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!
A swim start can be quite daunting with everyone sprinting and thrashing about at the start!! But don’t give up on Ironman yet. Try doing another sprint tri but with a friend at the swim start. It’s good to have someone to support you at the start and you can draft each other and save some energy.
I think I’m going to find a lake tri and have signed up for two more open water only swims to practice the swim/river panic!
Well done Charlie another acheivement under your belt, a few years ago I had triathlon on my mind, but to date I haven’t made it off the road/hills yet. Next Challenge London ultra along many of the paths you will be familiar with along the Thames. Well it is on a cycle path and next to the river (does that count?)
well done for completing it especially after wanting to give up! we were allowed to get into the water 3-5 mins before the start and it helps massively! I also started my watch 10sec before the official start time, so I wouldn’t fiddle with it and panic when the gun went off. I also agreed with a lady next to me to take it easy and we positioned ourselves towards the back to avoid being kicked/swam over. I got into a nice rhythm and enjoyed the swim very much! Maybe some of the tips will be useful to you?
I’d also recommend the book: Triathlon Disasters & How to Avoid Them by P. Bloom. It made me chuckle and helped massively before my 1st ever 70.3 event!
Thank you so so much, going to order that for my holiday this weekend, Sounds like perfect reading and great tips!
Well done you! With all the rain we’ve been having recently I’m not surprised the water was so cold. I’m glad you’re facing your weak points head on and logically, experiences like that can make you want to run away and hide.
Definitely get a trisuit sorted makes transition so much easier and body glide on your shins and forearms can help getting the wetsuit off – good luck with the rest of your training x
I’m doing my first sprint tri in a few weeks and know it’s going to be a huge learning curve. When are you doing your iron man? I’m planning a 70.3 next year but giving myself a year to train!
First one under your belt and a great run, well done!
Way to stick with it Charlie!! You’re so inspiring and I admire your courage during the race to work through the difficulties and finish strong!
Great job! My first sprint triathlon was a few minutes slower than yours, and yes, there’s always lots to learn. Reading your recap, my two swim tips are: Yes, 100% get into the water and warm up for 15-20 minutes if the race venue allows it. Get water in your wetsuit, splash water on your face, get into a few easy strokes. I do this before every triathlon, even long course. It has almost completely gotten rid of any anxiety I experience in the swim leg of the race, and I had some serious OWS anxiety!
To prevent my wetsuit from catching on my timing chip, I usually flip up the bottom of that wetsuit leg to leave enough room for it to just slide over my chip when I take my suit off. I do the same for the arm I wear my watch on. Easy peasy!
Keep at it! Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you’ve still got time to train for Ironman!