Like the time you lose your cherry, they say you’ll never forget your first triathlon. I’ve spent years trying to forget the former (really … ask me over a pint one day…). But I know for sure that I’ll always remember yesterday’s City of Bath Sprint Triathlon.
It was an amazing experience. And I am now officially hooked.
I arrived early, registered, and was immediately set at ease by the lovely people there doing the organising. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, and there were many smiles (from them as well as me!). I racked my bike and set up my transition area. Now, bear in mind this was my very first time doing a triathlon, and perhaps you’ll forgive me for taking fifteen minutes to set up transition. Did I have everything I needed? Should I put my cycling gloves beneath my helmet or inside it with my sunglasses? Inside. Yeah. No … underneath. But then … no, I’ll put them inside. But would I be putting my sunglasses on first, or….?
In the end I left everything as it was and vacated transition. I’d come with the simple intention of completely the tri without any accidents or serious mishaps, so sparing a minute or two in transition wasn’t my priority. And besides, I needed coffee.
A coffee later, I spent a bit of time watching the earlier swim waves. The 50m pool was a bit daunting (I’d never swum in one), and I was glad to see a few people doing breast stroke. Phew! I watched some poor bugger left along in the pool, struggling on his last length, getting a nice cheer when he finished, and I vowed that wouldn’t be me. (Hmmmm …. see later …. and bear in mind my shite swimming).
And then it began. Tri suit on (sling it to the left or right … left? It sort of ‘falls’ that way … so yeah … or maybe right …) You might have gathered by now that I was a bit nervous. There were 40 or so spectators, as well as the 8 or 9 marshalls in the pool and the other 24 competitiors in my wave. All there to watch my shite swimming.
And we’re off! I’d planned to alternate lengths between crawl and breast stroke, but that soon fell by the wayside after the 3rd or 4th length (of 15 … this was a 750m swim). And by my tenth length I realised the pool was emptying. Splash, breathe, gasp, cough … and then I was on my own.
Last length. And then a lovely thing happened. Everyone started clapping and cheering. It was a huge boost, and it actually made me a bit soppy. Great, great encouragement, and when I finally hauled myself out of the pool the cheer was deafening. Yet another example of the great atmosphere.
So, T1 and then onto the bike. No mishaps. I didn’t put my helmet on my foot by mistake or take someone else’s bike, I mounted in the right place, and then I was off.
The bike course started gently undulating, just how I like it. I’d even say I like hills. But then hills in at one end of this 25k out-and-back course were killers! Never mind, head down, power on. I overtook a few people, then towards the end I sighted a guy ahead of me and overtook him going up a shallow hill. Felt good. Then when I had to stop at a level crossing and then cramped when I put my foot down, and the same guy powered past me with a “That’s rough luck!” … not so good! I caught up with him again and overtook him once more half a mile from the finish, with a quick chat and a smile. Top bloke.
T2, running shoes on, and oh, what’s this? Off-road run! And here I was in my road shoes. But never mind … it was a nice, gently undulating 5k run, and I settled in pretty quickly. The finish was around the race track, with load of people spectating from the balcony above. I sprinted in with two other guys, and my first triathlon was finished.
Ecstatic! I was totally buzzing. I hung around a bit, then wandered back to get showered and changed before food and coffee.
My results: out of 99 finishers I was 83rd. Not brilliant, but the swim let me down badly. For the swim I was … 99th! Eek. Could do better. But for both the bike and the run I was 40th, so if I can get my swim even average, I’ll perhaps place in the top 50% of some future tri’s. And for an ex-fatty 42 year old, I’d be very very happy with that.
The organisation was superb, everything ran on time and seemed to be very smooth. Everyone was extremely friendly, and I got talking to quite a few people throughout the day. Walking back to the car after getting my bike and stuff from transition, I did smile to myself when I thought, I’m a triathlete now!
First of many, for sure.