On Sunday 10th April, I finished my first triathlon event ever and I didn’t do too badly either! I must admit I had some doubts about my fitness and I was concerned about diving head first into cold water to swim 300m in nothing but some lycra shorts and a top, especially as I had done zero swim training…but I survived! I actually managed to complete the whole thing in under 1 hour, coming 16th our of 50 in my category. Something I’m pretty proud of actually #toottoot!
It was far from a doddle though and I’ll be honest, I felt well out of my depth
(no pun intended) during the swim. I really considered that I might not be able to do it as I couldn’t calm my breathing at all, which makes for pretty tricky front-crawling. The water was a ‘barmy’ 18 degrees so that probably hit me like a tonne of bricks, mixed with the adrenaline and general dislike of open water swimming I think I went in to a minor panic. Long story short, in order to get myself through it I did the only rational thing that came to mind…I flipped over and backstroked the entire way!
As soon as I could stand I was on my feet and wading out of the water to dry land heading up to the bikes. The transition was fairly simple. I got my socks and New Balance trainers on hassle free & popped my helmet on but struggled a little lifting the bike from the stand – probably still cold and shook up from the swim! Before I knew it I was on the road and had begun the 13k ride. Turns out my transition was over 3 minutes and I have no idea if that’s a good time but I’m sure the professional tri athlete’s must aim for less than 1!
I was so much more comfortable on the bike and felt like I was going well because I seemed to be passing people who I knew to be in my category or the one before and only being passed by those in the categories after me. I couldn’t remember the loop from the map so as I approached the first turnaround I got a little too ahead of myself thinking I was then on the home straight. Maybe that helped my position! I worried for a second that I was exerting too much energy and needed to save my legs for the run so even though the roads were relatively flat I made a conscious effort to change up and down gears at the slightest of gradients just to vary the resistance.
At the next turnaround I took the SIS Go Isotonic Energy Gel that James had strapped around the middle of my handlebars (maybe a little too securely!) and squeezed the black-current gel into my mouth. I half expected some sort of super strength transformation to occur and immediately thought of Eric Wimp eating a banana and turning into Bananaman…fortunately that didn’t happen. It seemed to help though because I didn’t tire and when it came to transitioning for the run, I fixed my bike and helmet back in it’s place, took a couple swigs of water, ate a couple of the sweets I’d left and was well on my way.
The contrast in my mindset from the swim to this point was colossal! I’d gone from ‘how am I going to do this,’ ‘I need to stop,’ to ‘you’ve got this, this is easy,’ and ‘keep going.’ I can’t tell you enough how important mindset is. Your body could be crying out to stop but if you have the heart and willingness to tell yourself to keep going then you will finish. You CAN do it.
I kept up a really good pace throughout the run. Knowing it was only 3k helped immensely because you can definitely push yourself to go faster knowing you won’t have to keep it up for long. I was also really enjoying myself at that point and had more of a positive outlook about my fitness, I was feeling great and knew I actually still had a lot of ‘go juice’ in me. Checking my watch, I only had a few minutes before I hit the hour mark and the finish was in sight…easy!
In the end, I really enjoyed it and was so pleased with how I did, especially my 16th place finish. And the best thing about it was that it was all done and dusted by 9am so I still had the rest of the day to spend however I wanted.
It’s a shame the St. Kilda triathlon was the last in the Gatorade Series for the year as I’d love to do another soon but at least I’ve got some time to sort out my swimming!