Where to start. I don’t really know what to write and yet have enough stuff in my head that I’d bore you all to death. When entering at the end of 2010 I could just about doggy paddle, I’d never been on a road bike and hadn’t been on a mountain bike since my late teens.
Arriving bright and early the registration was simple and straight-forward. I got my race number and then got marked up – 365 was ready for set off. Well, maybe not quite ready but I was here. Heading back to the campervan I put my bike out front to be all professional looking and had some breakfast.
After having breakfast the event organiser came on the microphone to welcome everyone to Seaford and how great it was that since Wednesday this week the swim had been called off, but today the lifeguards had given clearance for the swims to go ahead, although at much shorter distances. I decided I’d better go and have a look at this ‘choppy’ water. Walking past transition I couldn’t understand why people were already racking their bikes.
The sea looked pretty bad and having never swum (properly) in the sea, this didn’t bode well. I also asked someone on the way back past transition why people were racking their bikes so early. The answer came ‘to claim the best spots to make them easy to find’. Good thinking, so I went to rack my bike in the best spot possible.
After watching the Olympic distance swimmers set off and more than a handful deciding to come out after the 1st of their 2 laps my confidence levels with the swim were at an all time low. An announcement then came at 10am that the sprint distance swim was under review with an official announcement to come back at 11am, although it was doubtful it would go ahead.
The sun then came out and at 10.15 the swim was likely to go ahead. At 10.45 the swim probably wouldn’t go ahead and the event was likely to change to a duathlon. At this point I was gutted – I’d done all this to do a triathlon. However, at 11am the official announcement came through the swim would go ahead, although only be a distance of 300m.
Making my way down the beach, one thing came immediately clear – walking on pebbles hurt. I walked down to the front due to wanting to be nearest the water due to the pain underneath (ok, I’m a wimp!). Looking around I then realised I was with the much better swimmers – probably the people looking to win. This really wasn’t my company but rather than walk back across painful pebbles I thought I’d just have to stick this one out.
The countdown began and soon we were off. Swimming into 4-5 foot waves and things actually weren’t going bad. Admittedly all the swimming lessons I’ve had and technique work went out the window – I was swimming for survival, not helped by people attempting to swim over the top of me. I was in with the most of the pack down to the 2nd buoy but then think I came too close to the shore line for the length back and had to deal with the worst of the waves. I also heard someone shout ‘Yuck! Seaweed!’. Thinking to myself about how fortunate I was swimming nowhere near it I then proceeded to go straight through 2 massive sections of it.
So coming out the swim towards the back of the group (not really unexpectedly) I moved into the transition area for the bike stage. Getting my wetsuit easily down to my ankles, I then used my left foot to tread on my right leg wetsuit and promptly fell over. Much easier to do this sitting on the floor anyway. Helmet on, race number on, cycling shoes on and slow run with bike to cycle start line. Jump on and realise with an uphill start being in a high gear was probably the wrong choice. Fortunately the person directly in front of me made the same mistake so I pretended I had to stop abruptly because of them.
The course was a 2 mile loop, 1 mile going into headwind and mainly uphill, the mile back was mainly downhill and for most of it the wind carried you along. Needless to say I probably managed about 15mph on the way out, and then 20+ mph on the way back. Nothing much exciting happened – I think I did quite a lot of overtaking and the only people I really remember coming past me were the leaders.
There is a lack of photos from the bike section – I’ll pretend this is due to me going so fast. In all probability my ‘support crew’ had probably got cold and gone for a coffee!
Getting back to transition for what should be the easier of the change overs, I racked my bike, remembered to take my helmet off. Then couldn’t understand why my cycling shoes wouldn’t come off – turned out I’d only undone half the Velcro. Once the shoes were off I thought I’d reward myself with a mouthful of drink. Turning to run, I realised I’d somehow managed to put my left trainer and right cycling shoe on. 2nd attempt at running off in both trainers went much better.
I didn’t feel like I was running particularly fast but seemed to hover around the 8m 40 mark – which when I was originally aiming for sub 8s wasn’t particularly great. I did however have some strange stomach pain, much like a stitch which I couldn’t shake off.
First Triathlon Done
So with a few lessons learnt, a finish time of just under 1hr 30 mins I’m ready to go again. I’m already eyeing up a couple of events next month just before the season ends before contemplating something very silly next year – more to come soon if I don’t come to my senses beforehand.
A Few Mentions of Thanks
Quite a few people need to have a mention here. Firstly – everyone that has donate to Isabel Hospice over the past few months – thank you very much! If you’d like to donate the easiest way is via JustGiving.
Another thanks has to go to my understanding wife who has let me venture off with her Father-in-Law to try and learn how to cycle, and has let me disappear most Saturday mornings to learn to swim in a lake.
Steve, the before mentioned father-in-law, needs a special mention and he ‘sold’ me the bike used. He also got hold of some racing tyres for me to use this weekend as my existing tyres have more holes than a sieve. Unfortunately we punctured 3 inner tubes trying to put them one, so resorted with just 1 new tyre rather than risk further punctures.
And also a thanks to my support crew on the day – Rox, Steve and Sandra who stood out in the miserable cold for 90 minutes.
A massive thanks is due to the lifeguards at Seaford who pulled out all the stops to get the swim to go ahead. I’m sure it would have been a much easier decision to just cancel the swim.