Last year, my first tri of the season was Good Fri Tri, but we missed that because we were travelling to Japan this year, so the May Day Tri was my first tri of the season.
I like to be as organised and prepared as possible, so on Saturday afternoon, Stu and I drove to Winchester, so that we were able to cycle the bike course. We knew that for the sprint race, we would need to do two laps of approximately 10km each, so we weren’t worried that a slow cycle around the course once would tire us out for the real event. I like to be prepared for any tricky turns, loose gravel on the road and unexpected ascents or descents.
After our pootle around the course, it was time to register. Again, this is something that helps to ease stress on race day as it’s possible to label up your helmet, bike and bag before arriving and also to put your race number on a belt in advance. We also listened to a race briefing and I was invited to star in a TryTri video! Afterwards, we drove home along the bike course for me to get another view of it.
When we got home, I set about packing all of my kit. I’m a bit obsessed with organisation so I have a ‘packing list for all occasions’, which has many many tabs and is very helpful when checking that I have everything I need. I really enjoyed editing the list to remove any mention of contact lenses or glasses!
In the morning we got up early and made sure that everything made it into the car (unlike Winchester Duathlon, where my bag containing my bike shoes and helmet got left behind!)
I was pleased to find that there was a system for racking up, where a group of competitors were given a section of the rack, which is much easier than trying to decide where to rack your kit… although I chose to go next to a tree in the hope it would help me remember where my bike was!
Racked up ready to go
Earlier in the week I had been surprised to find that I was in quite an early wave, ahead of some of my friends who are better swimmers than me. I’m still not sure about this, but think it was meant to be mixed ability waves with similar ability lanes. However, this all relies on people giving accurate predicted times. (How are your local tris organised? Are people good at predicting their swim times?)
The swim: 09:41.3 (126/207)
I was very nervous before the swim as I really don’t enjoy pool-based triathlons, but I was confident that I would be OK. I had predicted a finish time of 9:30 and I have swum 400m in around 9 minutes before. I was the second person in my wave to start and I think I would have benefitted from getting in just a tiny bit earlier and doing more of a warm up as I did not start well. I also realised that I was in a lane with much faster swimmers and it felt like my feet were constantly getting tapped. At one point, one of the men in my lane taped my feet, so I stopped at the end, whereupon he proceeded to remove his goggles, rinse them and put them back on. I was annoyed that this all happened whilst I was waiting. Surely it would have been better etiquette for him to deal with his goggles and then tap my feet on the next length?
One slight advantage that I had on the swim was that I was in the lane closest to the door and was also able to use the steps to exit the pool. It wasn’t my fastest swim, but I did a lot of waiting for others to pass (I later found out that their times were roughly 8:45, 8:15 and 7:15, so significantly faster than me and my predicted time).
T1: 02:24.00 (138/207)
I didn’t have too far to run before I got to my kit. I spent a bit of time faffing (and putting socks and mitts on), but had already decided that I would be fine cycling without a jacket or other layer. As most of the other swimmers had been faster than me, there weren’t too many people in the way, although there were still some people milling around and setting up their kit.
The bike 01:05:10.40 (163/207)
I was feeling quite confident about the bike ride and hoped to be able to complete it in under an hour, but was perhaps more fatigued than I’d realised. I also ended up stopping at a few sets of traffic lights and was frustrated by some cyclists (novices, I think) who were unaware of the no-drafting rule.
T2: 01:24.90 (108/207)
This is usually my best discipline, and that proved to be true again today… but I hadn’t realised quite where the dismount line was and that I had to cycle back up the hill to it. I also lost some time as Stuart had already finished and started speaking to me in transition, so I ran past my bike rack – oops! Fortunately, I had managed a flying dismount, so my shoes were on my bike and I just needed to slip some trainers on.
The run: 31:06:00 (166/207)
This was the bit that I knew was going to be difficult. I had sustained a leg injury on Wednesday evening (I demonstrated some exercises to a runner without warming up first and pulled my hamstring), so I was uncertain about whether or not I’d be able to do the run. I made the decision that I’d give it a go and if it hurt too much then I could either walk or pull out.
I ran down the hill towards where a group of friends from Lordshill were supporting and then had to turn left. unfortunately, this part of the course was on loose wood chippings that were particularly unpleasant to run on. There was then a left turn and onto a steady ascent before turning back onto the field. A cruel twist is that you had to run past the finish line on the first lap.
At this point a super-enthusiastic marshal tried to encourage me by running along with me, but I tried to explain to her that I had a leg injury and didn’t want to try to run any faster.
It was then back out past transition, where Chris from TryTri was waiting with his camera!
Lap 1 of the run done and a smile for TryTri’s Chris Rees © TryTri UK
Onto Lap 2 of the run – I’ve got this! ©TryTri UK
One of teh good aspects of teh run was that I saw various friends at different points in the run, so it was nice to be able to looo out for others.
Finally, I was on teh home straight. I’ve had so many rubbish finish photos that I thought I’d try to look at least a little victorious, rather than looking down at my Garmin..
Desperately trying not to look at the floor during my finish © TryTri UK
As you can see, I almost nailed it, but I just couldn’t resist that glimpse at the end!
The Garmin-check photo that I was trying to avoid © TryTri UK
I was then handed a lovely medal (with the same design as the water bottle that I had collected the previous day)
My race number and medal
My final time was: 01:49:46.65 which left me as 153/207. I know that I can complete a sprint race much faster than that and I was initially a bit disappointed, but then I remembered that it’s only my first tri this year and that my leg wouldn’t let me run as fast as usual.
I was 35/69 female finishers and 7/12 in my Age Group – so close to being in the top half, but not quite there yet!
I spent a bit of time chatting with friends, before Chris asked whether various members of Southampton Tri Club would mind appearing in a short video. We agreed that we would, so we were ushered to a slightly quieter area for the interview to take place.
A close up of my medal, showing King Alfred.
Our video interview © TryTri UK
Post-race interview with Southampton Tri Club © Try Tri UK
I ended up starring in two videos:
What to do on event day for a stress free triathlon:
The Winchester Triathlon – May Day Tri 2015: