First triathlon of the season

3 May

I wish every weekend were three days long. It has been so lovely having a Bank Holiday weekend and I’ve packed a lot in, but I know that I’m going to spend the rest of the week confused and wondering what day it is!

On Friday evening, I stayed at work late and then went swimming. It has been so long since I swam in the Uni pool, which is a shame as it’s quite a nice pool, but it can be unbearably crowded at times. Stuart was doing a swim workout and as I missed Monday night’s swim, I thought it would be good to check that I still remember how to swim before my first triathlon of the season. I’d said that my 400m swim time was about 8:30, but my lack of training and breathing problems have clearly had an impact as my 3 timed 400m sets all took around 9:30 😦 It’s so frustrating to be slipping backwards, so I need to get in the pool more often. Hopefully, the lake will warm up soon and I’ll be able to do some open water swimming as `i prefer it to being in the pool.

As usual, Saturday was parkrun day. Stu went out to do a long ride, so I met up with Kim. She’s been running really well, recently, so we agreed to aim for a season’s best (sub 32:49), before going for a PB at a later date. It felt quite cold, but the sun came out when we were running and a lot of people realised that they had overdressed!

Kim and I positioned ourselves well and she decided to really attack the first hill, so we were accelerating up it (rather than gradually slowing, which is what I usually do!) We then pushed hard on the downhill and maintained a really good pace. I knew that we needed to average around 6:32/km, so it was great to see that we were consistently below that. We ran past the start/finish area and did the second loop, which has a gentler slope but always feels harder. Eventually, we passed Sue who was marshalling at the crossroads as usual and then we knew the rest of the event was downhill or flat. I look at my watch on the final stretch and felt confident that we would manage to beat Kim’s season’s best.

parkrun 29th April 2016

We smashed it… and then Kim mentioned that her PB was 32:06, so she smashed that as well. What a great result for someone who has been training really consistently.

On Sunday, I arranged to meet Lou (a runner who has retired through injury) for a trail ride in the New Forest. As a child I spent a lot of time doing off-road cycling, but in the last 5 years, I’ve only cycled on roads, so I was interested in how I would find it.

As it was a beautifully sunny day, I decided to go out and get my bike ready and also wanted to clean my road bike ahead of my triathlon… but things often don’t turn out as planned. I got my hybrid out of the garage and removed my fixed panniers. After a quick squeeze of the tyres, I realised that I needed to inflate the front tyre a bit. My garage is currently full of building supplies and kitchen parts because of the renovations, so I had to rummage a little to find the track pump. I swiftly inflated the front tyre and decided that I might as well top up the rear tyre a bit. Initially, I couldn’t fix the pump on, but after a couple of tries, it was fine and I managed to pump it up a bit, but that’s when things went wrong. I tried to remove the pump and managed to snap the valve off – aarrgghh! That’s the second time I’ve done that 😦

Fortunately, I had allowed plenty of time for my basic bike maintenance, so I wasn’t too worried. Also, I’d much rather fix a flat tyre in the warmth and sunshine by my house than in the wind and rain at the side of the road. I took the back wheel off, got out some tyre levers and an inner tube and then perched on the steps to my house in a sunny spot. After a bit of a fight, I managed to get the tyre off. I removed the broken inner tube and then started putting a new inner tube on. At that point, I wished that I had cleaned my bike more recently as I was getting filthy. I went and washed my hands and started fighting the tyre again… but I cannot stand having dirty hands and I was quickly covered in filth. I decided that I would wash the wheel before tackling it again. As my house is still being renovated, I had to walk up several flights of stairs to get some hot soapy water and I also had to allow a few minutes for the wheel to dry. I then started trying it again. I managed to get the inner tube in and the tyre partly on when Stu arrived back. I was so pleased to see him. As he’s the King of Punctures, he managed to get the tyre back on in seconds, so I then just needed to load my bike into the car and set off to meet Lou.

We drove out into the New Forest near Beaulieu and set off on a trail. Initially it was a broken concrete path, but before long, we had to negotiate a steep gravelly hill. Lou has a mountain bike with wide knobbly tyres, whereas my hybrid has fairly narrow tyres… and a nervous owner who doesn’t like gravel. Lou shot off down the hill. Towards the bottom, the path forked and I couldn’t see Lou. Oh dear! Five minutes in and I was already lost. I could see a cyclist in the distance on the right hand path, so I cycled that way a bit before deciding that it wasn’t Lou, so I retraced my steps and headed on the other path. Fortunately, Lou turned round, so we caught up with each other. (She had visions of finding me in a ditch at the side of the path – oops!)

The rest of our ride was much less eventful as most of the paths are compacted gravel, which is less nerve-wracking… but I have to say that it takes a different kind of concentration than riding a road bike and the terrain certainly makes it harder work. After a couple of hours, we got back to our cars. I really enjoyed the ride (and the company) and look forward to doing more of this kind of cycling in future, although perhaps on a more suitable bike!

Yesterday I had my first triathlon of the Season: Winchester Triathlon/May Day Tri. It’s run by my favourite local tri company: TriTry. Their events are beginner friendly and this one was no exception. Stu and I have done it before, so I was familiar with the route. I spent Sunday evening getting out all of the required kit, before getting an early night.

On Monday, we got up early, packed our bikes and bags into the car and headed to Winchester. As we’d picked up our race packets on Sunday evening, we already had the required stickers on our bags, helmets and bikes, so it was easy for us to head to transition and rack up. I was quite excited as this was my first chance to try out my gorgeous new SOAS team kit – annoyingly, I don’t think there’s a single photo that shows me wearing it 😦

Stu was swimming in the second wave of the day, so I went to watch him start with Liz and Sue. There was only one other person in his lane, so he was able to swim at his own pace without any problems – there was quite a wide variance in the triathletes’ swimming abilities.

Liz, Sue and I were in a wave at 9:10am. It was running slightly late, so we had plenty of time to listen to the pre-race briefing. Sue was a little nervous as it was her first triathlon, but we found that there were a lot of other novices in our wave.

I was in lane 5 which was fairly near to the exit. There were two others in my lane, including an incredibly quick young lad who I had spoken to earlier. I was lapped three times by the young lad and once by the other swimmer. I didn’t expect to do well in the swim, so that was fine.

Swim and run to transition: 10:06 (169/229)

I got to transition just ahead of Liz and Sue and quickly put on my headband, helmet, socks, bike shoes, gilet and gloves – well actually, I had a bit of a battle with the gloves, but as it was quite cold and a bit breezy, I thought I should have something warm on!

T1: 3:43 (208/229)

The bike course is pretty, but quite undulating. I’m fine going uphill, but I just don’t like downhills. I was passed by quite a few cyclists, but I was enjoying myself, so that was fine. Sue and I had a bit of a cat and mouse game before she lost me on a long downhill. Every time I heard a bike behind me, I wondered whether it was Liz, but she later told me that she spent 7 minutes in transition! There is just one part of the bike course that I don’t like, which is a left hand turn at the end of a long downhill that takes you onto quite a busy road. I was fine the first time I did it, but the second time a female cyclist whizzed past me and straight out onto the road, just ahead of a car. I’m not surprised that the driver beeped at her. It might be better if this were a compulsory stop point for cyclists.

I managed to catch up with Sue at some traffic lights near to the start, but she was soon off and away again. I relaxed on the second lap as I knew where the potholes were… and also where to look out for the bluebells!

As I got back towards the start, I put my gloves into the back pocket of my gilet as slipped my feet out of my shoes. I passed Chris and Sonia who were marshalling and dismounted quickly.

Bike: 01:15:11 (2111/229)

In transition, I could hear Stu and Lou cheering as Chris shouted at me to pose for a photo. I knew I wasn’t on for a quick time, so I was happy to oblige!

Lou and Stu Winchester triathlon

T2: 01:44 (155/229)

I went out onto the run course, which started on some wood chippings, which is not a surface that I enjoy running on. It was then out onto the pavement and up a gentle hill. Unfortunately the wind/a vandal had moved one of the run signs, so I passed the turning for the run. Luckily, a passerby redirected me, so I was soon back on course. I knew we had to run up a hill and then got to run back down a grassy hill. As I looked over onto the course, I could see a lot of tyres and hoped that it hadn’t been turned into an obstacle course. At the top of the hill, I passed the drinks station and then started to descent. At that point, I was able to see that the tyres were at the side of the course, which was a big relief!

I looped past the finish and headed out for my second lap. I knew that I was running slowly, but decided not to change the setting on my Garmin, as it would just frustrate me to see it.

Finally, I was heading towards the  finish line. Done it! my first triathlon of 2016. It wasn’t as fast time, but it was a really fun event.

Run: 33:24 (183/229)

Total: 2:04:09 (208/229) (Female Open 31/35; Female: 59/74)

Liz and Sue Winchester triathlon

Thanks to Chris and the rest of the TryTri team for putting on another great event 🙂

Quick pose with Chris at the end of the event!

Quick pose with Chris at the end of the event!

Winchester triathlon medal

7 Responses to “First triathlon of the season”

  1. slopezbustos 03/05/2016 at 11:20 pm #

    Great report from the race. I was talking to the young boy in your lane during the briefing. When he told me he was expecting to do around 5 minutes I couldn’t believe it (They must had put him in the wrong wave). Nice to see you there, now getting ready for the next event.

    • tamsynsmith 04/05/2016 at 5:14 pm #

      Thanks, Sergio. I knew he was going to be quick, but I hadn’t realised he was that quick! No wonder he kept lapping me!

  2. bribikes 03/05/2016 at 11:29 pm #

    You really did pack in a lot in a three day weekend! Congrats on completing your first tri of the season 😀

    • tamsynsmith 04/05/2016 at 5:15 pm #

      Thank you. Sadly, a friend passed away last week and it acted as a reminder to get out and do things whilst I can.

  3. Polly 04/05/2016 at 11:30 am #

    What a weekend.
    Congratulations on the triathlon.
    I like the bit where you put gloves in your back pocket and slip your feet out of your shoes – did that take a lot of practice? (It’s my first season with cleats and I’ve just started to think about how to approach T2 later this month)

    • tamsynsmith 04/05/2016 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks, Polly. Usually, I wear fingerless mitts that are much more close-fitting, so I usually keep them on until I’ve racked my bike, but as it was cold, I had on a reasonably loose fitting pair of full-fingered winter gloves. I took them off on a flat section where I had to go slowly because of road junctions. I wasn’t sure that I’d get them into my back pocket, so my Plan B was to stuff them in the front of my tritop! (Purists would argue against gloves, but I like to know that in case of an accident my hands have some protection, rather than try to save a few seconds).

      Have you got tri shoes or ordinary cycling shoes? My ordinary cycling shoes have 3 velcro fasteners, so although it would be possible for me to get my feet out of them whilst on my bike, it’s not as easy as with my tri shoes, which have a single chunky velcro strap. I’ve done a few (3? 4?) practice sessions of about 15 minutes each time – I just found a quiet empty car park that had a slight downhill tilt. This meant that my bike would defintely keep moving without me pedalling, but it wasn’t so steep that I would pick up much speed. I usually reach down to undo a shoe and then sit up and do a couple more pedal strokes before getting my foot out and on top of the shoe. I’ve got quite small feet, so I’ve never lost a shoe after I’ve jumped off my bike (big shoes are more likely to hit the ground and unclip themselves!)

      Technically, I could start with my shoes on the bike, but most of the traithlons that I’ve done seem to have steep hills or sharp turns near the start, so I like to feel more confident knowing my shoes are on before anything technical.

      Good luck 😀

      • Polly 07/05/2016 at 5:16 pm #

        Thanks Tamsyn.
        It’s tri shoes….I’ll find somewhere to practice getting off the bike. The next triathlon should be fairly flat, though I expect there will be twists and turns coming out of transition. Keeping things as simple as possible seems like a good idea.
        Thanks.

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