From Richard Channon
What a day!
A relatively relaxed start to the day at 6:30 saw us at Fareham Leisure Centre for 7:30 ready for a 400m swim, 12 mile bike and 5.5k run. As this was my first triathlon, I had no idea what to expect, but I didn't expect to see marshalls still setting up transition! A quick registration (that saw me in wave 11 of 12!!) and I was in transition wondering what I should be doing. It turned out that a lot of folks around me were also relative tri-novices so hints and ideas were flying all over the show. However, the impending rain meant I simply put my gloves, cycle top, race belt and socks inside my waterproof bag and turned my cycle shoes and trainers upside down. Fingers crossed I had everything I needed.
The first swim waves passed mostly uneventfully except that they took a lot longer than anticipated and it quickly became apparent that my allocated 11am start time wouldn't be hit. Our little group had slowly diminshed as start waves came and went. A friend of ours was in wave 4, Max was in wave 5, some colleagues in wave 6 until myself, Suzanne and Nicky were waiting. As Suzanne went off to nurse her hungover other half, Nicky B and I decided to hit up the cafe and have some pasta since breakfast was now several hours since and we had potentially another 45 minutes or more to wait.
This turned out to be a costly mistake. The swim waves were becoming quicker, the organisation and briefing were slicker, and so I was in the pool a mere 25-30 minutes after eating. After 4 lengths disaster nearly struck as my timing chip fell off my ankle and I only just caught it. I managed to frantically reattach it and carry on, and I still managed a 9:30 swim (including the run over to transition) which I was relatively happy with.
T1 was an experience: It was spitting with rain, I had no towel to attempt any foot drying, so I simply fought my socks and shoes on, forgot my gloves, slung my cycle top over my shoulders, attached my helmet, grabbed my bike and set off. I quickly retraced some steps as I realised I had also forgotten my race belt and number! Reracking the bike to dig it out of my bag cost valuable seconds and resulted in my T1 time being two and a half minutes!
A tedious 100m+ run with the bike before mounting dispatched with, I thought "Game On, of the three disciplines, this is my forte, let's see what I can do!". Max and I shouted some encouragement to each other as I passed her just finishing her run, and then I quickly left a few other competitors behind on the climb out to the 2-lap route, and settled into a good rhythm on the first lap. However, my late pasta fuel up hit me badly on the short sharp hill two thirds the way around lap 1. I developed a really bad stitch and had to let off the pace for a mile or so for it to fade. In the mean time much of my good work was undone as I was re-passed by several competitors I had managed to overtake. Being able to increase my pace again for the second lap was some comfort but I struggled to re-establish my previous pace.
I jogged into T2 feeling happy I'd got through 2 out of 3 events mostly unscathed. I felt like I was fumbling with wet shoelaces as I tried to get my trainers on as quick as possible. A hi-5 from an already-completed Max saw me on my way to my worst nightmare: a run.
My knee issues plagued me almost immediately on the run and I had my first 'recovery walk' by about 500m in. This walk-run regime continued throughout the distance, and I'm sure I walked for more time than I ran. There was a lot of off-road running which helped me on my way, and lots of encouragement from every marshall along the way was much appreciated. Almost every other competitor who saw me walking shouted some positive words to me and I felt very much included in the triathlete fraternity despite most of them looking (and running!) far more experienced than me.
The last slight hill towards the finish was agony for my knees, but the showman in me wanted to run across the line in front of the few supporters who were still braving the soggy conditions. My support crew of Max, Kath A and our friends who had competed were cheering madly for me as I sprinted (it felt like a sprint, it was all I had, but it was barely more than a jog!) towards the finish arch. As I was alone in approaching the line, I heard many many more unknown voices shouting my name and willing me to the line.
I'd done it! I said if I had to crawl over the line I would, but in the end I did manage to look like a runner!
I very much enjoyed my first triathlon and have many lessons learned to take to my next one. Most notably: don't listen to Nicky's pre-race food suggestions, triple check my timing chip is secure (or if in doubt, duck tape) and grit my teeth harder when my knees play up when running!
My times were: