Thursday, 13 September 2012

Tri again

After really enjoying my first triathlon experience, I went home and immediately booked my place on the Olympic distance Leeds Triathlon. After a day or two, I started to question the wisdom of this, mainly due to the swim being 1,500m open water in Roundhay Lake, nearly 4 times the distance of my first tri and without still being able to front crawl, which would put me at a distinct disadvantage.

In light of this, I decided to switch to the ‘sprint’ distance, which still included a 750m swim in open water, 24km bike and 6.4km run. This, I reasoned, would be more of a challenge than my first effort and I could save the Olympic distance for next year after I sort out my swimming over the winter.
Having picked up my race pack from the HQ at Roundhay Park on Saturday night, I went straight round to my mum and dad’s for a meal to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary which was great but didn’t give me a huge amount of time to sort everything out so I was slightly stressed on the morning of the race, especially as I needed to have my bike and kit set up in the transition area by 7.30am ahead of the pre-race briefing.
With Sarah’s help, I managed to get the bike and all the kit from the car to the transition area with a bit of time to spare and as the sprint wave start wasn’t until 8.45am, I had time to apply my number transfers, work out how to add my race number to my race belt and squeeze into my wetsuit (I got even more practise at this after needing the loo three times before I finally got started!)
When the time finally came, I donned my standard issue green swim cap, zipped up the wetsuit and made my way down to the water’s edge and into the lake in preparation for the start. The water was on the chilly side and it was the first time I had worn a wetsuit so it took a bit of getting used to, but once we got started, I managed to get into a rhythm with my breastroke and although quite a few front crawlers pulled away, I wasn’t too far behind when we reached the furthest buoy and turned round for return stretch.

Despite losing a bit of time on the race leaders, I climbed out of the water in the middle of the field (65th out of 130 it turned out) and cheered on by Dad, Sarah, Julia, Roy and Rachael, I ran up to the transition area, peeling off my wetsuit as I went. My first transition was OK, though it did take a while to get my shoes, socks, race belt and helmet on plus dry off, de-rack the bike and push to the mount zone. Once I was out of the mount zone I tried to put the foot down, avoiding the dog walkers on the patch before getting out on to the open road.
It felt good to have the swim behind me and to be on the bike so I put the hammer down in an attempt to claw back some of the time lost in the lake. And it seemed to work as I generated good speed on the long stretch on the Wetherby road to Collingham passing loads of riders and despite a few steep inclines on the route back through Keswick, I powered through Shadwell and back up to Roundhay Park and into the second transition.

I lost a bit of time clomping along in my cycling shoes and then tying the laces on my trainers (whilst being annoyed with myself for not having used the tri laces I bought months ago) but was relatively quick out into the sunshine for two 3.2km laps of the park. The announcer also read my name out, saying ‘here comes Nick Robinson with his adidas sponsorship’ which was quite amusing to me and the friends and family who were cheering me on.

I slowly traded my cycling legs for my running ones and with this being my strongest discipline, attempted to work my way up through the field which I did with some success in lap 1and in lap 2 I tried to push myself as hard as possible with the finish line not far away. Re-entering the park for the last time, I kicked again to try and make up as many places as possible and improve my overall position, sprinting down the home straight and through the first set of flags that confusingly wasn’t the finish and through the second set of flags in an initial time of 1 hour 32 minutes.

It wasn’t until the Monday I got an email with final results:
Leeds Triathlon time: 01:30:46

Swim 00:17:57
T1 00:02:11
Cycle 00:47:11
T2 00:01:05
Run 00:23:55
That meant 10th place overall which was fantastic, considering I lost an average of 5-6 mins on swim, giving me motivation to learn front crawl and progress to Olympic distance next year. I was also really pleased to have recorded the 7th fastest cycle (I was 6th fastest in the run) both of which have made me think about potentially working towards a half ironman next year with the goal of completing my first Iron Man in 2014 – now that sounds like a plan!!!

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