Zero to 113 in six weeks – part two, Race Day!!

OK, so it’s now nearly 7 months since “race day” and if I’m honest I’d forgotten that I hadn’t written a blog post about it – that was until someone came into the shop the other week and told me that not only had she read the first blog (I didn’t think anyone read this stuff!!) but that is was also time to pull my finger out and write up race day!!

So, just to be a little more clichéd, today is 31st December 2017 – so a day we tend to all reflect on the year that’s gone and look towards the future. What better time to write up my one and only event of 2017, and actually think about what’s in store for 2018!!

Right then, race day – lets take you back to the opening line of my first blog post…. “It’s 6am in the morning on Sunday 4th June 2017 – and I’m in a wetsuit, standing in the shallow waters of Keynes Park, what the hell am I doing!!” Yep, that’s how I felt – what the hell am I doing here, this was all a bit real now!!

The morning had gone OK – not that I knew what to expect! I’d left home in plenty of time and headed down to the venue (at Lake 32), thinking I had loads of time to get sorted. Only to sit in a long queue of traffic to get into the venue. That meant my plan of getting the bike down into transition and sorting my kit out before going back to the car to put my wetsuit on went out of the window – I was also parked as far away from the start as possible!! Down in transition I didn’t have a clue what I was doing (really should have thought about this!!). Everyone was there setting their bikes up, laying out their kit etc ready for a fast change. Me, I just hooked my bike on the rack and dumped my bag next to it. I’d figure it out after the swim!!

So, down to the waters edge to get ready to start – I’m in wave one, the idea being that it means I won’t be last out of the water (as there are 7 other waves at 10 minute intervals starting behind me!)! A quick chat with Jason from South West Swim and he puts me at ease, mainly because he suddenly realises he hasn’t got his goggles on his head and goes running off to find them – if that doesn’t lighten the mood, nothing will!! A pre-race brief from event organiser Graeme, and we’re into the water to get ready to start.

There is no point me starting anywhere but the back of the group, I’m going to be one of (if not the) slowest swimmer there. So when the horn goes to signal the start, I’m already 20m behind the front runners!! And that’s it – 1900m of swimming ahead of me. 1900m is a long way!! It took what felt like forever to get round the course, I don’ think I was the slowest from my wave (although not far off) and I got caught by people from both wave two and wave three (who started 20 minutes after me!!). But still, I made it to the exit ramp – and then I experienced something I’d never known before!! Trying to exit the water and get used to being back on my feet – very strange, and feeling a little dizzy!! A huge shout of “GO ON KIRKY” from Luke Campbell (thanks bud) got me into transition to start the next phase of the day.

Transition – personally I would recommend you practice this before event day!! Talk about slow, and really not knowing what I was doing!! My general excuse for for taking nearly 8 minutes to get through T1 is that Graeme needs to install electric hook-up’s into the racking, as it was taking far too long for my kettle to boil for a cuppa!! But in truth, I just didn’t have a clue what I was up to!!

A bit of food, proper cycling shorts on over the top of my tri-suit and a cycling jersey and I’m ready to rock (feet dried, socks and shoes on!!). I jog my bike out of transition (need to pretend I know what I’m doing) and out onto the bike course. Having not ridden my TT bike for over 5 years, I thought it best not to use it on race day – so I’m on my trusty road bike with deep section HED wheels.

The bike course consisted of two laps of a pretty pan-flat route around the waterparks, with just one short / sharp climb up to Hannington. Lap one felt pretty good, I passed a few people and got overtaken by a few more (all on TT bikes I might add), towards the end of lap one I stopped at the feed point on the Latton road to use the loo (had been needing to go since I got out of the water!). I knew Jason Tait would have been out of the water at least 15-20 minutes ahead of me so if I was going to catch him it would be on the bike. I finally saw Jason coming back towards me as we crossed the Spine Road junction, I looked at the clock and it was 10 minutes before I was back here again – so I knew I was still 10 minutes down on him!! Now I was worried, I HAD to catch him on the bike, as he’d been doing a lot more running than me!! I pushed on in the hope of catching him, checking every person I went past to see if it was him!!

Finally, after just under three hours (bang on target) I was back into transition – no sign of Jason anywhere!! T2 was a dam sight quicker than T1 (but still over three minutes) and out onto what I knew would be the hardest part of the event. The “run” – or in my case, flippin long walk with a bit of jogging whenever spectators were in sight!!

The run consisted of three laps, and I had a target time of three hours in my head. At this point I cannot express my gratitude to the amount of support on the side of the road – this is where (for me) the event really stands out. The support was amazing, and the personal support I got from a number of our customers was first class – I really couldn’t have got round without you. At the end of lap one, I saw Luke Campbell, who told me I was ahead of Jason (I didn’t believe him, but it turns out I must have passed Jason when he was on a lap two toilet break on the bike!!) and I finally saw Jason as I was half way round lap two, with Jason coming towards me. Which meant I was either half a lap ahead, or half a lap behind!!

The aid stations and support on the run were much needed, not least the legend that is Dave Alstowe, you can hear his shouts of encouragement (literally!!) a mile off and they are very much needed!!

Coming into the finish, it was great to see my wife and three girls had come out to cheer me home – and I managed to cross the line and not pass out!! There was a HUGE queue for the massage tables, so I left it – I was booked in to see Sarah from Synergy Sports Massage the following day anyway, so I’d leave it for her to try and make me human again!!

And that was it, first triathlon done. My target time for the day had been 7 hours (broken down into 1 hour for the swim, 3 hours for the bike and 3 hours for the run). Which I’m please to say I achieved – with a total time of 6 hours 50 minutes….

Would I do it again? At the time, I wasn’t that fussed – I’d done it now, box ticked. But as time has gone on, I’m keen to know what I could do if I actually did some proper training. I’m sure there’s at least an hour, maybe an hour and a half that could come off that time – which would make it a LOT more respectable. Mostly from the bike and the run!!

So, that’s it. What have a learnt in the process???

  1. Do some training!!
  2. Practice transition, it really isn’t as easy as it looks!!
  3. Don’t under-estimate the power of support (if you’re supporting an event and have said the same thing 100 times, don’t worry those of us doing the event have only heard it once – and we appreciate it every time).
  4. Dare I say it, this triathlon lark is strangely addictive!!

Sorry for the long post, but it was a long day!!

Time now to decide what 2018 holds, maybe another crack at the 113, maybe something shorter (an Olympic distance event). Who know’s – but I’ve got to make plans soon, 2018 is less than 10 hours away!!!

Leave a Reply