Sunday was my first ever Standard Distance Triathlon.
As I have been a sprint triathlete for over 2 years now, the thought of doing double was quite daunting to me. However, the whole experience was actually quite fun!
Yes, it was really hard and yes I hated it while I was racing (as I usually do!), but once I had finished, I couldn't wait for the next one, although my body would probably disagree with me (especially with all the blisters) the day after!
The swim was new territory for me, not the distance as I have raced a 1500m before, but because the lake was actually a wake boarding lake. If you don't know what wake boarding is, it is when you hold onto a rope that pulls you around the lake on a board and there were are a lot of metal structures (jumps) in the way that you have to navigate/swim around. These structures made 'sighting' the buoys so much harder (as if we needed it to be any harder!) and therefore, people were swimming in all different directions. I even spotted one guy actually swim into one of the jumps!
Once we had successfully navigated the lake, it was time for the 40k bike section. I'm going to admit it: I definitely underestimated the size of this bike ride! It's not that I hadn't done it before, but I had never RACED that distance before. I felt really good on the first 20k loop, and then I started to feel the pain that all standard distance triathletes must feel!
Also on my second loop I had trouble with my brakes binding so I had to stop a couple of times to release them, which I think made me lose my concentration a bit.
The 10k run was torture! This may sound strange as its not the first time I had run 10k but it was the first time as part of a race. Although I think being able to feel the blisters forming on my feet was what spoilt it for me - disgusting!!!
Definately time to invest in some 'distance' tri trainers which are suitable to be worn without socks and with wet feet. My present ones are not supportive enough for long distance and I think the undulating off road run caused too much friction. People who do not compete underestimate the cost invoved in sport and particularly 3 sports. It is a constant change or replacement of equipment to find the type that suits or fits correctlly - and every athlete is different and what suits or fits one does not for another. My trisuits have taken at least 5 different makes to find one that fits snugly so as to net let water in, but not too tight as to cause rubbing or friction. My trainers are the same and the ones that I use for my sprint races have taken years to find... and now I'm having to change again.
Mum asked me after my race which distance I preferred - sprint or standard - and it actually surprised me that I answered "standard". I can't argue that seeing the finish was a relief to me and I was glad it was all over, but then on the other hand I find myself looking forward to the next one! May be this was the 'bug' for longer, gruelling races that my coach always mentions - eh Perry?
Anyway, it came as a complete surprise that my first 'practice' Standard and one that I didnt race hard, brought me in 2nd placed female overall and 1st in my age group! I am happy that once the initial shock at the distance and with correct trainers (and hopefully my brakes are sorted) I can go out on my next standard distance and actually 'race' it hard and enjoy it. Oh and did I forget to mention..... my next one is the British Standard Distance Championships!!
Many thanks to my Sponsors;
Pedal Potential (love the new tshirt - thankyou) who support me throughout the year and are always behind me and are aware that every penny counts when competing in my chosen sport and are there to help. Thankyou.
Sovereign Play Equipment who have never sponsored and athlete before but have taken an invested interest in me and my sport and have given me the help and equipment to assist with me reaching my potential and dreams.
and without their help I would not be able to compete at so many important events.
It's been a while since I raced a 1500m open water swim - a year to be exact. I wasn't expecting anything of myself bearing in mind the busy season I have had, but it went a lot better than I thought it would.
The day started in the early hours of the morning with an hour and a half drive to get to the competition. After registering, it was a waiting game for the start time of 9am. With the lake being a comfortable 18 degrees Celcius, many people swam the various distances within the competition without a wetsuit, but seeing as though it was a long distance and quite choppy out there, I preferred to play it safe and swim with my wetsuit on.
The start was a run-in from the beach into the choppy waters of Grafham Lake. The waves didn't help with the usual battle of arms and legs, but once the initial rush at the start of a race was over, everybody fell into a good rhythm.
I was up the front in no time with a couple of hardened male swimmers in green hats (5250m) and a male and female in my distance who wore blue hats.
Although I felt like I slowed down on the second lap, my times were surprisingly equal across the two loops. I felt good when I exited the water, but I didn't realise until I got home later that day that I had beaten my previous 1500m PB by a massive 5 minutes! I was 1st in my U20 age group, 2nd female (she was drafting me the whole race and just came past me on the last 20 metres to pip me to the line!)
I think its becoming a tradition now; swim at Grafham Lake and then cycle home (only 130k door to door!) as this has been the second time I have done that ... and I can categorically state that it doesn't get any easier!
Last time I did that ride, I made the mistake of missing any breaks and carrying on for the whole journey without food. Not my brightest idea ever! This time, however, we had a short break every 25 miles to allow us time to re-energise (lots of cake!) and prepare ourselves for the road ahead. This definitely helped.
6 hours it took us and around 130k of very undulating countryside and through some heavy downpours but it was lovely to get out on my bike again - however I am really feeling the DOMS today!