Completing any endurance challenge is as much about being strong in the mind as strong in the body. You have to go into the race with the mind set that you can do it, you can complete the challenge. Even if that requires you to lie to yourself a little about the reality of how prepared you are or even how capable you are. All through training for this triathlon I’ve been telling myself that it’s ok that my first triathlon will be a half ironman, that I’ve done plenty of big challenges now so my body knows how to get through it.
But I’ll be honest Mr ‘I’ve done 2 ultra marathons so a triathlon will be easy’ freaked out and panicked. Often happens as you approach the end of a training plan but still not something to ignore a month out from race day. Which is how I ended up standing next to the lake last week with my brother and 2 of his mates ready to do our own Olympic distance triathlon.
Doing races is fun but who needs something organised when all you want to do is practise what it feels like to do 3 sports in a row? Plus of course the cost, triathlons really aren’t cheap even for small sprint races and in the end there wasn’t one scheduled locally in any case. Sure there’s no aid stations on the route or shiny medal at the finish but it’s easy enough to be self sufficient on this sort of distance and you just take a little longer over transition to put your bike away.
Route wise it was very easy as I train at the lake where my half ironman is so we did the swim there, then a lap of the bike course (the race is 2 laps) and finally 1.5 laps of the run course (the race is 3 laps). Nice not to have to try and plot an appropriate route with the added bonus of giving me a practise on the race routes which will hopefully help come race day.
So how was it? My first taste of a triathlon. In short, not bad at all. Sure that first mile of the run after transition was hard but I soon loosened up and really enjoyed the run. The swim was good, I’m not particularly fast but I do a decent enough pace that I’m happy with. The bike was very very wet, and cold, and a bit miserable. I also struggled a little to keep up with the other guys, they could maintain a pace that was a couple of mph faster than me which made the ride feel like an awfully long way.
I’m blaming the bike speed partly on my bike, I’m using a cyclocross bike which is fairly similar to a road bike but the ride is a bit higher and my upright and designed for a mix of terrains. Absolutely awesome on bridleways and forest paths but not so great when you’re trying to keep up a good pace on a flat road. I could of course have done with getting some more miles in my legs also but feel like I’ve done as much as I can for the race.
We did it in around 2 hours 45 mins excluding transitions (which were another 30 mins or so!) and that felt like an ok pace, tough at times but not pushing too hard. A good confidence boost ahead of the race and now the half ironman isn’t technically my first triathlon! Plus kit wise everything worked really well, no rubbing etc and gave me some idea of the amount of nutrition I might want. I’ll get a post up soon of my kit choices because with a triathlon there is an awful lot of kit needed!
Anyone else like to do their own races/events without anything official organised?