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Ironman Quest
The quest of a 45 year old recreational runner who likes nothing better than a lazy night with a beer or glass of wine to become an Ironman

Halesowen Sprint Triathlon

macukby macukApr 7th 2014
Halesowen Sprint Triathlon
I've been looking forwards to taking part in another triathlon for months. My marathon training has been going well and with just a week to go before London I thought that the Halesowen Sprint would be an ideal diversion from the miles of road running I've been doing. A friend who is also a triathlon novice was also keen to take part in a race and so we set off at 04.30 am on a cold, wet and windy Sunday morning on the two hour drive to the Midlands.

We arrived a good 45 minutes before registration was due to open at the Leisure Center in Halesowen as the roads had been very quite and we were able to watch the race organisers putting the final touches to the transition area which was directly outside sports hall. Even as they struggled in the rain they were all very helpful and cheerful and it wasn't long before we were inside getting our race packs and trying to get warmed back up. With registration complete we fetched our bikes and set up in transition. Luckily the rain had stopped so we were able to lay our kit out without it getting wet but I could see that the grassy area was already becoming muddy and that I would have to take my time when entering or leaving during the race or I would end up slipping and sliding everywhere.
Halesowen Sprint Triathlon
With our bikes and kit set up in transition we went back into the warmth of the leisure center to prepare for the swim. This is my least favourite part of triathlon for the simple reason that I'm neither smooth or fast in the water. My only conciliation was that my friend is just as bad at swimming so at least I wouldn't be the only one thrashing around in the water. The pool is 33m in length which I was hoping would help me get a better time as I tend to be slow on the turn and that only 12 lengths would have to be covered instead of the 16 I was used to in my local pool. The other thing I thought was good was the way the swim was organised. In my last venture into triathlon I found the swim really hard as there had been 4 persons in a lane with a total of 16 people in the pool churning the water up. In Halesowen you were set off at time slots with a maximum of two people per lane and a lot of the swim with just one person. Martin my friend set off first about 8 minutes before me and it was with great delight when I saw that I was going to swim in the same lane as him when my turn came around. The first thing I noticed on entering the water was that you start in the deep end which was a little scary for a rubbish swimmer like me as it was about 14 foot deep and my water treading skills are not that good. The other thing that struck me as I was clinging to the pool edge waiting for the off was that the water tasted salty as if I was about to swim in a saline solution.

The race official gave me the countdown and I was off, trying to remember all the pointers on good form but soon returning to type and just thrashing my way through. I found the first two lengths hard as I was probably trying a bit too hard but I began to slow my breathing down and before long had settled into a smoother swim. Martin was trawling up and down with his breast stoke and I made a point of splashing the water hard every time we passed in the lane just so that I added to his discomfort. With 4 lengths left I saw that he was climbing out and heading towards transition and this spurned me on and I was soon following in his footsteps out of the pool area. My swim time was a slow 12.37 mins but I was delighted as I was a good three minutes ahead of my last sprint triathlon race time.

Heading out of a side door in the pool I was directed towards a set of stairs that led down to transition. The stairs were wet and I found myself clinging to the banister so that I didn't go head over heels. At the bottom of the stirs you exit a door and have a short run to the bikes. The grass was getting churned up and I wished that I had put something on my feet as I felt mud oozing beneath me. I was determined not to dawdle in transition and after slipping on a waterproof jacket and my bike shoes I was soon heading out on the cycle route.
Halesowen Sprint Triathlon
Martin is a strong cyclist and I knew he would be trying to build up a good headstart over me. I set off at a strong pace but soon found my legs tiring as I hadn't done any long rides in ages because of concentrating on my marathon training. It was cold and windy but at least the rain had held off an I was soon settled into a manageable pace, even over taking a couple of other riders. You head out of the town and the route takes you into the country lanes. I was enjoying myself and found the course kept me on my toes as it was fairly undulating with a few nice hills to climb and fly down the other side. I probably lost a bit of time clinging onto my brakes on the declines, an area of my biking I know I need to work on and I was in awe of a couple of cyclists that passed me, heading down the hills at stupid miles per hour. The route was well marshaled and there wasn't any chance of taking a wrong turn and before long I was heading back into the town, trying to catch my breath after climbing "Shut Hill Lane" a particularly long and testing hill section. Looking at my bike computer on arriving back at transition I saw that we had covered around 24 k instead of 20k but I had enjoyed the bike section so much I really didn't care. Cycle time 1.04.04
Halesowen Sprint Triathlon
I didn't waste time in T2 and was soon heading out on the 5k run. Because it was still quite cold and windy I left my cycle jacket on and found the inner tube and repair kit I had forgotten to remove from the rear pocket soon began to irritate me whilst running. My legs felt quite good despite the bike ride and I set off at a good pace (for me) in the hope of catching Martin who I had been hoping to see on the bike course. The longer I was running the easier I was finding it and I was so glad of all the running I had been doing over the past couple of months. The route had been changed because of all the bad weather we had seen recently and the new run took us into quite residential roads that if not that exciting to run through at least meant our feet were mud free and dry. About a mile in I saw Martin ahead and with new enthusiasm I was able to over take him just before the turn point. I was running strongly and was even able to over take a few others on the way back. The finish was just outside transition and after a little sprint up hill to cross the timing mats I found myself completing my second triathlon. Run time 23.18. Martin finished a few minutes later with a big smile on his face, being a convert to all things triathlon as well.

I really enjoyed the race and found everybody from organiser, marshal and competitor to be friendly and helpful. This is definitely a race I will do again and look forwards to the long journey to the Midlands again next year.
Halesowen Sprint Triathlon
 
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