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Ironman Quest
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

My first plunge into the world of triathlon

macukby macukDec 23rd 2013
During the early summer I headed down to Cornwall for a weeks holiday. I had been working hard over the past couple of months and my training had suffered badly with take-aways and beer being more frequent than sweat and exertion. I had trained hard for the London Marathon but true to form as soon as I didn't have anything to concentrate on my enthusiasm waned and bad habits took over. I had no intention of doing anything physical whilst on holidays but had packed some running kit and had taken my hybrid bike just to make myself feel less guilty.
On the first day I walked into Bude with the wife and dog and was drawn to the harbour area where I could see a lot of commotion taking place, with Lycra and wetsuit clad men and women scrambling around. I had inadvertently stumbled across the Bude triathlon and from the moment I saw the first racers climbing out of the sea and running towards the transition area my enthusiasm for all things sporting was reignited. It struck me that the people taking part were of all shapes and sizes, with their ages covering a huge range too. The other thing that I noticed was that even though some were bordering on exhaustion they all had a big smile on their face. After watching the race for a couple of hours, much to the annoyance of my wife and dog I was totally enthused, heading back to our cottage so that I could don some kit and get out and train again. Whilst sitting down that evening with the nice healthy ache you get from exercise I sparked up the i-pad and started to look for my first triathlon event.

North Bristol (Tockington ) Triathlon

My first plunge into the world of triathlon
My first plunge into the world of triathlon
My first plunge into the world of triathlon
My first venture into triathlon was at the North Bristol sprint triathlon held at Tockington Manor School in late September.
I thought a sprint tri would be ideal for me to start as the distances were not massive and the swim was pool based which would help as my confidence in the water was nearly non existent. My swimming is poor but I had practiced hard in the weeks leading up to the event. The first time I attempted to swim 400m I did it in over 18 minutes with lots of spluttering, swearing and splashing. I worked on my front crawl, trying to get some type of technique and I saw my lengths going from 2 before I had to rest to the full 16 without a break. I got my time down to 12 minutes for the distance which is still very slow but a massive improvement for me. I had put my swim time down as 13 minutes when I entered the race and was put into the third wave of swimmers on the day.
I had also bought a new Specialized road bike during the summer and although my riding skills were only just a little better than my swimming I had been out and about on it a lot to try and get some bike legs before the race. The Friday before the event I ventured over to Tockington and rode the cycle route so that I wouldn't have any surprises on the day. I had also emailed the school who thoughtfully let me have access to their pool during the lunch hour which I can't thank then enough for. My little journey over to the area help eased my anxieties before taking part in my first triathlon event.
The morning of the race arrived all too soon and I made my way to the school very early, being one of the first competitors to arrive. The marshals were on top form and after explaining that I was a total novice they did a great job of getting me through registration and into the transition area. Being one of the first people in transition I had the pick of where I wanted to hang my bike. I checked out the entrance / exit points for the swim, cycle and run and placed my bike in an area where I knew I could find it easily again and not get lost during transition. I layed out my kit as I had practiced at home and stood back, admiring my work and like the big saddo I am taking a picture of my area. The smug grin was soon wiped off my face when a marshal appeared, looked at my area and announced it all needed to be moved because they wanted to maximize every inch of space as transition was filling fast. After a quick re-gig of kit I realised that my swim wave was quickly approaching. I must admit that I don't really suffer from nerves but my heart was pounding as I strode towards the pool in my newly acquired and tightly fitting tri suit. The noise in the pool area hit me as I entered, this wasn't going to be the usual quite swim in my gym pool with a little old lady for company, this was going to be a ride in a washing machine with lots of other competitors. I was given my lane and order number. I would be number three in my lane out of four swimmers. Add the other lanes and I could see why the water was so choppy. I took a deep breath, reassuring myself that as long as I kept to what I had practiced everything would be fine and I would be leaving the water in 12 minutes..........I didn't, I set off way to quickly, catching the swimmer in front about halfway along the pool. I should have eased off then but I kept going, all practiced form going out of the window and before long I was out of breath and taking on water because of the waves from all the swimmers. I began to struggle, slowing down and taking little rests at the end of each length. My swim was terrible and I was the last to leave the pool in my wave, lesson learnt and more swim training to focus on in the future.
Transition one was a lot easier than I though it would be, although chatting to a nearby marshal as I changed into my cycle kit probably didn't help my overall time, I was so relieved to have finished the swim that I just wanted to tell the world. Add another lesson learnt to my list of things to improve on. I had no problems exiting the transition area and was soon clipping into my pedals and riding away from the school. I eased into my ride, enjoying the early morning sun and preparing myself for the hill that I knew was coming soon. I had begun to catch cyclists ahead of me and felt fantastic as I rode past them, feeling strong on the incline and amazed at my cycling form. This amazement was later crushed when I realised everybody I had passed had been on their last lap of the course and their legs were suffering the hill for a second time. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill on my last lap I too was overtaken by fresh legged competitors just leaving transition 1. The bike ride was soon over and after another easy transition I was out on my run. I felt a lot stronger on the run than I thought I would and knew deep down that I had not pushed myself as hard as I could have on the bike ride. The run was a simple out and back route, collecting wrist bands at different stages. When the third band was collected it was back towards the transition area and the finish. My running felt good and I was glad to see that this time I did catch and overtake a few runners without there being any extra laps involved. In my first tri I was 247th out of 278 competitors, with a finish time of 1.32.25.
The time and placement didn't mean a great deal as I was just happy to have competed and finished. I realise that I have some big improvements to make and that I need to work hard over the next year if I am seriously thinking of ever finishing in an Ironman race. A learnt a great deal at Tockingham and can heartily recommend it, especially to novices like myself. The staff and marshals were fantastic and the race ran smoothly. I did notice one thing as I pushed my bike back towards my van just before I left. I had a huge smile on my face, just like the ones I had seen in Bude a couple of months before.
 
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