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Tri blogging from Tamworth, Staffordshire
Tri blogging from Tamworth, Staffordshire
I'm new to the sport of Triathlon coming from a running background which I originally took up in Nov '12 in order to lose weight. This is my blog and journey into the world of Triathlon. I have my first sprint under my belt and now I'm aiming for the Outlaw in 2014 !

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My first Tri

owenslaterby owenslaterMay 30th 2013
On Monday 27th May Bank holiday I did my first triathlon race which was a Sprint distance (400m swim, 20k bike &5k run) in a small village called Great Glen in rural Leicestershire. The organisers, racetime-events, used the local grammar school for the registration, transition and swim. I thought the whole atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, particularly from the registration staff and organisers. I arrived there early out of eagerness and was one of the first on the carpark which allowed me time to wander around and get orientated. I decided to take a few photos as I had about 30mins to kill before registration started. It was perfect weather, blue sky, a bit of a breeze which I would appreciate later and not too hot. There was to be 169 triathletes at this race which gave the event a nice feel and not too overpowering.

My training up to this day had been going ok but if I was honest, I hadn't gotten in all the training I'd of liked. Hence I was a bit nervous. I knew I could do the individual distances but this was going to be the first time for stringing them all together. The previous night I had gone through at least 3 checklists from the internet to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything to bring with me.
My first Tri
Entrance to registration and parking for participants (above)
My first Tri
Indoor swimming pool being used for this event and cordoned off area for route to T1 area (above)
My first Tri
Transition area (above) - cordoned off and monitored by marshalls as you'd expect. As a complete amateur and first time triathlete I panicked when I saw this area and thought "sh!t - I needed to bring my own bike stand". Fortunately a fellow competitor explained that you rack your bike using your seat on the rack bar...
After having a wander around and chatting to a few other people who had turned up I went into registration to get my race pack, numbers and of course the goody bag which comprises of a technical t-shirt, various leaflets and USN Protein packs.
My first Tri
Can you spot Tri Blogs ? (above)
Pretty soon it was time for the race briefing which was carried out by the race organiser with the aid of the official from British Triathlon Federation. I found it quite funny that calf protectors were banned from the swim phase as they might "give an advantage" but you were free to put them on during T1 if you wanted. Apparently some of them are made from neoprene...
My first Tri
Lady in red was the BTF official (on the extreme left with the sun glasses - above). Someone who took her job a little too seriously as she went through the transition area telling people to re-order their bikes on the rack to make sure they were in exactly the right formation. If they wasn't there - she just moved them herself ! Heaven help us...
I then went into the transition area with my kit and bike to get organised. As you can see from the bike, I'm very much the first-timer. In fact I was the only numpty to turn up with a mountain bike and stubbly tyres. Something I would regret later during the race.

Locating my number 57 didn't take long and I started to pack my gels and energy bars into my tri-bag on the bike as I wanted to practice taking on nutrition during the race and see how easy it actually was in race conditions. I had already decided to treat my first race as an experiance and a learning curve. I got my race stickers on my helmet and bike and then set about punch-holing my race number for attachment to my race belt.

I'd brought various tops with me and sorted out stuff in the right order for the race, popped my socks into my trainers. I got chatting to several people and discovered that this was their first race too. One of the funniest moments was when a newbie came up to me and said "you look like someone who's done this a lot - can I ask you a question ?"

I had come on my own for this race and one thing that suddenly occurred to me was "what am I going to do with my car keys ?". In a running race you'd just pop your keys in your little back pocket but I now had to swim first. In the end I elected to put them in my bag when no-one was looking in the transition area. What does everyone else do ?
My first Tri
I was in one of first waves so I headed off to the swim area to watch what went on. I quite surprised but also secretly pleased to see a number of people doing the breast stroke. In the past I've been a strong swimmer and a lifeguard, managing to swim 2 miles. However that's some time ago. A week before the race I started my first swimfit lesson at Burntwood baths. If you're looking for some help with your swimming then I'd recommend joining this programme, at my baths it costs only 50p extra to attend. In one lesson I received a wealth of knowledge and useful tips which was of great help.

I'd opted for a tri-suit off Amazon which had some good reviews and showed it off to my family the night before. I'd hoped I wouldn't look too much of a wally in it on race day. I also decided to try out a nose clip for a change but threw it off after 2 lengths. As lots say - don't do anything new on your race !

My 16 lengths consisted of 8 front crawl and 8 breast stroke. Which meant that I got snapped by the event photographer !
My first Tri
11 minutes later I was in transition 1 and came across my first boo boo. I hadn't figured on my bike top being a problem getting on whilst I was wet ! After 3 attempts it was on and I quickly got the rest of my kit sorted and headed out on my mountain bike for the 20k bike section. 3.58 was far too long to have spent in T1 - I think my biggest wastes of time were not running for the transition area, towelling myself down a bit, the bike top and having a drink. I should have just waited for the drink when I was on my bike.
The bike section proved to be torturous even though it was around a very picturesque area. It was a hilly course with lots of twists and turn but fairly traffic free.The breeze in some sections was strong but welcome. It was on this section that I came to realise the benefits of a proper road racing bike as other competitors came sailing past, althought seemingly not putting in any more effort than I was. I read up later that you can achieve 15-20% faster speeds with the same effort by switching from knobbly tyres to road ones, although that's typically 2-3 miles an hour.

Some good advice seemed to be :-

1.Swap out your knobby tires for high pressure slicks. You can find 1.25" -1.5" slick tires that fit mountain bike rims and run at between 75 - 90 lbs of pressure. These will dramatically reduce rolling resistance.
2.If you have a suspension either lock it out, or set it as stiff as you can. Locking out your suspension will cause more of your effort to be transferred directly through the drive-train and translate into less loss of momentum from shock absorption.
3.Try clipless pedals. Your pedal stroke will be more efficient, again resulting in an increase in speed.

Points 1 and 3 apply to me so I'll be sorting that out before my next race !

Whilst this first race was just to experience it all - I couldn't help analyse my timings and see where the time was lost. Although I can be honest with myself and say I hadn't really put as much effort into the bike side of things during training. Running and swimming had taken priority recently with the half marathon that I'd not long ran and swimfit. Biking had mostly been 1hr sessions in the gym with not much resistance. Basically I need more time in the saddle and to train more outside my comfort zone introducing some hilly sessions into it.

I took one gel at the start of the bike section which went ok but didn't bother with anything else other than my drink. I had clearly packed a bit too much nutrition but never mind. By the end of the biking I was glad to see the Grammar school come into sight which was typically up another hill. My legs had totally had it by the time I reached the transition phase again and the old jelly legs sensation kicked in.

I had done a couple of brick sessions the week before so I knew this would pass in the next 10 minutes. T2 passed a lot quicker with only 1.22 being spent there. I used the same trainers for biking as I would for running - my good old Nike lunarglide 4. The previous night I had sat on the sofa at home and laced in some elastic lock laces which I picked up off ebay - a good move and they held tight throughout the race.
My first Tri
The 5k run was the final part and in theory should have always have been my strongest element. I hadn't ran 5k for a while as I'd been concentrating on building out my mileage and to be honest after the 1st K I just went into cruise mode and was solely interested in just finishing the race. The sun was out now in full force but luckily the run section seemed to have a fair bit of shade from the tree lined streets. Afterwards I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had actually ran a 5k PB !!

The 5k was an out and back with the 'back' typically being uphill. Some competitors opted for walking up the final hills as the heat took its' toll. As I climbed up the final hill into the Grammar school entrance I picked up the pace a little and then ran downhill to the finish line to hear my name being called out. I was pleased with myself for completing the whole race and to find that my legs had held up.

Heading back into transition to pick my bike and gear up I met the other first-timers from the beginning and swapped experiences of the race. Everyone seemed to have had a good time and really enjoyed themselves. I equated the total amount of effort to running a half marathon in the sun a few weeks back. Clearly I wasn't the only one who had decided they would be doing a triathlon again in the near future.

It was time to head home and spend the rest of the bank holiday with the family. As soon as I got home I downed the chocolate milk and by now I was ravenous. After a quick shower and change we headed out and a full-sized, olympic, all-day, mega breakfast was on the menu !

My next race is a half marathon at Coombe Abbey at the end of June and my next triathlon is the Birmingham Triathlon at Sutton Park; again at sprint distance on 21st July. This time however it will be 750m open water so it's introducing a new element. I'll be writing about both those races as well as my open water training. Hopefully I'll get better at the photos and writing a blog to make things more interesting.

In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed the race and will be doing more triathlons this year.

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sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Jun 1st 2013 14:07
Great race report and I spotted TriBlogs on the rather nice looking T-Shirt!
by guest: bobt89432, Oct 18th 2013 09:03
thank you for this article. i have really enjoyed reading this and i will be returning to find out more in the future about acupuncture derby
 
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