Sunday, 29 July 2012

I'm NOT a virgin

Where do I start?

Today saw me enter my first triathlon. And boy did I learn so much!!!

With hindsight I am so glad that I entered a triathlon before London as I really did learn a lot.

This post will discuss my triathlon debut in detail. If you're not interested in reading it all, well tough. I'm not giving anything away early.

Pre race

The nerves from earlier in the week weren't there last night or this morning, I even managed to sleep well. Who knows where they went. I think I transferred them to the Mrs as she was a wreck this morning. She even put on Twitter how nervous she was. Bless her.

Bless the wife for flapping this morning
Thanks for the reply IMW
I think I was so calm as I had checked and double checked all my gear.

Registration and transition

I was amazed at how much stuff you were given at registration. I got an envelope containing race numbers and the like, a timing chip and a race t-shirt.

I then went through to the transition area and managed to set up all my stuff correctly.

My transition area - all neatly laid out

It seemed to take forever to get this done and next thing I knew it was time for the race briefing, which meant I was less than 20 minutes away from race start. I was in wave 1 for the race and had the number below. I assumed this meant they ranked me a number 2 for the race like they do on the Olympics.

My race number
Oh well my dreams were dashed when I saw that most of the people in wave 1 had no affiliation to a triathlon club. It must be the novice category and must then be sorted alphabetically.


After the briefing, it was time to head to the lake for my favourite part of triathlon. I have been doing a lot of training in this discipline this week as I knew I would not break myself while swimming. I did learn some important lessons this week though.

The start of the swim. I'm in one of the yellow hats.

I do not swim straight. I think I managed to correct this during the 750m swim around the lake at Hatfield Marina. My route can be seen below.

My route around the swim was straights
On entering the water I was amazed at how clear the water was. Much better than in Ham or Hampstead where I train. I stupidly got caught in the middle of my wave of 36 swimmers. This held me up at the start slightly but after I broke free I settled into my stroke. The swim mostly went without a problem apart form two times where the lake choppiness caused me to inhale water but I peresevered and exited the water in a time of 00:14:17 according to the timing gate at the entrance to T1. I can live with that.

I even managed to exit the water in a jog
With a perfect swim I think I could steal nearly a minute off this as inhaling water shocked me and I had to stop to sort my head out and reset myself.


What a disaster I had in T1. I honestly don't know what was going on but I managed to lose 04:19 in the transition area.  I think I can put this mostly down to three things.

  1. Feeling dizzy after the swim (is there anything I can do to stop this?),
  2. Putting on socks and shoes prior to the bike, I need to practice this as its a lot quicker than getting socks and shoes on then running in them to the mount line.
  3. Forgetting to put things on in the right order. I forgot my bike top and forgot my race belt and was basically a bit of a nightmare but it was my first triathlon.
In comparison one of my Twitfriends completed T1 in 1:08. Hmm I think I definitely have some improvement to do there.


The bike ride went to plan. I've set myself a target of an average speed of 25.75km/h so I can complete the 40km of the London Triathlon in about 01:30:00. I beat my average pace by half a km/h and managed 26.2km/h. I completed the 24km on 00:53:42 which I was chuffed with. My one learning point, aerobars do make a difference I got powered past by numerous people in a more aero position than me so I have decided I am off to TFN in Nottingham this week to but some aerobars prior to my triathlon in London. This will give me 8 weeks to practice with them prior to my next race triathlon.

I even look quite comfortable on the bike

My T2 time wasn't great but this was because I had to put on my achilles strap. This is unavoidable for the moment until my tendinitis goes. I was in and out of T2 in 1:43 after racking my bike and putting my achilles strap and trainers on. I knew things were going too well at this point.


Well what to say about my least favourite discipline in triathlon? I had a disaster after about 200m of the 5km. Somehow and I have no idea how I managed it, I managed to turn my right ankle and perform an unplanned ninja roll in front of the Mrs. During this fall/roll I managed to pull something in my left calf as well. I very nearly quit the race as I could barely walk. After a quick regroup and some words of encouragement from the Mrs and my friend Nick I set off again at a slight disadvantage.

Jogging away after my fall
I had to stop once more after my fall to retie my laces as I assumed these were to blame. I limp rulked around the course and it was the other competitors that kept me going with words of encouragement like
  • Keep on going lad
  • You can do it
These were shouted at me as I was passed during my rulking. My left calf felt really tight but I soldiered on.

I was amazed by the sense of camaraderie that exists in triathlon after this. It really is inspiring as people  who are short of breath run past you and try to encourage you. AMAZING!

With under 200m to go I managed to go over on my ankle again but I got back up again and ran to the line.

The finish line is in sight
My run time was 37:32 which is a full 4 minutes slower than my PB over 5km. The numerous scrapes, sore muscles and twisted ankles will not have helped my progress. I also don't think the offroad portion of the run route will have helped matters as I haven't practiced this as London is all on the road.

In total my time for the Hatfield Triathlon was 01:51:33, which was outside my aim of 01:45 but given the difficulties in T1, the run and the longer bike route I am thrilled. I can't wait until London but I have some work to do on transitions, and running before then. I've got a few scrapes as well but I can chalk them up to experience.

I also struggled with nutrition during the triathlon and know that I didn't drink enough during the bike ride.

According to my timing slip I finished 57th out of all the men which I am pleased with.

My timing slip
The one thing missing from this triathlon in my opinion was a medal. I would have liked to have had a medal from my first triathlon but I did get a T-shirt.

Sorry of this post has been a bit long but it is an important time in my journey. I have completed my first triathlon.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Hey fella.
    Firstly well done! Awesome effort
    To answer your questions
    1- Dizzy after swim. Think of this as the same effect as when you get up from bed too quickly. Now add in doing a swim! A way to combat this is to make sure you start to kick from 100m to go. this should help the move from horizontal (swim) to vertical (run) a bit easier. Also start your run from the water a bit slower, and build up to a sprint to T!! ;-)
    2- If you can forget about socks. just add time. Also lots of brick sessions are good so that you can practice the transition. You have to add transition practice into your training as you can save minutes in there!
    3- For me in Transition i have the following set up. Number belt across the hoods of the bike so as soon as i get to my bike i see it. My helmet and glasses will be on the floor, just in case there is wind, and will be undone, with the glasses in the helmet with the arms open, The helmet and glasses will be placed on the floor so that i can pick them up and put them straight on to my head/face and the clip them up with out having to see if the helmet is the right way round.. Do you own a tri suit? Or was it cold? why did you wear a cycling top? . Looking at your pic you took your goggles off just out the water? Just move them to the top of you head so that your hands are free meaning you can get you wetsuit of easier. Start undoing it as soon as you are of the water. I would imagine that your T1 time also uses the time from the water to the exit of T1.
    You should be very please with your result and all experience are great. You will now know what you can work on ready to do for London. We will be there on a stand so come and ask if you have any issues. Also ask next time at the lake and we can show you a set up for Transitions.
    be proud fella!

  2. Good work fella - and a great write up with some good photo's. You OH was using that long lens well!

    It was great to finally meet you yesterday!

    Well done on your swim time! Excellent - I could do with a piece of that. I was over a minute slower - definately need to work on my open water swimming!

    You can now tell the world you are officially a Triathlete!

  3. This is fantastic, so glad I found your blog, I'm hoping to do a tri next year so this is really helpful!