Pendle Triathlon: Trying to be a Triathlete
Sunday morning brought with it an air of anticipation as I prepped my gear: tri suit, goggles, helmet, cycling shoes, trainers (thoughtfully chosen older pair of Salomon Sonic Aero road shoes), prescription ‘sporty’ eye glasses, gloves, water, tiny bits of marzipan (Graham Obree inspired), a towel, talcum powder, a hole punch (in case I needed to make holes in the number for the tri belt), pen, socks, cycling top and a banana for after. So much thought and preparation, what could go wrong?
Arriving at West Craven Leisure Centre I gazed upon the heroic finishers and their gleaming medals. The rows of bikes and neatly prepared transitions stations. My family at my side, there was an hour before my start time so I felt confident I could reccy the transition exits before the grand ‘off’. Eagerly I queued for my entry bag wondering what delights it may contain....
“Ah Joanne Perry, yes your start time has changed...you’re in the 10:00am wave” smiled the helpful registration lady. That left only 30mins, instead of my planned acclimatisation hour, still plenty of time; except I needed to be on poolside for 9:50 for the briefing - 20mins.
I kept my cool and made it to the briefing, short-sighted minus my specs (contacts and chlorine don’t mix) ready and waiting in my newly acquired tri suit. I listened earnestly trying to remember all the finer points : Lane 4, blue caps first, temporary traffic lights near the Tempest Arms- stop on way back if red, after first lap on run get a band ... the details rattled in my head, as I focused for the start.
Childhood years swimming with Nelson Swimming Club and years of lifeguarding, give me an easy confidence in the pool. So despite the information processing and the necessity to count my lengths I was ready.. except .... wait: “Where is the exit from poolside?” I hastily asked a lane sharer. She helpfully pointed to the left. I squinted in that general direction whilst simultaneously hearing the marshal start off my lane - I was wearing a blue cap - yes I was off first...
I lolloped along in a reassuring rhythm for my 16 lengths and then darted out of the pool, at the same time as a chap in another lane, we were the first to finish. Excitement! I followed him, hot on his tail, realising in my haste and his speed we’d both missed the exit out of the poolside! Thankfully we were redirected within seconds but this was the first of the minor muck ups.
Squinting again in the sunlight, I located transition and sprinted toward my lovely roadie ‘Jenny’. I thrust my feet into the talc filled socks creating a smoke like puff and feet like a GOT Whitewalker for the remainder of the day. I wriggled into a cycling top, popped on my helmet fastened a shoe.... Suddenly I had the realisation that my fellow swimmers had caught me and were setting off, while I was faffing! Crikey, I grabbed Jenny and off I went...
“On your right!” I garbled as I set off determined to get back my early advantage, ready to push the big ring...off I went. It was then when I noted a distinct lack of detail in my vision. I couldn’t tell a Cactus from a Qashqai. I’d forgotten to put on my glasses! Water blurred in my eyes and cyclists blurred past me. Hesitant but hopeful I cracked on regardless - the roads were familiar and this type2 fun stuffs supposed to be challenging!?
Onwards I charged happy to be out and into the second part of the tri. After the half way point I saw the aforementioned temporary traffic lights - calling on the cosmos I willed to see a green blur but no- as I arrived it was red. Not to mind ever the positive I took a slurp of water and lined up my pedals to ‘Go go go!’ on green. Except I back pedalled and the freaking chain came off.
Calm and composed I inverted Jenny and wrestled with the chain, drawing blood and covering my hands in oil in the process. Eventually it was back on and I was back in business! Ready to catch a few of the triathletes who’d just over taken me!
A few successful overtakes and a few gleeful smiles to fellow competitors on their cycle out and I arrived back at transition.
My glasses were grabbed immediately and helmet removed, my trainers shoved on and jelly legs ahoy. I was off...on the run
Running is becoming so much more to me. I’ve run for health for the last few years, usually tootles in the early morning to set me up for the day but now I’m getting more from it. More than just a chance to press ctrl-alt-delete on a busy brain: TAC, new-adventures, friendships, opportunities, new confidence from knowing I can run on fells, road, trails and can race too.
Anyway this love of running and increased frequency of runs made the final part of the tri more fun. I had a clue of how fast I could go and what I was potentially capable of...
After trying to be a triathlete for 1 hr 23 mins 8 secs (6th female) I finally reached the finishing line and received my medal, with a feeling of befuddlement - grateful to have finished but frustrated by the mishaps.
Retrospectively and with perspective I can smile at the experience and the tri-bulations!