I was very nervous lining up on the banks of Lake 32 at the Cotswold Water Park ahead of the start of the super sprint triathlon. The reason for the nerves was purely due to the fact that I hadn’t done a triathlon for about 8 years and am no swimmer. Yes, I had been putting in a fair few hours in the pool since I was injured and unable to run in the winter but I was starting from a low base. Luckily the water in the lake, despite only being 14 degrees or so, felt positively tropical compared to the sub 12 degrees I had been forcing myself into at the Cheltenham Lido before the boiler was fixed.
A few token spins of the arms as warm up and the hooter was sounded. It was a crazy start with arms, legs and feet everywhere – I was being dragged backed and pulled here there and everywhere – just what you don’t need when your confidence is low. However, after a minute or so it settled down and with regular sighting I managed to pick a decent line and the rest of the 400m swim went without too much incident. I pulled myself out of the lake and ran into T1. I had left my bike perfectly set up but the competitor next to me had managed to get my elastic band (used to hold my cycling shoes level on the pedals) wrapped around their pedals. It took me far too long with shaking hands to untangle and cost me a fair amount of time. It also meant my shoe was the wrong way up and cost me valuable time when I first got on the bike. Once I had done my shoes up properly it was head down for the fast 20K bike route. I didn’t hold back and put in a decent time before screeching into T2, perilously close to the dismount line. A quick T2 and I was off running – or sliding as the case may be. The heavy rain the night before had turned the off road trail into a bit of a mud bath and the final run was a frustrating affair involving quite a bit of sliding and the narrow path meant I was having to weave past plenty of runners from previous waves. All this meant I never hit a decent rhythm but I still put in the fastest time of the day on the run which was satisfying. At the finish, once I had recovered, I found that I had won my age group and had placed 2nd overall. I was absolutely astonished!
I was really pleased with my swim – it wasn’t fast but was certainly a fair bit quicker than what I could have managed in October when the thought of swimming 400m non-stop was quite a daunting prospect! With the post race endorphins flowing I went off and recced the bike route for my next triathlon: the 113 Events middle distance triathlon at the same venue on 12th June. Whilst the 2nd place gave me great confidence, the thought of being in the water for nearly 5 times the length of time I was in the sprint fills me with trepidation. I’d better get back to the Lido asap!