This year three of us decided to compete in the New Forest Triathlon (Olympic Distance) on the 6th July. This was the second triathlon we had each done… so we were confident we knew what to expect. We had it all planned out… oh yes we had it all planned out.
Wake up call. Well it would have been had I not set my alarm for weekdays and it was a Saturday.
Finally wake up…late. I scramble my gear together, wolf down porridge with the other lads and strap bikes on the back of the car.
Finally we’re ready to go. Lars puts the keys in the ignition and turns. Clickclickclickclick. He’s left the lights on overnight and the battery is dead. Ouch.
The obvious solution is to transfer to AK’s car but his car keys are in the house and we’ve left the only set of house keys inside with the rest of the group so they can lock up when they leave to join us later in the morning. Eventually, after a scour around the house to spot any open doors or windows, we have to wake everyone up. Lars’ will have to deal with the fallout later.
We’ve wheeled the dead car out of the way (the spare car was blocked in), transferred the bike rack, bikes and gear and we’re off on the road. Running late but we should be able to make it…
We arrive at the race car park thinking we still had enough time.
Wheeling our bikes and kit into the change-over area, we realise that we are alone. Most of the changeover slots are already taken so we quickly spread out to find available spaces. As I find a spot over on the far side I hear AK shout from something from across the way.
I shout back, ‘What?’
‘They’ve started. Hurry we’ve gotta move!’
AK already had his wetsuit half on and started running down the hill towards the water part of the course. I dumped my bag, grabbed my wetsuit and pulled it on as quickly as I could. Googles: check. Swim cap: check. Race timer strap: check. I started running, pulling the arms of my wetsuit on as I hurled myself down the hill.
AK and Lars were already in the water by the time I reached the start. I recognised the race marshal who had given the safety briefing the day before. He was standing on a raised section of the water break waving me on. ‘Go! Go!’ He obviously found these three stragglers quite amusing as he was laughing with his colleague as I jumped into the water.
6:55am (estimate. We think they had actually started the race early…)
I could see way ahead of me the main triathlon swim group; the leaders were already half way around the course. I took a couple of deep breaths while I adjusted my googles for a snug fit. At this point I knew that the competitive side of the race was clearly over, but I wasn’t overly concerned. While it’s great to have some competition around to keep you motivated, we were really there for the New Forest experience.
I dove into the estuary water. The game now was about catch up. I swam out confidently, at least for say the first 100m. My arms were quickly tiring. Too quickly. I hadn’t actually put my wetsuit on since the last triathlon I did a couple of years back…and although I knew it was a perfect fit, it felt tight in the upper torso and around the arms. Finally I succumbed to exhaustion and stopped to readjust. Not particularly professional. After pulling the wetsuit further up my body I started out again. I was way behind; not only of the whole group but I couldn’t even see Lars and AK up ahead. I swam on. Much more comfortable, I began to find my rhythm.
The rest of the swim went well. Luckily the race marshals were there to guide me in their kayaks though as I had almost no idea where I was going; one disadvantage of being so far behind the group. As I swam I thought about the next stage; the bike ride. More specifically I thought about the interchange. I had almost nothing prepared. Classic how not to do a triathlon…
As I reached the interchange I reminded myself not stress out. We were late – it was what it was. Just enjoy the course. There I bumped into Lars, who had clearly reached the same conclusion; he had a big grin across his face.
‘Don’t worry, just do it! Shall I wait?’
‘No no. Push on – I’ll catch you on the ride.’
I pull off my wetsuit and fumbled through my bag for my race number and safety pins to attach it to my shirt. I chuckled to myself. I should have at least done this in the car… Next up: energy. I grabbed a couple of sachets of Orbana and hastily emptied them into one of my water bottles. Too hastily. Normally when I mix my Orbana I put the powder in first and then add water. Now reversing the process, I realised that I hadn’t allowed enough space to add the powder and be able to shake it all up. It turned into a fairly messy process. What an idiot. Luckily I had my spare water bottle to rinse my hands with.
Finally, after possibly one of the longest changeovers in triathlon history, I set off on the bike. What a beautiful day it was; and to be honest those first few kilometres riding on my own through the New Forest were totally glorious. This was why we had chosen this event.
Every few kilometres, on the flat, I sipped some Orbana. Disclaimer: Before I rant on about how great a product Orbana is, I should declare that I have worked for Orbana.
Not too sweet, not too strong tasting, but packed full of energy and energy supporting ingredients. I often drink Orbana before I play football and sometimes just when I have a busy day and I’m running on empty. But when you have a three hour triathlon on your hands it’s time to up the dose. My 2 sachets in about 650ml of water was perfect. I drank it all during the course of the bike ride and although I admit to perhaps not being in the best condition I’ve ever been in, I didn’t lack for energy during the whole event.
Towards the end of the bike ride I had finally started to catch up with some the stragglers at the back of the race. Ok most of these guys were probably +10 years older than me (good on them they were doing absolutely great) but it helped psychologically to have finally caught up with the group.
At the interchange I bumped into Lars again. He had been taking his time prepping for the run (i.e. toilet break) and he waited a couple of minutes for me so that we could set off on the run together. We started at a steady pace, but relaxed enough to chat…at least for the couple of kilometres. After we had joked about the various antics of the morning I let him take off at a faster pace. I kept him in sight for a while, but eventually lost him in the woods. The end of a triathlon is always hard; the closer you get to the end the more you push yourself. We had walked along the last section of the run the day before, when we had gone for a warm up swim in the estuary, so as I started to recognise the path I picked up the pace. The last section was uphill for about 40metres. Can’t slack now. Not with everyone clapping and cheering you on. Finally I cross the finish mat.
Total course distance: 1km swim, 44km bike, 11km run.
Total Time: 3:05hrs.
Position: 60 out of 79
After factoring in our late start as well as lost time in the first changeover (due to disorganisation) I put my overall course time at about 2:45hrs which makes it a personal best. I’ll allow that. After all it was my birthday.
Moral of the story: Tri as you might, you can never over-prepare.
Nutrition Consumption (did me proud):
Large bowl of porridge, chopped banana and honey for breakfast.
1 x 50g sachet diluted in 250ml water 30 mins before the start
2 x 50g sachets diluted in 450ml of water consumed during the bike ride
1 x 50g sachet diluted in 350ml water after the event for recovery
Team Stats (official and unadulterated):
|Total Time||Position||Time Splits (swim/bike/run)|
|AK||2:52hrs||38/79||00:25:04, 01:24:13, 01:02:57|
|Lars||3:02hrs||56/79||00:29:05, 01:31:35, 01:01:33|
|Xander (me)||3:05hrs||60/79||00:33:41, 01:28:21, 01:02:56|