Thursday, 26 September 2013

That weekend I/we won a triathlon

Earlier in the year I tried to set up a triathlon relay team to take part in the Leeds Triathlon. It all started as a bit of banter on twitter and before you knew it I had sourced a triathlon relay team through Twitter and we were set to compete in the Leeds Olympic distance triathlon.

The team consisted of

Me – swim (as if it would be anything else)

@thebaldygit – bike

@nicolaclarefox – run

Through a series of unfortunate clashes my other two team members had to drop out. We were still booked to compete but I had no team.

The team was originally set up through Twitter so it only seemed fitting that the replacements were sought via Twitter. After a slight panic I managed to find two suitable replacements.

@boarderstu took the role of the cyclist as this is what he specialises in

@Team_B_o_B took the role of the runner and as he is a runner this seemed fitting.

Wow this looked a good team on paper. Me who is quickest at swimming, Stu who is a really good cyclist and Martin who runs A LOT.

Don’t get carried away. We’ve not even made the start line yet.

The race was scheduled for Sunday 8th September. Time to relax after the panic that had ensued.

Aquathlon – 7th September

I hadn’t done much outdoor swimming since London so decided to go to a local aquathlon on Saturday 7th September to see what my pacing was like in a race situation.

I was entered in the Premiership along with three other athletes and there were 15 or so athletes entered in the Championship at the aquathlon which was held at Tyram Lakes.

The Championship had to complete two swim laps (totalling about 500m) and two run laps (totalling 2.5km) whereas the Premiership had 3 swim (750m) and 3 run (3.75km) to complete.

We all waited for the hooter to go as everyone set off at the same time.

I was feeling really good so decided to sprint away from the line. When the hooter went, I was gone head down and powering through the water. I expected someone to come with me but no one did. At the first turn after about 40m I was clear. Oh bugger I should’ve listened to the briefing more. I knew I had to turn and head to the next yellow buoy. After that I didn’t know where to go.

I was still clear at the second buoy and decided to go on gut and made my way towards where I thought the next buoy was. After 20m I still couldn’t see where I was meant to be heading to. I had to stop and check round me. Chuff the next buoy was about 90 degrees of to my right. It had been obscured at the second buoy. Oh dear I had also led every other swimmer off course. I was still in the lead by about 10 seconds. After I had corrected my navigational issues I swam to the next buoy before I exited the first lap in the lead and this was an amazing feeling. I even got announced by the MC. Wow this felt good. I ran along the grass matting which formed the Australian exit before diving in and swimming my second lap. I was still in the lead after the second lap. The third lap continued as the first two and my lead of about 10 seconds was maintained.

I was officially FIRST OUT OF THE WATER and felt amazing. I nearly caught one of the Championship swimmers as well.

Unfortunately this is where my race fell to bits. I know I had hoped to be first out of the water but I didn’t think it would happen. I hadn’t prepared for a speedy transition and unfortunately got overtaken in transition whilst I was tying my laces.

Now we all know that running is my weak point and despite being overtaken by all the other Premiership runners I kept my head and completed the three run laps.

Still no one can take my swimming win from me.

This gave me unparalleled confidence for the swim in the morning.

Olympic Relay triathlon – 8th September

When the race information arrived I couldn’t help but notice that there were 11 relay teams and this again piqued my interest in a first place finish.

I woke up on race morning at 04:30 to travel to Leeds. The relay teams were in the first wave along with all women and men aged over 55.

The first wave was set to go at 08:00 hence my ridiculously early start. Given the fact triathlon also turns me into an OCD sufferer I also offered to pick up my team mates then I was in control of whether we arrived.

I had to leave home at 05:30 to enable me to collect Martin at 06:00 and Stuart at 06:30 to arrive at 7am.

All went to plan and as we had registered yesterday there were no last minute panics.

We arrived at Roundhay Park to a beautiful sunrise and made our way to transition. After we had all completed our pre race rituals, which I won’t describe. I got into my wetsuit and nearly fell over doing so. One of the race officials stated that we just had to hand the chip over from swimmer to cyclist and cyclist to runner. Sweet, no removing of wetsuits to contend with in a rush I thought. I made my way down to the water secretly hoping for my second FIRST OUT OF THE WATER of the weekend.

I manoeuvred to the front of the pack before the hooter went. One of the swimmers near me asked one of the kayakers if they were leading the swim. They said they were. Right I thought follow the kayaker. I joked to the woman who had asked the question about keeping my feet and all she replied was “Interesting”. She then said to try and keep on her feet to draft instead.

Oh great who is this woman?

My confidence took a nosedive but I decided to take her advice.

When the hooter went I thrust my head into the water and powered through the water. When I looked up after about 40 seconds, I thought I must have managed to maintain her pace. Except, she was gone along with her feet to draft off. She was out of sight. Seriously WHO IS THIS WOMAN?

I had veered slightly off course and had dropped back to about 15th place. After I had corrected my navigational problem by the first buoy, I was back up to about 10th. Time to settle into myself, as I had nearly overcooked that start. I turned the buoy and knew this was a long straight. I started to pick off those swimmers ahead of me. I have no idea of placing at the third buoy but was swimming well. At this buoy you perform a 180 degree turn and swim back and this is the longest straight. I knuckled down with the job at hand and maintained a good pace before the turn for home at the fourth buoy.

At the fourth buoy I was neck a neck with another swimmer but got dropped in the swim to home. I was a body length down as we approached the exit pontoon. I jumped up to the pontoon but smashed my knee into the side. In the adrenaline I thought nothing of it. I jogged past two swimmers on the way to transition.

Running uphill in a wetsuit is not much fun. As I only had to hand the chip over, this is what I did. On my jog up the hill, I got the worst cramp but I only had 100m to go so ignored it. When I got to transition Stuart, Stuart’s mum and Martin were screaming at me. They were telling me to remove my wetsuit.


When did this change?

When I had been swimming apparently. Oh great

Cue swift removal of wetsuit before I could hand the chip over. Thank goodness for the breakaway zipper on my HUUB Archimedes wetsuit.

After I had handed the chip over to Stuart he was on his way.

Now for the quizzing of my teammates and family as we had about an hour to kill until Stuart returned.

Was I first? No. Dolphin woman AKA Jess Learmonth was 5 minutes quicker than me. I was the fifth swimmer back though which I was pleased with.

Was I first relay back? This caused some debate. At the time they thought I was but on checking the results I was second relay team back.

I was really pleased with my swim time of 23:46 for 1500m though. A massive PB. My best OW 1500m was 28:04 so that’s a 4:18 improvement. WOW.

If you’re the swimmer in a relay you get bored as you are finished really early. I took myself off to get changed and waited with Martin for Stuarts return. Stuart who has blogged about the triathlon here came back as the second relay team about 30 seconds down on the first relay team back.

He handed over to Martin and Martin was gone. It was a pleasure to see him run. He tore it up. The run course was three laps and by the end of the first lap he had overtaken the relay leader and had a 30 second advantage. OH MY GOD we were winning. Martin was still elading at the end of the second lap and me and Stuart “Mexican Waved” him as he ran past. We made our way to the finish line to await Martins arrival. We watched every person crossing the line to see if it was the rival team’s runner. They didn’t finish before Martin. And there he was, Martin was on the home straight. Me and Stuart decided to run with him over the line after all it was a team effort. He was flying he dropped me and Stuart and stormed over the line.

Wow we were the Leeds relay triathlon champions. WOW WOW WOW WOW.

Except we weren’t officially. There was an issue with the timing system so they couldn’t officially confirm it. Out time was 02:25:51 which made it about 10:30. The winners would be announced at 13:00.

What do champions do after a hard day at the office. Go get cake. We went to get cake and after Stu had his piece stolen by a ninja like cake thief, which you can read about here, we sat around regaling our tales from the day.

At 12:45 we heard a rumour we were first.

At 13:00 the presentation occurred and we were officially announced as the winners.

If Carlsberg did weekends!

For our efforts we got

A winners mug (not a medal unfortunately), a number belt and some USN goodies.

My quest for shinies continues.

What an amazing day out. I dropped Martin off at home and then went to convalesce with my busted knee. In my haste to exit the water when I dinged it on the side of the pontoon, I had severely bruised my knee and now could hardly move it.

Oh the joys.

I should come with a clumsy warning.

Thanks for reading,


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