Thursday, 5 September 2013

Unexpected appearance in a triathlon

Firstly apologies for not blogging sooner. I've been flat out busy with work, training and trying to live my life in this post Outlaw haze.

As you all know I completed the London triathlon and set a new PB in the process. After that I had a bit of a rest planned. I wasn't racing for 5 weeks and it was only a supersprint which should be a doddle all things considered.

However fate conspired to lessen the amount of downtime I had. On Monday 19th August I was contacted (via the medium of Twitter) by a member of GI Tri who are a local triathlon club. They were in need of a triathlete to represent them in the Zoot National Club Relay championships.

The format for the National Club Relay Chamionships took some geting my head round. Each team consists of four members.

Hang on how does this work as triathlon only has three elements? The mind boggled.

Each person completes the swim bike and run.

Aha I thought you do a triathlon and hand over to the next person who does their triathlon and so on. That made sense.

Nope wrong again.

Each person swims and hands over the baton (a rubber band) to the next person who swims who hands over to the next person who swims. So all four swim consecutively.

The fourth swimmers hands over the baton to swimmer 1 who then bikes, who then hands to biker 2 etc....

The fourth biker hands over to biker 1 who completes the run and hands over etc......

Sweet this sounded like organised chaos.

The twitterer knew I was a strong swimmer so put me in the first leg as I could handle the mass start. I was fine with this.

Saturday rolled around and the race was upon me. Here I was about to race with three people who I didn't know for a club I didn't represent. What could be more fun?

I made my way to the National Watersport Centre (the same venue as Outlaw) and met my "clubmates". GI Tri had 8 teams registered and I was in a team, named Dangermouse and friends. I met my teammates (Katie no. 2, Mark no. 3 and Shaun no. 4). It turns out I had met Shaun at the Doncaster 5k race in July.

The distances for the triathlon (well I say triathlon loosely) were 500m swim, 15km bike and 5km run.

Each person was given a different coloured swim hat / race number to depict your position.

The first people aka me were given red hats, the second people were given green hats. After putting my wetsuit on I found Katie to memorise what she looked like having only met her 30 minutes before race start.

Everyone looks so different in neoprene and latex. Ooer that sentence sounds a bit "50 shades".

I made my way down to the swim start along with the rest of the number ones.

I tried to muscle my way to the front of the swim but it was extremely crowded. This was going to be fun especially as I don't swim well with others. I tend to suffer claustrophobia when surrounded by other swimmers and can't help kicking harder when my feet get touched. Think it has something to do with my ticklish feet.

The hooter went and we were off. What can I say about the next 8 minutes and 16 seconds. Well the first 3 minutes was bedlam. I was punched, kicked and could not get free of the melee. After the first turn I took a different line to other swimmers so I had clear water and made progress. Again I took a wide line for the swim back to shore. I scrambled out and ran to the holding pen for the number 2's. Could I spot Katuie in this mass of neoprene and latex. Could I bollocks. Everyone looked the same. After I walked up and down the line twice I spotted her and handed over the baton. Job done for the first leg. There were so many swimmers still out there I was chuffed with my efforts. I ambled back to team camp to find out that I was the second person back and the first team were some of GI Tris best athlete. Woohoo. Barnett swims again.

I dried off and got changed into my cycling gear. I had to borrow some GI Tri gear so I was recognisable. Number 4 had to be able to spot me. I made my way down to the holding pen and bumped into my old coach and said hi. I waited patiently for Shaun. After a while I spotted him. He handed me the baton and I jogged to my bike unracked it and made my way to the mount line.
  • Since London I have been forced to reconsider my cycling position. I looked at the photos from London and finally understood what people meant when they said I cycled bow legged. I look horrific on a bike. I decided to go to the best place for traithlon advice (Twitter) to see if anyone knew why. It turns out after much consideration that my saddle was set too low. I raised my saddle by about 40mm and took my bike for a test ride or two. My average speed increased by about 2mph on my test rides. I was now closer to 20mph than 18mph. Brilliant.
I set off pedalling and immediately knew I was pedalling more efficiently. I was gaining on people on the bike. This doesn't normally happen. I was flying. I kept a fairly regular cadence on the pan flat course and was motoring. At one point during the 15km my average speed was 34.6 km/h. Thats 21.5mph. Previously I had been happy with 18mph as my average speed during the Outlaw training.Wowsers I felt good on the bike at last. I overtook more than was overtaken. People still passed me on thir TT machines but me and the roadie were performing better than ever. After three laps of the rowing lake. My Garmin said I had done 33.4km/h as an average speed, which is 20.8mph. I dismounted and ran to the holding pen to hand over the baton. I was so chuffed with this new found speed. I finally felt like a cyclist.

I even look like a cyclist

The bike ride was compleetd in 25 minutes and 58 seconds. This boaded well for my first TT next Wednesday. A colleague had challenged me to complete my first TT and was convinced I could go under the 30 minute mark for 10 miles. I had my doubts until the day of the National Relay Champs.

I made my way to the team tent and got ready for my run. I took on some water as the temperatures were starting to rise. We were still in second place for GI Tri which I was pleased with. The wait for the run to start seemed to take forever. After Mark got back from his bike I made my way down to the holding pen and seemed to be stuck there for an age. I wondered if Shaun had had an accident on the bike. He hadn't and came barelling into the haybales to hand over the baton.

Yay running my least favourite part of triathlon (apart from transition) especially in the heat. I do not run well in hot weather. Remind me why I have signed up for another Ironman in June?  I made a deal with myself that I would run the run and not walk any of it as long as no other member of GI Tri overtook me. So run I did. Well my version of running which averages about 10.5km/h. I saw two of my old clubmates as they flew past me on the run. I yelled encouragement at both of them.

It got a bit warm on the back straight. I really had relied on that second waterpoint. This last 2km would be difficult. the temperatures had picked up and my mouth was drier than a nun's crutch. But I continued on through the pain as we were still in second place. I would not walk. NOPE NOPE NOPE. I got overtaken a lot but this was to be expected. I ran and ran and was starting to feel something unfamiliar. Oh crap I hadn't fuelled very well for this sort of race. The last nutrition I has had was over 2 hours ago. I was starting to hit the wall on a 5km run. The last 500m dragged. I was so relieved to make it back to the holding pen and hand over the baton. My job was done. The run took 26:24 for 2.9 miles. Not my best but it got the job done, we were still in second place.

Now for refreshment. After I finished I immediately had 4 glasses of water and a protein shake. Hmmmm. definitely not enough water. Note to self drink and eat more next year.

And there will be a next year as I had so much fun at the National Relay Championships and was proud to represent GI Tri. Their kit passed the wearable test.

This was a nice bonus. I raced an extra race and am seriously contemplating joining GI Tri. They are local to me and are genuinely nice people. I might have managed to fill the void that has been in my triathlon life since I left London and RG Active.

Thanks for reading,


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