The Hardest Start line I ever made it to.
Dramatic enough title I will admit but this was my very first Triathlon and my training for this started on September 17th 2012 when I got into the pool for the first time with the Shannon Master’s Swimming Club. It would be unfair to say that I couldn’t swim at all , it would also be unjust to the sport to say that I could , someone (not mentioning who) put it best months later when he said my ability at the start was just a slower version of drowning. The next 7 months were to involve between 4 and 7 hours a week in the pool , multiple books , every Youtube video ever made on the topic , an amount of frustration that if I had known about at the start may have put me off the whole thing completely.
The Week leading up to it.
How my Wife didn’t kill me I will never know , I was a pain in the ass , I had a short fuse and everything seemed to be annoying me , the nerves seemed to hit me in waves at the thought of failure. STL brought a good few of the Go Tri gang out on the route on the Monday , we did the sprint cycle , the 5 k run and then a few 100 mtrs in the pool , for me this was really important , it let me get the whole route into my head so I could concentrate on other things. By Thursday the waves of nerves were replaced with a wave of calm , I just couldn’t bloody wait for Sunday morning , I was like a child on Christmas eve this couldn’t come fast enough.
What is it with the Triathlon scene that everything seems to start in the middle of the night , 05.50 the alarm went off , coffee machine went on , porridge went in the microwave , Shauna and Ethan were dragged out of the bed. My bag was packed since the night before , actually it was packed , repacked , emptied , packed again multiple times before I left the house , Shauna was quick to remind me as we left the house that I had everything except my bike,,,ooops !
On arrival in UL it was great to meet up with so many team mates and share the nervous excitement and just nerves in general , Team mates seem to have a calming effect on me , also a lot of them are nuts so it’s just good fun too.
I am going to be very honest here , a lot of people told me just to enjoy it and get to the finish , I feel we are training enough to expect a little bit more than that , at the end of the day the enjoyment or what ever you call it is wrapped up in results , in other words I will enjoy it more if I do a decent time. So what was I expecting time wise , I am ashamed to say that I never really timed my swim with any degree of accuracy so I was expecting somewhere between 17 – 18 minutes here , the cycle I was inspired by Derek Flanagan’s time in Nenagh the week before and would have been thrilled with somewhere around the 35 minute mark , and the run I was aiming for somewhere in the 24 minute time. So in brief 18 , 35 , 24.
- The Swim: Lane politics , this was completely new to me and to be honest I didn’t really want to get too involved either as it was a little over the top as far as I was concerned, I settled for 4th to go off , we all agreed to let the person behind pass if they hit your feet , this was a lie and nobody did it , I felt good but the people in front were slower than me and I found it a bit frustrating , so did the guy behind me and made no bones about telling me to let him pass at the bottom of the first 100 , now I was in 5th with the thoughts of slipping even further back and then it came into my head that there would be no prizes for “Mr. Nice” , then I did what in my head was an epic sprint up the middle of the pool to 2nd place , the reality is that it probably didn’t look like a sprint and wasn’t epic either but it got the job done , I only hoped that it didn’t come back and bite me later in the swim but it didn’t and I was fine. I couldn’t believe it when I was hit on the head and told last 100 , the whole swim seemed to pass while I was trying to get a position in the pool that I was happy with , anyway job done 15.05 was my official time , I am happy with that as it was much faster than I estimated and I feel I could have went even faster.
T1 – Holy Jebus ! I was in T1 so long that Limerick County Council had to come and remove me , Why ? , lack of experience ! , everything I left in there was soaked in rain , socks , rain jacket etc , decided to leave off the socks and rain jacket and just go in the Tri Suit , put on my shoes , took off my shoes again as the soles of my feet had stones stuck to them , wiped feet and put shoes on again.
The cycle was uneventful thank God , I felt good from the off , didn’t have the heavy legs after the pool that I had experienced a few times in training , I still didn’t get anywhere near Derek Flanagan’s time from Nenagh though , actually I was a full 10 % off. I felt good for the whole things so maybe a good think about how to improve here is well needed. Cycle time 38.18.
T2 , Apart from nearly falling while running down the hill this was uneventful too , massive family and team support here though , it gave me a great boost.
I felt good for the run , my plan was to stick with the 24 minute pace and then run hard for the line if I had it in my legs at the end. I did have it in my legs and went for it. Having said that I am a bit frustrated with my running , I seem to have two gears which are an all out sprint and the 24 minute 5 k pace , there is nothing in between so that needs a lot of work and maybe a few lessons from Mr. Askin ( hint hint ) .
I enjoyed to whole experience so much that when I saw the finish line coming closer I was thinking “damn, I don’t want this to be over”.
My official time was 1.21.41 , I was happy with that , I know where I can make up time “transition” , but in general my first Triathlon experience was just fantastic , but it’s not just the Swim/cycle/run , it’s the Team , the craic , the support , the whole lot comes together and makes for an overall great experience. I am really looking forward to the next one , HOTW , let the training begin !