Waking up at 06:30 on any morning is never that fun, let alone when you wake up to have the word TRANSITION pounding through your mind. This is the word I’ve had going through my head for the last few days. The reason being that on Saturday 11th June, I completed my first triathlon. Chorlton Water Park was the location, and as it’s only minutes from my house, it was a local event I had to take part in. The components were – Swim (Open Water) 750m, Mountain Bike 16km, Run 6.8km. As someone tweeted me beforehand, just a swim, bike & run in the park for Help for Heroes. This is true, however, having seen what happened on the televised triathlons, I’m not going to lie, I was bricking it!
While I hadn’t really trained swimming wise (I’ve been swimming since I was 3 months old, so I hoped that I would be OK), I’ve been very much in training for the running aspect, and last weekend’s 35 mile hilly bike ride sorted me out for the cycle part.
I’m so glad my very good friend Sarah came along to support me on the event, as for some reason I was really getting a bit stressed out by it – I’d forgotten how much the unknown can affect you (in a good way though). Anyway, we got to registration in good time, and I got my bike set up in the transition area. We headed over to the briefing area – everyone else was in wet suits, while I was still in shorts & my Help for Heroes t-shirt. The reason for this, I hear you ask, is that I was not swimming in a wetsuit, but my delightfully lovely hot pant style Speedo shorts. Sexy I know.
Anyway, down to triathlon business. The swim started sharp at 9 o’clock. The claxon went and we were off, challenge 6 was under way. Everyone fighting to get ahead of the pack, there were a good 100 triathletes in our wave, frantically doing front crawl. However, after about 30 seconds I had a make or break decision – do I carry on with the pack and do front crawl or do I switch to breaststroke. Now anyone reading this, who is a keen follower of triathlons or who is in fact, an avid participant in said events, will be holding their head in shame. To be honest, I don’t care. It was either breaststroke, or carry on for maybe 50 more metres, swallow even more water and sink slowly to bottom of the lake. Breaststroke it was then.
To be honest, I was never one to follow the pack. It did make me smile how I saw some of the trained uber fit folk looking at me, intermittently as they bobbed their head back down into the water, thinking, what is this guy doing. Hey, you know what, it didn’t bother me one little bit, as I was still able to keep up with the guys doing front crawl, so it can’t have been that bad a decision.
Out of the water after 18 mins swimming, and it was time for the walk. The walk past god knows how many spectators. The clapping was great, and the cheering motivational, but it still didn’t remove the fact I was walking past a large group of people wearing nothing but Speedo shorts. Hardcore that is, hardcore!
Transition onto the bike was not actually anywhere nearly as daunting as I thought it would be. A relative hop, skip & a jump and I was off. The 16km was essentially 3 laps of a set course round the water park, surrounding nature reserve & along the River Mersey. The route was really good, with twists, turns, dips & hills I never even knew existed so close to home. You learnt that if you heard RIGHT shouted from behind, to get a shift over to the left pretty quick, otherwise you’d be shoved into the nearest nettle bush. After nearly falling off my bike 3 times (like I said, the route was way more off road than I’d ever anticipated), and 50 mins later, I made it back to the transition area ready to dump the bike, and head out on the final chapter of the race.
A lot of people had asked me beforehand if I was worried about the running bit, as it would be the last part of the puzzle, and would be tackled with a pretty fatigued body. To be honest, it was probably one of the least daunting sections, due to the training I’ve been doing over the last 5 months. In fact, I really enjoyed the running bit.
It took us out from the water park, across and then along the River Mersey, and given the weather conditions of the day, it was a bloody good run. I know that a good number of people had travelled for miles to come to the event, but living in Chorlton meant that this was my training ground. I had such a good feeling doing a race so close to home. I think I even preferred it to the Manchester 10km.
As I got back to the water park I could hear the cheers from the other side of the lake, knowing that I was close to the finish line. During the last 300 metres there was a guy out walking his dog who decided to run with me for 50 metres giving me motivational cheering, which was brilliant (although think he was a bit sweaty afterwards). Coming into the finish area was just fantastic, hitting 40 mins on the run. There was a corridor of spectators that you had to run through, all cheering and chapping.
I crossed the line with a time of 1hr 49 mins 03 secs. Given my less than happy finish for Challenge 5, I was more than happy to get in under 1hr 54, which (long story) was my target time. Overall I was seriously chuffed with my efforts for Challenge 6 – my first, but definitely not last, triathlon was a resounding success.
I have to give a shout out of thanks to Kate – someone who I’ve only known for a limited time, but she’s not only taken me out on some pretty hardcore training sessions over the last month, she’s also been very supportive & motivational in the run up to the triathlon. Also a HUGE thank you to Sarah who dragged herself out of bed so early on Saturday to come along and support me – needless to say you’re a star! So much of a star, she even took me out for lunch afterwards!
With Challenge 6 complete, I very much feel that [21:21] is well & truly underway now. Looking at the calendar it actually seems weird to not have a running event until September – worry not, my training schedule won’t let me get away from running for long, trust me.
Help for Heroes [21:21] Challenge