It is now two days until the Outlaw half ironman triathlon, and I feel decidedly underprepared. When I have told people this is my first triathlon, despite the ‘are you crazy/you are brave noises’, it is actually not entirely true, as back in 1997 aged 12 I actually undertook my first one. The following account will give you some indication why that was my first and until now last attempt at swim/bike/run and perhaps an insight into what lies ahead in Nottingham.
So, for this story I have to cast my mind back to 1997, when I was the tender age of 12 and willing to give anything a go once. Somehow I ended up entered into the Milk Triathlon held at a local school, which like many races, lure in unsuspecting newbies with the promise of a beginners event with other people who want to ‘give it a go’. Give it a go? For me, that means overweight but wannabe runner Jane in the office who rounds up a group of colleagues to walk round the local parkrun in 35 minutes, or in this case, children in the school football team or having weekly swimming lessons who want to try something different. How wrong could I be?
Now don’t get me wrong, I had prepared for this event, the intense preparation involved cycling a few laps round the council estate where I lived on my cool pink mountain bike, before tossing it outside my house and running one lap, protected from ridicule from the local youths by my lightning speed! Alongside this, I was of course having my weekly swimming lessons and doing athletics training twice a week. How hard could it be anyway, a 400m metre swim was a mere dip in the pool, I had my 1500m badge proudly sewn on my swimming towel. Then the bike, I can’t remember the distance, but it amounted to three laps round the local playing field, and the run, a further 2km round the fields… easy! For a future Southampton schools cross country champion, and obviously gifted swimmer (given all the badges on my towel stating I could swim like an orca), it seemed like I could be onto a winner with this triathlon malarkey.
So, the beginner’s triathlon… I turned up on the day, at Redbridge School full of excitement and enthusiasm, mum, dad and sister in tow for what was going to be my epic triathlon debut. Epic it certainly was. As luck would have it a friend of mine had also entered the race and was setting out their ‘transition’ area as I arrived. I set down my bog standard running trainers, vest and socks in the appropriate place and glanced across to see everyone else with those clever elastic laces in their trainers, this was not a good omen. Hmm, I thought this was supposed to be a beginner’s triathlon? Turns out this race was only part of an elite children’s series, and some of my fellow competitors were the best in the country. Great! The last thing I did was put my beloved Adidas glasses on the transition pile and wander off blindly in the direction of the pool.
After a short warm up to conserve energy we were off, 400m won’t take long I thought. I sprinted off the side like a fish and proceeded to swim about eight lengths at a reasonable speed, but then things didn’t seem right, I was tiring and slowing, I couldn’t keep this pace up. So, in a lactic acid crisis what do you do…start doing backstroke of course! OMG, looking back it was horrific, eight slow and laborious lengths and a couple of bumps on the head later, I emerged from the now empty pool into the daylight! Transition was clear so there was no time to stall, I grabbed my glasses and started tying my laces and putting my running vest on whilst jogging to my bike. The vest appeared twisted, but panic set in and I gave up with that. Then, disaster struck, suddenly my eyesight was blurred and I looked down to see one of the lenses from my Adidas glasses rolling away in front of me! I stopped to collect it and managed to pass the glasses to my mum to fix, there was no time to wait for them. I got to my trusty pink mountain bike, still dead last, and set off on the loops round the field. I hadn’t failed to notice everyone else seemed to have racing bikes and bike shoes, never mind! Ever determined, I picked up my glasses from my mum halfway round and finished the bike leg with no-one in sight, just the run to go then. The training paid off here as I recorded the 5th fastest run of the day, and miraculously ended up second to last! Unfortunately, this was because some poor soul failed to do enough laps on the run section and had to go back and do another one; still, beating someone with the counting skills of an infant is better than coming last!
I finished bedraggled, wearing a running vest toga and most of all relieved the ordeal was over. The best bit was the milk goody bag you got at the end, complete with food and a t-shirt five sizes too big…no change there then!
Unfortunately the pictures depicting this event have been temporarily misplaced, however if found they will be uploaded… watch this space!