My debut into triathlon – Imperial Centurtion 2021! A good place to start.
Thanks to the previous night’s advice from the Tri-Force (TF) group I felt slightly less nervous and managed to actually get some sleep Saturday night, only waking five or so times to check the time. When the alarm went off at 4:30 I was not hanging about. I pushed down a large bowl of porridge and sultans and glugged some black coffee, my go to for race days, got my dog ready and dropped him off and then headed to Stanborough, passing Mike putting out signs on Cooper Green. A reassurance I was heading the correct way.
Having never been to this race, I wondered around looking for registration and befriended some ladies from Leighton Buzzard Tri club, again resting my nerves. My biggest concern at this point was, what the hell do I do with my car keys!
Anyway, the swim, I jump in and found that I floated and instantly thought, wow this is a lot easier in a wetsuit 😅I’ve never swam at Stanborough, I had no idea where the buoy was, I couldn’t see it for love nor money so I ended swimming right out to the right worrying I’d miss it and to keep out of the way of others. However, about 3/4’s the way down the first side, I saw that glistening yellow ball and thought thank god, I locked in and started swimming properly. This was by far the fastest I had ever swam. I got into a couple of packs and once I realised I was about the same speed and wasn’t going to kick anyone I got comfortable, albeit, slightly tired.
Into transition, I had no idea what I was meant to be doing and basically copied the people around me.
Out onto the bike. So the race plan, go easy on the bike for the first two laps, do not go above 18mph and then ramped it up. Best made plans… I got onto Cooper Green and it felt downhill and there was quite a bit of traffic in front of me, so I held back, ate a flapjack bar and there pushed the speed up. My head works in peculiar ways and thought Stanborough to Kimpton was just the cycle to the race. Once at Kimpton I was in my element, I love riding my TT on these roads and know them really well. Codicote to Hitchin for the first two laps felt okay, but I could feel the wind starting to push me and could see the rain in the distance, my primary objective was to not get caught in the rain on the bike. Lap 3 started to hurt and I had to dig in, the wind was now horrendous and my speed dropped about 5mph’s in places. Lap 4, basically finished, the wind was just cooling me now. Food wise, I ate 6 big flapjack bars, one pack of Blocs, and nearly finished my four bottles of electrolytes and glucose. Overall, I pushed myself hard on the bike and probably went out slightly to hot, however, I loved the course and if I didn’t push myself I would have regretted it.
Into T2, do you get off the bike before or after the line!? Luckily, with the marshals shouting at me, I got it right, thank god. I then had no idea which way we were meant to be going back into the pen and with no one else coming in, I had no one to follow. Racked up, to the outright shock of the marshals, I had decided I was going to change for the run and grabbed my bag and changed. It took 3 mins and was probably worth it. I felt odd being the only one not in a tri suit on the run.
The run, one foot in front of the other. Lap 1, fine, no issues. Lap 2, I could feel the acid in my legs, my lower back was completely numb from my TT position and my left trap was in excruciating pain. My heart rate had now been sat above 160 since getting off the bike and was taking its toll majorly. I went into zombie mode, I was running lap post to lap post, junction to junction, head down staring at the ground. Having slowed my pace I got my heart sub 160. Lap 3 I knew I was coming to an end and befriended another runner on her second lap who’s pace was very similar so I stayed close, as I could, with her. My trap was now in so much pain I was carrying water to keep putting on it to cool it down. The run felt very hot, I had no idea it wasn’t all on roads! First time my race road runners have ever been on dirt, apart from the start of St A Half 😅 another pack of Blocs finished.
To conclude, this was a great race, albeit, I was completely broken after it and it will take me at least a week to recover, however, I was very pleased with the swim and bike and happy to finish it in 7hr30mins. It was great to meet some of the TF team and hope I will join you again.
A big thank you to James and ATW for organising and pulling everything together, as a complete newby I felt really comfortable and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere. Also I really liked that all the other competitors were really nice and happy to have a chat.
This was a great day, so pleased I didn’t bail. Thank you everyone see you at the next one!