It was a bit of an ongoing joke with Sarah how frequently I had forgotten that the morning after her wedding I would be doing my first triathlon in over a year. But the news set in when packing on the Saturday, reflecting that I also wasn’t quite as prepared as previous races. 2016 had been a year of running for me which is why I hadn’t been in the pool for 16 months. I can’t quite remember why.
The wedding was awesome, and that didn’t help as I wasn’t able to tear myself away from it until 3am. The reality of Berlin parties, especially when hanging with such great people. So a huge congrats to Sarah and Tom - you celebrated in great style.
So after a few hours sleep I made it to my race buddy for the day’s place, Ilsa, as she was kindly driving us to the event. We were borrowing her friends absolute classic Lancia - which just made the whole journey and experience more fun. Fitting 2 bikes in the back was an adventure in itself. So we made it on time, set things up and before we knew it all in the water getting ready to race. My goal - finish.
As an overview this was a stunning race location. The lake and surroundings were beautiful and the course took us through it all. It was probably the hardest olympic course I have raced because of the terrain - but also not helped by limited training. However, I loved every minute and it really has got me searching for the next one.
It was a triangular swim, 2 loops with a quick climb out and run back into the water. With the lack of training it felt like a lot more than 1500m and we weren’t sure if the buoys had been left wrong from the 70.3 race. But that’s just excuses. I had decided not to wear a wetsuit because I hadn’t used it in a while but realised that was a mistake. The water was really choppy and heading out, when spotting, it was just about getting hit in the face. I really just dug in deep, slowed by cadence and basically went back to old school training of long strokes to just get through it. I was certainly in the back half of the group on the swim and a few from the second wave went past me. That plays on the mind when swimming used to be my strength - and is really just motivation to get back into the pool. But I made it out and was happy to. The path to the bikes was a bit rough, but I soon realised that was all part of the course.
Now i’ve done some longer rides in recent months, all coming from the 120 Velothon, but this 42km was tough. One realisation was that it wasn’t as flat as the training we get in Berlin. To add to the fun, I dropped my energy bar quite early on so had that paling in my head that there was nothing to eat pre-run. I do love riding though and just set myself into a rhythm matching against other racers that felt manageable. Naturally the carbon TTs came flying past on occasions but I also made some good ground setting targets of other cyclists. There were also a few other riders who had a similar speed for the duration so we had a little bit of team working in yo-yoing along the course. I hadn’t know before that the route was longer than 40km so when I saw that sign I was waiting for the end. It didn’t come as soon as I had hoped.
By this point I was tired. But still had the buzz and just told myself there was not stopping. I hadn’t trained any bike to run transitions and this was a real shock for my legs. I think just on that course I found new muscles and so they were instantly tight. I was however convinced I could just keep working through it and was also encouraged by the fact that I was passing people quite easily.- even though running slowly. The course was a beautiful one through the woods right next to the lake. Lots of tree roots and turns. The paths were mostly sand and mud, and lots of ups and downs. This was really hard as I didn’t trust myself just to let go on the downs. I did however plied through, got a motivating hi-five from Austin who was a good few km infant of me and on his return leg. I kept moving, not distracted by any ideas of time, and was so satisfied when the finish was in sight and friends who had already finished were there to greet.
I realised at this race the triathlon certainly is my favourite form of event and i’m keen to start doing more again and work towards longer distances. I’m currently working calendars to fit a few more in this summer so if you know of any and are going let me know, I would love to join.
Hope you enjoyed this update and that it inspired you to find your next challenge.
And thank you Jon for sharing your story with us.
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