Having done one triathlon, back in 2010, I knew I wanted to do another. It took some time to get around to it, but I eventually settled on Fleetwood, September 23rd. I chose this event for several reasons. Timing:- enough time to train over the summer. Pool swim:- triathlon is a pretty pricy activity, by opting for a pool swim I cut the wetsuit cost out (I already had a tri-suit!). Location:- near enough to get to from Liverpool with relative ease. Distances:- once I learned there was an option to do 750/40/10 ‘short Olympic’ distance I decided it would be the ideal challenge. I also chose to raise money for Joint Action a charity which helps fund research by the British Orthopaedic Association.
My first triathlon was Ulverston – pool swim 400m, very hilly 30km cycle and, pebbly beach run of 7km. I knew nothing about nutrition, and did the entire thing on one bottle of powerade! Needless to say, I struggled. This time I was PREPARED! Now I’m a qualified nutritionist and fitness instructor I had no excuses with regards to physical training and diet. However, when it came to my mental preparation I needed a bit of help. I had foolishly given in a wildly optimistic swim time of 15 minutes, and
THEN spotted their rule that the swim had to be done within 15 minutes! My best 750 swim time was 15:50.
I checked with the organiser who let me know that if I was running over time I’d be taken out of the pool, I’d be allowed to continue – but my time would not count. This sent me into a state of panic. The thought of being stopped in the swim was demoralising to say the least.
I turned to Ryding2Health for help – Melanie Ryding, GB Triathlete and NLP coach.
Melanie talked me through a few exercises, visualisations, which transformed my swimming overnight!
I had one further session with her before the event, and went into it confidently knowing I would finish, and I was determined to do my absolute best!
The day before the race I set off to Blackpool on the train with my bike strapped in, then pedalled a short distance to my hotel in Bispham. After I’d had a sandwich (and an ice-cream!) for lunch I did the cycling equivalent of a leisurely stroll along the seafront 6 miles up to Fleetwood to register for the event, collected my numbers, and enjoyed a gentle cycle back. I found myself a nice pub dinner, strolled about enjoying a spectacular sunset, then the Illuminations, and after prepping all my kit for the next day I got a good early night! 4:30am – alarm, 5am – breakfast I’d taken with me (Oats, coconut, raisins & protein shake instead of milk, and a banana). 6:40am – taxi with the bike up to Fleetwood pool. I got my bike into transition, set up all my kit, had a quick nervous warm-up then was poolside for 7:45am.
I was relieved to know I was not the only one who had never managed a sub-15 minute swim! There were only 16 of us doing the long race (just 6 ladies) so we formed the first wave in the pool, starting at 8am. I went straight into the ‘zone’ in the swim, thought only about swimming, and was 100% focussed! Before I knew it I was done, and off into 1st transition. One thing I had failed to consider was the difficulty of getting a long-sleeved top on when wet – but it was far too chilly out to abandon my efforts – after much wriggling I managed it, got my number belt on, helmet, gloves, socks and trainers, crunched up a Dextro-energy tablet and was off. The bike route was a 10km lap, essentially flat, with a bit of a headwind on the return stretch. Cycling is possibly my favourite part of Triathlon, the discipline I’ve done the most of, and the one I’m most confident in – I love nothing more than zooming along at speed! I really enjoyed it, and kept up my positive mental ‘coaching’ all along, reminding myself I love cycling, I love going fast, and I have STRONG LEGS!! It worked, I took my energy gel after 2.5 laps, and I felt super fast and strong for the entire cycle, I even managed to overtake one of the other ladies doing my event (by then the road was busy with the sprint-distance cyclists as well). I whipped into 2nd transition, popped on my charity vest, grabbed my running bottle, and swopped my cycle helmet for a running cap! Having done some brick training sessions I knew what to expect of my legs in the beginning of the run – oddness!! Numb feet and strange muscle aches – which lasted for 8 out of the 10km! I had no sensation of how hard I was working, but having allowed myself a sneaky glance at my watch at the 5km turn-round point I realised I was doing ok, and I kept up my energy with another energy gel. I felt myself flag a little at one point around the 7.5km mark, so I reminded myself how hard I’d worked all summer, how well my running training had been going with my club (Mossley Hill Athletics) and I pushed myself to keep working. Luckily the final stretch was a good clear run – I could see the finish line for the final kilometre which always gives me a boost! I crossed the line – and promptly collapsed the ground, I’d given it everything!!
My total time was about 2:33, which was exactly the kind of time I had dreamed of, and I managed a PB for my 10k run which I am really pleased with! I know I worked as hard as I could’ve done, all the training and coaching had paid off!
The event was, on the whole, great. Having the start/finish at the leisure centre meant that there were ample changing facilities, and a spacious transition. The road was totally closed off (other than the odd residents car), and the run route along the seafront was great. My only criticisms would be the lack of marshalling. When the Olympic distance cyclists hit the road there were no marshals out, and the leaders actually overshot the turn points, I only saw them as I’d spotted them previous day and made a mental note of where they were. The lack of marshals on the longer run route led to one poor lady running 10km instead of the 5km she needed to do for her sprint distance. The few marshals there were out on the route were all rather bored looking cadets.
Would I do this event again? Perhaps….! The cost of getting the bike to-from the start on the day in a cab from Blackpool was a bit expensive (although of course if you have a car that’s not an issue!), Fleetwood only has 1 hotel which – was naturally fully booked before I’d even signed up! The route was great, the atmosphere was warm and friendly, and the massive number of hugely professional looking (very) young athletes was very awe inspiring… so… maybe!! Will I do another Triathlon?? Certainly!! I even caught myself uttering the words ‘half Ironman’ at one point during the afternoon – AFTER the race!!
Even if I don’t do that (!) I know I have the potential to improve my times, and I relish that challenge!!