Guest blog: Ben’s very first triathlon


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I don’t normally accept guest blogs on this particular blog, you normally have to submit a guest post to my online magazine. but this one is slightly different. I have been coaching Ben for while. When we first got together last year, he was just learning to swim, and had decided he wanted to do Ironman UK in 2014, having never done a triathlon before. Crazy person I thought, but I liked his ‘Impossible is nothing’ outlook on life, so agreed to coach him.

Last weekend he completed his first ever triathlon, Duston Sprint triathlon run by JustRacing UK, which, for him was simply a training session, on the way to the REAL big day in July. Here is his race report.

‘And there I stand. Poolside, at the Duston Sprint Triathlon 2014, having just put my elected swim cap on, staring into the water and waiting for the nod to get in. I don’t feel too anxious, I’m always better for getting on with things, and I’m all set and ready. This is my first ever triathlon. I have an ambitious goal – set less than a year ago, when I couldn’t swim 10 metres front crawl, never mind 2.4 miles. My goal is the UK Ironman in July of this year – that’s 12 weeks away. “You can get in the pool now!”

Swim

BenI lower myself into the water, I am lane number 4. Thirty seconds later and I’m off – 400m – 16 lengths, to be counted by myself, do too many, and that’s my own lookout. Immediately I feel a burst of adrenalin – I focus on the stroke. I’m not fast – but I keep going – and at this stage that’s all that matters. Just over 11 minutes and I lift myself out onto the pool side. As soon as my feet touch the tiles I’m running, swim cap down on the floor, out the open fire exit, a marshal at the turn, shouting, “Go right!” I run bare foot, following the building line and out onto the car park, where I have already racked my bike.

Transition number 1.There’s a towel on the floor, and I have carefully placed my kit upon it. Everything is facing the right way for ease and quickness, helmet lying on the aero bars with glasses and race belt. ‘It’s just getting dressed Ben’, I say to myself. Socks on, bike shoes on, followed by race belt, helmet and glasses. I pick up the bike and almost get on it – ‘No!’ – I run with it to the end of the line, and up the ramp where the car park entrance meets the highway. There is a large sign telling me to mount. On I get. A crunch of gears as I forgot to select the one I would most likely set off in, and off we go, down the incline, race number flapping loudly behind me.

Bike

Ben 2Out onto the main Harlestone Road to join the flow of traffic, I consume an energy gel and take on some fluid. I know where the route goes, and I’ve been told that there is a marshal at every turn, just in case. I catch my breath. The excitement of the day has caught up with me. ‘Relax Ben’. It’s not long before I fall into a rhythm, and I’m focused on my cadence, and the rear wheel of a competitor someway off in the distance. I’m steadily gaining. Onwards towards Althorp and Great Brington, where I smile for the photographer perched at the top of the hill 🙂

20km later and I’m back for Transition number 2. I dismount at the line and run to rack my bike in the same spot. Just breath! Once the bike is in place, I remove my helmet and cycle shoes, putting on my trainers. My hands are cold and I have laces to tie. The weather isn’t great today. It seems to take an age. Note to self – elastic laces in future.

Run

Energy gel in hand, off I set at a fast pace, out of the car park. My legs feel like jelly, but I know from training that this will get easier a mile or so down the road. I keep to my set cadence and push hard. My body is complaining – slow down! I try to switch the mind off and keep the cadence up, that’s all I’m focusing on right now. 5km – it’s not that far.

The hardest part for me has to be the second leg of three, along Sandy Lane. The pavement snakes its way along and I can’t see the end. Keep pushing.

Ben 3I overtake several runners and am now on the homeward stretch. There is someone in front of me and they are speeding up for the finish – I give a final burst into a full sprint – the finish line is upon us! I feel so elated.

Total time – 1hr 15mins 15 seconds.

I will always remember this day – because it was my first, and I took so much away from that to put into practice for the next time. And what is the next time? It’s a little over 4 weeks away – the Beaver Half at Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire. And my first open water swim.

Duston Sprint Triathlon was an excellent event for first-timers as well as the experienced. A great atmosphere, everyone I met was friendly and happy to answer any questions that I had.

I want to do it all again! :-)’

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