Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Feeling a bit of a prick


So I thought it was high time I updated you on the last six months in the land of Trihard. Whilst I was regularly blogging on my training, in the build up to the race season, you may have noticed that I suddenly stopped in April.

There were major concerns that I had decided to hang up my triathlon kit but it was more of a case of losing the motivation to write about my severe lack of racing prowess than actually putting an end to my esteemed triathlon career. To put it bluntly rather than improving on my previous season I felt as though I was getting progressively worse. One of the main reasons was continuously being blighted by man flu which I couldn’t seem to stave off for more than a few weeks at a time. This not only disrupted my training but left lacking in inspiration of what to write.

In a bid to prevent a repeat of this I have decided to resort to drugs. That’s right I booked myself into that esteemed medical institution Tesco and got the flu jab. 

Artist's impression

Three weeks in (I’ve probably just cursed myself) and I’ve managed to stave off the germs The Artist Previously Known as Toddler Trihard (we’ll now refer to her as Pre-school Trihard) and Toddler Trihard (that’s right, Baby Trihard has been promoted)  have attempted to inflict on me.

Anyway, back to April.

My first race of the season was Sevenoaks Sprint Triathlon. As you may recall from previous posts there are several distances of races –including Sprint, Standard (also known as Olympic), Iron Man- with subtle variances between them. Sevenoaks consisted of a 400m swim (slightly shorter than the normal 500m sprint swim) 25km cycle and an 8km run (considerably further than the normal 5km distance in a sprint). When I’d asked a fellow club member about the course he’d said that although it was a longer run it was nice and flat. “Really?” I asked. “No” he replied and laughed, “It’s awful.”

 In the weeks leading up to the race, you’ll never guess what, I’d been ill. 

Sevenoaks is an incredibly popular race, so difficult to get in to, and I’d bagged one of the five places that had been allocated to EGTC as a local Tri club. I therefore felt obliged to take part as there were many disappointed triathletes who hadn’t been able to get in to the race. 

Unlike many races I was pleased to see that I’d been given a sociable start time of around 10am. This was particularly pleasing as I’d noticed that the very first wave of competitors were starting off from 6am. However I started to feel slightly concerned on arrival when I realised that a number of my fellow club members, who are far superior athletes than me (one of which has raced at the World Championships), had earlier start times than me. Generally in a race such as this, the slower you are the earlier you start. I had somehow therefore been lumped in with some of the serious competitors. And did I mention I’d been ill?

Once I got to the pool I relaxed slightly. Those that were swimming didn’t seem that quick, perhaps I’d been mistaken with my earlier judgement. After completing the swim I made my way to transition and picked up my bike. I’d decided that if I felt unwell after the swim I’d call it a day but with the adrenaline pumping I felt OK and I consider myself quite a strong cyclist. It’s not uncommon for me to pick off a few stragglers on the bike. However on this day that wasn’t really happening. In fact I was the one regularly being passed by other competitors. 

Lovely day for a cycle in the countryside
And that was before I'd reached the hills. In 2012 I took part in an Olympic distance Tri which involved a 40km cycle. Despite this being 15km shorter it was so much harder, I was really starting to struggle and I still had the “awful” 8km run to go. As you’ll know I’m not the fastest runner at the best of times but having been ill, and being faced with a hilly challenge I started to contemplate throwing in the towel at the end of the bike stage. By now I’d stopped being passed on the bike so realised I must be one of the last left in the field. I thought about the humiliation of being the last to cross the finishing line. “Flip it” I thought. “Someone’s got to come last, it might as well be me.”

I struggled into transition, pulled on my running shoes and prepared for the pain. The run was around a beautiful (but very hilly, not sure if I’ve mentioned that) deer park. 

So much fun
I have to confess that I walked a good third of it. The very last part was up an incredibly steep path, complete with a helpful handrail, which young famillies were walking down to enjoy an afternoon in the park. As I dragged myself up, panting away, a young lad obviously bemused by my running lycra asked his parents: “Mummy, daddy; why is that man walking?”

I answered for them: “Because I’m very tired and I haven’t done enough training!” 

Anyway, once at the top I managed to put in a final trot to the finishing line where the packing up operation was well underway with my bike looking forlornly alone in what had been the transition area. However it turns out that I wasn’t quite last to cross the line, as the race commentator cheerfully announced to the remaining spectators that there were just two more in the field.

Come in number 380, your time is up
Anyway, race entry for 2014 opens on Sunday and fingers crossed come April my flu jab will still be keeping me strong.