Andrew L
Posted by

My first triathlon plus some 'do's and 'don't's

Andrew L
Posted by
12 Mar 2014

My first race back in 1999, although being a fantastic experience, was peppered with elemental errors.

It was the 220 Stratford sprint triathlon. It was then, and may still be now, the largest pool based triathlon in the country.

An interesting swim/start format comprised of setting competitors off at 30 second intervals throughout the day. Slowest swimmers started early in the morning and the fast guys were off mid afternoon. In a 25m pool you started at one corner, swam 4 lengths then ducked under the lane rope and proceeded to do another 4 lengths in the next lane and ducked under the next lane rope. When you eventually reached the other side of the pool you got out and headed to transition. 

The transition was next to the leisure centre's pool, and upon exit there was a 20k bike ride out of the town and into the countryside. Once through transition again, the run was a twisty 5k in the adjacent field with a run course set out with stakes and barrier tape, finishing back outside the centre.

I arrived very early compared to my start time, set up my bike up in transition and decided I'd have time to visit my uncle who lived a mile away. When I returned there was no parking available anywhere near the centre and it had to park miles away (it felt) and had to jog back, worried about missing my start time!

First mistake - unnecessary mental and physical stress!

When I had set up my kit earlier I had positioned a small towel at poolside and by my bike socks, cycling shorts and top, another towel and my running shoes. The guy next to me only had a set of running shoes by his bike. When I asked him about his lack of kit he said "you're wearing a tri suit aren't you? I guarantee that after half a mile on the bike it will be bone dry! You don't need all that extra kit". 

So, I stood in line at poolside and, come my designated time, set off!

Second mistake - count your laps! 

This event relied on you being honest and counting your own laps....I'm sure I did an extra 2, maybe even 4 laps of the swim!

When I got out of the pool I ignored all towels and extra kit and lo and behold was dry half a mile into the bike leg.

Third mistake - you can have too much extra kit!

On the return from the bike I overtook a row of stationary cars on the outside and couldn't get back inside to turn left into the leisure centre.

Fourth mistake - and this was a proper mistake! I was riding carelessly and not reading exactly what was happening on the road. Stay safe, don't take chances!

The run was painfully slow, I'd left everything out on the road by cycling too hard.

Last mistake - save a bit of energy for the run!

But, to trump all of those mistakes I'd finished my first triathlon and felt great :-)

Andy