My first Olympic distance triathlon:
The Hever Castle Triathlon
1.5km swim, 40km cycle, 10km run
28:25 swim, 2:32 T1, 1:20:58 cycle, 2:08 T2, 56:01 run
And what a race it was.
As our wave started at 8:20am we figured that the train wouldn’t reach the place in time. So we hired a van.
Only problem is that there were 5 of us and 3 seats.
Hands up for the lucky people who get to sit in the back with 5 bikes in a windowless dark and hot van. It was also motion sickness inducing. When I got out I was ready for anything!
So. Just like the HSBC triathlon we arrived in the knick of time. Arriving at the transition area, I heard the announcer say “wave 2 is about to start, and I can see 8 headless chickens in the transition area”. I think I setup my transition area and got my wetsuit on in 5 minutes or something. No time to arrange my food/drinks etc which I was to regret later.
Ran (over pebbles…) to the swim start which was 300 meters away? For a briefing on the race. Since I was late I couldn’t see the map. Oh well. The marshal said “ready to race?” my answer under my breath “not really.”
By virtue of being late, I got to get in the water extremely late. Once I got into the water the marshal said “30 secs until start”. Ahh… No time to warm up a bit, flush my suit with water or even dunk my face properly and stop the hyperventilating. The water was a cold cold 14 degrees, and my new wetsuit (which I had never tried before) I was not happy.
I was mislead. The day did NOT look as advertised:
But more like this:
The water had this nasty toxic (and very murky) quality. Good thing I couldn’t see what was at the bottom…. But then….
Boom! Off we went. I then spluttered and fought my way up, joining (what I was later to find out) was the 2nd group of swimmers. I hung towards the back and was happily left alone. No one swimming and mashing me, although I did pick up someone drafting me. I spent the rest of the race trying to catch the people just in front.
After a couple of minutes I found my rhythm and it was ok. Two laps later I arrived at the steps to exit the water. Out we go and sprint to T1.
Went relatively smoothly, although my feet had picked up alot of grass/dirt/rocks as the transition area was on grass soil. I shoved my dirty feet into my socks and put on my cycle shoes. I then grabbed an energy gel and shoved it down by back pocket and ran towards the exit.
I then dropped by bike.
Why? The ground was bumpy. I was running. I lost control. Doh! Ok, run back and pick it up.
Now, I had been warned that Hever is hilly.
It was VERY hilly.
Most of the race took place on small country roads with bad surfacing, blind corners and nasty climbs and drops. My little friend (Garmin Forerunner) tells me I hit 70km/hr on one drop section. I also spent some time at 15km/hr going up a hill.
There was a lot of swearing from lots of people whenever a hill came into view….
Cars were also present on the course. Not fun. At one point there was a TRACTOR causing a massive traffic jam of cyclists..
Things I saw during the ride:
People with flat tires 😦
People on very nice bikes screaming past me (yes GBR team people, that was you too)
Things my friends saw during the ride:
Man flying off bike at sharp turn and almost landing in the river. How did this happen?
Go down a hill, take lots of speed, then try to take a sharp turn. Take it too fast and…
With the help of my excellent drawing let me explain.
The red dot = man on bike
man on bike travels too fast
man on bike flies off road
man on bike lands in bushes very close to river
man on bike is tangled in bushes
Anyway, I was very very happy to finish the cycle..
Now. I ran into transition, and I couldn’t find my shoes. WHY??? CAUSE SOMEONE HAD PUT THEIR WETSUIT OVER MY GEAR.
Whoever this person is, I hate you. I spent 1 minute running up and down the transition area until I tried to find my friend’s stuff which was near to mine.
Ahem. Anyway, changed shoes and ran off to the run.
By this point I was in a great deal of pain. I actually managed to cramp up my quad completely and had to stop to stretch. I ran every meter with the thought of giving up. I passed some people who did. I ran up a stupid hill where people were walking up. I got dropped by something like 30 people.
I felt like I was going to die.
But when I saw the finish line, I broke into a sprint (because I wanted the pain to end faster).
I was then congratulated by Henry VIII.
And then stuffed my face with free food at the end.
Would I do it again? Hmm maybe. But if I was new to triathlons and this was my first one I would cry and vow never to do it again.
But then again, I always complain about everything.
So that’s it, the end of the triathlon season in the UK. Re-cap of the season to follow in a bit.
My ride and I say goodbye!