Blink and you’ll miss it. Race season started. With a bang!
You’ve probably heard triathletes talking about ‘The Season’ a lot recently. No its not the latest Netflix hit, but in fact the time of year where we all start racing our socks off and talking more about how/when to taper (Tapering = reducing training around racing) and how well (or not) the dreaded transitions went (Transitions = the bit in between the swim/bike/running bits).
Ragley Hall Sprint Triathlon
Why did ‘winter’ Sophie think it was a good idea to enter a Sprint triathlon. Sprints, they are just painful right? (Sprint Triathlon consists of 750m Swim, 20km Bike, 5km Run)
I rocked up to Ragley Hall for the Phoenix Sprint Triathlon back up in Warwickshire for an early morning session of hurt. It was nice because my Auntie got to see me race for the first time. Good job she missed the bit where I faffed up transition 1 though… (more on this later).
It was nice to see Elo before I started with a couple of wise words from the pro (okay basically pro) got me geared up for the cold water.
I did a few token jogs about the place in my wetsuit and gobbled down half a Chia Charge flapjack hoping for some energy gains later!
Having only done one Sprint Tri in a pool before, I wasn’t really sure what I was letting myself in for… turns out a total washing machine! I came out of the swim feeling like I’d been in a fight. And drinking lake water is not advisable.
Transition 1 brought its own challenges with a 400m run up hill in a wetsuit sapping any energy in my legs I struggled to get my wetsuit off without falling over. Helmet on, grab bike and go. Now for the ‘flying mount’ (Flying mount = when a triathlete think he/she is so good he/she can leave cycling shoes attached to bike. Launch body over, magically begin cycling and slip feet into shoes. It also involves elastic bands, velcro and much swearing.)
My less than well rehearsed routine did not go so well. Legs were shaking so I ended up doing an emergency stop with my knees halfway through the mount. Worst of all I then had to attempt this a second time to actually get going on the bike leg. 2nd round was slightly more successful albeit slow and in everyone’s way. Must practice more.
The Bike leg brought hills (OK not really hills) and serious jelly legs. But after 1 lap I finally found some speed and looked forward to getting off (without falling off) and starting the run. Into T2 and the marshalls were looking at me weirdly asking if I was ok….’yes yes I’m fine, why?’ ‘Oh your knees are bleeding’ …oh so they are. Shoes on and off I went!
Onto the run, the aim was 4.15’s per km but with grass, hills and rough ground this wasn’t to be. Also it turns out breathing on a sprint race is optional. I swear I was panting from the get go to the very end. Still very happy to finish 2nd lady behind an ex Olympic cyclist! And to be honest all I was thinking about was the post race hot choc and Chia Charge flapjack!
One week later it was time to race again. No tapering again as these are just ‘training’ races. Yes that sounds as painful as it is. So after a 10 hour training week I woke up at 4am (YES that’s right 4am!) to drive over to near Watford for a 7am race start.
I was looking forward to this race because it would be my first Standard distance (1.5k Swim, 40k Bike, 10k Run) of the year and although I had no support crew this time I was still looking forward to a fun race in the sun (triathlon is just one big tan fest if I’m honest). Standard distance is by far my favourite distance at the moment.
The lake looked steamy, indicating it was warmer than the current outside air temp so that was a positive! Racking up it was difficult to work out who was racing what distance with all options on offer from novice to middle distance.
I was in the second wave after the Middle distancers. The swim was much more pleasant this time, more space allowing me to actually get into stroke and find someone to draft (sneaky). But then in the last 500m the middle distance course merged into ours and I found myself bashed about once more!
Into transition this time I nearly forgot my helmet….mainly because I had just seen the first lady leave a few seconds before me and I was too keen not to let her out of my sight!
The bike course was fairly flat but with a particularly tasty climb on the way back a few speedbumps and roundabouts to contend with. I could see I hadn’t lost anytime to the first lady on the turnaround (halfway) point. I actually caught her on the hill but soon lost her again when we came back into town. I fuelled up with a Chia Charge raw fruit bar (coffee or cocoa are my fave) and a gel before coming back into race HQ.
This time it was dismounting my bike which was entertaining. Coming in smoothly ready to hop off my bike suddenly my front brake jammed on and I went over the handlebars! Having told the marshall on the dismount line previously I would probably fall off he wasn’t surprised to see me on the ground. Anyway I managed a hobble into transition and decided to give the run a go despite the stinging in my left knee.
After a kilometre or so I was beginning to feel alright and so concentrated on not going too fast and maintaining a good pace of around 4.20s/km. I was surprised at how good I felt after last weeks nightmare with breathing. So I continued to push for the line but unfortunately I never saw the 1st lady so nothing to aim for. Again happy to finish 2nd overall…that 1st place eluded me again! Next time perhaps.
I really loved this race because they had put on every type of triathlon/duathlon/swim/run event to create a real festival of sport. It was nice to talk to first timer triathletes about how much they enjoyed the novice course as well. Thanks to St Johns for cleaning up my knee too!
I’m now less than 2 weeks away from the European Standard Distance Champs in Kitzbuhel, Austria so stay tuned for more news on this!
A little more on Chia Charge. They make all sorts! From cute mini flapjacks perfect for your jersey pocket to chia nut butter! Give them a try for some natural long lasting tasty energy.
Have you tried chia seeds in your porridge? Give it a go!