Total Time: 1:37:32
Medal: No, but I wasn’t expecting one, and I was pleasantly surprised to be handed a long-sleeved tech tee upon registration
With next month’s standard triathlon looming, I impulsively signed up to the Turriff sprint, gently encouraged by Ny, Eilidh, and Roz. I figured it would be a good opportunity to get some triathlon specific experience (transition, just how disastrous my legs feel trying to run after a hard bike).
As an added bonus, Ny offered to take me out to see the bike course on Friday. We did the loop twice, encountering sunshine, snow, hail, rain, and some bitching headwind on the downhill section.
Fast forward to Sunday morning, and I was frantically doing the last minute ‘have-I-forgotten-anything’ rummage through my bag before Ny picked me up, listening to what I could only describe as tantric sex music. (“It’s my dad’s music, I’m not sure how to switch it off.” – Ny)
We got to Turriff at around 10:30 and registered, picking up our technical shirt and race numbers. We also found Eilidh (who had our bikes) and started setting up our transition areas. With Ny as my mentor, I set out my kit – shoes and socks (with talcum powder for easy application over wet feet), jacket, fleece, helmet, gloves, and glasses – next to (or hanging from) my bike. Briefing was at 11, and then we went up to the swimming pool to get changed/watch some of the earlier swim heats.
The swim takes place in a 20 meter pool, so the 750m swim is slightly extended. Ny and Eilidh were in the heat before me, so I went and sat poolside with the rest of their heat to watch the swimmers before them, and eventually cheer on their heat. I chatted with Lauren, a girl who seemed about as nervous as I was, until we were called into the water. There were 5 in my lane, and I was going second, after the only other girl.
Once the whistle went, my goal was to stick to the toes of the girl ahead, but it quickly became clear that that was not going to be happening. I think she comfortably lapped everyone throughout the 760m swim. After a couple of laps the guy behind me tapped my toes, and I let him him, and the guy after him pass, then held onto their heels. We swapped places a couple of times, but by the end we had slipped into a comfortable pace, with me sandwiched between them (and drafting like a pro).
I finished the swim in 12:46, and hauled myself out of the pool. We had to run out of the fire escape, towel off, and throw on shoes, as we had to run down some steps, through an underpass, and around the sports centre to get to transition, which added a good 2+ minutes to my swim time.
Despite going through what to do with Ny, I was rushing, and ended up putting my helmet on first, which meant it had to come off to get my fleece over my head (it was too cold to cycle in a wet trisuit, thank you very much). I managed to get myself sorted without further incident, and ran my bike over the timing mat to the mounting zone, where I struggled for about 20 seconds trying to get my gloves over my soggy hands, watching with frustration as several people hopped on their bikes and went ahead of me.
Finally I was off! Everyone I had spoken to had said that for a sprint tri, you should go off hard, and it should basically continue to hurt until the end. Keeping this in mind, I turned left into the climb and ignored my heart rate monitor, instead deciding that my heavy rapist breathing was a decent indication of my effort levels at that time.
Considering how hard I felt I was pushing, I am a bit disappointed that I managed only slightly quicker than when Ny and I did a recce, though there was a horrendous side wind on the downhill sections that warranted a bit of caution, so, yes, I have excuses prepared. And the time also includes dismount, and what I can only imagine was a comical dance downhill in cycling shoes back to transition.
I shed my cycle paraphernalia as quickly as possible, threw on my running shoes, and started running. At least, moving with a perceived effort that matched running, but in reality probably resembled an awkward shuffle as my quads screamed out in protest. What in fresh hell was this? I’d done runs after a bike session before, but nothing quite compared to the jelly legs I was experiencing trying to run uphill into a headwind. As my first outdoor run in quite some time, I had no idea what speed I was going, I just knew I was being regularly overtaken by a lot of people. Total ego boost. I passed the 1.5k turn off for the novice event, and cursed whoever thought it would be a good idea to leave it to taunt us.
I reached the 2.5k turnaround, and clumsily circled the cone. About 1km from the end I passed Kevin, who later told me I looked, “like I wasn’t loving life,” which pretty much sums up how I felt, until I hit that blissful downhill section symbolizing the near finish. Encouraged by the sight of the swimming pool up the hill, I ran hard to the finishing mats, delighted to have finished my first triathlon, as well as to have completed a 5k outdoors with no knee pain at all!
Ny managed to better her time from last year, finishing in just over 1:34 (and coming 4th female!), and although Eilidh knocked about 20 minutes off her previous sprint time, a foot injury meant that her run let her down on the day.
After a cosy group shower, we hit up a cafe for a post race treat before heading back to Aberdeen for some well-deserved relaxation.
Overall, I’m glad I did the Turriff tri. It was a good laugh, and probably good practice considering next month I’ll be taking on a standard distance (basically, twice as long as a sprint). It also taught me a few things to keep in mind for any future triathlons:
- Acquire a small box/basket for transition. It’s much neater/easier to cart your stuff around when setting up.
- Bring extra trainers. I wore the trainers I was going to run in, but as I had to leave them in transition, there was a bit of walking about barefoot. Outdoors. In Scotland.
- Work on transition – I wasted way too much time being uncoordinated. Hopefully this will come with more practice/experience.
- Bring a race belt for my number. Having it pinned onto my cycling jacket meant I couldn’t ditch my jacket for the run, which is something I definitely wanted to do.
Thankfully I have a lot less to worry about this weekend, as I’m returning to the city where I ran my first half marathon (and marathon) – Inverness – for the Etape Loch Ness, a 66 mile cycle than finishes along the marathon route. There are a group of us heading up in a couple of hours, and although it is currently snowing (WTF Scotland?!), the forecast suggests that at least it will stay dry tomorrow. For someone who loves warmth and sunshine, I am obviously super pumped.