After three months of gearing up, last Sunday was finally the big day of the triathlon, and so my dad, my sister and I headed down to Lancaster University.
Unfortunately, as we had feared, the weather was the exact opposite of what most people would want on the day of their first triathlon: we were hit by a downpour just wheeling the bike from the car park to the transition area. Hoping that any serious rain might hold off from that point onward, I set up my bike, gear and cycling/running clothes at the racks, then headed into the pool area to wait for my wave to start.
The swimming section consisted of 16 lengths up and down the pool. I thought this would be the easy bit, but as it turned out, no part of the triathlon was easy. I swam at a good speed, but whether because I was geared up, or because I was conscious of everyone behind me, I probably put a little more energy into it than I should have. Plus having to duck underwater beneath the lane dividers every other length – which I obviously don’t have to do in a normal swim – threw me off a little.
By the time I completed the last length, and ran outside in my trunks to the bike racks, I was already breathing hard – so it wasn’t ideal that the cycling segment began with a stretch up a steep hill to get to the main university campus, where we would complete nine laps for 20km. Taking it relatively slowly to begin with, I got my breath back and settled into a rhythm. But for the first three laps or so, the heavens opened with a vengeance, and hammered us all with rain.
This certainly wasn’t pleasant. But after a few minutes, a certain feeling came over me that I had experienced before, like when getting caught in an unexpected and massive downpour while dog-walking: I just didn’t care any more. Once I had reached a certain level of soaking, what more could the rain do? So on I went, for nine hard laps.
Then, finally, I turned off the campus and back down the hill to the transition area, to begin the 5k run. The rain wasn’t so hard now, but the running course had already sustained the impact: some parts took us over soaked grass and no shortage of mud. While I had to walk some of the way, I ran as much as I could, probably about three-quarters. And I made sure to run for the final stretch, up the last hill and round the corner to the finish line!
I completed my first triathlon in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 26 seconds – I’m especially pleased that with a swim time of 10 minutes 2 seconds, I was ranked in the top 50% for that individual portion. Crossing the finish line felt fantastic; having never been good at sports while at school, I would never have expected that I’d end up completing something like this. After spending so much time preparing for this event, I’m already wondering what I should do next! Though I feel a little rest is in order for the time being.