This is what I said to myself 6 months ago when I decided to take the plunge (finally) and have a crack at doing a Triathlon. My wife had joked with me that my constant need to be on the move whilst doing something challenging would make me well suited to doing triathlon. My wife’s nickname for me ‘shark boy’ seems to be well suited at times because if I ever stopped being active who knows I may die.
Anyways as a tri newbie (name for rookie triathlete) I was initially quite intimidated entering into the sport of Triathlon. After all most triathletes I have ever met are lean yet muscular individuals with tanned bodies that looked as if they would be just as comfortable modelling their sporting equipment as well as using it! So I secretly hoped that come my first triathlon race day I would not be the first tri newbie lining up and that there would be others like me out there giving it a go too.
As with most newbies to this great sport I started off with a sprint distance, an off road triathlon in Slanghoek near Goudini comprising of a 600m swim, 15km Mountain Bike and 7km Trail Run. I prepared well for it and really gave it horns on race day and as they say from that day forward I was well and truly hooked on triathlon. Since then I have taken part in the iconic Jailbreak Triathlon at Brandvlei Prison in Worcester in December covering a 1.1km swim, 50km bike and 12km run. All the while continuing my triathlon education through my training and race day experience constantly looking to improve and quicken my learning curve.
So this past weekend Sunday 20th February I competed in my first official Olympic Distance Triathlon event The 11 Global Triathlon Series in Blouberg (1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run). Arriving at Big Bay that morning and with it being my 3rd triathlon I was actually quite relaxed yet super excited and amped about taking part as it would also be my last Triathlon for the season. The plan on the morning was to race hard and finish on a good note with plenty to build on for the next Triathlon season.
The conditions at Big Bay for the start of the swim were interesting to say the least with windy, choppy sea conditions and chilly 14C water temperatures. I was literally frothing at the start to get in the sea (my 2nd home) although the swim was quite challenging when we started with sighting at times problematic and I also found it hard to get into a good rhythm. I was actually glad when I stepped onto the beach and headed for T1 (first transition) to do the bike leg. It was going to be good to stretch my legs and warm up from the chilly Atlantic Waters. Whilst in T1 a cameraman asked me how the race was going so far and I replied “it was pretty cold hey but fun”. The lady that was hurriedly changing next to me scowled incredulously at me stating “you call that fun, it was tough” as if I was nuts!
The howling south easter made the bike leg fairly hard work but thankfully as it was a 3 lap loop we at least had the wind at our backs half of the bike leg. It was great to see my wife along the bike route a couple of times whilst she was out doing her 10km training run though it was hard to say anything more than shouting “hi” whilst cycling at 45km/h. The bike leg was incident free with no punctures, my bike was running smoothly and I had plenty of water to take on in the increasing temperatures. I felt that although the bike leg was my weakest discipline I had given it everything and was genuinely happy with my perceived effort and improvement. I came into T2 (second transition) to start the run leg with a bit left in the tank and a strategy to take back some of the places that I had lost on the bike leg before the finish.
The bike to run transition was initially a bit disastrous as I forgot where I had racked my bike and my kit. Thankfully after looking around aimlessly I eventually noticed my yellow and white asics (thank goodness) and dashed over to re-rack my bike and get my running shoes on. My legs felt like lead when I started out down the chute on the run so I took the first km relaxed to allow time for my legs to get into their stride. I was initially concerned that the shin splints that had prevented me from running the previous week would play up and it would hamper my run but nothing happened and I felt pretty relaxed throughout. I paced myself well and enjoyed the 3 lap run course around Big Bay immensely. I gave encouragement to the other triathletes on the course with me and cheered one of the Pro’s as he literally flew past me whilst lapping me to complete his race. I ran pretty hard in the last km realising that I could do a PB 10km time and also to catch the guy in front of me.
I achieved both but as I crossed the finish line in 2h:32 minutes with a cheeky hoot and a fist pump the memory that will stay with me is that I felt that I had won my own race and that I didn’t feel so much like a tri newbie anymore.
Swim, Bike, Run but most of all have fun, claim your achievements and revel in your body’s ability to do them.