Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Edinburgh Women's Novice Triathlon 2012 race report

It all started over a cup of coffee and cake after 'Team Tod' had finished taking part in the 2011 Men's Health Survival of the Fittest race. I heard myself say out loud, "I'd quite like to train for a triathlon". "Come along to the training then" they said. That was it, the idea was out there and I started to look at triathlon dates for 2012. When the gym posted a link for the Edinburgh Women's Novice Triathlon I had a look at the website.
It was being held on the 1st July at Dalkeith school campus and comprised a 400m swim, 10km bike ride and 5km run and as the title suggested it was for women who had never done a triathlon before. I decided that was the one for me. I had to submit a swim time when registering my details so I put down a time I thought I could manage; 18 mins.
The last time I had swam competitively was when I was 11, two lengths breaststroke. My first couple of lengths front crawl as a warm up were, painful and there were weeks when I thought I had never swam before. However by the time the pool was due to shut for the summer I was able to swim front stroke without having to stop after a length and a half. The coughing and spluttering had gone.

Winter bike sessions at the gym entailed following an hour long DVD cyling through the Canadian rockies. One Saturday I was introduced to a brick session, eg after an hour cycling you jump off your bike and run outside. I watched as the rest of them ran off. My brain and legs didn't seem to work in sync yet it seemed. Outdoor cycling took over once the weather improved and if the team went out together we usually went for a 10 -12 mile round trip, do-able in about an hour.

I started to cycle to and from the weekly pool sessions, up and down to the gym and back and forth to work. Kept thinking if only it was a swim and a bike ride I'd be fine. The third element of a 5km was filling me with dread. Not least because, one Saturday morning I had gone to the Edinburgh Park Run at Cramond. They run a free timed 5k run every Saturday and I was as they say, blowing out my backside by the time I'd finished. Not good. Unfortunately, not long after that I developed an injury to my calf which kind of put paid to doing much to improve my running. I think it was about then I thought I'm not going to go through with this, what's the point if I can't run. However I was still able to swim and cycle and had kept up a fair bit of strength and conditioning training at the gym. So, after a fair bit of encouragement to go for it. I did.

Registration at Dalkeith was between 1000-1130 and the event was due to start at 1200. I arrived about 1045, collected my race nos, and safety pins. Next I got my nos marked on my leg and arm. Then I went back to my car to unload my bike and take the kit I would be wearing on the bike and run, to the transition area. We had had a coached transition session at the gym a couple of weeks before so the transition area wasn't too bewildering. The space was limited though and I was quite aware of not taking up too much space. The pre-race briefing was at 1130 at the registration area and I met a couple of women there who looked about the same age as me. We all concluded we were all a bit crazy to be taking part but what the heck. Half an hour later and I'm in the water with my orange swim cap on in a swim lane with 3 other women waiting to start my 16 lengths. Thirteen minutes later and I'm hauling myself out and trying to run barefoot, lightly over the playground to the back of the school to my bike. I hadn't bothered with a triathlon suit so it was on with a t-shirt, shorts, socks, trainers and a bike helmet.

After unhooking my bike I ran to the start line, jumped on and cycled out the school. The 10k cycle started with a hill and I do mean A HILL. Some of the women were walking up it, pushing their bikes. I did think about it, but decided all those squats at land training would not go to waste and just went for it. (Wonder if the photographer at the top caught my expletive).

Thought it would be easy after that but, unfortunately the wind was in front most of the way and the worst part for me was still to come. When I got back to the school and hooked up my bike and started on the run I just kept saying if I can keep going till I'm out of sight I'll be fine. I don't know how many times I stopped running and walked but I wasn't the only one. Everyone who did, got lots of encouragement to keep going from the other runners. My calf was seriously seizing up and when it got to the 3k mark there was no point in going back so I ended up walking/jogging to the finish line. It felt good to have finished but I was disappointed I hadn't been able to run all the way.

Anyway with a medal round my neck, banana and water bottle in hand, I went to get showerd and changed and headed back to the canteen. Women were coming in in dribs and drabs and I got chatting to a lady who only trained for this event every year (not a novice event then). Another lady had come through from Helensburgh because she loved running and because her husband was a triathlete. There were women of all ages, sizes and levels of fitness coming back in. I'm glad I'd been in early cos the buffet was disappearing fast! I have to say I loved training for the event.

My swimming improved and I learned how to breath properly. I've re-discovered the joy of cycling and I can see much room for improvement in my running ability. I can't compare this event with any other one but because I went along on my own and it was a women's only event it wasn't too daunting. And, it was really well organised. Oh, and the buffet was superb! Lorraine

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