I decided to dip my toe into the triathlon world with the Cheltenham Tri in the Park tipped to be a great event for first timers. This was a super sprint tri – 400m pool swim, 6 mile bike, and 2.5m run, set in the very sunny Pitville Park. I took along my friends and boyfriend for moral support and we had a fantastic day.
We arrived about an hour and a half early to check out the sports centre and for me to get my bearings of the course. I was ‘branded’ by the race organisers with a big black permanent marker on my arms and legs as number 5. My nerves were settled meeting several people beforehand who were also first timers. I was a little worried that my mountain bike would look a little out of place, but looking around setting up there were all sorts of different bikes!
When it came to my start time, I walked with the others in my start group into the pool where we had a supportive briefing. Luckily, I was in the first 5 so I go to start the swim with an entire lane to myself. The swim got off to a great start, but after a couple of lengths I had to take a few breathers to settle my nerves and get my breath back. From the pool, there was a short run outside to the transition area, where I got lots of cheers being the first lady out of the pool!
My friends were there to cheer me on and laugh as I ran straight past my bike in transition, ‘muttering helmet first helmet first’ to myself I lept on my bike to begin the 4 laps around the grassy park. The cycle part was hard work as the grassy terrain went up and down making it difficult to find the right gear! Eventually I finished my first lap to jump off my bike and begin the run section, something which I was looking forwards to most. Before I knew it, I was running up the last hill over the finish line to receive my cup of squash and jaffa cakes, with beaming smiles all round from my friends, who all said they were extremely proud and inspired. My other half said he much preferred to support me doing a tri rather than road race, as he enjoyed seeing more of me in the different disciplines. Seeing himself as my new tri coach, the journey home was filled with talks of new bike gear and the next race. I think my other half enjoyed it more than me! My pals were surprised at the wide range of people that took part, expecting all of the competitors to be super fit athletes, something which I’ve tried to explain to them for a while!
All in all, it was a great day – I finished in 10th place in my age category, and 75th out of 163 competitors in total – which I don’t think is bad. My finish times were: 10:22 (swim), 24:19 (bike), and 9:12 (run).
I’m now focusing on the next races coming up – the Trowbridge tri on the 7th August and the Cotswold Tri in September. As the Cotswold Tri is an open water swim in a lake, I’m going to have my first ever open water swim first thing tomorrow morning.
After doing some research into wet suits I’ve decided to hire a suit from an online store, which gives you the option to buy your suit at the end of the season. The suit arrived within 24 hours, and I had great fun squeezing myself into it. Thankfully, I’d say it’s rather flattering as it completely sucks you in. Getting it off, especially whilst dry and in your bedroom is really hard work – with two people even! I’ll keep you posted on how I get on in the morning!!