Whoopee I did it! I’m delighted to report that last week I finally crossed the line of the Pendle Sprint Triathlon.
I’d been pretty chilled as I counted down to the big day. I was enjoying the training for the most part and loving being bigged-up by friends and family who were really proud of what I was hoping to do.
It was only the arrival in my inbox of the arrangements for the event itself, that made my stomach churn and gave me a bit of a wobble. The info I received was long and thorough with detailed instructions and timings of what I needed to do once things got under way.
Race day dawned beautifully and my husband, Dean, and I set off early for Barnoldswick – a very pretty village in the Pennine hills. Dean, who has been a star throughout the process, was there armed with his camera and best cheering voice. I was so glad to have his company and moral support.
Breeze Group Rides – A night out with the girls, with a difference
Learning how to fix a puncture and give my chain a bath weren’t the only useful things I learned on my bike maintenance course. Chatting to one of the other ladies there, she told me she was about to become a Breeze Champion.
I’d not come across Breeze before but she gave me the low down and it sounded great. As soon as I was out of my overalls and back in the comfort of my own home, I checked it out.
The Breeze initiative was set up in 2011 by British Cycling.
With my race only a few weeks away, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on my new Trigirl trisuit. I wanted to start to put the individual events together and understand what it feels like to do the cycle leg straight from the water.
So, I opted for the Spice trisuit in Paradise Bay. It’s a lovely electric blue with a contrasting turquoise on the front zip and back neckline. It’s lightweight and breathable, with mesh panels on the back and lower legs to keep you cool and speed up drying.
I was itching to test it out and wasn’t disappointed. The chamois was comfortable, low profile and super quick to dry. The legs didn’t ride up, and I have had no chafing. The rear pockets held gels safely in place.
It’s a flattering fit – you can tell these girls know what they’re doing! The legs are a good length and I was relieved to see it wasn’t see-through when wet. It’s very comfy, too, with no digging in around the armholes or straps and the whole thing dried very quickly.
In conclusion, this is a lovely piece of kit. I’m confident it will perform technically and comfort is one less thing I’ll have to worry about on race day. I think I feel the part now too. I’m less like the novice and more like a woman who means business – bring it on!
Clipping in to clipless pedals – what’s that all about?
In for a penny, in for a pound. As the proud owner of a fancy new road bike there was now no avoiding the mysterious world of cleats and clipping in.
Some useful basics for the novice
• Clipless pedals are a two-part system. The pedal has a metal locking mechanism on it and there is also a metal or plastic cleat that attaches to the bottom of your shoe. This means that with a little practice you can connect rider and bike via the pedal which increases efficiency.
• The “clipless” term is potentially misleading. Though they don’t have “toe clips” as such, the action by which you connect shoe to pedal is still called “clipping in and out”.
• There are essentially 2 types of system – road or 3-hole (SPD-SL, sometimes called Look-style) and SPD or 2-hole (also called MTB, as they are typically used for mountain biking). The road shoes are
On the back of recurring joint problems, I’ve had the last couple of years off running. Consequently, I decided to enlist the help of my physio to get me back in shape for the run leg of the tri. The aim was to sharpen my performance while at the same time avoiding any further problems.
Dom* is a trained PRI (postural restoration institute) therapist. He is passionate about the potential to improve athletic performance (and avoid injury) by addressing our postural imbalances.
In layman’s terms, we humans are asymmetrical in many ways.
Do I really need a new bike for my first triathlon?
Easing gently into triathlon training deep in the winter months, I’d been taking the softy’s option of starting my preparation for the bike leg in the gym. Training warm and dry with TV or tunes, the chance of a chat with friends and a coffee shop on the way out – what’s not to like?
A few weeks in, however, with the first signs of spring on the way and the clock now counting down towards the race, it was time to dust off my bike and head outside.
In the back of my mind I think I knew that my old MTB might not be up to the job. My first exhausting training ride confirmed this. The bike had served me well for many miles of recreational cycling, through several countries and for well over a decade. However, this bike just wasn’t built for speed!
My expectations for the race had shifted somewhere along the way from wanting to “just get round” to starting to think about getting some speed up.
Talking of getting the right support to get me through the triathlon ….. the lovely folk at Trigirl have asked me to test some of their gear over the coming weeks and I’ve started with one of their sports bras. They recommended the Anita Active Dynamix as the perfect sports bra for triathlon training and racing.
I have to say I’ve worn the same brand of sports bra in multiple colours and different incarnations over many years and have been very happy with it. The Dynamix bra that I tried, however, definitely gives it a run for its money.
It has a neat design which makes it easy to get on and off; especially handy when you’re hot and sweaty. The fabric is light and breathable and did a good job wicking the sweat away.
It’s quick and easy to adjust at the front and the padded straps fit snuggly. As you’d hope, it keeps everything in place even during a tough, high-impact training session but doesn’t sacrifice comfort at the expense of support.
I have to admit the Dynamix was way more comfortable than my regular sports bra. I’m converted.
As far as bike maintenance goes, I’m afraid I’ve let the side down a bit over the years. I am much more likely to reach for my phone than my multi tool in the event of a breakdown. And while, on a good day, I might have taken a pump and an inner tube out with me, if push came to shove, I’m embarrassed to say, I’d have been struggling to know what to do with them.
With many hours training on the bike ahead of me, not to mention race day itself, I thought a bike maintenance class made sense. Skilling myself up would, I hope, put an end to my “fingers crossed” days of cycling not to mention improve my performance and ultimately keep me safer.
I chose a beginner’s course at a local BikeRight Centre. I arrived on the day along with a small group who came with a range of different bikes and motivations.
We started with the basics and the first exercise of the day was actually to label the various parts of the bike. Beyond the fundamentals
The internet has been a great source of information during the early stages of my triathlon journey. I was beginning to think, however, that my swim technique would plateau if YouTube continued to be my only source of advice.
Ultimately, I thought, there was probably no substitute for a real-life coach standing on the poolside correcting my bad habits and fine tuning my stroke.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge (sorry) and get a professional on the job. I’d seen several teachers at my local pool but they were, in the main, young enough to be my children. I really wanted someone let’s say, more my age profile. I’d seen Hilary* teaching another adult and noticed how engaged and enthusiastic she was with them. What’s more there was actual laughter going on. It looked like the lesson might even turn out to be fun!
January blues? Not for me! My first month of training has left me energized and immune to the chill and gloom of the first few weeks of 2017.
The sprint tri I’ve entered is in May so I’ve 4 months to train and prepare for the big day. I found plenty of great information on the Trigirl website to get me started, much of which is geared towards the novice triathlete.
Although the tri is obviously a game of 3 halves, it’s the swim leg that loomed largest for me personally and I really wanted to gain some confidence in the water as quickly as possible.
I’ve been a regular at the gym for many years but have rarely ventured into the pool. I think it’s fair to say I did feel a bit self-conscious on my first visit but I kept my objectives realistic; don’t do anything daft and try to retain some self-respect!
I can only say I wish I’d got into swimming sooner. Though I wouldn’t have won any medals for style on that first day, even with my ungainly stroke and unpractised breathing, I soon got into a rhythm. After a couple of swims I was relaxing more and finding it a surprisingly peaceful experience.
I loved swimming as a child. Even now, one whiff of a pool takes me back to my childhood, sparking a pavlovian craving for a bag of Monster Munch and a Vimto which was the post-swim ritual.
I’m not sure when/ why I fell out of love with it. It’s true to say that swimming is the last form of exercise I’d choose now. In moments of madness when I have tried it again as an adult, I’ve found myself exhausted and embarrassed in equal measure.
With no style or technique to speak of and coughing and spluttering within the first couple of lengths, it’s fair to say I’m not one of life’s naturals. I should stick to sport on dry land I reminded myself; this swimming malarkey was not for me.