I first started triathlons in 2006. I’d been doing a lot of running, and whilst I enjoyed it, I wanted a new challenge that didn’t involve just running further. Paul had bought me a bike for Christmas the previous year, so it seemed like an obvious next step. I crossed the line at my first race, a sprint distance at Blenheim Palace, and was immediate hooked.
Before having the girls, I raced a lot, gradually working my way up to half ironman distance (1900m swim, 56 mile bike ride, half marathon). I loved it, but inevitably pregnancy and being the mother to small people rather put the kibosh on my ability to train. I came back to it three years ago after 3 years out. I have to be realistic that I don’t have the time to train for long races currently, or to enter many races in a year. However, doing at least one a year “keeps my hand in” and still let’s me call myself a triathlete!
Having done Blenheim for the last couple of years, I decided that 2016 would be a return to Dorney Lake, the 2012 Olympic rowing venue, for the Bananaman Triathlon (no, I have no idea either). I’ve raced at Dorney several times, and whilst it’s not the most interesting of courses, it is flat, closed to traffic and the lake water is clean, which is more than can be said of swimming in the Thames.
They didn’t have a full sprint distance, but the closest thing was the Banana Fritter – a 400m swim, 21k bike ride and 5k run (so just the swim was a little shorter than the 750m it should be).
I wasn’t off until 2.30pm, so a leisurely morning was in order! I felt fairly relaxed before the race – I’ve done a fair bit of running and cycling recently. Admittedly, my swim training was probably sub optimal (I went to the pool last week for the first time since Blenheim last year, bashed out 1500m and decided that would do), but my expectations were fairly low. The weather was overcast but warmer than of late, and the wind was quite strong. It’s always pretty blowy at Dorney as it’s exposed, but I felt it was a bit worse than usual, so I was expecting a tough bike ride!
The swim start was typically good natured, with some banter as we waited for the off. The hooter, well, hooted and we were away! I found my rhythm fairly quickly, although it felt like I was quite slow as there seemed to be a lot of good swimmers in the wave. It seemed to go quickly, and I was out of the water in 7 mins 53 secs.
T1 was a bit of disaster, I really struggled to get my wetsuit off and it was pretty slow getting out the bike.
The bike itself was tough as expected. Usually at Dorney, you have one long edge into wind and one behind but this time it was more of a cross wind which was really buffeting me in the exposed sections. Tribars were a god send as I was able to get down low. The bike was 4 laps and I didn’t feel like I got overtaken too much and I finished in 45.48 which is actually about 3 mins faster than last time I raced there 9 years ago!
T2 was a little better than T1, but still a bit slower than I’d have hoped. Usually I have elastic laces in my run trainers which makes transition a breeze, but I’ve just bought new ones, and I didn’t want to race in those or waste money on elastic laces for my old ones, so I had to tie my shoes which took longer. Total time – 1.31
The run route is pretty dull, 2 laps up and down the side of the lake. I felt pretty good all things considered, and had a pretty unremarkable run. I’d kept just enough back for a sprint finish, and did the run in 27.17, which isn’t too bad. That’s where I’ve lost time on the olden days (I did 22.27 last time in 2007), but I’m a fair bit older!
So, overall time was 1 hr 25 mins and 22 secs, putting me 30th overall (out of 92) and 4th (out of 18) in my old bird age group. I’m pretty happy with that and even wondering if I can squeeze in another race at some point this year…