I decided to enter the New Forest Middle distance triathlon after being inspired last year, as I watched fellow HERC triathletes.
Saturday was the day to rack bikes. I picked Dave up at 1.30pm to travel down to Sandy Balls to register and attend the race briefing. Immediately after the briefing Dave and I headed down to Ellingham lake where we racked our bikes. At this point, it all started to become very real. Bikes racked, we headed home ready for the early morning start.
I was picked up at 4.45 am and after what seemed a very quick drive, we arrived at the car park just a couple of hundred meters from Sandy Balls. It was very strange seeing so many people wandering around at such an early time. We got on the bus and after a 5 minute wait, we headed to the lake.
We arrived at the lake and headed to the bikes where we started doing race prep. For me this consist of having about 10 nervous wees!
After checking bikes over, laying out kit and getting mentally ready, it was time to put on the wetsuit. Ok it’s real now… no turning back.
Wetsuit on, transition checked I headed down to the lake (after another wee stop). It was then that I started to see how many people were as mad as me.
We all entered the lake, which was a reasonable temperature and slowly to swim aver to the start. There was a mixture of blue, yellow and red swim hats. Blue were the faster swimmers (45 mins and under), yellow (1hr and under) and the reds which were slower.
This was the first time competing in an open water triathlon for me and I had been told, try not to get mixed up in the washing machine start… I failed that bit. I think I was kicked in the face at least 5 times and dunked twice.
I soon got into my Rhythm and found some space to start relaxing and concentrate on the job ahead of me. After a very comfortable swim, I existed the water on 40mins, which I was very happy with. As I entered transition, I saw my wife which put a huge smile on my face.
Onto the bike I felt comfortable and i began my first of 3 laps. Gel and a flapjack were quickly consumed and I felt great. Lap 1 done. Lap 2 was still very comfortable and I started to push myself slightly, trying not to get too carried away. By this time friends and families lined the roads and a good atmosphere was starting to build. Still feeling good. Onto my third lap and I got a puncture about a third of the way round. It took me about 5 mins to sort this as I used my CO2 cartridge. Straight back on and I started to gain some time back, then…… another puncture. Again, I managed to sort this fairly quickly and got on my way. I began giggling to myself thinking, if I had three wheels, I bet the third would puncture too.
That’s it… 3 laps done (56 miles). I to transition, I handed my bike over and grabbed my run bag.
This was the bit I was dreading. I hadn’t done any running for about a month due to a knee injury, so it was time to ‘shoot from the hip’.
Kit on, I started running straight up the hill for about a mile, this is where we exited the road and started running across the New Forest. Straight away I saw the first hill. My word it looked tough. This was the time to find out if I had over done it on the bike. I felt ok (ish).
The run course was hilly and I started to struggle. At this point I decided to walk the hills and run the rest. This helped but I was still in pain. After a few choice words to myself and a little down hill section, I managed to get the strength to high 5 Dave, who was on his run back.
I got to the half way point and the Marshall shouted ‘just a 10k to run and your done’.
This helped and after another shotblock energy chew I got into a fairly good place and continued jogging.
The last mile was pretty good for me as I ran with a guy who I had followed on the bike. We chatted a bit and then I left him as I opened up my stride and began the right hand turn into Sandy Balls.
There it’s was….. the finish line!!
I was going to do it. I saw Dave chearing me in and then I saw my wife. I smiled and ran through the finish line. 13.1 miles done.
This was my 3rd ever triathlon and I was so proud of myself.
Thank you to everyone at HERCTriathlon club for your support and words of encouragement.
Did someone say ‘ironman’