I dipped my toe into the world of triathlon earlier this year. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I signed myself up for the Windsor Triathlon which took place in June. Admittedly, it was only a Sprint distance triathlon (750m swim, 30km bike followed by a 5km run).
I was seriously questioning my sanity when I turned up at the start line at 6am(!) on a chilly Sunday morning. The water was also dubiously green which didn't help calm my nerves before my first open water swim. Luckily I didn't have long to think about it. Before long, the organisers were ushering us into the water announcing that it was a tropical 19 degrees. I nervously did as I was told and jumped in...
Of the three disciplines, I was most apprehensive about the swim, I knew that once it was over the bike and the run would be a breeze in comparison. I’d only been for a few swims in the pool earlier this year so my serious lack of practise also didn't help my nerves! Anyway, before I could think about it the gun went and everyone shot off, myself included. It didn't take long before I had a (slight!) panic and quickly switched from front crawl to breast stroke, opting to keep my head above the water(!). Turns out open water swimming with 137 other people isn't easy! If I'm honest, I struggled through the rest of the swim and was pretty pleased when I saw the end and pulled myself out of the water.
I ran into the transition area where I'd previously racked my bike and laid out all the kit I needed for the bike and the run. Top tip number one(!): it sounds ridiculous but make sure you know where your bike and kit is! Use a brightly coloured towel and/or landmarks to help you find it amongst the other hundreds of bikes.
I'd hired a road bike for the event and had only picked it up that morning so hadn't had any time to practice (I know, there's a theme developing here). Luckily, once on the bike, all was good. I actually really enjoyed it. I was cycling through beautiful countryside and felt a lot more confident than I did in the water. Despite the driving rain, I made up quite a few places and the 30km shot by. Before long, I was nearing the transition area once again ready for the final leg - the 5km run. Top tip number 2: as you near the end of the cycle, get into a low gear and spin out your legs as fast as you can. It helps to make sure your legs don't turn to jelly when you jump off your bike!
Thankfully I was pretty quick in this transition, all I had to do was get rid of my bike and helmet. Others had clip in pedals so had to mess around with cleated shoes. Be prepared for your legs to feel giddy. It's definitely worth practicing going from cycling to running a before the event if you can as its a pretty odd feeling.
The run was just 5km so definitely manageable. There were lots of people out watching and cheering which helped! It was 3 short laps around the town plus a fairly steep hill climb up past Windsor Castle. At the end of the third lap, a red carpet lead me up to the finish line and took me over it. I was filled with a huge sense of achievement and relief having finished my first tri!
Everyone wears a chip on their ankle so you're able to see your split and transition times. I ended up 22 out of 137 which I was massively pleased with! Would I do it again? Yes, for sure!
If you fancy giving it a go, why not take part next year (18th June 2017). The Winsdsor Tri is a really good one to start with. It's super friendly and lot's of beginners take part so it's a perfect for first timers.