Hampton Pools Sprint Triathlon – April 5th 2021
I am currently writing this from my sofa, with my medal round my neck, following my
first triathlon – VERY chuffed!
I had originally signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon, but due to Covid
restrictions, the event was shortened to a sprint triathlon – initially I was a bit
annoyed, but I think that was just my inner ego wanting to do a ‘proper triathlon’.
However, the sprint acted as a very good introduction to triathlon… and I LOVED it!
Waking up at 3:30am was surprisingly easy, especially after a 7pm bedtime – felt like
I was ten years old again, being sent to my room early by my mum! I felt fresh, got
the porridge and the stretches in, as well as the pre-race loo trip (if there was ever a
role of International Ambassador for the Pre-Race Poop, I will be applying!). The car
was packed the night before and off we went at 5am.
I felt calm going to the event. I’ve trained well for this over the past couple of months
with Coach Richards guidance, which did give me lots of confidence as I wasn’t
expecting any nasty surprises – just had to make sure I remembered my bike!
There were 170+ competing, which provided a really good/friendly atmosphere –
most were just excited to be racing again for the first time in a while.
I was really happy with my pre-race mental game, I feel I’ve matured in this area. It’s
easy to see someone with a really nice Carvelo TT bike and think they’re going to
smash it or someone has a snazzy pair of HOKA One One’s (well..I think they’re
snazzy!) – I didn’t get sucked into this. I focused on my own game, what I wanted to
achieve out of this race and what time’s I wanted to achieve. I also think knowing
that I had family and friends waiting along the course gave a me a proper boost of
confidence….I was also more concerned with deciding whether to wear a thermal for
the cycle or not… everyone else was and the mind games took over, so like a sheep
I followed the crowd. Thankfully, this lamb made a wise choice!
I was in the third (and final) wave which, unbeknownst to me, was the ‘experienced
group’…they must have taken a sneaky peak at my Strava! Plenty of lovely bikes in
this group, but surprisingly, this didn’t phase me – although, I would like one!
We were called for the swim and being No.143 I was somewhere near the back.
“Number 143?” I was up.
I stepped into the pool, Garmin set and all ready to set off… “sorry the tablet has
stopped working, I’m going to have to delay your start”. The result…ten men sat
neck deep in the shallow end of the pool trying to get out of cold wind. In a way this
was a good thing, it meant no one was in front of me and I had at least three lanes of
After a short delay, I was off! I should probably make it clear, I’m not a great
swimmer. I’ve spent more time working on my front flip than my front crawl. The
distance was 430 metres (12 lengths of the 34m pool), which I’ve managed to do in
10-11 minutes in training… the whole two times I’ve managed to get into a pool
thanks to the COVID lockdown. Only two athletes overtook me but I still managed to
get a swimming PB of 9 minutes 20 seconds – dead happy with that!
Straight out of the pool and into T1 – which went very well. I’d laid everything out
precisely in order and I was straight onto the bike for 22 km. The thermal layer was
the right choice. Temperature was around 3 degrees with a fat headwind for the
entirety of the course. However, stomach was turning a bit having had a gel and
coming straight from the pool, so the first five minutes was a bit touch and go.
Luckily, I had friends and family on the first big turn – gave a little wave, without
throwing up! I didn’t realise how much of a boost having family would make, but it
really did – almost got a bit emotional on the ride!
But this was no time for tears, I have a TT rider insight and I wanted to make it my
objective to catch up to him… I didn’t. Despite this, I stuck to my race plan and heart
rate really well (Coach Richard will probably say otherwise!). The ride was great despite the
headwind, I felt fast and completed the 22km in 36 minutes and 43 seconds. I
managed to overtake the two that overtook me in the swim and a couple from the
previous wave, without anyone overtaking me… oh, sweet revenge!
My T2 transition wasn’t fantastic, but still under a minute. Straight off the bike,
slipped the shoes on with my new toggle laces (game changer) and a swig of water
before setting off for the 5K.
The run was the stage I was dreading, not because I don’t like running, I really didn’t
want to get runners tummy (‘the sh*ts’) on my first triathlon – luckily I’d got quite
friendly with the loo’s at Hampton Pools Club pre-race that this wasn’t an issue!
I remembered Coach Richard telling me the night before my heart rate will be high in
the 170’s BPM when I first start the run and that I’d need to tame that back a bit to
avoid burnout… of course, he was right. The first 1km my chest felt so tight, but I
breathed through it and found a really good stride of 7:07min/mile (sorry, still getting
used to working in km!). Plenty of support along the way which kept me going and as
I reached the half way point where I tried to up the pace a bit… I did a little, but the
legs weren’t giving much and a stitch was starting to form in my right… I blame the
Cherry SIS gels, would recommend watermelon though – yum! A big sprint finish for
the last 0.5km and I managed to reach my target of a 21 minute 5k. In hindsight, I felt
I had more to give perhaps a sub-20 min run, but that’s something to work towards
for the future.
Overall, what an experience – loved it! I’m done typing this, I’m straight onto the GB
Triathlon page for my next race!