Tag Archives: TryTri

St Swithuns Tri

9 Jul St Swithuns Tri bike 1

St Swithuns Triathlon was to be my second tri of the year. It was a new event, so I was looking forward to seeing the venue. I also guessed that some of the route might be similar to the route used in previous years for Winchester Duathlon, which I thought would be fun.

My mum had agreed to come along to look after Baby M, so I knew that I would be able to do the race without worrying about her, but it did give me an incentive to go as quickly as possible.

The day before the race, we headed out to Winchester to pick up our race packs. As usual, the organisation was very smooth – I like not having to rush around on the morning of the race sticking labels onto my kit.

St Swithun’s School has stunning grounds and imposing buildings. I’ve heard a lot about the school before, but had never seen it, so I was very impressed. I’m guessing that there had recently been an event (prom, perhaps), so there was a marquee with a chandelier set up on the lawn for registration.

St Swithuns School

After collecting our kit, we went and had a look at the swimming pool. On our way back to the car we bumped into Tri Club team-mate Antoine, and his family.

We then went for a drive around the bike course. For other events, we’ve had a practice ride on the course, but we didn’t have time for that, so we decided to make do with a ride. I like to look for any hills that I might not know about as well as sharp turns and gravel on the road.

In the morning, we arrived with plenty of time to rack up. Sergio and Gladys were there, so I spent a bit of time chatting with them as we had a lot of time to waste. I also saw my friend Becky, who was taking part in her first triathlon.

Stu’s wave was earlier than mine, so I was able to watch him run out of the pool to the transition area, before I had to go and queue poolside.

My lack of swimming training showed. I found the pool to be reasonably warm. I was the slowest in my lane and there weren’t many people left in the pool when I finished, which is always frustrating. I would love to be a good swimmer.

Swim 09:47

It was a reasonably long run to transition, but I’ve managed to learn from past mistakes, so I didn’t have too much kit to faff around with. Also, as the weather was warm, I knew that I wouldn’t need to put any additional layers of clothing on. I know that I can improve on my transition time, but I was pleased to be in the top half of results for this section.

T1: 01:35 

I didn’t mount my bike as smoothly as I wanted to as there were quite a few other competitors around, as well as a 90 degree bend. It was a nice course and I felt that I was riding well, even though I’ve not had much of a chance to get used to my new bike.

Frustratingly, there were a few sets of traffic lights where I had to stop. It was hard to get going after them.

My ride wasn’t quick, but it wasn’t as slow as I thought to was going to be.

Bike: 48:29

St Swithuns Tri bike 2

St Swithuns Tri bike 1

I was unable to do a flying dismount as again there was a sharp bend, with a kerb, followed by some grass. I removed my shoes, helmet and mitts as quickly as possible and put on my trainers. I don’t think I did too badly as my transition time was in the top half of the field.

T2: 01:05

As soon as I headed out onto the run, I realised that I should have paid more attention to the run course as the first section was uphill on grass, which was challenging. There was then a section on the grassy school field with a short uphill. I saw fellow tri club member, Sandra, and managed to catch up with her on the field. We had a short chat before I continued.

I headed toward where the main group of spectators were waiting. It gave me a much-needed boost to see Sonia, Stu and my mum – Baby M was sleeping.

I kept pushing and felt a bit more confident as I knew the route that I needed to take for my second lap.

I was really pleased that I was able to complete the 5k run in a good time.

Run: 25:12

Overall: 1:25:09 103/179 finishers; 4/14 in my age group and 30/77 female

I really enjoyed this race and would definitely think about entering it again next year. I was surprised that I did so well as I have not been training much

Hitting new swimming targets

10 Jul

Last night I cycled straight to the lake after work. When I got there Stu was waiting with my swimming kit, so I got changed as quickly as possible.

We headed down to the lake and I zipped up my wetsuit. Unfortunately, the rip in it is getting worse and every time I bent over, I could feel it rip further :’-(

I decided to try out the ear plugs that Stu bought me a while ago (Love is… some ear plugs from your partner!)

The water felt a bit chilly as I got in, but I think that’s because it was very warm outside and I had been standing around with my wetsuit on for too long. After a minute or two of floating, I decided to start swimming. My last long swim was 10 laps of the lake, but I’ve got a 5km swim in just over a week, so I wanted to push myself and go for 12 laps, which would be about 4.2km. I decided to aim for a more continuous swim than last time as I need to get used swimming non-stop. My plan was to swim 4 x 3 laps.

I quickly got into a rhythm and decided not to look at my watch. After three laps, I was feeling strong, so I decided to do four laps. By the time I had done four laps, I was feeling good, so I changed my challenge and went for six laps.

After six laps, I was still feeling good, so I decided to push on for as long as I could. I could feel that my wetsuit was rubbing my neck (I had failed to put any bodyglide on), but decided to push on as there was nothing I could do.

Although I had been sceptical about using ear plugs, I found that I was enjoying my swim much more when using them… and I couldn’t feel them, which is what I had been concerned about. (I never wear earphones as I hate having things in my ears!)

By lap 9, I was starting to get tired, but I realised that my longest ever continuous swim was in my sights, so I pushed on. At the end of lap 10, I saw Stu getting ready to get out of the lake. I thought about speaking to him, but didn’t want to stop, so I gave him a smile and carried on.

Finally, nearly 2 hours after I started swimming, I had done my 12 laps. I staggered out of the lake and looked down at my watch: 1:54:09. I was a little disappointed that it had only recorded 3789m, but that’s still a PB for me. My previous longest continuous swim was 3111m at Eton Dorney and my longest ever swim was 3750m during a double tri club session, so I beat both of those. It was also nearly 30 minutes longer than any other continuous swim that I’ve done 😀

4km swim

4km swim

This weekend, I’ve got my first sea swim of the year at the BustinSkin Gu Weymouth Triathlon (1500m) – I hope I can beat my time from last year. Next weekend, I’ve got a 2.5km sea swim and a 5km lake swim. I might be slow, but I think I can do this!

First aquathlon of the year

28 May

Tonight’s excitement for the Smiths was an aquathlon at Lakeside. We both decided to do the sprint distance (750m swim; 5km run) and managed to get in the water before the start to acclimatise. Lack of time to acclimatise was something that I found difficult last year, but I think it was easier anyway tonight as the lake was quite warm.

In previous years, the swim has been anticlockwise in the lake, but this year it was clockwise, which helped as that’s the usual direction that we swim in.


Acclimatising before the start of the swim ©TryTri

The start of the swim was quite frantic (TryTri have shared a video) and I got a couple of fairly hard knocks to the head, which isn’t something I’m used to. I don’t think I’d positioned myself well and should probably have started further back.

I quickly got into a comfortable rhythm and managed to maintain it for the whole swim.

I had two goals for this race: not to finish last and ideally to beat my time from last year.

During the swim, I could see other people just ahead of me, so I did my best to keep pushing and managed to overtake a couple of people.


The start of the run ©TryTri

Finally, I was in transition. Again, this was an area where I thought I could improve on last year’s time – mainly because I no longer need to put in contact lenses! I’d chosen a spot close to the swim exit, so that my wetsuit wouldn’t have time to drain fully, which seemed to be a successful strategy for me.

I then set off on the run and was surprised that I managed to feel quite good from the start. Overall, the run wasn’t quite 5km (my Garmin had it as 4.85km, which seems about right when comparing it to the measured 5km course that used to be used for parkrun at this location), but I managed a faster pace than I’ve run at any parkrun recently, so think that getting back to Hugh’s running sessions is paying off. I also managed to pass a few people on the run, which is something that I rarely manage.

My best time last year was: 47:52.4, so I was pleased to get a PB tonight: 46:37.8 … and I wasn’t last

Eastleigh aquathlon May 2015

Grand Shaftesbury Run and Tri weekend

17 May

On Friday 15th May, Stuart and I headed down to Wimborne St Giles in Dorset for the TryTri Grand Shaftesbury Run and Tri weekend. We left home a little late, and knew that we would need to set up our tent before it got dark. Unfortunately, we had our first disaster whilst setting up our tent as one of the poles snapped. Fortunately, Ben was on hand to lend us some gaffer tape for temporary repairs.

When we had set up the tent, we brought everything inside, including our bikes and then registered for the tri. We also realised that we had forgotten our pillows, so Stu was despatched back to his parents’ house (they live in Dorset) to borrow some pillows.

Finally, Stu arrived back and we  decided to get an early night. However, the generator was running until quite late and we were really cold. Early season camping is not easy!

The next day, Stu and I got up early ready to rack up for the tri. I donned my lovely SOAS team kit and also my wetsuit. I had dipped a toe into the water and found it was at best chilly and at worst freezing :-O

That’s me looking worried in the ‘shark’ swimming hat. Just ahead of me in the red and black striped suit is my husband, Stuart looking relaxed as usual ©TryTri

The lake at Shaftesbury

The other minor problem was that the lake was really weedy. You can see just how murky it was 😦 ©TryTri

I chose to wear my bootees as it was so cold, even though they’re slightly too big for me and probably don’t aid my swimming.

I really struggled with the swim. It was so cold that I found it hard to breathe and did quite a lot with my head out of the water trying to get into a rhythm. I had hoped for a much better swim time, but ended up finishing in 28th place in 44:44.5

I thought my transition would be quite quick, especially as there were other people around and I wanted to beat them out of T1… but I was wrong. I don’t think I can blame the 3:54.3 on the length of the run, it’s mainly because I was faffing around. I must learn to speed up!

I felt quite good going out on the bike. I hadn’t done much training on my bike, but I’ve been doing a lot of spinning classes, so I was hoping they would help. I saw my friend, Teri, out on the course – she was doing the sprint distance. I also heard someone say hello and was pleased to learn that it was Jenny – a blog follower and Facebook friend. It’s so nice to meet people who I only know ‘virtually’.

I saw my friend Suzanne out on the bike route. Unfortunately, her friend had a puncture, so she stopped to help him repair his bike.

I enjoyed the bike route, although there were a couple of tricky turns. None of the hills were too difficult, although a few parts of the road were a bit gravelly. I also saw some of the handcycle athletes out on the course. I had so much respect for them as they must have had a very tough time.

I managed to pass a few athletes out on the course and did a great flying dismount, so I finished in 1:53:42.7 (20th).

I had a reasonable transition (43.8 seconds) and headed out for the run. Liz was cheerleading (and doing the run for Suzanne who was injured) and managed to snap a picture as I shouted to her.

The run course had two laps, which were very picturesque. The trees and flowers were in bloom, which helped to distract me a bit as I was not running as well as I’d hoped to. One of the best bits of the run was at the far end of the estate where there were some drummers who gave me a bit of a lift.

Drummers at Shaftesbury.jpg

I thought that my running had improved and so not only was I aiming for an Olympic distance PB, but I also thought that I might be able to finish my run in under 1 hour.

I was so happy to cross the finish line.

One day I’ll get a finish photo where I’m looking up! ©TryTri

Sadly, I didn’t manage to finish my run in under 1 hour – it took me 1:04:28.2. However, this was 17th, so it was my best discipline by far.

I was very proud of Stuart for coming 7th overall. He had the 6th fastest swim and 8th fastest run (we won’t mention being 22nd on the bike!) finishing in 2:42:23. I was 3rd in my Age Group – podium finish!!!

After the event, there was a bit of time to catch up with Suzanne, Liz and Teri. In the evening, there was supposed to be a hog roast, but unfortunately, they had run out of lots of ingredients and there wasn’t anything left for vegetarians, so Stu and I went to a local pub for dinner.

When we got back, there was a live band and the TryTri team joined in, which was good fun. Afterwards, Lord Shaftesbury started DJing, which is his former career. Unfortunately, as we’d had an early start, Stu and I were very tired and just wanted to go to bed… dance music and tents do not go well together!

On Sunday morning, the teenagers in the tent next to us woke up very early and decided to chat very loudly. Stu and I didn’t want to get up early, but we couldn’t go back to sleep. Stu had entered the half marathon, as a training run, whereas I hadn’t done enough training to run that far, so I entered the 10k. Steve Way (legendary British ultra runner) had also entered the half marathon, and I had been completely in awe of him walking around. I had been tempted to approach him the evening before, but he was with his family, and I didn’t want to impose on him… also I didn’t think I could talk to him without saying something stupid.

After the half marathoners had set off, there was a short wait before my race. It was a bit strange to be waiting for a race without Stuart and with no other running friends there. I had recognised a few runners, but they had all been doing the longer established half marathon.

Finally my race was underway. The first section was across some fairly long grass and then we had to run through farmland. The terrain was uneven and some of the paths were very narrow, so it was not possible to overtake other runners. I tried to maintain a steady pace. At one stage, a heavy-breathing runner with coins in his pocket was running next to me. The sounds emanating from him were driving me crazy, so I had to pick the speed up to get away from him – he didn’t rejoin me later!

There was a really tough hill on the course that felt endless – I think it was at about 6-7km. After I had completed the hill, it was back onto smoother roads. A runner just ahead of me was singing along to her ipod. She kept stopping and walking (to change song?) and would then run past me again, which was very frustrating.

When we got towards the finish, runners started to pick up their speed, but I knew that i would not be able to start sprinting until I was closer to the finish, so I tried to maintain a steady pace.

As the half marathon had started an hour earlier than the 10k, Stuart was cheering for me at the finish line. He had completed his ‘training run’ at a steady pace, finishing in 1:35:39 and 9th place!

Stuart Shaftesbury 2015

Despite my fatigue from the previous day, I finished in 56:36.8. This is nowhere near my PB, but I was quite pleased with it. I was 52/118 overall, 18/59 female and 10/31 Open (<41) female.

Grand Shaftesbury Run 2015

I enjoyed this weekend and am tempted to do it again next year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince more friends to come along and camp.

May Day Triathlon

4 May

Last year, my first tri of the season was Good Fri Tri, but we missed that because we were travelling to Japan this year, so the May Day Tri was my first tri of the season.

I like to be as organised and prepared as possible, so on Saturday afternoon, Stu and I drove to Winchester, so that we were able to cycle the bike course. We knew that for the sprint race, we would need to do two laps of approximately 10km each, so we weren’t worried that a slow cycle around the course once would tire us out for the real event. I like to be prepared for any tricky turns, loose gravel on the road and unexpected ascents or descents.

After our pootle around the course, it was time to register. Again, this is something that helps to ease stress on race day as it’s possible to label up your helmet, bike and bag before arriving and also to put your race number on a belt in advance. We also listened to a race briefing and I was invited to star in a TryTri video! Afterwards, we drove home along the bike course for me to get another view of it.

When we got home, I set about packing all of my kit. I’m a bit obsessed with organisation so I have a ‘packing list for all occasions’, which has many many tabs and is very helpful when checking that I have everything I need. I really enjoyed editing the list to remove any mention of contact lenses or glasses!

In the morning we got up early and made sure that everything made it into the car (unlike Winchester Duathlon, where my bag containing my bike shoes and helmet got left behind!)

I was pleased to find that there was a system for racking up, where a group of competitors were given a section of the rack, which is much easier than trying to decide where to rack your kit… although I chose to go next to a tree in the hope it would help me remember where my bike was!

My bike and kit ready for the triathlon

Racked up ready to go

Earlier in the week I had been surprised to find that I was in quite an early wave, ahead of some of my friends who are better swimmers than me. I’m still not sure about this, but think it was meant to be mixed ability waves with similar ability lanes. However, this all relies on people giving accurate predicted times. (How are your local tris organised? Are people good at predicting their swim times?)

The swim: 09:41.3 (126/207)

I was very nervous before the swim as I really don’t enjoy pool-based triathlons, but I was confident that I would be OK. I had predicted a finish time of 9:30 and I have swum 400m in around 9 minutes before. I was the second person in my wave to start and I think I would have benefitted from getting in just a tiny bit earlier and doing more of a warm up as I did not start well. I also realised that I was in a lane with much faster swimmers and it felt like my feet were constantly getting tapped. At one point, one of the men in my lane taped my feet, so I stopped at the end, whereupon he proceeded to remove his goggles, rinse them and put them back on. I was annoyed that this all happened whilst I was waiting. Surely it would have been better etiquette for him to deal with his goggles and then tap my feet on the next length?

One slight advantage that I had on the swim was that I was in the lane closest to the door and was also able to use the steps to exit the pool. It wasn’t my fastest swim, but I did a lot of waiting for others to pass (I later found out that their times were roughly 8:45, 8:15 and 7:15, so significantly faster than me and my predicted time).

T1: 02:24.00 (138/207)

I didn’t have too far to run  before I got to my kit. I spent a bit of time faffing (and putting socks and mitts on), but had already decided that I would be fine cycling without a jacket or other layer. As most of the other swimmers had been faster than me, there weren’t too many people in the way, although there were still some people milling around and setting up their kit.

The bike 01:05:10.40 (163/207)

I was feeling quite confident about the bike ride and hoped to be able to complete it in under an hour, but was perhaps more fatigued than I’d realised. I also ended up stopping at a few sets of traffic lights and was frustrated by some cyclists (novices, I think) who were unaware of the no-drafting rule.

T2: 01:24.90 (108/207)

This is usually my best discipline, and that proved to be true again today… but I hadn’t realised quite where the dismount line was and that I had to cycle back up the hill to it. I also lost some time as Stuart had already finished and started speaking to me in transition, so I ran past my bike rack – oops! Fortunately, I had managed a flying dismount, so my shoes were on my bike and I just needed to slip some trainers on.

The run: 31:06:00 (166/207)

This was the bit that I knew was going to be difficult. I had sustained a leg injury on Wednesday evening (I demonstrated some exercises to a runner without warming up first and pulled my hamstring), so I was uncertain about whether or not I’d be able to do the run. I made the decision that I’d give it a go and if it hurt too much then I could either walk or pull out.

I ran down the hill towards where a group of friends from Lordshill were supporting and then had to turn left. unfortunately, this part of the course was on loose wood chippings that were particularly unpleasant to run on. There was then a left turn and onto a steady ascent before turning back onto the field. A cruel twist is that you had to run past the finish line on the first lap.


At this point a super-enthusiastic marshal tried to encourage me by running along with me, but I tried to explain to her that I had a leg injury and didn’t want to try to run any faster.

It was then back out past transition, where Chris from TryTri was waiting with his camera!

Tamsyn running during May Day Tri

Lap 1 of the run done and a smile for TryTri’s Chris Rees © TryTri UK

Tamsyn during May Day Tri run

Onto Lap 2 of the run – I’ve got this! ©TryTri UK

One of the good aspects of the run was that I saw various friends at different points in the run, so it was nice to be able to look out for others.

Finally, I was on the home straight. I’ve had so many rubbish finish photos that I thought I’d try to look at least a little victorious, rather than looking down at my Garmin.


May Day Tri finish

Desperately trying not to look at the floor during my finish © TryTri UK

As you can see, I almost nailed it, but I just couldn’t resist that glimpse at the end!

May day Tri finish

The Garmin-check photo that I was trying to avoid © TryTri UK

I was then handed a lovely medal (with the same design as the water bottle that I had collected the previous day)



My race number and medal

My final time was: 01:49:46.65 which left me as 153/207. I know that I can complete a sprint race much faster than that and I was initially a bit disappointed, but then I remembered that it’s only my first tri this year and that my leg wouldn’t let me run as fast as usual.

I was 35/69 female finishers and 7/12 in my Age Group – so close to being in the top half, but not quite there yet!

I spent a bit of time chatting with friends, before Chris asked whether various members of Southampton Tri Club would mind appearing in a short video. We agreed that we would, so we were ushered to a slightly quieter area for the interview to take place.

A close up of my medal, showing King Alfred.

A close up of my medal, showing King Alfred.

STC interview 2

Our video interview © TryTri UK

Members of Southampton Tri Club

Post-race interview with Southampton Tri Club © Try Tri UK

I ended up starring in two videos:

What to do on event day for a stress free triathlon:

The Winchester Triathlon – May Day Tri 2015:


My goals for 2015

30 Dec

I’ve spent the last couple of days discussing the races and events that I want to enter in 2015. Stuart is a firm believer of quality over quantity, whereas I want to enter everything! I quite enjoy doing cross-country running and usually do some of the local cross-country series (CC6) but Stu doesn’t want to risk injury; also he is leading Marafun training runs on Sunday mornings and these clash with the CC6s, so we have agreed to do these runs together.

I’ve also been considering my SMART goals for the year. These are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

I have four goals:


I am going to eat healthy food for 20/21 meals and assess my progress at the end of 100 days (14th April). I hope that I will lose 14lbs (6.5kg) in that time. I will record my progress on Give It 100.


I am going to work hard on my speed between now and 26th April by attending Thursday night track sessions. I will also run on Monday evenings. My aim is to complete Southampton HM in under 1:55, with under 1:52:19 as my ultimate goal as that would be a PB/PR.

Ironman Dublin logo

I want to achieve a PB/PR at Ironman Dublin 70.3 on 9th August. I completed Weymouth Half in 7:24. I think that a time of under 7 hours is possible if I work hard on all three disciplines. I will train for 14 weeks from 3rd May.


I want to complete the Scilly Swim Challenge on 5th September. To do this, I will need to go open water swimming at least once a week between June and September. I will speak to my coach about how to train for an endurance swimming event such as this.

I need to work on my training programme to support these goals. I’m not allowed to swim until the middle of January, but for the next few months, my training schedule is going to include the following:

  • Monday: Crossfit; running; swimming.
  • Tuesday: Spinning; swimming.
  • Wednesday: Rest day. (Maybe lunchtime yoga).
  • Thursday: Track running.
  • Friday: Swimming.
  • Saturday: parkrun or swimming.
  • Sunday: Long run. Bike ride.

I’ve now scheduled most of my races and events for 2015. There’s a whole range of different events that I’ve entered:

  • HRRL – this is a league of 12 races for local club runners. The events are open for any runner to enter, but only the results of local club runners are counted in the league.
  • RR10 – this is a spring/summer local off-road running league. These races are free for local club runners and are 4-5 miles long. Dates for 2015 have not yet been confirmed.
  • parkrun – this is a free, weekly, timed 5k event. I will be adding them in accoridng to my training schedule, but I suspect that I will need to prioritise swimming over running for much of 2015.
  • Eastleigh aquathlons – this is a series of races hosted by TryTri events on Thursday evenings. Entry to them is free for SUTRI members.

Stu and I are also going cycling in Japan with a friend in early April. We’re expecting to ride about 60-70 miles a day, which will be tiring, but good training.



  • 01/02/15 Marafun training run
  • 15/02/15 Marafun training run
  • 22/02/15 Heartbreak Half


  • 01/03/15 Marafun run
  • 08/03/15 Salisbury 10 mile (not yet entered)
  • 22/03/15 Winchester Duathlon (not yet entered)
  • 29/03/15 Marafun training run










  • 15/11/15 Denbies Duathlon or Gosport Half Marathon (TBC)


Off-season rest!

2015 is going to be a busy year. What have you got planned?

Eastleigh Open Water Tri – my first open water tri of the season

29 Jun

Firstly, I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who is following my blog – I started it as a personal record of my progress, so I am delighted that I’ve now got over 800 followers (I hit 802 today)! Thank you so much – it’s such an honour to hear from people who say that I’ve inspired them 🙂

Today’s excitement was my first open water tri of the season. So that I didn’t have to start my day too early, Stu and I registered last night and icked up our goodie bags. There was choice of free gifts on offer, including TryTri buffs, water bottles and mugs. As I’ve already got a TryTri buff and my kitchen cupboard is overflowing with water bottles, I chose to have a mug and coaster that I will take to work. We were also given a delicious packet of Urban Fruit. I got ‘magnificent mango’, which is nice, but not as delicious as the strawberry one!

Racking up

Racking up with Suzanne

Racking up with Suzanne © Try Tri

The swim

Fortunately, the swim was in a lake that I’m familiar with. I’ve heard that there are some enormous fish in the lake, but it’s so murky that I’ve never seen any. There have been lots of reports in the local (Dorset) news about scores of giant barrel jellyfish appearing in the area… I’m so glad I didn’t hear the news before doing my sea swim last Sunday!

I read this article this week about outdoor swimming: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/26/why-i-love-outdoor-swimming?INTCMP=mic_233352 I love the feeling of solitude that I get when swimming in the lake in the morning – I haven’t done enough of it this year!

A groups of us started together in the last wave, so I hoped that I would be able to keep teri, Liz and Jenny in sight during the swim and bike. I did continuous front crawl, but am still not sure why I’m so slow in comparison with old lady breaststrokers!

11:14.2 (166/210)

 T1 – transition one

I knew T1 would be slow as I had to put my contact lenses in. At least I wasn’t last and next year I should be able to move a bit faster in T1!

3:08.15 (191/210)

The bike


I’d practised the bike route with Donna, Jenny and Roelie, so I knew what to expect. I went out as hard as possible, knowing that I was behind most of my friends. I saw Asa on her return journey and was surprised that I was so far behind… it took me a while to remember that she was doing the novice distance and had not had to swim as far.

It felt like I had to stop at every set of traffic lights, which was very frustrating. I saw Stu looking very strong on the bike, and not far from the turnaround point, I saw Teri. She had a very strong bike ride and did really well. A man spoke to me at a large roundabout, epxlaining that he had to go around it again… I think he was confused about quite how the two laps were calculated – oops!

On the second lap I felt like I was doing really well, until I got to a pedestrian crossing. The light went red, but the pedestrians had already crossed, which was very frustrating. I think I only had to wait about 30 seconds for the lights to change, but it felt like a much longer time period. I was also annoyed that another triathlete passed me at the lights by going through them when they were red.

As I headed back in through teh car park, I slipped my feet out of my shoes and amanged to do a fantastic flying dismount.


47:26.80 (168/210)

T2 – transition two

My great dismount and the slope down into transition helped me to achieve a good time for T2. This always seems to be my strongest part of triathlons! I racked my bike, removed my helmet and mitts and slipped on my shoes as quickly as possible.

1:00.00 (84/210)

The run

My running hasn’t been going well this year, but I felt quite comfortable going out onto the run. My aim was to maintain a steady pace under 6:00/km, and hopefully get as close as possible to 5:30/km, which I think I managed. My aim for the winter is to pick up my speed.

27:06.30 (162/210)


I really enjoyed this event and am starting to feel more confident. There are a lot of things that I can learn from it.

1:29:55.40 (168/210; 40th female out of 67; 3rd in my AG)

As usual with a Try Tri evnet, there was a cracking medal.

eastleigh medals

Eastleigh medals © Try Tri


© Try Tri

Eastleigh done

Eastleigh done! © Try Tri

Afte finishing, I met up with Asa, Suzanne, Katherine, Liz and Jenny (as well as Stu) to go for some food.

eastleigh group 2

Southampton tri club finishers (L-R: Asa, Me, Suzanne, Stuart, Katherine, Liz, Jenny & Donna) © Try Tri

group eastleigh 1

© Try Tri

My final bit of reading this week was an article from triathlete – here’s a taster of it:

#firedup #heregoesnothing #longandstrong #streamline #quitpullingonmyfeetyoufreak #kickandbreathe #longandstrong #kickandbreathe #biketime #omgthatsaddlesore #ignorethepain #focus #breathe #cadencecounts #strongandsteady #killthehill #quadsonfire #finghurts #downwego #wheeeee #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat #focus #strongandsteady #cadencecounts #runtime #nobigdeal #breathe #pace #quickfeet #onetwothree #onetwothree #thisisawesome #ichosethis #focus #pace #ouch #finghurts #thisisawful #ipaidforthis #focus #ignorethepain #onetwothree #breathe #breathe #cantbreathe #focus #mightpuke #puking #neveragain #focus #nomoreracing #breathe #howmuchfarther #swearthatwasamile #watchisbroken #focus #quietmind #breathe #whatwasithinking #iminsane #wheresthefinish #focus #breathe #focus #finally #iseeit #finished #mightpuke #puking #wheresmybeer #dotheseshortsmakemelookfat
Next on my event calendar is my first Olympic distance triathlon – in two weeks time – eek!

I wasn’t last, even though there was some swimming involved!

26 Jun

Although I’m still tired from last Sunday’s swim, I had already entered tonight’s aquathlon (hosted by the lovely TryTri chaps), so I figured that I’d better just get on with it. We left home a bit late, and I didn’t do a great job of getting myself organised. I thought that I had picked up everything necessary for transition, but realised that I had left my inhaler and contact lenses in my bag, so I missed the briefing (and hat distribution) to go and get them. Fortunately, Stu was there to get a hat for me. I didn’t really have enough time to worry and just went straight into the water, which actually felt like a pleasant temperature.

After a quick wave at the camera, we were off. I had carefully positioned myself near the back of the pack, so I wasn’t squished in the initial brawl. We soon spread out and I was pleased to realise that I was breathing quite well. Unfortunately, my goggles were not doing as well, as I had to stop and empty them three times, which broke my rhythm.

My terrible breathing! © Paul A. Hammond

My terrible breathing! © Paul A. Hammond

I'm still not sure why my head is in this position © Paul A. Hammond

I’m still not sure why my head is in this position © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

The route was meant to be 750m, but my sighting wasn’t great, so I swam 980m… I really must work on that as I wasted quite a lot of time.

The course is 2.5 laps, so by the time I had swum 1.5 laps, it was starting to thin out a bit and I was pleased to realise that I wasn’t the very last person. Unfortunately, I was also aware that my arms were very tired from Sunday’s exertions, so I wasn’t able to pick the pace up. I pushed as hard as I could, but I know I was passed by at least 3 people in the final lap.

Eventually, I was at the end of the swim. Maybe I should have swum a little bit closer to the exit, but I was ready to stand up, and was relieved that I didn’t feel as dizzy as I normally do. Result! 🙂

Some people might blame the wetsuit for being unflattering; I blame my love of food! © Paul A. Hammond

Some people might blame the wetsuit for being unflattering; I blame my love of food! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

This shows just how close the next competitor was © Paul A. Hammond

This shows just how close the next competitor was © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I should pin this horrible photo of my double chins up in the kitchen! © Paul A. Hammond

I should pin this horrible photo of my double chins up in the kitchen! © Paul A. Hammond

I finished the swim in 20:01.8 (35/37)

It was then onto transition, which I know is a terrible discipline for me. If I could just strip off my wetsuit/hat/goggles, throw on some shoes and run, I’d be fine, but I’ve had blisters when I tried running without socks before, and so close to a triathlon, I didn’t want to risk it, so I put socks on. Then came the real time-wasting part: contact lenses. I hate running with my glasses on as they make me feel ill. This is partly because they’re not quite the right prescription, but at nearly £300 a pair, I can’t afford to waste money on something that I rarely wear. I put in my contact lenses as fast as possible and was off.

Heading into transition © Paul A. Hammond

Heading into transition © Paul A. Hammond

An entire sequence of me stripping! © Paul A. Hammond

An entire sequence of me stripping! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I’m amused by this shot, which looks like I’m weeing myself – I’m not, honest! © Paul A. Hammond

I managed not to battle my watch this time – I took the face of it off, removed my wetsuit and then clipped it back on again 🙂

T1 2:00.20 (36/37)

At this point, I was unaware that I was not the last person. I thought someone had exited the lake just after me (which they did) and I assumed that he was the very last person in the event… and I knew he would have left transition before me.

I always find the breathing hard when I first start running after swimming, but I just told myself to relax and enjoy it, which seemed to work. I’ve mumbled recently about feeling like I’ve only got one speed – slow – as a consequence of doing some long, slow runs, but I surprised myself by being able to move at a reasonable pace. I think the intervals with Coach Ant (Run Camp) and Huw/Steve (Southampton Tri Club) are finally starting to pay off.

I could hear a speedy runner coming up behind me, but I thought that there was no point in looking around as they would pass me soon enough. I was quite surprised when they spoke to me, and then realised that it was Stuart, who was clearly running very well. I had decided to wear my SOAS pink peacock tri kit as I’ve got a busy couple of days ahead of me and I want to wear my team SOAS kit on Sunday. It’s really comfortable to wear and has the added advantage of standing out really well. Stuart said that he recognised me from quite a long way off as my kit is so distinctive!

I like the run route for Eastleigh aquathlon as it’s essentially the same as the first parkrun that I used to attend, which is where I found my love for running. It’s a two lap course that I know inside out. A third of the way around is a slight incline, before a shady tree-lined section, followed by a (miniature) railway crossing and then an open path. There’s then a grassy section around a ‘bowl’ followed by a sharp down and up, before a gentler slope leading back across the railway line. There’s then one more steep up and over the railway line, before heading to the second lap/finish.

By the time I got to the first incline, I could see a runner ahead of me in distinctive green calf guards. It looked like he was slowing down, so I thought there might be a chance that I could catch him. This, and the enthusiastic encouragement from Becky who was marshalling, encouraged me to push on. I took a while for me to catch up with the chap, but I finally managed it at the bowl. I then headed back towards the start/finish, where the lovely Paul was waiting

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

This shot shows just how great I was feeling! © Paul A. Hammond

This shot shows just how great I was feeling! © Paul A. Hammond

Still smiling and both feet off the ground! © Paul A. Hammond

Still smiling and both feet off the ground! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Getting ready... © Paul A. Hammond

Getting ready… © Paul A. Hammond

...to blow a kiss at Paul! © Paul A. Hammond

…to blow a kiss at Paul! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I kept pushing on the second lap as I didn’t want to be overtaken. As I crossed the railway line, I realised that there were some competitors ahead. I started to push on, but realised that I probably wasn’t going to catch up with them, which frustrated me, but I didn’t want to push too hard as I want to save some energy for Sunday’s triathlon.

Towards the end of the race, I heard someone running behind me. It was a man with a fluorescent yellow shirt on. I didn’t think he was part of the aquathlon, so I wondered whether he was just someone out enjoying a run… but just in case, I started to pick up the pace a little more. This was a lucky guess, as it turned out that he was in the event!

Feeling determined as I could see the finish line! © Paul A. Hammond

Feeling determined as I could see the finish line! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Look at that heel lift! I hope Coach Ant feels proud! © Paul A. Hammond

Look at that heel lift! I hope Coach Ant feels proud! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Action shot! © Paul A. Hammond

Action shot! © Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

Although I look tired in these photos, I was actually feeling really good and would have been happy to carry on and run another 5k. It turns out that my run was the best part of the event for me as I beat 4 people!

Run: 26:38.75 (33/37)

Total: 48:40.75 (34/37)

© Paul A. Hammond

© Paul A. Hammond

I really enjoyed tonight’s event. My super husband did brilliantly, finishing in 3rd place in a time of 31:11.10! Awesome result, Stu! The TryTri lads work well to make each event a success and they also put in a lot of effort to make ech competitor feel valued. The aquathlons are reasonably priced, with chip timing for each event meaning that the results were online by the time that I arrived home, and there was also a bottle of water for each entrant.

I now feel as well prepared as possible for Eastleigh Open Water Triathlon on Sunday. As usual, my aim is to finish, but I’m also hoping not to be last. My T2 is likely to be significantly faster than T1, and I’m hoping that my bike segment will compare favourably with others (probably more because of my fab Kuota Kharma than for my ability).

Have you got any races coming up? Which discipline do you think you need to practise the most?

Preparing for Eastleigh Open Water Tri

7 Jun

Eastleigh Open Water Tri is fast approaching (29th June), so I thought I’d better start getting prepared for the event. The swim and the run take place at Lakeside, which is where I’ve done aquathlons and where I first started parkrunning, so I’m familiar with the location, but I had no idea of the bike route. I put an appeal out on Facebook and received several replies from people who were willing to come out and recce the route at a slow pace.

Donna was our leader as she did Eastleigh Tri a couple of years ago and was already familiar with the route; Roelie was just interested in getting a bike ride in and Jenny is also doing Eastleigh Tri this year.

We met at the Bellemoor at 11am, and I was a little apprehensive as we had thunder and lightning this morning and the storms weren’t forecast to clear until later in the day, but we struck lucky and didn’t need jackets for the ride. I was slightly overdressed (I had waterproof socks on), and had to take off my jacket as soon as I met the others. Fortunately, I had on a short-sleeved cycling jersey that I had teamed with one of my new pairs of SOAS racing shorts… I wanted to check whether they were as comfortable as my other couple of pairs and I can confirm that they are 🙂

Our little peloton cycled over to Eastleigh where the event starts. Unfortunately, late on Saturday morning was not the best time to recce the route as it is on some fairly busy main roads, with one particularly busy roundabout to cross – I find it nerve-wracking enough in a car, so on a bike with a group of others it’s even more difficult. The route consists of two 10k laps, but after we’d tried it once, we all agreed that we didn’t feel the need to do it again. I feel happier now I know that there are no steep descents, and I doubt that I will practise it again before the event.

The sun was shining brightly, so we decided to make the most of it by going for a longer ride. We headed out on some back roads towards Chilworth, taking in Bassett Green Road, where I tortured myself doing hill reps earlier in the week. We then decided to go out towards Chilworth. This is a route that I have been avoiding as it has a really long descent, but as Donna pointed out, it is a smooth and open road with no dangerous junction or obstacles, so actually it was the ideal location for me to try to regain some of my confidence.

I made it down the hill safely, so we then headed out towards North Baddesley before looping back towards the city. This involved another couple of descents, but I am starting to feel less terrified and am making myself wait for a few seconds longer before using my brakes. I can’t say that I’m moving quickly (42.3km/h was my best today), but I’m heading in the right direction.

IMG_3079 .IMG_3082

We arrived back at The Common and headed our separate ways. I managed to do 40.43km in 2:03 today, which is a long way off my best, but I’ll get back there! Thank you for helping me Donna, Roelie and Jenny 🙂

HOWSC 100 Sprint triathlon

29 Sep

The HOWSC 100 triathlon took place today at Hampshire Open Water Sports Centre in Fordingbridge, which is about a 30-minute drive away from where I live. The entry was included as part of the triathlon training camp that Stuart and I did back in mid June. (I don’t think I blogged about it, but it was a great weekend that was led by Ant Gritton from Run Camp and Ben Cook from Try Tri).

Originally, I had intended to enter the novice event (400m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run), but then my swimming started to improve, so I thought I should challenge myself. (You would think that I’d have learnt my lesson after Winchester Duathlon, but I just don’t learn!) I know I’m not fast, but I was confident that I could cycle 20k and run 5k without any extra training, which meant that only the swimming would be tough for me. I think that Stu might have been tempted by the Olympic/standard distance if it hadn’t been his first tri and he’s also struggled with injuries recently.


Yesterday afternoon, I did some organising. I always worry that I will forget something, so I have an enormous spreadsheet with loads of different sheets – each one has a packing list on it for a particular type of holiday or event. Unsurprisingly, I have one that is for a triathlon. I opened it up on my iPad and started my packing. After an hour or so of fussing around, I needed a break, so Stu suggested that we could drive down to HOWSC and register. This meant that we wouldn’t have to get up quite so early, so I agreed.

We arrived at HOWSC shortly after 5pm and were surprised to find that there were half a dozen other people who were as eager to register as we were. We collected our numbers and goodie bags, with our nice silicon swimming hats in them. Stu was number 157 and I was 156.

TryTri swimming hat ©Tamsyn Smith

TryTri swimming hat ©Tamsyn Smith

We then decided to have a walk around the lake, so that I could see where we had to enter the water and also where transition would be. (The road into HOWSC has potholes that resemble mine shafts, so I was relieved to learn that we would not be using that road at all).

It was a short walk to the swim start. I was relieved to learn that we would start in the water, as I’m much happier when I’ve had a chance to acclimatise to the water. However, the steepness of the slop into the water was something that I was concerned about. I have low blood pressure (about 90/50) and often get very light-headed if I stand up quickly. Almost every time that I’ve swum in the lake, I’ve struggled to stand up afterwards, so this was an aspect of the event that I was nervous about.

The lake ©Tamsyn Smith

The lake ©Tamsyn Smith

After we’d finished looking at the swim start, we decided to follow the path around to see the transition area. It was a little further away than I had expected along a muddy, pebbly path with quite a few tree roots.


The tranistion area ©Tamsyn Smith

The transition area ©Tamsyn Smith

When we got to the transition area, we found James chatting to Ben. We asked a few basic questions and James told us that he’d already recce’d the cycle route. We’d decided that we would have a drive around it as I’d rather be prepared for steep hills as I’m still not as confident as I’d like to be.

James recorded a video of the bike route: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152236599286258

After a drive around the course, we went home and I finished organising everything. I packed clothes for almost all eventualities as I remember how cold, wet and miserable Winchester Duathlon was. I also prepared my breakfast for the morning. I love porridge, so I weighed out 30g, and then decide to try something new. This isn’t usually recommended before a race, but as it wasn’t anything particularly unusual, I thought I’d be OK. I added 4 teaspoonfuls of flaxseed to my porridge to add some protein… I’ve tried flaxseed before and I like it, so I thought it would be safe. I also added a few spoonfuls of blackcurrant compote that I bought in the Polish supermarket. (I had intended for it to go into beverages at a recent cocktail night, but there was lots left over!) To round off the porridge I added a tsp. of agave nectar and some water and then put it in the fridge overnight. (This helps the oats to absorb the water, so it takes slightly less time to microwave it in the morning… it’s all about the marginal gains!) Unfortunately, this all took a while, so I didn’t get to bed until 11pm.

After a slightly restless sleep, I got up at 6am. I made my porridge and then dressed in my trisuit. I also attached a plaster to me, just under where the zip of my trisuit finishes as every time I’ve worn it under a wetsuit, it has ended up cutting my chest. I also managed to do my hair in my ‘triathlon style’ (a French plait to anyone else). This is helpful as it allows me to keep my hair tied back without it being uncomfortable under my bike helmet. After a bit of faffing around, Stu and I got our bikes onto the roof rack and at 7am we were off.

We arrived at HOWSC at 7:30, which was later than most other competitors. However, there was still an entire section of empty rack where Stu and I were able to set up. Maybe a more experienced triathlete could advise me on where best to place my possessions, however as there was a one way system I figured I would end up running exactly the same distance with my bike no matter where I put it.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to lay out my kit, so that I would be able to approach it in a methodical order in transition:

  • Helmet with headband inside (Slogan: ‘Not fast, but not last’… I was hoping this wouldn’t prove to be famous last words!)
  • Cycle gloves
  • Bike shoes with socks (I know, I ought to be able to go without them, but I just remember how cold my feet were in Winchester!)
  • Arm warmers, knee warmers and long sleeved top
  • Spare towel
  • Trainers with xtenex laces
  • Plastic tub to put wetsuit into
  • Garmin

I also put a bottle of cherry lucozade on my bike and wedged some shot bloks in the holder with it. Then I realised that my bike shoes still had their coffee shop covers on them, so I had to take them off.

At that point, Teri arrived and James also came over for a chat. James had opted to wear his trail shoes for the run, which threw me into a minor panic. I had my trail shoes with me, but I’ve not worn them for a few months, so I wasn’t sure whether I should swap my shoes. Eventually, I decided to stick with my road shoes.

My nerves were really starting to kick in, so I popped to the loos and then put on my wetsuit. I didn’t want to have to find somewhere to leave my hoodie, so I popped that in the car boot and pulled on the sleeves of my wetsuit to keep warm. I also put on my flip-flops. James came over and let me use some of his anti-fogging spray on my goggles. I’d not used it before, but figured that if it worked for half of my swim it would be better than nothing. My last swim at Eastleigh was really difficult as there was mist hanging over the water and my goggles kept fogging up, so I couldn’t see the buoys.

Then I had to make the most difficult decision for my transition – what should I do about my vision. Most people who know me are unaware of just how shortsighted I am, as I am rarely seen wearing glasses. This is not an issue of vanity, it’s just that I really do not see as well with glasses, even when they are exactly the right prescription and they do not make sports easy. I’ve worn contact lenses all day every day since I was thirteen years old. I’ve only ever run twice in glasses: Eastleigh aquathlon and Penzance aquathlon; I’ve only ever cycled once in glasses, which is when I had hay fever and had to wear my glasses to work. I decided to give myself some thinking time, so I placed my glasses in my goggles case on my towel, and also put my contact lens pot on a tissue on my towel. As I was leaving my usual visual aids on the towel, I had to leave the transition area with my goggles on. I felt a bit stupid, but the alternative was that Stu would have to hold my arm and guide me, whilst pointing out hazards on the floor… and I wasn’t sure that that would go well.

The slope into the lake © Try Tri

Because of all of my faffing around, we missed the race briefing. Fortunately, James had been listening carefully. He explained that we would have to swim around the buoys until we were close to the end when we would have to swim between the buoys. I nodded and smiled hoping that the buoys (or the thrashing of the other swimmers) would be enough guidance for me.

Collecting our chips ©Try Tri

Collecting our chips ©Try Tri

Before the start the water was lovely and calm ©Try Tri

Before the start the water was lovely and calm ©Try Tri

I put on my two hats (my silicon shark hat and the triathlon hat – I’d rejected my neoprene hat), and attached my chip to my ankle. I had expected to have a number written on me, but that was not necessary. Then it was time for the adventure to properly begin…

750 m open water swim

Tentatively entering the water - I'm second from left ©Try Tri

Tentatively entering the water – I’m second from left ©Try Tri

Stu was happy to float immediately ©Try Tri

Stu was happy to float immediately ©Try Tri

I edged my way carefully down into the lake and was pleasantly surprised by its temperature. I won’t pretend that it was warm, but it was not nearly as cold as Eastleigh has been in the last couple of weeks. I was also expecting it to be weed-free, as I’d seen photos on Facebook of the Try Tri team weed clearing this week however, I think they had decided to relocate all of the weeds to the lake entrance so that it would be cushioned for us all. I waded out a few more steps and then one of my feet started sinking, so I decided I’d better start swimming. I floated on my back for a bit and then turned over and put my face in the water. I could see where the start was, so I did a bit of breaststroke to get to the start area. Having watched the start of the standard distance triathlon, I was aware that there was a sand bank near the buoys. James was standing up with water just a bit higher than his waist and Stu had water to his chest, but when I went to put my feet down I realised that I was in a much deeper area and couldn’t touch the bottom. As I wanted to adjust my goggles, I moved across. I had just finished my adjustment when I realised the countdown was taking place. People next to me were still fidgeting with their hats and goggles, but it was time to go!

The start of the Sprint race ©Try Tri

The start of the Sprint race ©Try Tri1379733_602218449830440_1453304476_n

I was relieved that I was at the back of the pack, as I didn’t want to be caught up in the swirling water. It wasn’t long before I was left trailing with just a few other swimmers around me. I just kept reminding myself to stay calm and not to try to go too fast. About halfway round, I needed to let some water out of one of my eyepieces, but I paused only briefly before I continued. I wanted to know that I could do the full distance using front crawl. There were a couple of women who didn’t appear to be too far ahead, and I thought there was a male swimmer behind me who was finding it difficult to sight. I didn’t want to be complacent, but I was also pleased that I might not be the last person out of the lake.

Just over 20 minutes after I started, the bank was in sight. Every time I breathed, I was able to hear the spectators clapping and cheering, which spurred me on. Finally, Chris pulled me out of the lake and my swim was over. I had done it!!! (My final time was 22:19, and I was placed 44/46).


I had decided to not to put on my flip-flops for the run to the transition, as I thought they might make it more difficult to run. However, as I had to keep on my goggles to see, I was unable to remove my swimming hats. I was also wary of trying to pull my wetsuit sleeves down in case they got stuck and I was unable to run properly. Unfortunately, I had not gone very far before I slipped over. It winded me and as I had to put out both of my hands, I ended up covered in mud. I was concerned that my wetsuit might be damaged, but didn’t have time to stop and check.

Removing my wetsuit ©Teri Pragnell

Removing my wetsuit ©Teri Pragnell

I quickly removed my wetsuit in transition and decided that I was warm enough and didn’t want to waste time on putting on additional clothes, with the exception of socks. I slipped them on and put on my cycling shoes. I had decided that I would be happiest with my contact lenses in… but I was covered in mud. I was also struggling to remain upright and ended up grabbing hold of the bike rack as I was so light-headed. I rubbed my hands on my towel, and hoped that I wouldn’t get too much mud and pondweed in my eyes. I was grateful that I have 22 years of experience of inserting contact lenses, so that was a fairly quick part of my transition. Finally, I put on my Garmin, gloves, headband and helmet and was ready to unrack my bike. My transition time of 3:54 meant that I was (again) one of the slowest, but there were two competitors who were slower than me!

Heading out with my bike ©Teri Pragnell

Heading out with my bike ©Teri Pragnell

I ran towards the mount line and after going through the ditch, Ben gave me some words of encouragement and then I was out on the road. I was a little nervous that I was still a little wobbly, but once I was on my bike, I felt fine.

Heading out with my bike ©Teri Pragnell

Moving towards the mount line ©Teri Pragnell

20km cycle

Shortly after leaving, I realised I had forgotten my number belt and glasses. Luckily, it was not a windy day, and the rules had only stated that a number needed to be worn in the run.

I wanted to change gear, so that I could get more speed up, but unfortunately, I think my gears need reindexing, so it was not possible to get my bike into the gear I wanted. I also hadn’t set up my Garmin for cycling, so I had no idea of what speed I was cycling. Unsurprisingly, there were no cyclists in sight, so I just kept cycling.

Out on the road at last

Out on the road at last

Yesterday, I had been relieved to discover there were no large hills on the cycle route, although I was mystified as to how there was a long downhill section in the second half of the ride… this dichotomy was soon clarified as I started pedalling uphill. It wasn’t long before I had turned onto a single-track country lane. I could hear a land rover behind me, but there was nowhere for e to pull over. The driver clearly wasn’t happy at having to drive at my pace. He started revving his engine at me, which made me try to pedal faster, but there was nowhere for me to pull in. Eventually, the driver had enough and accelerated past me as fast as possible… however, the road was no wider, so he was incredibly close to me, which was a frightening experience. I just hoped that I would not encounter any more vehicles.

A couple of minutes later, I spied my first target… a female cyclist with a number that indicated that she was taking part in the sprint event. Having prey to stalk motivated me to redouble my efforts, so I quickly passed my fellow cyclist. I headed over the bridge and back towards the start. Just as I was nearing the start/finish, I saw another triathlete on the grass verge fixing a puncture. I felt sympathy for the cyclist, but couldn’t think of anything motivational to call out, so thought it best to stay silent. (After finishing, I found out that the unlucky cyclist was James).

There was a long queue of traffic leading to the lights and I had to choose whether to stop, try to cycle past on the left or be brave and pass on the right. I didn’t want to waste time, so I passed on the right. This meant that I was then in the flow of the novice cyclists, which gave me lots of targets to catch. Again this was motivational, so I started pedalling harder.

It wasn’t long before I got to the hill out of the village. Unfortunately, there were already some novice cyclists on the hill a young couple. The female cyclist seemed quite nervous, so her male friend was cycling next to her. This meant that cars were unable to pass, and everyone had to slow down. I got stuck behind a car and had to start changing down my gears. Unfortunately, after changing gear several times, I could go no slower and then my chain came off. I felt so frustrated. If I hadn’t been stuck behind the couple, I could have powered up the hill and wouldn’t have had to put my chain back on. It didn’t take long for me to unclip my shoes, climb off and put the chain back on. Then I had to restart whilst halfway up the hill. I pedalled hard and was able to pass the cyclists who had passed whilst I was stopped. The couple was at the top of the hill, so I whizzed passed them and around the corner. This time there were no vehicles and I was able to keep chasing after other cyclists.

I love my beautiful bike!

I love my beautiful bike!

As I neared the end of the cycle route, I switched on my Garmin, so that I could use it for the run. I dismounted and then ran as fast as I could into the transition area with my bike. The cycle had taken me 1:01:33 and I was 34/46, which was a pleasant surprise… maybe I’m not as bad on a bike as I thought!


My second transition was much less stressful than the first, as I just had to take off my helmet and gloves and change shoes. However, I wasn’t as fast as I’d hoped I would be, so I was 41/46 in 1:36. I took a few swigs of cherry lucozade, and headed out for the run.

The run – 5k

After dithering in the morning about which shoes to choose, I plumped for road shoes… but even now, I don’t know whether that was the best choice. I was soon passed by several runners, but as I couldn’t see their numbers, I had no idea which distance they were doing. I could see from the stats on my Garmin that I was running much more slowly than I had hoped I would, but my legs are still a little tired from last weekend.

Why are my running photos always so bad?

Why are my running photos always so bad?

The route for the run was a little confusing: we had to run a full lap of the transition field, then a lap around the lake (passing the finish), then another lap of the transition field, a full lap of the lake and then part of a lap to the finish. I think several athletes misjudged the laps that they had to do, and I was glad that I had my Garmin to keep me on track.

On my first lap of the lake, I saw Ant and Stu (who had both finished) accompanied by Lindsey. As I was heading across the lawn, I saw Donna – she was finishing her run, whilst I still had a long way to go. I then ran past the finish gantry, where marshals were offering drinks. I would have liked some water, but at that point they were only offering a lurid blue energy drink, so I ran on. The route was quite scenic, taking in the attractive campsite area.

I arrived back at the slope to the transition area and Charli signalled the direction that I needed to go in. I could see that my pace was dropping, but my legs would not move any faster. I finished that lap, and headed back on another lap around the lake. As I passed the drinks station, a bottle of water was on offer, so I grateful took it and had a couple of swigs. This helped me to feel a bit better and I continued.

About halfway around the lake, I saw a couple of women who had their numbers on their backs. I could see that they were part of my event and that they were moving more slowly than me. At last, I had a target. I kept pushing and was able to pass them. This made me feel happier as it was confirmation that I would not be the very last athlete to finish in my event.

Finish gantry

Finish gantry ©Try Tri

Eventually, the finish gantry was in sight. I could hear Teri, Jenny, Stu, James and Donna cheering as I neared the end, which helped me to put in a slight sprint. After I crossed the line, three young children quickly attended to me, with one removing my chip, another giving me my medal and the third handing me a bottle of water. It reminded me of the scene in Cinderella where the mice and birds transform her outfit!

I’m not particularly happy that my run time was 32:21 as I know that I can do significantly better than that, but amazingly, it was 34/42!

I can see the finish :-) ©Teri Pragnell

I can see the finish 🙂 ©Teri Pragnell

I was so pleased that I had finished and even happier that I was not crawling across the finish line after everyone else had packed up and gone home. Also, although I’m not usually too fussed about medals, I was pleased that the medals we were given were particularly attractive.

With Stu at the end ©Teri Pragnell

With Stu at the end ©Teri Pragnell

In summary, although there are still many improvements that I could make, when I consider my progress I haven’t done too badly:
Swimming: 3 months ago, I couldn’t swim more than 36 consecutive strokes in the lake
Cycling: 9 weeks ago, I’d never ridden a road bike or used clipless pedals
Running: last week I ran a marathon, so I was a little tired today

I’m now feeling much better prepared for Ferndown Try a Tri and hope that I have learnt from my mistakes. I’m looking forward to lots more Try Tri triathlons in 2014.

Finally, I’m very proud that I can now say

I am a triathlete!

I did it - I ahve achieved ALL of this year's goals! ©Teri Pragnell

I did it – I have achieved ALL of this year’s goals! ©Teri Pragnell

BIG CONGRATULATIONS to my wonderful husband Stu who placed sixth overall in his very first triathlon. I am so proud of him!

Swim: 22:19.6 (44/46)
T1: 3:54.75 (44/46)
Bike: 1:01:33.4 (34/46)
T2: 1:36:20 (41/46)
Run: 32:21:05 (34/46)

Overall: 2:01:45.05 (37/46)

I was 10/15 female and 4th in the F30-39 category

Media courtesy of Try Tri, James Saunders and Teri Pragnell. Thank you 🙂

If you want to read some other accounts of this event, have a look at:

The full race results are available from here: http://www.triandenter.com/race-results/2013-race-results/