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27 things I learned at the Nottingham Sprint Triathlon

Written by Fiona June 03 2013

This was my first ever major sprint triathlon event. Much of what I did was very new to me. For example, I was using aero bars for the first time in an event. I transitioned with my shoes on pedals/bike and bare feet for only the second time. I was green and nervous and up against world and European champs. But I did fine and I have learned a massive amount about very competitive national events. Here’s a few of the things I have learned.

The face says it all: Pain, determination – and get me that large glass of wine. Now!

The face says it all: Pain, determination – and get me that large glass of wine. Now!

1)   Nottingham is a long way from Glasgow but going by train is the best solution.

2)   Having a good friend to support (both with practical stuff and the helpful mental distraction of great chat) is worth its weight in gold. Thanks very much to my good friend Skinny H from Doncaster. You are a Number 1 Domestique!

3)   Nottingham on June 1 was where every fit person in Britain came to hang out. Not a bloater racer in sight!

4)   There are many more fit old birds in Britain than I’d ever imagined. I almost felt unfit!

5)   Competitors in these events are a mixed bag. Some are super lovely and helpful. Some are purely there to beat you. (One lady didn’t want to let on to me that it’s a good idea to wear your race belt and number under the wetsuit. Thankfully others were more obliging in their advice. Shame on you that old bird…)

6)   The water in English lakes is a lot, lot warmer than Scottish lochs – thank goodness!

7)   Open water swims in national qualifier events are pure carnage. I was swam over and into; I was pushed and barged; I have cuts on my wrists and ankles from buoy abuse. The swim was just about survival for me!

8)   Never trust a marshall to quickly attend to passing you your glasses as you exit the swim. “Err… where did I put them,” he mumbled to me. Grrrrrr. (I have difficulty seeing things without glasses so I am allowed to request help at the swim exit.)

9)   Owning a bright pink bike is brilliant in a busy T1.

10)  I need a lesson from a pro in taking off my wetsuit. I just couldn’t get my arms out. I had “oiled up” but I still struggled.

11)   Bike drafting is taken very seriously indeed. I heard after the race that the winner in my age group had been disqualified for drafting. I don’t see this reflected in the results yet but I did overhear her being admonished. It could be that I too have been DQ’d for drafting. I don’t think I did draft and I’d read the rule on non-drafting prior to the event but with so many competitors and such a fast course I was overtaking all the time. I really hope I didn’t break any rules.

12)   Some competitors can be total idiots on a bike. One guy overtook me on a bend as I was already overtaking another rider. He then cut in so tight I almost rode into the other person. He didn’t apologise and I did shout abuse at him. There was absolutely no need for his roughshod riding.

13) All the fast riders had top-notch time trial bikes. I need to think about getting one for the next race.

14) Doing a T2 bike dismount after coming off a corner is very tricky indeed.

15) It is not permitted to undo your bike helmet strap until you have racked your bike. I had no idea about this and was stopped by a marshal and made to re-do the strap. Note to self: Re-read triathlon rules.

16)  A run with a mini hill start is very unpleasant.

17)  I ran better than I have ever run in races before. Coaching has paid off and I overtook many struggling competitors.

18) 5k looks a very long way when it’s once around a lake.

19)  The thought of a large glass of chilled white wine offers great incentive in the last 1k of a race.

20)  I have a wee sprint in my legs for the finish line even when they feel like they will fall off.

21)  Nothing beats the emotions of crossing the finish line in a personal best time that is more than 3.5 minutes faster than you’ve ever gone before (and even when I’m now quite old).

22) My coach, the Mighty Vickster, is a very good coach indeed. She has helped this old lady race faster than ever before.

23)  A 1:14:03 sprint triathlon was way beyond my hopes.

24)  A 1:14:03  triathlon got me 14th or 15th place! I am nowhere near qualifying for the World Age Group Champs! It is incredible how fast those other old birds can go. The first lady finished in 1:06.

25)  I think I have room for improvement with experience.

26)  That large glass of white wine goes down very, very well after a race.

27)  I have renewed determination to train hard these next few weeks and do better at the Bristol Sprint Triathlon.


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