‘Try a Tri’ – My First Triathlon

I AM A TRIATHLETE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I did it, I finally went through with it after a non starter a couple of years back when I’d paid for one but never got round to getting a bike or training. Now having the pressure of twitter I can now call myself a triathlete.

So do you fancy giving it a go? Even if you have the slightest desire to give it a go I’d say do it…please!!!

Like most things in life the fear of the unknown it usually much worse than when you actually carry out the task, trust me I do a lot of things that I’ve feared and come out the other side wishing I’d done it earlier…like today’s triathlon.

Do you have a swimming cossie, goggles, a bike, a helmet and a pair of trainers? Then that is really all you need…seriously!

Are you fit enough to swim 16 lengths of your 25 metre swimming pool? Can you cycle 6 miles? Can you jog for 1.5? If so then put them all together then you can do a ‘Super Sprint’ Triathlon. If not, why not make it your goal for 2013?! I have a 57-year-old client about to give it a go on the 16th September. She will be fit enough to do it and do it well because she has focussed on it and is giving it her all. I can’t wait to watch and support her at Eton Dorney…GO CAROLINE!!!

Triathletes seem to come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of equipment but the attitude is the same…they want to better their best. I admire seeing the ‘larger/older’ triathletes on mountain bikes giving it a go more than I do the ‘racing snakes’ with their aero helmets and £4000 bikes…I overtook one today and it made me happy with my heavy old-school racer…It’s not just the equipment it’s the engine!!! 😉

Today I went to Thames Valley Triathlete’s (TVT) Concorde Triathlon near Reading to ‘Try A Tri’. I used it to help Caroline with her one but mainly to make mistakes so I could give my all on September 23rd at The London Triathlon.

I arrived about 75 minutes before my 1030 start time trying to fit in, looking like I knew what I was doing. I’d read Chrissie Wellington’s 50 Tips and the race instructions but still got told off for making phone calls and tweeting inside the ‘transition zone’.

I got my goodie bag and my timing chip and got my first Triathlon tattoo…(Ironman tattoo WILL happen). I was number 149 and I was swimming at 1036hrs in lane 3 wave 2. Quite a lot of numbers to remember but all the marshals were TVT’s so they’ve been there before and were very helpful, in fact everyone was helpful. When I went to rack my bike up at my designated point they lads either side of me broke into full conversation. I thought to myself, should I be psyching myself up, keeping my plan to myself, growling at them?! 😉

I set my gear out as per the tips I’d been given. Everything was in place to make it so easy to put on. I practised it a couple of times and then made my way to the swimming pool with ‘TriSuit’ on and goggles.

Again, people started chatting to me including one women who was about to do her 4th triathlon and on finding her bike had a puncture, blew up the spare tube that she had. I heard it and saw the powder etc fly from it. Even 4th timers make mistakes!

We got briefed from Derek Bowley – TVT Head Coach not just about the swimming but the whole race. It was at this moment that I got really excited and couldn’t wait to get in the water. I watched the previous wave swim up and down, some thrashing out front crawl, some breaststroke and some doing a bit of doggy paddle…it was brilliant to see all the range of abilities.

I got into my lane with 3 other swimmers and was to go on the second ‘GO’. I’d put on my ‘estimated 400m swim time’ 8m.30s and thought I could probably do faster so my initial worry was how to overtake the first swimmer if I needed too. The rule is tap their feet and they have to let you pass at the end of the lane.

Off I went and caught her within the first length, tap then pass. This seemed to work but I felt I may be annoying them by the time I’d tapped the other 3 so I just took to over taking on the length. What was great is the TVT marshals told you when you’d done 8 lengths, 14 lengths and when you had finished. 16 lengths done and time to exit the pool.

Out of the pool, up some stairs then up a hill with loads of people cheering me on to the ‘transition zone’. As I was running up the hill I saw Kirsty and Sam…perfect motivation as everything I do is for these two. A quick high-five with Sam and then to find my bike. I had no problem as I’d tried it a couple of times but with your heart beating I was slightly worried I’d be the idiot not being able to find it. Goggles down, bike shoes on, sunglasses on, race belt on, helmet on and buckled before touching my bike. Next came my first mistake. I’d racked my bike up but not practised taking it off. On taking the seat off the rack I couldn’t move it. After a few ‘pulls’ I realised that my seat was too high to go under post…quickly I put it at an angle and I got it out. I followed the signs to ‘bike out’ and made my way up the stairs past Kirsty and Sam again and to the mount line and off up the hill to the cycle route.

I was probably more concerned about the cycle leg as I had nothing to compare my cycling to. I’m now a member of Thames Turbo Triathlon Club and swim every Thursday, I run the parkrun and have done all sorts of running races but cycling was new in terms of competing. It was a great route out and back with a huge down hill before turning back and going back uphill. I was overtaken by one on the hill and one as we came in to transition 2 but had overtaken about 10 others. Next came my second mistake. I had rehearsed everything or so I thought. I hadn’t went out on the bike course and seen where the end of the bike route was so when I suddenly realised I was at the end I hadn’t taken my feet out of my ‘attached bike shoes’. I managed to get one out but had to slam on my brakes as I saw the ‘dismount’ line. I didn’t want a penalty so I stopped with one foot on the floor and the other still in my attached shoe. Cue lots of wriggling and grunting and out it came. Bike racked, helmet off, bike shoes off, trainers with quick laces on and go. At least I didn’t make this mistake…

Following the run out sign and with another high-five to Sam I started the 5k run with 2 others in tow. Now people tell you about the ‘jelly legs’ feeling after coming off the bike so I was very cautious not to overdo it on the bike. When I got into the run I didn’t feel wobbly but what I did feel was that I had one speed. I usually run with a feeling that I have more in me to finish strong but not today. I had to keep going and that was all I could do. Within 5 minutes I heard one of the chasers puke and puke loudly (he later said he drank too much on the bike) so it was me and one other. Together we picked people off until about halfway round he put in a bit of a spurt (something I like to do) which I had no reply to. The heat was getting to me so my mission was to get round as quick as my body would let me. Now is a good time to explain my ‘under 60 mins’ claim. One of my crazy goals was to break 60 mins thinking that I’d take 40 mins on the bike, 20 mins on the run and the swim inc both transitions would take 10 minutes then I could do sub 60. Maths must not be my strong point as when on the bike I realised what a fool I was being so my new target was to go sub 70. To be honest though the time became incidental and it was a quest for survival as the 30+ degree heat was killing the Scotsman.

I crossed the line to a crowd of well wishers including Jane Jones who roped me into this and my first thought was I am a triathlete. It feels great to give yourself new titles and add new achievements especially as I get older. Most people see age as an excuse to slow down, not me, the older I get the more active my son Sam gets. I want to be the most active 50-year-old as he will be 15 then and I’m hoping a very active 15-year-old. I went for shade and sat down as the heat was unbearable and although at just two years old Sam seemed to know that now wasn’t the time to climb all over Daddy so he just sat there with me.

I got an immediate print out of my results which you can see below (4th fastest at the time of me crossing the line) which was great as I really wanted to find out how I’d done.

My actual results are online (link below) but the breakdown is that I was


26th out of 219

Total time – 1hr10m35.8s

Swim time – 7m09.9s (which was 41st/219)

Transition 1 – 2m2.2s

Bike time – 40m22.1s (which was 57th/219)

Transition 2 – 51.1s

Run time – 20m10.3s (which was 4th/219)

I need to keep working on my swimming (especially as I have an incredible 3000 metres next Sunday) and I need to get out on my bike as often as possible. As for the running I need to do ‘some’ brick sessions where I cycle and then run to get my legs working so I can get closer to my 17.42 PB 5km run time.

This post could be split into two, one part on trying to get you guys to do a triathlon and the second as my account. Please take from this and any of my other post so you can push your self to ‘better your best’.

Supporting takes its toll too…

Remember it’s You versus You!!!

Results of Concorde Triathlon are here



5 thoughts on “‘Try a Tri’ – My First Triathlon

  1. Well done stu, always nice to get the first triathlon out the way, im sure your aching today. I did the Ashford sprint TRI yesterday, my second full sprint and beat my previous time by 1min 25secs, smashed the swim and the bike. As similar to you the heat me on my run leg. Keep up the training , I’m buzzing for London!

  2. Very inspiring and I’m definitely going to sign up to one for 2013! Have my first marathon in October and have hardly swam since leaving school 14 years ago so definitely need to train for it!

    Reading you doing it for Sam definitely hit a chord. I have two girls and want to be able to do stuff with them but also inspire them to show that they can achieve anything they set their mind to. Hopefully not just athletically but all aspects of life

  3. Thats great Stuart! I remember my first and the smile all the way back home from Dorney calling myself a Triathlete. Great also to make a couple of mistakes and learn from them. Tip for London is to remember abd try to mark your transition, as last year I got lost twice!!!

  4. I love reading your posts. I am almost 50 yr s old and so want to do a triathlon in 2013. You are a great motivator. Thank you.

    1. Thank you very much!
      Have you read this one?
      First Triathlon at 57 years young! http://wp.me/p2tJeT-2I

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