The sun was shining, I was surrounded by men in rubber and we were about to get wet and sweaty. Nope to the plot from some X-rated movie but my first triathlon of this year, oh and the rubber was actually neoprene.
Last Friday my family drove the 4 hours from our home to Nottingham to take part in the Speedo Big Triathlon. Its a long drive but I had a race credit to use after pulling out of my first attempt at completing an Ironman race last summer because of a knee injury.
We stayed at a Holiday Inn overnight. While checking in I asked the receptionist if there was anywhere that I could put my bike rather than leave it in the car overnight. She said that they would put it in a meeting room and asked what was happening as there were apparently a few other people who had asked the same thing. Some had even gone so far as to explain that their bikes were worth more than their cars!
We had a lovely room with two double beds. Other half and I shared one bed, son got the other all to himself.
The food was good, if expensive. All of the staff were really friendly and helpful. I have a feeling that this was one of the hotels that I looked at when I booked for the race last year but then went for another one instead. Next time I'm in Nottingham I'll go for this hotel again though, especially as we now know that there is a pub about 100 yards away where we can get a cheaper meal than the hotel put on.
Saturday we were up early despite the fact that my race didn't start until noon. We wanted to get packed, have breakfast and get to the race venue at a reasonable time as my sister and the twins were going to come up see us, they only live about an hours drive away rather than the normal 3 hours.
Race mornings for me are a nightmare. I've taken part in several swims and triathlons and more runs than I care to think about but one thing is always the same, I need my own toilet. No matter how many races I've done, how prepared I am for them, race morning the nerves hit me first things and I spend a lot of time sequestered away wondering why I am doing a race. Last Saturday was no different.
Once I'd managed to pry myself from the toilet we checked out of the hotel, repacked the car and made our way to Holm Pierrepont where the race was being held.
We parked up and wandered through to the the lake and spent a bit of time watching the under 40s race. We were just in time to see the winner come in off the run. From time to time we watched as the remaining competitors either came in off the run or finished the bike leg and started off on the run. The last guy to go out on the run was racing for a friend's daughter and raising money for charity. He completed the race and got a well deserved round of applause both when he set off on the run and when he crossed the line.
My own race was a bit mixed. Overall my time was 1 hour 31 minutes which I was happy with. The individual parts of the race I've mixed feelings about.
My swim, which although it turned out to be a good time, was a bit rubbish. When the hooter went off I launched into front crawl. 750 metres front crawl is not a problem for me, I've done that distance and further in a wetsuit. This time though I'd positioned myself in the wrong place and found myself clashing with other swimmers and totally unable to settle into a steady stroke and breathing pattern. Resorting to breaststroke in order to give me a bit of time while everyone else got going I never returned to front crawl. In the end I completed the swim in just under 18 minutes.
On leaving the water I started to remove my wetsuit as I made my way to my bike. Stomping on my wetsuit to remove it I felt a sudden sharp pain across my calf. My initial thought was that I'd got cramp but as I bent down to remove my wetsuit the pain disappeared. Now my worry was that I'd actually torn something in my calf. I did that with my other leg a few years ago and its only now that I'm managing to build up the strength in that leg again.
The bike leg went quite smoothly. I'm not the fastest or most confident of cyclist but I managed to get around the 20 kilometres in 45 minutes.
Off the bike and on with my running shoes and off I went for the last 5 kilometres of the race. I was back in my comfort zone at this point and managed to catch and overtake about 5 people before crossing the finish line in just over 27 minutes. Looking at the result I actually did quite well with my run time compared to a lot of the competitors that finished in front of me.
I eventually crossed the line in 1 hour 31 minutes, something I'm quite happy with.
After the race I caught up with my sister and the twins. J, the oldest of the two girls, was fine with me. She got a little bit upset when I sat her on the saddle of my bike. C, her sister, was not impressed either with being sat on the bike. It turned out though that she just wasn't impressed with me at all and as we were walking back to the car gave me an evil look. She does that look in such style by looking up at you from underneath her fringe.
C has given me that look before while we were staying at my parents. It took her a good few hours to get used to me that time, this time it only took half an hour.
Having waved goodbye to my sister and the girls we began the long journey back home. Pizza washed down with wine rounded off a long, tiring but overall enjoyable day. I'm almost recovered from it, my legs have ached in at the top of my thighs since then but that's finally passing. Interestingly my legs reacted the same way after the Yeovil half marathon, perhaps I'm simply getting old!
The next month sees another two races, one at Dorney Lake, which is just a swim, and the other in Bala, which is a middle distance triathlon. Once those are out of the way I get a chance for a rest and to beginning working towards my next race which is in the autumn.