Sunday, 9 June 2013

Half an Outlaw

Last weekend we traveled to Nottingham so that I could take part in the inaugral Outlaw Half triathlon. Its going to be my last triathlon for a while. The next one that I do will probably be next year and its most likely that it will be the Outlaw Half again.

Apologies for the long post, it was a long day if not weekend. I've included a couple of pictures of me and also a link to the video of me finishing the race.  Its not very often that you'll see pics of me without make-up while doing insane exercise. I also try to avoid including pictures of my family, especially my son so this is one of those rare occasions. Skip to the bottom if you want to see me after a day out in the sun.

Last weekend was fun, if hard.

Our arrival at Holme Pierrepont, which was hosting the race, provided an interesting highlight to the weekend.
As I'm pre-op at the moment and, at least to me, still look masculine without my make-up I'd decided that I was going to race under my birth gender. Still to avoid any confusion I'd shorted my first name to Jen when I'd entered.
On arrival we made our way straight to the registration tent. I found my race number and we joined the queue.
Now I should point out that I'd traveled as Jen and not as my old self, because I have no idea in his name anymore, even my British triathlon membership shows me as female.
After queuing for a few minutes it was my turn to register. I gave the woman that was taking names and crossing them off a list my name. She looked at me, looked at the list and the details and said "I'm not sure why you've been put in this group". I was down to start in the second men's wave.
She was looking at me and simply seeing a woman. Result!!!
Of course I had to break the moment in case she decided to swap me to another wave so I simply replied "I'm transsexual". She simply crossed my name off the list and gave my name and number to the next person in the registration process.

The hotel we were staying at we've used before, its about 20 minutes drive away so we headed there and tried to check in. This is where we hit our first snag. The manager that was dealing with us took my name, looked it up, asked for the confirmation email and then asked if we had had someone else check in earlier. Well there was only the 3 of us so no.
It seemed that there had been a mix up and someone with the same surname and initial as me had checked in and been given our room. As we'd needed a twin double room they now had a problem because they didn't have any other rooms like that available. The manager tried to find us a two rooms with a interconnecting door but he couldn't manage that so we ended up accepting an upgrade to an executive room with a folding bed for our son to sleep on. It was only for one night after all.

Rather than eat at the hotel, which we know is expensive and doesn't have a wide variety of things my family will eat we popped to a Harvester restaurant about 100 yards away and had a relaxing meal there.

The rest of the evening passed quietly and we were in bed early due to needing to be up at 4:30am.

Sunday dawned a little bit overcast and after a quick bite to eat and drink we checked out and made our way back to Holme Pierrepont. Even at that early hour there were lots of people around, whether competitors or spectators. I set up my gear in transition and got into my wetsuit.

All too soon the first wave of swimmers had gotten underway. As soon as possible I got into the water and proceeded to do a quick warm up and get my face used to the water. I was pleasantly surprised as the water was quite warm and so I was ready for the swim to get underway.

At 6:38 my wave started, I hung back a bit to allow other people to get off and then started my own swim. With plenty of space and lot clear water around me I had a good swim, not fast but uneventful. 56 minutes later I was climbing back out of the lake and making my way to my bike.

A quick change, suntan lotion smothered all over my face and shoulders and away I went. L, who does my laser, and all those people that have told me that I should wear suncream when I turn up with a bright red face would have been proud of me. I just wished that I'd remembered to do my legs as well. The white feet and ankles and white top of thighs with a large red area between them is so not a good look. Bare legs for the entire week!!!

The 56 mile bike leg was mostly flat. There was a combination of completely closed, open and managed roads along the route which made it a very safe and enjoyable ride. There is only one real hill on the course and I've cycled up worse around where I live so it didn't worry me. The downhill sections were fun as I managed to pick up speed, I even managed to get down into the drops on my racing bike for some decent stretches, which is something I don't normally do at home.

There was only one real incident on the bike and that happened at the second feed station. At the first feed station I'd stopped to use the facilities and as a result had grabbed a bottle of energy drink while I was off the bike. At the second station I decided that I'd try something I'd not practiced before and grab a bottle while still moving. Well they say never do something in a race that you've not tried in training. I learned that the hard way.
I took the bottle from the lady holding it out, lost control of the bike and then my balance and realised that I was going to end up in a heap. The bike was heading towards the grass verge opposite and there was nothing I could do to stop it with one hand full with a bottle. Down I went in a heap on the grass in full view of everyone.
One of the guys came over to make sure I was OK and help me up. The woman that had handed me the bottle was apologizing so I told her it was my fault for trying to take the bottle without stopping. After reattaching the chain on my bike to the front set of cogs I was able to get started again. The rest of the ride was a bit painful as my left hand and wrist were sore. A week on and my wrist is still sore so I think I managed to sprain it.

Back at Holme Pierrepont I was just under two minutes over 4 hours for the bike, which for me is amazing as it has to be the fastest that I've ever cycled that distance in my life.

The run section was an out and back course along the river Trent and around the lake we'd swum in that morning. On my first lap there was a lot of people heading in the both the same and opposite directions to me. On the second lap there was a lot less people but I knew I wasn't the last person because I could see people heading out as I was heading back.

On the day I'd race under the Pirate banner. On the run course there were 5 Pirates that had set up camp at a spot where they could see people going past. Their support was amazing and a real boost when it was needed. I saw a few other Pirates during the run and said hello to each. One of the other Pirates was at one of the feed stations on the lakeside and I spoke to her briefly.

After 7 hours and 49 minutes of swimming, cycling and running (and yes walking) I finally approached the finish chute. My son was waiting just before it and I was able to grab his hand and the two of us made our way down to the finish and through the finishing tape that was being held up for those of us that weren't coming through in a mass group.

In all the races that I've down that was the first time that my son has crossed the line with me and it was one of the proudest moments in my life.

It was a hard day but one that I'm glad I experienced because even though my training this year hasn't gone to plan I still managed to get a good time, in fact it was almost an hour quicker than my previous attempt at the distance. Who knows, with some focused training I might be able to do even better still. In fact I know I will.


  1. Good for you, Jenna! Even if this makes feel like a slacker for only walking for a few hours yesterday! :c)

    Still smiling about that final picture; no wonder you were so proud!


    == Cass

    1. Hi Cass,
      Yesterday was when I was supposed to take part in the full blown, twice the distance race. In a way I'm glad I didn't as if where I was is any indication then it was even hotter than when I did the Half.

      Crossing the finish line like that with my son is something that I've wanted to do for ages. Having him there at that moment was incredibly special.