Tuesday, 17 September 2013

HSBC Triathlon

This year the HSBC Triathlon and Duathlons were held on Sunday 15th September at Eton Dorney Lake and I was entered in the sprint distance triathlon. This would be the third time I'd swum in Dorney lake this year, my second triathlon there and in fact the second triathlon of the weekend. By contrast it was to be my friend Anita's first open water swim and first triathlon.

The event was run by Human Race, a company I've grown to favour for sporting events as they tend to do them rather well. My first triathlon was run at the same location by Human Race so I was fairly sure what to expect. There's always plenty of parking but I always seem to be parked as far away from the registration tent as I can possibly get so there's a bit of a walk to the event village. Registration was very easy, collecting my stickers, timing chip, event t-shirt and some energy gels took moments and finding my spot for transition a breeze, especially when compared with the previous day.

The event village had plenty of loos, places to grab a snack and a bouncy castle for the kids. On this occasion the race village was at the boat house end of the lake, providing extra shelter for spectators from the elements. Keeping the day family friendly, it started off with a kiddies Scootathlon (scooting, biking and running) which I wasn't there to see but if it was anything like the one I'd watched before it was very cute indeed and a great way to involve the children.
Ready for the off
The temperature of the water was around 16 degrees so wetsuits were compulsory, thank goodness. My wave started at 2pm and we were summoned down to the water's edge for our briefing. This wasn't the best place to hold it as we were within the transition area and had to make way for competing triathletes. But that's really the only logistical element I would change about the day. The briefing was clear and before long we were all in the water, shrieking and floundering for the duration of the 30 seconds before the air horn went off. The field was fairly well spread which reduced the number of people swimming over each other and the number of times I got kicked. One well marshalled lap of 750m later and I emerged ready for bike transition.

And that's when it started to fall apart for me. The bike leg is 4 laps of the path that goes around the lake. It's pretty open but flat and I had been quite looking forward to it. But as with the day before I had bike issues, which lead to me sobbing at the side of the track at the lap/finish point after two laps with a concerned marshall trying to console me. I hurt. Everyone was overtaking me. The rain and headwinds, sidewinds and rubbish-ness of my bike, combined with the fatigue from the day before left me extremely close to pulling out of the race altogether. But I managed to gather myself together and kept on going. All credit to the marshal who turned my "only halfway" into "halfway already!"
I've not seen that amount of concentration on my face in a race for years.
 I have never been so pleased to get off a bike in my life. The run leg was two "laps" on another footpath by the side of the lake, which was more of an "up and back", not terribly inspiring but easy and flat with a water station at the starting end giving you two opportunities to get hydrated. I started to overtake some people as my legs settled into autopilot. Not another PB but very close indeed to the day before and in the 27 minute bracket - woo hoo! I saw a guy running in a wedding dress... kudos to him... but was otherwise in the zone and concentrating on the finish line.

Pure relief
Getting through the finishing funnel was smooth, I collected my medal and large carton of Vitacoco with a huge smile which I managed to hold until I saw my parents at which point I burst into tears. No issues collecting my kit from transition or getting out of the car park. Personal race issues aside this was a superbly run event and I still highly recommend all Human Race events. Not all events give technical t-shirts (this didn't) and not all give medals (my first didn't) and you won't get a goody bag as such but they are affordable, well run and cater for all levels.

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