"} Get a life, Get active! By Fit Lesley: May 1999

Wednesday, 12 May 1999

Challenge 22 - Blackpool Try-a-Triathlon, May 2013

Yesterday was the day I did the

and was transformed from a "wannabe" Triathlete into a bonafide Triathlete!

The Blackpool Try‐a‐Triathlon event took place at 1.20pm on Saturday11th May 2013 and provided newbie triathletes (like me) with the ideal opportunity to gain confidence in the swim, bike and run disciplines without the pressure of a normal triathlon race. This inaugural event was organised by Ashurst Bike Club, Tri Team Wigan and Warrington Triathlon Club, who were all amazingly helpful and friendly. 

To say I was nervous and anxious is probably an understatement, and this manifested itself when it came to getting sorted to go! What was I going to wear?  Was I going to be hot or cold?  Could I run in the same clothes I cycled in? I had chosen to swim in a shorts style swimming costume and had planned just to pull a T shirt or vest over the top for the cycle and run. THAT was when I was dreaming of it being a warm and sunny May day. Now I was faced with potentially horrendous weather conditions and decided to pack for all eventualities!  By the time I was ready to go I looked like I was leaving home! However, with stressing so much about what to wear I completely forgot to take my best friend with me - my Garmin!  This meant I had to do the entire event naked! Don't panic - not literally - but naked of technology! Luckily I have a basic cycle computer fixed on my bike so I was able to record my cycling distance.  It was easy to keep a count in my head for the swim lengths and running laps!

After having a good breakfast of porridge and toast we left Kendal at 10am for the 55 mile journey.  The weather when we left Kendal was horrendous and it didn't improve any as we headed down the motorway. On arrival in Blackpool it was freezing cold, windy along with torrential rain!  I was thinking "it's not a good day to be attempting a Tri for the first time" and was half tempted not to bother! 

We found the venue for the tri, Palatine Leisure Centre fairly easily, parked up and went to investigate the facilities. We ended up in the spectator stands overlooking the pool watching the public swimming. It was warm and dry!

We had to register for the event at 12, which was just as the rain started to subside! 

By the time we all met again in the transition area at 12.30 to set up our bikes and equipment the rain had stopped and blue sky was starting to appear. I felt there was some hope!  After setting up our personal transition space we were told the rules and the organisers answered our questions. 

At 1pm we went into the pool area and disrobed before starting the training session.  The competitors were divided into 3 groups for this with 3 instructors then we went through some "go faster" swimming techniques and drills.  I was exceptionally cold during this session as we were in the end of the pool nearest the door and the doors were open!  I was starting to worry whether I would be able to cycle if I got too cold. I had visions of hypothermia setting in! 

Once the instructors had put us these our drills and made sure we had very little energy left it was time to start the proper event! 

Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed in the pool so I am missing this integral part of the action - unless I feature on the professional photographs being taken.

The event was based on time rather than distance so you swam, biked and ran as far as you could in the set times. The 5 minute swim took place in the 8 lane, 25 metre Palatine Leisure Pool and was followed by a 15 minute cycle ride, which was on an enclosed, traffic free cycle track. The final 10 minute run was on the fields of the local college. In effect, a 30 minute triathlon.

This was an incredibly small event with only 14 competitors. 

There were 2 competitors per lane during the official swim and each took one side of the lane and kept this position for the duration of the swim.  You simply started to swim on the whistle and on the second whistle you returned to the starting end of the pool. I felt slightly panicky and uncomfortable whilst swimming, and couldn't seem to get my breathing right!  I think the stress and excitement of the day got to me! However, it did give me something else to think about apart from being cold! 

At the end of the swim I had to haul myself out the side of the pool (looking like a dying fly no doubt), we gathered our clothing and then there was a 15 metre run to the transition area, which was thankfully on good tarmac. I totally forgot about my hypothermia concerns and even running outside into the cold air in a dripping wet costume didn't bother me!  I was now on a mission!
Transition 1

Once at my bike, I quickly dried myself off, put clothes on top of my cossy, and then grappled with my socks and cycling shoes (very difficult to put socks and shoes on damp feet when in a hurry and knackered!). I was grateful that I had worn a swimming cap as at least I had dryish hair so no icicles could form!

It had been drummed into us at the start that that you must put your helmet on before even touching your bike or you will get penalties in a "real" race! Once my shoes were on and helmet in place I was heading to the mount line for the 15minute cycle. 

By this point I had regained my breath and was ready to go! 

The bike course was 1km in length and had a tight ‘hairpin’ style turn at one end and a larger ‘rounded’ turn at the other. On one side of the track the going was easy as it was slightly downhill as well as having the wind behind us, but then on the other side where it went uphill we all slowed down especially as we also had the wind to battle with! I was extremely grateful it was dry.  Skinny tyres, rain, corners and me aren't a good combination! 

Once the 15 minutes were completed, the whistle was blown and all competitors returned to the transition area for the final change and then on to the run.  It was much easier in this transition just changing footwear, and I was relatively dry by now - apart from a wet bum!
No energy to run to transition 2!

 However, once I got to my transition "spot" someone had nicked it so I had to go in another place and retrieve my belongings from the original place!  How dare they be so rude! 

I had thoroughly enjoyed the cycle section and felt great going into the run.

With no time to waste in transition all the competitors started the run together on a whistle. 

The run felt hard to me as not only was the wind blowing us around but it was also on grass and I am primarily a road runner! However, after the first circuit I felt more comfortable and settled into my pace. On completion of the 10 minutes the whistle was blown again and we returned to the transition area.  

We were all pronounced as Triathletes and received ... a bottle of water and a cereal bar, but NO Bling

Although this was a very small event with only 14 competitors there was a much larger triathlon happening immediately afterwards for seasoned triathletes so there was plenty of spectators around and we got support and encouragement from those who truly knew what we were going through!

This was advertised as a novice ‘time-based’ triathlon, equivalent to a super-sprint triathlon. 

Distances for a super sprint triathlon are: 400m Swim · 10k Bike · 2.5k Run and in the time allocated I did: 200m swim, 9.5k Bike and 2k Run. I nearly did super sprint distances but the swimming let me down!  However,  if you include the swimming technique session I probably covered the full distance!

I was greatly impressed with the encouragement and support from the organisers and delighted to receive a very encouraging email from them - 

" Hi all novice, 'but not newbie anymore' triathletes!
Firstly as a coach and triathlete myself, it is always a pleasure to see first timers complete their first triathlon and 14 in 90 mins is even better.  You all did fantastically well today, in some cases overcoming some real phobias as well.  You all coped with the technicalities of the event very well and were all eager listeners and very nippy through those transitions.  We hope this event has set you off on the road to many more multi-sport events, be it triathlon, duathlon or aquathlon and that today has given you some confidence to take away to your next event or challenge.
As I highlighted today, in any event you only need to worry about yourself, don't worry about asking questions and never think you aren't good enough to compete in any event or even any club training session.  Triathlon is a rapidly growing sport with a mix of different athletes and abilities, but you will find it contains a very supportive community of like minded people.  At the next event, if you see an athlete with a pointy helmet or a disc wheel or anything else flashy that catches your eye then ask them about it, believe me, they will be more than happy to tell you everything (and I mean everything!) about it.
I am sure you will all join me in thanking our event co-hosts: Tri Team Wigan (Mike Myers) and Warrington Tri Club (Steve Hibbert) and all my co-coaches from ABC (Derek, Mark and Mike) for their contributions to the event.  Without them you would have just been left with me and where's the fun in that!
If you have any post event queries or anything in general, please do not hesitate to contact us at Ashurst Bike Club (Bike club by name, but 95% triathletes!!)
This is normally the point where I say 'please find attached the results of today's event', today's result was 14 new triathletes were produced, who all pushed themselves to their potential.  Well done again.
All the best
Ashurst Bike Club"

If I lived closer I would definitely feel comfortable joining this club!

So, I have completed my first triathlon! I am now a Triathlete! 
One thing that is very odd is i didn't get my usual post swimming sneezing and sniffles!  Was the pool less chlorinated or is the answer to my problem to cycle and run after swimming to clear the sinuses!
After I have finished!

When is the next one?