Tri-ed it and Lov-ed it

Smilin’ –  I’ve finished!

Isn’t the British weather just great?  On Friday we are having horrible storms and gales.  Just 2 days later and we have perfect conditions for the Burnham-on-Sea sprint triathlon.

In view of my early swim time we decided to use our motor caravan and sleep nearby.  This meant that I was able to get up at 5am, eat my breakfast and go back to bed for half an hour.  Not that I was able to go back to sleep, I had too much going around in my head.

Compared to a running race where you just turn up, run, finish, taking part in a triathlon needs a lot more organisation and kit.  (And don’t some of the men in particular love their kit!)

I’d registered on Saturday so I already had my numbers and time chip plus a very nice T-shirt, bag, water bottle and gel – top marks to the organisers for the goody bag in fact!

It was great to see all the carefully laid out shoes, helmets and towels next to each bike on the racks. I did the same.

But then suddenly got a rush of adrenalin when I realised that time was ticking on and I had to get to the pool.

There was nothing to worry about.

Plenty of people were still waiting for their number to be called.I joined my place in the line of people sitting alongside the pool waiting their turn.  Burnham is quite a small 25m pool and each lane had 4 swimmers.  The slowest swim times started first, so most of the people I sat watching were swimming breast stroke.  Good.

One of the swimmers was Arthur.

Arthur Gilbert is 91 and quite a celebrity triathlete at Burnham.

He was recently an Olympic torch runner and today was his 41st triathlon!  You’re never too old..When he finished his swim he got a huge cheer and claps from the spectators.

Being a novice at front crawl my swim plan was to alternate breast stroke and crawl.  This worked well for me and I kept my place with the other 3 swimmers in my lane.  That said I was pleased to see the yellow board in the water, telling me I only had 2 more lengths to swim!

A short run out to the bikes and it was pleasantly mild, even for 7am.  I faffed a bit at this first transition,  a mixture of novice-ness and nervous excitement.  My socks took ages to get on my feet (tip for next time – no socks!).  I almost forgot my helmet.  And I nearly broke the triathlon law by forgetting that I had to push my bike to the start line.  Someone shouted out to me – phew!

Once going on the bike I felt good

The wind was very light and quite pleasant, drying off my tri suit nicely.   I was only caught by 2 other cyclists (on “proper” road bikes I told myself) and managed to overtake 3 others, including Arthur.

My race plan was to have a gel 10 minutes from the end, which I managed without falling off (something I’d worried about) and then before I knew it the bike finish was approaching – very quickly – time to get my feet on of pedals!

My transition from bike to run was better, quicker and then I was off up the slope to the 5K run along the beach.  Jelly legs were very much a feature for the first 1K but then I settled into the run and actually quite enjoyed it.  A few sand dunes to contend with but mainly a flat course.  And, I love running on the beach!

I finished strongly but it’s always a relief to finish these events I think.  Claps, smiles, water and haribo greeted me!  In fact every single athlete had the same treatment – there was just a lovely friendly atmosphere all round.

My goal was to beat my 5-year-younger 2007 time.

And..I did..by nearly 7 minutes!  Swim, bike and run were all faster than last time.

So that was my second triathlon completed.  Did I enjoy it? Yes.  Will I do it again? Yes.  I’m already setting myself targets for the next one..

Oh and Arthur Gilbert?  He finished his 41st triathlon. You can read all about him here if you’re interested.

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