Mallory Park 7th May 2012
Bank Holiday Monday started with some recently rare sunshine (of sorts) and put me in a good frame of mind for my first ever triathlon race which I had booked at Mallory Park motor racing circuit in Leistershire. Judith, my son Ben and I arrived at the circuit and began the usual process of registration and setting the bike up in transistion. This is critical for smooth changes and is an important skill to be learned by the novice, as serious time, not to mention stress, can be lost or gained here.
The weather began to deteriorate quickly and soon enough the rain began to fall quite hard and an announcement came over the tannoy that the planned 750 mtr lake swim had been cut to 400 mtrs as the water temperature was only about 10 degrees! I won't lie - I felt quite nervous about the open water swim as I looked out onto the rain lashed large lake with 3 buoys to go round. I only started to swim in October last year in the pool, and believe me, when you are surrounded by 60 plus highly charged swimmers seconds away from a mass start in your first race in freezing water it doesn't help.
Anyway the starter shouted "ready" and then BANG, away we went. I'm going to be honest here and say the first 100 metres were horrific. I was close to over breathing and panic, could find no rhythm and some others were starting to pass, so it took a lot of will power to bring things back under control. But I did and held station. Past 2 buoys, the finish leg opened up and I'd done better than I thought and could see the lead group not far in front - technique began to come back to me, and with one last push I heaved myself out of the lake and as soon as I began running to transistion I started taking off the wetsuit.
Off with the wetsuit on with the helmet, I headed out onto the circuit for a 12.5 mile TT. God it felt good to back on the bike. I really put the hammer down, seething that I was behind and passed a lot of riders (setting the 3rd best bike time of the day). Soon it was time to come in and coming to a stop at the dismount zone I ran in racked the bike.
Off with the helmet and on with the trainers, I began the 3 lap 5km run and settled into a good early pace running alone in, you guessed it, heavy rain. On the second lap I passed my son and he shouted to me "Dad, you're leading!" The organisers had split the large 200 plus field into groups of 60 plus men and I had taken the lead in one group. I really tried to wring every last bit of strength out of myself on the final lap and as the finish gantry came into view gave it one last desperate push and I was through and finished, posting a 21.01 5k run at 6.45 min/mile .
I was a bit unsteady on my feet for a bit but soon recovered and got covered up. I finished in 1.04.02 and eventually got 5th in my category (vets) and 9th overall out of 200 plus so felt very pleased indeed, as there's still much improvement to come.
But that's not quite the end of the story. Various manufacturers had sponsored the event and every competitor had a chance to win a 2012 Zone 3 wetsuit at the prize giving. Well, we waited for all the prizes to be given out and the draw at the end, and would you believe it, number 75, my number, was drawn - we won the suit!
Anyway it's the St Neots Triathlon next on May 20th opposite the Priory Centre, so feel free to come along and cheer or throw fruit - the pressure will truly be on - home turf!