Back when I was making my plans for the year, I looked for a race that I could combine with a family visit in the middle of June. The Trident triathlon was chosen. By my standards, this race was as conventional as it gets. Standard distance. Flat. On road. Easy to get to. Even the website described it as ‘probably the easiest and fastest triathlon you’ll ever do’.
Well, the second part of that claim was certainly true; the first part all depended on how you raced the event!
The race was based at Newby Hall near Ripon. We were allowed to camp in the grounds right next to the start, transition and finish areas. So I arrived with my mum the night before, set up the tent and went to drive round the bike course. I’m glad I did, as it was full of turns and the map was confusing. However, on the ground it was impeccably signed and we had no trouble following it. It was designed to be fast, a time trialler’s dream. I was sort of glad I hadn’t had the energy or time to actually ride round, as it wasn’t a scenic bimble 🙂
On to dinner in Ripon, which was more of a navigational challenge. Round and round the one way system looking for a car park space and accidentally-on-purpose crossing a ford on the way back! We had a fabulous meal in a restaurant where the chef had actually put some thought and creativity into the vegetarian options. It was worth the slightly higher prices – check out Lockwood’s if you’re in the area.
I had time to rehearse the last part of the run and the transition before bed. What the race lacked with a utilitarian bike route, it made up for with its self-proclaimed ‘iconic transition’…
OK, so it was a pretty cool transition and I made sure to enjoy it now, in case I wasn’t in the mood for enjoying it the next morning :-D.
I slept alright. A woodpecker woke me up in the morning, tapping away in the trees overhead!
The race start was super early for me. You had to be ready to go and at the briefing by 7.30. Then there was a trip upriver to the start line. I was feeling a bit sick with unnecessary nerves, but the walk helped calm them. We were greeted by a piper in a kilt … woah, wasn’t expecting that in Ripon!
This wasn’t a target race for me, but there were things I wanted to try out and improve on from my last race. I have rated my performance against each objective :-).
Pre race, the week before
Eat well, sleep well: B+
Plenty of fruit, veg and home cooking consumed, slept more than last time but could do better at sticking to that fictional bedtime!
Swim (1300m, 17:33 – don’t forget, it was downhill)
Race, don’t just ‘get in and swim’: B+
I was one of the first in and started swimming around. It wasn’t too cold at all, but the water was very cloudy and you couldn’t see anyone until you literally swam into them. I even did some little efforts, until I decided to go and find a space near the front.
This was the roughtiest, toughtiest swim I have ever done! As soon as the piper piped, people were clawing at my legs, hitting me on the head, swimming right over my body and generally being in very close proximity. I tried to keep to one side of the mass, but we had been instructed to swim in the middle, where there were less overhanging trees and a stronger current. With concentrating on all of this, I admit my effort wasn’t entirely consistent. I did work hard when I remembered though, and even did a little bit of drafting. As usual, I was moving through the group as time went on.
Transition 1 (2:36)
After the iconic transition run, I left on my bike as 5th girl, 14th overall.
Bike (39km, 1:06:26 – my highest average race speed ever, over any distance and including our club 10 mile time trial!)
Nothing new here, just to work hard: A
I quickly caught a few people, including two girls, on the estate road. We soon sorted ourselves out. I was mostly riding on my own, with the occasional guy powering past. This was the sort of course where a time trial bike would have been a definite advantage over my road bike. I even caught myself thinking a pointy bottle with a straw would be useful. There were no real moments where coming off my bars to get my bottle seemed not to disrupt my speed! I almost ran out of gears with my compact as well, but remembered some good advice for this situation, which is to just spin faster :-).
The course had three roundabouts where you turned back on yourself. I could see the gap between me and the next girl in front widening, but I wasn’t making any progress on the ones behind me until perhaps the last 10km. Full of fear about the run, it spurred me on to keep pushing and pushing until the very end.
Eat a gel: A
Transition passed uneventfully, I ate my third ever gel and set off on the run with the announcer shouting my name over the loudspeaker. He confirmed that I was currently third placed female. 4th place was only 68 seconds behind! I was now 25th overall.
Run (10km, 43:09)
Run fast. No, faster! A+
My goal might sound daft. But I was so disappointed in my last race that all the extra run training and intensity work I’ve been doing wasn’t reflected in the result, especially in the second half. I knew I could do better!
There were km markers on the course and my splits were giving me a good idea that my pace was OK. Every time I heard footsteps behind I was afraid it was a girl coming to overtake me. On the plus side, not many men were passing anyway.
End of lap one and I still hadn’t been caught. My mouth was sticky and dry but I didn’t stop for water. I just kept going and going … my split times were telling me I was holding my pace and from about 7km I actually felt quite good. I was duelling with another guy and we kept each other going. A km from the end, I looked over my shoulder and couldn’t see anyone who might catch up. I was able to run the last part fast, but without panic in my stomach!
Into the finish chute, happy to have executed my plan, and most of all to have had a respectable run. The next girl was nearly two minutes behind, and I had actually held my position and time over the second half. My pace was very consistent – in fact, I was 30 seconds faster on lap two, which I think some people would say I could have gone faster?!
Years ago, running was my main sport and in the few triathlons I did, was where I excelled. This run gave me encouragement that soon I might race with some confidence again in my ability for the final leg.
Time to jump in ‘the pool’ to relax and cool down :-D.
The winner was Eleanor Haresign, racing for Torq Tri Team. She was 8 minutes ahead of me. Wow. We had a chat afterwards and she cheerfully told me she’d be racing Aberfeldy this year (my next target race), so I know who I’ll be seeing disappear into the distance then! Emma Wolff was second. I was 27th overall, out of 141. Full results here.
The prizes at this race were very generous. Actual cash in an envelope! Even for third, I got £75 and an inner tube :-).
There was also a £10 voucher for a new ladies run, bike and triathlon gear specialist. They had a stand at the event. They’re called ‘The Pink Jersey‘. I promptly went over and spent my voucher and most of the prize money on shorts (which I needed) and a jersey (which I didn’t, but it looked nice). They had a really good selection and the women running it were friendly and helpful.
This race is very family friendly. As well as everything else, you get free family entry to the hall and gardens with your race number. The advantage of such an early start is that you’ve finished with plenty of the day left.
So my number 1 supporter (mum) and I went and got a good lunch in the café and spent a couple of hours enjoying the extensive gardens. My legs were then ready to give up (so tired, after such a short race!), so we fortified ourselves with tea and cake before heading home.