The final Count Down…My first 70.3 Triathlon

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I am often one to challenge (frighten) myself so after I survived the first two sprint triathlons last year I thought I would step up to a longer one, the Ultimate Half starting in Dearnside Lake in Whitchurch.  A 70.3 is 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run (70.3 is the total distance covered in the race). I entered the Loch Lomand Triathlon standard distance which was supposed to be a middle step between a sprint and the 70.3 but unfortunately I ended up in hospital with food poisoning two weeks before so I was not well enough to race.

Anyway, so far my bike training has been the best. With my partner being a bike freak and a very fast one at that, I spend most of my weekends on long rides, peddling as fast as I can all over the country lanes of the Trough of Bowland, Cumbria and the Dales. I have got to love it though and its great training. I still swear (a lot) and cry (a little) when things get tough, scary, people get in the way or drivers try to knock me off my bike. But on the whole I really enjoy it. I also laugh, chat (to anyone who listens) and sing (to myself!).

My legs have got stronger and I don’t panic as much when I see a hill. I panic a little when coming down the other side but I reached a top speed of 40 mph down one hill which I thought was very brave. My aim is to go as fast as my age…I better hurry up as I’m getting beyond my downhill bravery limits!!

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As for the running, well I have run for years. I run regularly. Its something I love doing whether it is with my group, with a friend or off on a long run with just my Ipod for company. I have been doing more bike miles than running miles recently but I have thrown a few 10, 11  and 12 mile runs into the mix.

Brick sessions are fairly new to me. I did a couple of very short ones before my sprint triathlons, they are not pleasant! Basically you ride your bike, then get off and try to run. Or swim then bike etc so that your legs (and the rest of you!) is ready for the transition that comes with triathlons. Well, the first time I did this I thought someone had detached my legs from my body. I live on a hill and running downhill straight off the bike is no fun. It feels like your legs are going to give way and you are going to face plant on the pavement. You just have to keep going and trust that you are not going to do this. Although given my clumsiness it could be a real possibility! After a couple of miles they seem to wake up and realise they are not cycling anymore but running (*legs- ‘Oh, its fine we remember how to do this’)

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The brick session I did last weekend was a bit longer. I had decided it would be a great idea to go out with my partner first for a 25 mile hilly ride up Harrisend Fell. Rides with him are never gentle and slow (for me anyway, they are for him!). I got home an hour and a half before the planned brick session. At this point I should have eaten and recovered. No, I did housework for that time and then set off on the second bike ride with my friend. A flat 30 miles this time but still a fast pace for me (16 mph average). Half way through I regretted not eating and wondered how I was going to manage a 7 mile run! I refueled on the bike, I needed the practice for race day too as eating and drinking on the bike is something I always forget to do, until its too late! Off the bike we set out for the run. Bambi legs for about two miles and then I got into my stride a bit. I was tired and hadn’t eaten enough but it has given me some much needed confidence that I can complete the 70.3.

What about the swimming? I hear you say. Well, for me, swimming isn’t something I generally choose to do and I don’t find it easy. My first swimming lesson a year and a half ago was spent with me trying to put my face in the water and blow bubbles rather than the urge to gasp and breathe water into my lungs. As well as being hard to master, its such a faff. Getting changed, wet, cold, dried, dressed etc. It takes a long time. I haven’t been in the pool since February but I have been open water swimming at Capernwray quarry almost every Wednesday evening. Its a nice sociable swim and I tend to swim two to four laps of the quarry (500m each lap). So I have completed the distance needed for the 70.3 but I am SLOW! In the sprint tri’s my swimming was by far the worst, I made up some time on the bike and most time on the run so if I can get through the swim without needing to be rescued by a marshal boat I will be very happy!

Then there is the transition areas…probably my worst bit of the whole race. You have to run out of the water to your bike, get organised for the bike. Once you come back with your bike you have to sort yourself out for the run. All this without tripping over, leaving stuff all over the area, putting your helmet on in the right order and not running off with it still on your head or riding off with your goggles still stuck on your face! I have become fairly good at whipping my wet suit off with much tugging. But my hands and feet are usually so cold I can’t get my bike shoes on or off and trainers take forever when you can’t feel anything below your knees or elbows! I don’t think I can really practice that, my circulation just stops there! Anyway, its a chance to have a little sit down and have a chat with other people who also can’t get their shoes on!

Half of me is looking forward to it, the other half is dreading it. What if I need the loo whilst zipped into my wetsuit? What if I get kicked in the face in the swim? What if I get disqualified for drafting without knowing? What if I get a puncture? The ‘what if’s’ go on and on. But life would be boring without them!

I have just received the race information email. I am now dosing myself with large amounts of Vitamin C to get rid of this cold that has sneaked up on me. But the good new is…we get number transfers for our arms and legs!! I am easily pleased.

I will let you know how I get on…wish me luck!! 🙂