23/05/2016 by Carl Reynolds
Mrs Ape reports: NYE 2015/6 the Ape and I sit down to write our annual sheet of things we’d like to do in the coming year – these include personal resolve, acts of kindness, development of new skills/interests, tasks relegated to the back burner and new challenges.
Amongst other aims, I decide to try a triathlon.
“Flat” isn’t a word that springs to mind when speaking about the locality. It’s not called Torbay for nothing. So when I see GeoPark Adventures are holding a day of triathlon events in the local and pleasantly horizontal Clennon Valley, I decide to sign up. Wise words from the Ape reminds me that “Senior” = “highly competitive”, so I decide to plump for the soft option – the appropriately named “GoTri” – a 200m swim, 7.5km bike, 2,5km run, and sign up.
I start the year enthusiastically running on a regular basis, stretching every morning, tackling Body Pump twice weekly and swimming as regularly as I can (mostly indoors). And together with a new diet, my weight drops by a stone and running becomes pleasurable. But I can’t seem to break through the 3km barrier. Perhaps it’s just my body telling me I only need to do 2.5km on the day, so why bother? Work picks up and the running becomes less frequent. I look at my bike in the garage and resolve, “next week.”
One month to go and I seem to be running just once a week. “It’s raining, I’m tired, I’m hungry” – a thousand excuses. My bike remains untouched. Richard – a seasoned triathlete – advises practicing “T2”; thanks to YouTube, I know what he is talking about. I promise myself I’ll do a bike ride followed immediately by a run at some point, so I can experience “jelly legs”.
A week to go. I get the bike out of the garage and pump up the tyres. The Ape gives it a clean for me. It goes back in the garage. I watch more YouTube videos about T1, kit and general advice. I don’t run or swim. I think this is called pre-race tapering.
I decide in order to quell any nerves I’ll go to the pre-race briefing the day before. I stand in the pouring rain. It’s been pouring all day. Afterwards I know exactly what I should be doing, how to count my bike laps, where I go when I get out of the pool, and when to get my timing chip. I go home and stick 4 pieces of tape onto my bike handle bars, pack my bag, have a large G & T and settle down for a relaxing evening and a good night’s sleep.
I register early the next morning, drop off my bike, and come home for a cuppa. I’m glad I have. On our way back to Clennon Valley there are three massive cloud bursts. When we arrive in the car park every car has a thick fog inside the windows, as families huddle out of the rain. As soon as it stops there is a massive bun fight to register. I’m in Wave 2. I’m already changed so we head poolside. The swim is three people to a lane. We have to order ourselves by speed, with the obligatory “toe tap” if you catch someone up.
I confidently go first. It’s only a short swim and as the claxon sounds I push off into a relaxed, confident stroke, followed 5 seconds later by the next person. I remain ahead, enjoy the swim and when I get out for T1 the sun has come out and is shining brightly – Yay!
T1 is pretty straightforward. I slip on my trainers, some shorts and a merino top, run to the transition zone and hop on my bike for the first time this year. As I pull out onto the tarmac track of the Velopark, it is steaming from the hot sun. It’s really pleasant and I speed round the corners, thoroughly enjoying the ride, and even overtaking. At each lap of the track I pull off one of the strips of tape that I earlier secured onto the handle bars. Four laps done, I’m off the track, drop off the bike and start running steadily out of the transition area and down the hard path to the run section. I’m really thirsty after the cycle, but I know there is a water station at the start of the run which I’m greatly looking forward to. My legs feel surprisingly OK. As I approach the marshals I can’t see any sign of water. I slow down as I come towards them – the grass is long, sodden from all the rain and is very heavy going, I’m hot and I really need a drink.
The marshals cheerfully respond that the water is “on its way”. I don’t feel at all cheerful at this news. I start plodding round the course. My trainers already feel a kilo heavier and it’s like running on sponges. The ground gets wetter and then it starts to pour again. There is water everywhere except where I need it. A chap in my wave runs past me muttering “why do we put ourselves through this?” followed by “never again.” He runs a bit further then stops to walk. I take his lead. I’m not enjoying this bit at all. I start running again, it’s really heavy going, I stop and walk a bit more.
After the first lap I’m gasping. The Ape is there taking photos. I know my face is not showing the signs of elation previously captured. Still no water. The second lap is marginally easier as I know it’s the home straight. I pass the commentator who shouts out my name and I even manage to overtake someone as I approach the finish. I cross the finish line, a plastic medal on a green ribbon is put over my head, I am congratulated, and the Ape is there with water. It’s over and I’ve done it. I feel a massive sense of achievement. I drink a whole bottle of water. Quickly stretch then get my bike in the car before the next downpour starts and we head for home.
I completely forget to ask what my time is. So later as I lie slumped on the sofa with a cup of tea, I look online. Scrolling down the page I go past the distances. GoTri bike – 5 laps. I’ve only done 4. Whoops!!! So next year I will GoTri again with my new found knowledge that a bib and braces approach would be best. Oh well – I still did a Triathlon.