Hever Castle Triathlon – I DIDN’T DIE

A couple of weeks ago, I completed my first triathlon and I didn’t die! However, I did contract norovirus, so there was a point post-triathlon where death was a real possibility (not really, but it felt like it).

Apart from the norovirus, I enjoyed my first triathlon a lot more than anticipated. The event was well-organised, the staff and marshals were ever so helpful, and the course itself was beautiful. The race commenced with an open-water swim in Hever Castle Lake, transitioning into a veryyyy hilly cycle through the High Weald of Kent, and finishing off with an off-road run.  

Now that I have stopped vomiting my guts out (you’re welcome), here’s a little breakdown about each stage of the race:

Pre-Race

I spent at least half an hour laying out all my equipment and kit – in fact, I spent so long arranging and re-arranging everything that I almost missed the final call for my wave and had to sprint down to the start line!

When it came to T1 (for those new to triathlon, T1 is the first transition from swim to bike) and T2 (the second transition when you switch from biking to running), I thanked organised and obsessive Mell. God bless her soul.

Swim

This is the discipline that I was dreading; up until recently open water swimming has been a big fear of mine.

However, the swim was surprisingly pleasant! I took my time and just enjoyed it, alternating between front crawl and breaststroke. I was slow, but I was steady and controlled, conserving my energy for the bike and run.

Bike

Much to my astonishment, I located my bike quickly and had a pretty smoooooth T1.

This was my first time taking part in a group ride, and my biggest challenge was adhering to the strict rules around drafting. Whilst I have enough self-awareness not to position myself ludicrously close behind someone’s rear wheel, it was unavoidable when taking on some of the sharp, narrow turns. I hope this will get easier as I become more experienced!

Another issue was my reluctance to take my hands (even one hand) off the bars. Although I had a quick drink in T1, I decided to be brave and reach down to my water bottle. I panicked, dropped the bottle immediately, and made the quick decision to carry on cycling rather than stop suddenly and potentially cause a crash.

Although obviously this was the right decision, it did mean that I became uncomfortably dehydrated – any tips on riding no-hands would be much appreciated! I actually did fall off my bike when it came to the dismount, but that’s a story for another time eh.

Despite the mishaps, I loved riding through the High Weald of Kent; it was the strongest I’ve ever felt on the bike, and my best discipline by quite a long shot.

Run

At T2 I ate two clif bloks, contemplated having a swig of somebody else’s water because by this point, I was parched, then decided that would be completely unacceptable so proceeded towards the run with a mouth as dry as the Sahara Desert.

I had been looking forward to the run – this was my time to shine! Conversely, this was my least favourite of the three disciplines, and I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with my time. This was 100% my own fault; the fact that I didn’t partake in any form of brick session (this is a workout that combines swimming, cycling and/or running into a single session) left me feeling unprepared for the imminent heavy legs and general fatigue. Moving forward, I will definitely be incorporating some bike/run brick workouts into my regime!

Post-Race

Overall, I finished in 281st place out of 465, and 86th female out of 199. I think that’s pretty good for my first triathlon, particularly given the standard of the competitors (there were some absolute BEASTS in the first few waves!)

Have I caught the bug? Yes, both metaphorically and literally (thanks norovirus). Whilst I would like to pretend that Hever Castle Triathlon was a bucket-list thing, I enjoyed it far too much not to come back for more.

So, what’s next? I found out yesterday that I got a place in the London Marathon ballot, much to my surprise/horror/excitement/confusion. I would also like to do a couple of Olympic distance triathlons next year, eventually building up to an Ironman 70.3.

EXCITING TIMES. Annnnd I must conclude with a quote from the Queen (Michelle Obama, not Beyoncé. Or the actual Queen):

There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”

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