I completed Blenheim – my first big triathlon! Here’s my race report.
I was overwhelmed by the size of the place and event when I turned up, and learned that it is a bad idea to enter your son into a duathlon just before your race, because it meant a somewhat stressful time setting up in transition. Got into my wetsuit and my friend turned up to support. I never really felt nervous, though I might have been a bit quiet, and before I knew it I was stood with the rest of Wave 16 and doing the warm up – including a hug for your neighbour – before getting into the lake. Despite being advised to stay near the back if you were a relatively new swimmer, I found myself at the front and so got a bit battered at the start with people swimming over me. I’ve learned front crawl since October last year, and done a few open water swims in which I knew I wasn’t great at swimming crawl continuously, but I struggled to get my breath or rhythm so swam most of the 750m with breaststroke. I settled in and just enjoyed looking around and seeing the beautiful setting. I got out of the water and it was at that point that I realised I was actually doing a triathlon, at Blenheim!
I was pleased my wetsuit came off easily thanks to the huge amounts of lube I’d used, and I put on my “This Girl Can” t-shirt and started the ride. The first lap was tough, a long uphill and not knowing when you’d be done. Also I didn’t know where my friends and family were so I was looking out for them. They were near transition as it happened and the first time I saw them it gave me a real boost. The second lap seemed quicker but it was about this point that I decided I would never do this again as I was finding it really hard. Why was I bothering? At the end of the second lap I nearly took out someone who was going into transition. The whole crowd “ooohed” and apart from feeling terrible for nearly causing an accident I did feel a bit badass that I had a whole crowd oohing at me!! There was a nice downhill after transition and I enjoyed pushing really hard on that bit, spurred on by seeing my support team! During the third lap, I realised that it didn’t matter what time I took or if I finished it at all, the main thing was that I was out there, doing it and having a go. I started to enjoy it a bit more, and played to the crowd a bit on the finishing straight and then down into transition. I loved hearing them shout “Yes, this girl can” and “this girl is!” and the crowd support was surprisingly important and helpful. Finally into transition then out again for the run.
Thanks to a dodgy knee I can’t run at the moment so it was always going to be a walk anyway. At this point I really started enjoying it and feeling awesome. I met a lady who was walking too and we did the whole lap together. I beeped over my first lap but when I was heading back to the second lap the clock on the palace said 1655 which was cut-off. I had asked two different marshalls and one said I had to finish now and the other said they didn’t know. The lack of knowledge from them was a bit annoying. Near transition, my support crew were still there and shouted “Only one more lap Lisa” but I stopped and told them I was finishing because I hadn’t made cut-off. That was confusing and I was sad that they weren’t there at the finish line to see me finish or hear the announcer saying my name. Around this point too the lady who I had walked with was slowing a bit so I went back to her and shouted “Come on, we’re nearly there”. I found the whole thing really friendly and I had such a good giggle with the other competitors throughout. Especially on the bike where I shouted “Watch your right” as I overtook, and then “Eventually” as it took me so long to actually overtake. Made the lady smile anyway! I think I could have done the last lap of walking, some marshalls told my husband it was fine when he asked, but I would have been dead last and I preferred to finish with a smile on my face – and I really did. The confusion made me feel like I might have been dragged off the course if I’d have started the second lap and I wanted to finish whilst I still felt on top of the world. Finishing was the best feeling, getting that medal round my neck and hearing the crowd cheering and clapping.
Getting to do my first big triathlon has been a real journey of discovery and transformation for me, so it was a pretty emotional day. I had a small tear in the eye when I got my bike out of a pretty empty transition and thought “I did this!”. I had most time to think during the bike and I realised a few things. Firstly, I don’t think that triathlon is meant to feel nice. I think it will always feel hard (though you will get faster!) and the sport is in fighting with yourself to keep pushing. I was really fighting with myself on that bike, and I eventually realised the hardness of it was the sport of it. I can’t wait to get training again and see if I can reduce my times next time out. What everyone says “It’s a race against yourself” is definitely true and I love the intrigue of how well can I train to see how much I can improve next time out. I also decided that a DNF is way better than a DNS and, despite having talked for nearly a year about how I’d hate myself if I got a DNF, I would much rather have a DNF because something happened on the day than not even try. DNF now stands for Did Not Fail!! I also realised that I’m a triathlete. It doesn’t matter how slow you are, if you walk or run, use breaststroke or front crawl, use a road bike or a mountain bike, if you come first or last, if you can’t finish the whole thing or if you decide to do a partial sprint with a supersprint run. You’re a triathlete because you swim-bike-run to the best of your ability and have fun doing it.
Blenheim was my first big triathlon but there is no way it’ll be my last. I bet I’ll think “Why do I do this to myself?” every one I do, but every time I get to the finishing line and get that rush of pride and accomplishment I’ll remember why J