In 2016 I took on the “bunch of bananas” as my first ever triathlon, which was one of my first blogs as well. You can remind yourself about it here.
With the team time trial event, you take on each discipline as a group of 3. I joined Epsom Triathlon Club (ETC) when I decided to be a part time, social triathlete. Last year I had put some good training in to take on my first triathlon, but this year circumstances have left me significantly underprepared.
The course consists of:
0.8 Km swim
31.8 Km bike
7.5 Km run
My total time in 2016 was 1:58:36, a time I would have loved to beat, but did not realistically think would be possible.
Event village and atmosphere:
A big selling point for this event is the event village and friendly atmosphere. The lead sponsor is LIDL and they provide an all day BBQ that competitors and friends and family can help themselves to.
Along with soft drinks, and an Erdinger stand, it makes this event super value for money. There are also bananas, lots of bananas. There are numerous distances you can take part in, but as a club we pick the “bunch of bananas”, with 6 teams of three, event discount and club paying half, it only cost me personally £20. I got my money’s worth, and that’s before we even consider the event.
The only downside this year is the lack of things for kids to do. There is a scootathon which is great and my boy will do it next year. But outside that, there was nothing really. Last year my kids had a lovely time on a bouncy castle, but that wasn’t there this year. It was also very hot, so that meant that I wasn’t greeted by the happy family that I was last year, this made a difference to the amount of time we spent at the end, which is a shame.
My kids had fun, but it was just too long and too hot, and would have been far better if there were activities for them like last year. On the plus side my wife found a good use for my dryrobe, I took it with me to wear after, but it was far too hot, but apparently makes a really comfortable picnic blanket.
As always I prepared my kit the night before, but it is a little more difficult with a triathlon to ensure you have everything you need. I find laying out my race essentials is a great way to visualise what you need and ensure you have it all. Obviously I made sure I had kit for the swim, bike and run, then added nutrition for pre, during and post race.
We registered quickly and got to transition to lay out our kit ready. I always feel more prepared and relaxed after I have this out of the way.
I was nervous starting this event. I’ve been in the water only a handful of times this year. We start as a mass treading water, and do two laps of a 400 metre circuit. This is always going to be a bumpy start, but I found it calmer than last year. As I am undertrained I took my time, I swam to the far left to stay out of the way of legs and arms crashing through the water, and just took my time. I didn’t find the swim too difficult at all. On the return part of the lap sighting was difficult with the sun low in my eyes. On the exit I didn’t take the most direct route, I was aiming for the turn boy before I realised the exit was to the left, so probably lost a minute or so here. The water is calm and I had plenty of room to swim my own race. On the exit it felt slower than last year, and at 16:39 I think it was. This is an accurate recording of my time as I wore the chip. This and t1 combined was about 19:30, last year it was 18:30 so a minute slower isn’t too bad.
I didn’t take too long in transition but I did take my time to put on socks, visor and have a gel. My team mates where waiting for me, but hadn’t been there long and there was no pressure. I was undertrained on the swim, but even worse on the bike. Circumstances meant that year to date I have only done 53 miles on the bike, which is extremely bad considering I have an Ironman in 6 weeks.
The bike course is just shy of 20 miles, and we do 6 laps. The out section was into a strong headwind which slowed me down. My team mates had to slow for me, but on the return section I was faster, and I even took my turn to lead. As a team event we are allowed to draft off each other. Now we didn’t do this as effectively as many, mostly as I struggled to keep up, but I’m sure it helped. It is a pancake flat course, so we managed to average 20 mph, which I’m happy with. On the return section we kept overtaking people, but to put in perspective how fast some were, at one point we overtook a team and we were going at 23.5 mph. At the same time we were overtaken by a strong team who pulled off in the distance, they must have been going over 30 mph.
I enjoyed the bike and it gave me confidence that I’ve not lost too much speed, it will be the endurance that is lacking. On the final half a lap I decided to go for it, my team were capable of faster and I wanted to give it my all and finish knowing I’ve done my best. I took the lead and increased our pace to 26.8 mph which I am extremely happy with riding on the flat. We finished in 1:01:51, which was only 45 seconds slower than last year for me, which I think is a result.
The run was always going to be my strong point. What is great is my two team mates were both really strong runners. Although I was complaining of a numb bum, we still went out at under 7 min miles. This slowed throughout the duration of the 7.5k ran, but we kept below 7:30 min miles.
The run is flat, and consists of 3 laps of an out and back 2.5k route. It’s great for spectators, and meant you can see lots of runners around you. Throughout our 3 laps we overtook numerous teams, including 2 of our ETC teams. I think we could have ran faster as a team, but we were strong and took it in our stride.
We stayed together as a group, and it was great to finish on a high. As a runner, weaker in the other disciplines it was great to finish in a strong position. Having two other strong runners with me kept me going at a good pace. This was a great bit of practice for tomorrow when I will be pacing the British 10k #45funbus.
We finished really strong in a time of 33:31. So strong in fact we were 3:30 minutes faster than I ran last year. Which incredibly gave our team a finish of 1:57:10 which is a 1:26 PB for me.
After the run it was time to relax. This involved plenty of burgers and hotdogs, and a few trips to the Erdinger tent.
I was very happy to see the samples of SIS Rego were in strawberry, my favourite. I would have stayed longer but as I mentioned before, there was not a lot for the kids to do and they were getting bored and restless.