Fleetwood Triathlon September 2016

Nine days ago I completed the Fleetwood Triathlon and officially became a triathlete – well kind of, it feels a bit odd calling myself that after hobbling around my first triathlon injured on the back of zero training having only just had the training ban lifted by the physio two weeks prior to the event!

Here’s my brief account of the day:

I chose Fleetwood triathlon for a few reasons; 1) the timing – a week after we flew back from holiday, 2) the location, having grown up in Blackpool and most of my family still living there meant that it would be easy for my mum and three year nephew Lucas aka my biggest fan, to come and support, 3) it appeared to be quite beginner friendly, something I most certainly am!

Traveling across from Leeds we decided to stay in a lovely bed and breakfast called the Savoy, just across the road from the YMCA where the race was being held. I couldn’t have picked a more convenient (and lovely, value of money… if I keep throwing in the compliments I’ll be able to get a discount on next year’s stay?!) place to stay over. They even let me park Winifred (my bike) securely in the hallway overnight.

I registered the day before the event and picked up my races numbers and T-Shirt – this was definitely a good idea and made for a very easy race morning. All I had to do was drop my bike and transition bag off and strip to my tri suit and I was ready to go – well sort of ready….

When I first signed up to the tri, I had to put down an estimated swim time – at the time I had just started to take swimming lesson to improve my front crawl and aquatic breathing. I had based the time on my one length pace – confident that I would have months to work on my endurance… or so I thought, 3 lessons in and disaster struck – as you will all know already and are probably very much sick of hearing me moan about it by now! Weeks and weeks went by where I couldn’t tie my own shoe laces let alone lower myself in or out of the pool, run or even get my leg over Winifred (my bike  – just in case you needed that clarifying).

So I was allowed to adjust my swim time moving from a 10 minute estimated time to a 15 minute estimated time – the time I was doing when I was finally allowed back in the pool just a couple of weeks before the tri. The problem is I can swim quite quickly, I just can’t keep it up for very long without needing to recover before carrying on! I managed to very badly misjudge my estimated time and pace, within the first 30m I manage to get tangled up with the swimmer in front of me, leaving me treading water, splashing about, and having what I can only really describe as a panic attack. My heart rate rocketed and I couldn’t get my breathing under control. All the effort I had put into learning aquatic breathing, when I was too injured to do anything but swim, was wasted. The next 370m were a combination of doggy paddle, breast stroke, treading water when I inevitably got tangled up again, panting, panicking, splashing, getting tangled up in the ropes and generally causing havoc! – However I did finish the swim pretty much dead on 15 minutes…

runhelenrun fleetwood tri swim.jpg

I found the bike stage relatively easy which probably meant I didn’t try hard enough, in fact I think I might have enjoyed it a little too much! Smiling and shouting thank you to all of the marshals and smiling and acknowledging the other competitors, I probably should have focused and tried a little harder! I started off the ride playing it safe, crossing the mount line and stopping before climbing aboard Winifred and clipping in, laughing with the marshals that if they were expecting a running mount then they would be very disappointed! The wind had picked up quite a bit by my second lap on the bike course (12 miles in total) making the out part of the route a bit of a challenge, but the back very fast and very fun! I had changed Winifred’s tyres from cross tyres – more suitable for the mixed terrain trails around Temple Newsam where I’d usually take her out, for speedy road tyres, which felt very strange and different, with every bump and uneven part of the road massively exaggerated!

The wind meant that the bike stage was quite a bit slower than I had anticipated. The next stage, the run was the part I was dreading the most (after the swim of course) but the stage I should have really been most confident about, running is what I’m meant to be able to do right? I was still having a lot of issues with my foot and the arch collapsing. The couple of runs I had managed to squeeze in prior to the event had all ended up with me limping home after 3 miles, and that was without the swim and the bike beforehand. I had no idea what would happen on the day.

My first mistake on the run was forgetting to take my helmet off, getting half way across transition and having to run back to put it back down with my bike! Again the out part of the course was tough, straight down the prom into the wind, but I managed to grit my teeth and keep moving forward steadily knowing it had to get easier at the half way point, changing direction so the wind would be behind me. I picked up my pace on the way back to the finish, even somehow managing to overtake a few people?! As I ran back the other way I shouted encouragement at the other runners battling into the wind, waving and high 5’ing. My foot had started to give up on me but I kept steadily moving forward in the knowledge it would all soon be over!

I had done it! – I had somehow splashed, paddled, stumbled my way through my first triathlon.


Official times:

Swim 400m – transition 15 mins 57 secs

T1, Bike 12 miles and T2 – 52 mins 5 secs

Run 5km – 25 mins 52 secs

Total time: 1 hr 33 mins 54 secs

For more updates about my training/injuries and races, pop over to my Facebook pageInstagram or Twitter


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