Rather than a race report, here's a list of things I learned today in my second-ever-triathlon. It was good, and I enjoyed myself, but goodness me a lot of things could have been improved on. I'm documenting them here to help me through next time, and help other aspiring triathletes.
1. Make sure you pack everything the night before.
And I mean everything, not forgetting the things that you normally put on, because if they're not in your bag, then you WILL forget them. Just because you always put on your watch after your wedding ring, does not mean that you will do this on the morning of the race. I got to registration and realised how naked my wrist was... [Fortunately Mr W was on hand to lend me his, but it's big and chunky and not pink]
2. Make sure you pack EVERYTHING the night before.
For example, not just your race belt, but also safety pins to attach your number to it with. This error had us raiding our first aid box for safety pins, and when we found only one, sticking my number to the belt with a plaster. Not ideal.
3. If you can't do a recce of the bike course in person, have a good look at the map.
Not necessarily just to look at where the hills are, which Mr W was trying to scare me with last night, but to get a feel for the different villages that you will be going through so that whilst out on the bike, you have a sense of how far through it you are and when you're coming up to the end.
4. Get some R.E.S.T.
A triathlon two days after a painful 1500m swimming race and 8 days after a 14k swim is never going to feel good. My arms felt tired still at the start of the swim which meant I was never going to get a great time. I think I was about 6m30s for the 400m swim (the timing chip recorded my run out of the swimming pool centre too) and I know I can go at least 15s faster.
5. Dry your feet
I'd taken along trainer socks as opposed to proper socks this time (because last time I just looked stupid wearing fashion day socks with my trainers (because I don't yet have any sports socks), and thought it would be easier to get my feet in them. Because the distance between the swim and transition was a lot shorter than in the last transition that I did, my feet didn't have much time to dry. Trying to jam wet feet into socks isn't easy and I definitely lost time here. Maybe standing on my towel whilst I put my helmet, sunglasses and raced belt on before attempting the socks and shoes might have helped [*of course proper triathletes will use cycle shoes, without socks, probably clipped onto the bike already, but I'm not at that stage yet)
6. If you're using new equipment, make sure you know how it works.
I have clever new laces called Greepers which work on a principle that you don't ever need to tie them, you just pull them closed. However, although I've used them twice (and LOVE them because there's no danger of the shoes coming untied), in the heat of transition I couldn't remember which bits I was supposed to pull on to do them up. Oops! Another good 30s lost here.
7. If you must have water on the run and there aren't any water stations, choose a decent water bottle.
Not having managed to drink on the bike as I haven't learnt to do that yet, I decided to grab my water bottle so I could get some fluid on the run. My bottle is neither easy to hold nor has a sports top. I got fed up carrying it over 5k with the water sloshing around AND I had to unscrew the cap to get water out.
8. Wear a headband.
This is the easiest lesson I learned in today's tri, on the run leg this time - I've only just bought myself a headband after having had hair in my eyes whenever I run, and today was its first outing. What a treat it was to run without hair flapping everywhere!
9. Don't plan to do anything afterwards.
I've been home, and in bed for a few hours. I have got to wind myself up to do some packed lunches for my husband this week, but I really wish I didn't. Next time I'm planning to do that the day before!
10. Enjoy yourself!
Like my last triathlon, I found myself smiling for most of it, especially when there were people around to smile at. It is good fun, and if it isn't then I guess you'd wonder why you were putting yourself through that torture!
I think my overall time was about 1h42 minutes, for what was 400m pool swim, 22.5k bike and 5k run. I'll be interested to see how my splits break down, I was especially pleased with my bike (after much initial wobbliness and terror I actually started going pretty fast!), but also with my run as I have barely had any chance to do run training. It'll be interesting to see where I finished overall, probably right down at the bottom, but I was certainly saved from being last by the guy with a flat tyre...