Pinewood Triathlon Super Sprint 2015 by Teresa Harman
Those who know me are aware I suffer with pre-race nerves. As an experienced triathlete, coach and Ironman finisher even a supersprint event sets off my nervous reactions. I know I am not alone in this and it is not just the girls who suffer, here is my race report:
My morning began at 5.30 am when Mark awoke to leave the house to finish building the courses for the Positive Sport triathlon. I knew I didn’t have to get up quite so early so stayed in my bed dozing for a little longer. I eventually had to get up when my stomach began to have the usual nervous butterflies so my first trip to the toilet began.
The Race Official, Dan Philpott was staying with us as we knew him from our old club Born2Tri in Essex. I made him and myself some porridge and an early morning cuppa trying to keep my routine as normal as possible. I had packed my things the night before but gave them the once over to make sure I had not forgotten anything. I had been undecided on whether to use my TT bike or the road bike and to be perfectly honest, I chose my road bike because I am still a little inexperienced on my new TT bike. The wet conditions also helped me to decide on using my road bike so having checked the air pressure in my tires we loaded it into the back of Dan’s car.
After a last minute trip to the loo (one of many I might add) we set off for Woodlands which is only a five minute drive from our house. On our arrival, the boys were busy finalising the transition area and checking that everything was in order for the start of the race. I went into the race registration to register myself for the race but the nerves were now kicking in big style so quickly had another trip to the ladies. It’s odd as it doesn’t seem to matter what length of race I choose, the nerves are always the same. Even though I train other people and have great advice about dealing with stress and anxiety, I still suffer with pre-race nerves. It is getting better and I try to keep my thoughts on the positive side but when I start to see other triathletes turning up to register, my mind goes into freefall and I begin to have doubts that I am going to be good enough, I’m too old, too fat, too slow and the fight or flight syndrome goes through my head. My first reaction is always to want to come home but I don’t want these feelings and self-doubt to take over me so I stick it out and try to busy myself with other things.
The competitors were turning up early to rack their bikes in transition where I was helping, I helped them rack their bikes, checking their helmets and their numbers corresponded to the bikes they were bringing in. This kept my mind occupied for quite some time, I was even helping particularly nervous competitors go through the racking progress. Little did they know I probably felt worse than they did. At 8 am Karl gave the race briefing and then the first swimmers were asked to line up in the pool. Before I knew it, I needed to get changed into my tri kit to begin my own battle with the course and my nerves. One more trip to the loo and I was finally lined up with the other ladies at poolside. I could see that in my lane were 5 ladies and this was freaking me out since I had absentmindedly put a longer swim time than I knew I was capable of swimming. However, by the time I was requested to get in 2 had exited the pool. Guy counted down the 5 seconds and before I knew it I was off swimming my 12 lengths. Even in the pool I could feel my heart racing and I had to keep talking to myself to calm down. I got into a rhythm and was able to pass the other slower swimmers very comfortably and within what felt minutes was climbing out with Karl announcing my swim time was around 5 mins 13s and was the fastest swimmer to date. I knew that would change as the race progressed but somewhere in the pool my nerves had been washed away, now I was racing. I ran to transition where I remember getting friendly heckling for being too slow in my change. I like to put my socks on first before putting my cycle shoes on but was out of transition and onto my bike beginning the undulating course to Weybourne. I felt a little chilly at first but started to take sips of my juice as Mark is always going on at me that I never drink enough during my rides so I have been trying really hard to work on my hydration.
Conditions were in my favour as I am not a fan of really hot sunny weather whilst racing, however, as many know I am a fan of sun bathing in hot steamy weather and getting a tan. I was passing quite a few of the earlier starters and wishing them luck and shouting “well done”. The hill down to Sheringham was great, fast and furious where I was greeted by John Morgan shouting that I should turn left and well done again. I rode the coastal section and knew the hill up Weybourne was fast approaching so my thoughts were about not pushing too hard making sure I left something for the rest of the bike leg and the run. When I got to the hill I switched from the big chain ring to the small one and just sat and pedalled gently up it trying to keep my breathing under control. At the top I felt good so immediately went back to the big chain ring and pushed hard towards the finish and transition. Luckily there was hardly any wind so the ride back through Bodham wasn’t too bad at all.
Arriving back in transition everyone was cheering and very encouraging. I quickly racked my bike, removed my helmet, changed to my running shoes and was off. I knew the run leg would be my worst discipline as running doesn’t come naturally to me. I knew if I started off gently I could see how I felt at the turn around point about whether I had anything left to go a little faster. That turn around point never seems to come as fast as you want it to and was relieved to see a nice man standing in front of me telling me I only had a mile to go. At this point I saw the lovely Sarah Jay running towards me and to be honest this spurred me on to quicken my step. I pushed through the last mile as quickly as I could, knowing that she was hot on my heels. I had a point to prove to myself that I could push harder and my goal was to beat my time of 2014 and if possible get back within the hour. The finishing line approached and I could hear everyone clapping and cheering me on. I crossed the line in 1 hour 33 seconds and was relieved to have finished and kept Sarah behind me. I admit at first I was a little disappointed not to have finished within the hour but soon realised I had taken over 2 minutes off my previous time.
I stood cheering everyone else through including Sarah and all the lovely ladies and gents that I have met since moving here to Norfolk. Medals were handed out to the finishers and there was such a positive vibe around the finishing line.
Once everyone was finished we went into the hall to watch Karl begin his thanks to everyone for helping with the race and for the prizes to be given out. I knew I had placed pretty well over all out of the women but had no idea that I would actually win 1st Female Vet category. I was thrilled and chuffed to bits.
I have to say it was a well organised event, very warm and friendly. Everyone was so encouraging and I was proud to be part of the team.