1500m open water swim, 43km bike, 10km run
The Banana Man, an Olympic distance triathlon, held at Eton Dorney lake – where they held the Olympic rowing in 2012. It’s a great venue, clear lake, traffic free bike course, and a flat run. As it happens I was picking up daughter Zoe from Heathrow airport that evening so it was also the perfect location.
I’ve done a few events here so knew how it all worked. The parking is a twenty minute walk from the race start so you need to have everything with you, no popping back to car. The new Castellli ruck sack Ian bought me for my birthday was perfect for carrying all my gear – wetsuit, bike shoes, run shoes etc and left my hands free for the most important thing – the new bike 🙂 Its first race!
At registration I got my swim cap and a whole bunch of stickers, one for my helmet, one for the bike, a random spare one (?), a wristband for transition, a timing chip for my ankle…oh and my bib for my race belt. Phew…ready…I think.
I felt a bit lonely, first event for a while with no support. I called Ian for a friendly chat, only to be told off by an official …no phones in transition! I was not too impressed, if I’m honest. There was no where to leave bags, so I had everything gathered around me. Plus there were limited changing areas. I found an empty tent which I dashed into, but the boat house where they told us to go seemed to be full of locked doors…ok, grumble over, like I say, I was a bit lonely so was mainly pissed that I couldn’t chat to Ian to cheer myself up.
I thought it was going to be a tough day, and I was right. I felt quite tired on the long drive from Somerset (still recovering from my surprise weekend, not so much the biking as the travel) and I’ve been fighting off a cold for a couple of weeks, mainly a congested head and stuffy nose….and I thought I was going to be resting last weekend – ha ha ha !!
At 11.40 we all gathered in the Jumbo Banana group by the lake, yep, that’s what the olympic distance was called. Other groups had names such as Banana Fritter and Whole Banana and I think the relay was called Banana Split 🙂 One nice thing, just by the starting pen they were giving out little shots of coffee, I thought it was a nice touch and the coffee was pretty good.
11.50, and after a quick briefing we were all in the water and the horn blasted. It was a relief to get in the cool water as it was getting quite toasty standing around in our wetsuits. Two 750m laps, the orange turn around buoys seemed so far away. It was also quite frantic, lots of arms and legs. I was surprised because the group didn’t seem that big, but it took a while before I found clear water and started to get into a rhythm. I spend most of this race thinking how the hell am I going to do an Ironman in three weeks…. this distance is hard enough. Must remember that I often feel like this and then come race day I’m fine. I must remember, I must remember….
I hadn’t swum for the last two weeks, so was little concerned, but of course I was fine and before long the laps were done and the finish was in sight. Into T1, wetsuit off. I took my time. Ate a banana while I got my bike shoes and helmet on. Checked my bike computer was on and ran out to the bike course.
It was eight laps of Dorney Lake and it was WINDY, really windy. A cross wind that didn’t seem to give an advantage at any point. Well, maybe for a few hundred metres across the bottom end of the lake, but the along stretches down each side and across the top I was buffeted around. Not helped by the deep rims on my wheels. Good to practise my bike skills though 🙂 Lots of twists and turns, which sometimes made it hard to keep up a good speed. It was flat though and down one side it was sheltered by hedges so it wasn’t too bad really. We had to count our own laps and as well as using the distance covered on my computer I also gave each lap a name starting with A for Adrienne and ending with H for Heidi. I’m not going to tell you what F was for but lets just say I was getting fed up with the laps by that point.
One thing I found interesting with the traffic free road set up was that it didn’t seem much safer. There were bikes everywhere, unlike a normal road where you would keep to the left. Overtaking was happening on the inside and the outside and I saw two guys collide at one point, fortunatey not falling off their bikes. Also, as well as the Jumbo Banana crowd and possible some Fritters, there were riders in teams of three zooming round at high speed together. Some looked like they had just met and were trying to keep together and some were obviously very experienced and racing like a three up time trial – they were quite scary as they went past, especially on a bend. I was glad when it was all over….just a run to do.
T2, a quick gel, bike racked and change of shoes.
Really struggled on this leg. The run although flat is incredibly boring. Up just over a km alongside the lake and back just over a km alongside the lake, and up, and back, and up and back and …….sorry I fell asleep lol!
I waved a few times at a couple of girls I had met in transition and then fortunately on the last two laps I starting chatting to a guy that I was leap frogging with. I would pass him while he was walking, then he would pass me when I was walking (yep, I needed to walk….I was tired). I the end I asked if he was injured – he looked too fit to be tired. He had cramp in both legs, ouch. With my Dad and Ian both sufferers I sympathised and offered their remedy – indian tonic water every day.
Having someone to run with and chat with helped no end and I think we both ended up running more than we would have done alone. His name was Matt and he had very long legs so my running sections were a bit faster than normal lol!
We crossed the finish line happy and relieved it was all over. It seemed so hard today. My overall time was 3.22.06 which is not too bad considering the longer bike leg (its usually 40km) and my slow run.
Just 20 minutes later I was in my Heathrow hotel in my fluffy bathrobe, sipping prosecco and waiting for Zoe. At 11pm she arrived back from a five week field trip in France – the day just got a whole lot better 🙂