Trying a Triathlon – Henley-on-Thames Triathlon

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So as mentioned in my previous post when I could finally move around after being injured running long was still out of the question so I took up cycling and swimming to stop myself going mad.  I enrolled onto a swimming course led by Chris (which I cannot recommend enough) as I knew my technique could do with some work and inspired by the wonderful book that is Tricurious I decided to enter my first triathlon (thanks to winning a competition on Lucy’s blog).

Henley-On-Thames Triathlon

  • Date/Time: Sunday 21st June
  • Distance: Sprint = 400m swim – 25km cycle – 5km run

The first hurdle was working out how and when to “practice” all three disciplines.  This was mainly done through trial and error, for instance trying to swim after a weights session the day before – your shoulders will hate you.  (However, it has to be said the organised part me of me secretly loved the challenge of making things work and fit in with the rest of my life.)

When the day finally came to say I was nervous was an understatement, in fact I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was walking around the event site.  I have never been to a triathlon before, never mind competed in one and I found it all a little bit daunting.  However, after finally working out where all the numbers, labels etc go …

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I headed over to the pool for the swim.  Now, I thought it was a good thing that the swim was indoors, open water swimming is still new to me where as I have spent hours in the pool HOWEVER it was manic!

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unconvinced face …

With people being set off every 10 secs and with everyone having to do 16 lengths of what felt like a tiny indoor pool I was kicked, stroked, over taken, under taken and swallowed more water than I care to remember.

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On finishing in the pool I ran out, slightly shakey and high on adrenaline/nerves found my bike and started to towel down my feet.  Whilst sat getting ready for the 15 mile cycle people were chatting away asking advice, sharing tips and just well, being friendly.  It has to be said that the atmosphere was a lot less intimidating once the race had started.

Just having a sit down and a chat.

With my trainers on, piece of Banana Bread inhaled, and helmet clipped up I took my bike and ran over to the mount line.  I should mention here that hiliariously it took me three attempts to actually get my leg over my bike.  Yes three, my bike frame is high and my legs were so shakey – much to the amusement of the marshals and Paulie.

The marshal is still laughing!

Once on the bike however I was comfortable and tried to remain calm.  The first hill took me a little by surprise, however turning the last corner before the second lap we were confronted with a far bigger, steeper, more demanding hill, which we all cursed and grunted our way up!  Again it was really nice to hear so many people chatting along the route and offering support to fellow racers.  For the second lap I was prepared and steamed up that hill as quickly as possible, the faster you go, the faster it’s over and followed the signs to turn into the dismount area.  This is where I finally saw Paulie, who had been MIA since the swim – unfortunate timed loo break meant he missed me during the cycling loop – but in the excitement of seeing him I nearly missed the dismount line and came to a skidding holt!

Off the bike and into the second transition area, I had a few moments of “WHERE THE HELL IS MY STUFF” then spotted my Run Dem vest, hooked up the bike, unclipped the helmet, wolfed yet more banana bread – Soreen you are my hero – and then off I went on the run.  The run comprised of 4 laps of what appeared to be a school’s sport field.  As someone who HATED sport at school this didn’t do wonders for my mental game but the sun was out and the 4 laps meant that I would see my one person cheer team lots!  I flew through the first lap with my legs feeling great, even with the grassy ground (wasn’t prepared for that) and the slight undulation.  However by the end of the third lap I really was done and gave poor Paulie a very evil stare as he enthusiastically cheered me on.  However I was close to finishing my first, official triathlon and I wanted to make that sprint finish, so I did – I absolutely powered through and even got a shout out over the tanoy.


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To finish my first triathlon felt absolutely amazing and I was totally overwhelmed when I found out I placed 6th in my category.  I loved taking part in this event and could not recommend it enough for anyone who wants to try a tri!

For anyone who is thinking about a tri here are a few pointers that I have learnt …

1. Buy TRICURIOUS!  It will give you a great insight to the world of triathlons and offer a world of advice!

2. Buy a race belt!  You are given so many numbers and there are so many rules its just easier to have something to clip on for the cycle and for the run rather than having to change safety pins, think about tops etc etc, believe me you have a lot of other things to think about!

3. Bring Talc, it was recommended to me and it was a savoir.  It helped dry my feet and prevented any unwanted rubbing!

4. Bring pre cut foods to munch during transitions.  It found it really handy to have little tuppawears to just open and nibble whist getting changed, rather than packets to open, rubbish to worry about etc …

5.  ENJOY WHAT YOU ARE DOING.  Particularly if it’s your first one, triathlons are a huge learning curve so just enjoy the experience and revel in the fact that you are doing something amazing!

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Oh and I celebrated by shoving my face with cake 🙂


PS. Big thank you to my partner in crime Paulie Roche for taking all these horrendous photos … ;D and being a truly wonderful one man CheerDem!


5 thoughts on “Trying a Triathlon – Henley-on-Thames Triathlon

    peachylau said:
    07/07/2015 at 5:22 pm

    Well done!!

      charliezbrown responded:
      07/08/2015 at 4:05 pm

      Thank you lady 🙂 xxx

    […] and tried to forget about the people around me.  Compared to the manic splashing about in the Henley indoor section this was actually quite calm.  The weeds and other things did create some little […]

    Lauren (@PoweredbyPB) said:
    07/15/2015 at 7:42 pm

    Well done Charlie!

      charliezbrown responded:
      07/16/2015 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you lady!! Right back at ya for last weekend!!!!

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