I was a last minute addition to the Tri Training Harder team at the National Relays due to injury of another athlete. Despite feeling sorry for Jenny (as I know all too well how frustrating it can be to pull out of races because of injury), I was really excited to be racing at this event in a team with Chantal, Ed and Ross. At the relays each athlete swims 500m, then each athlete cycles 15km, then runs 5km. As my warm up last week at Henley had gone about as well as the recent cocaine smuggling in Peru, Philip thought this event would be perfect for me to practise warming-up, as I’d effectively have three chances to get it right: before each of the swim, bike and run. The plan was to do a 20minute track-style warm up before each discipline, but as always, it didn’t go to plan. If I never warm up in the same way as I did today, I’ll be very happy.
I’d been told that the Relays were a LOT of fun, with few people taking the racing that seriously and everyone there to have a good time and enjoy the atmosphere. It wasn’t quite so fun at 8:15am on race morning, when Chantal and I had been waiting 45minutes for Ed and Ross to show up…
“Ed, you’re 45minutes late!” Chantal yelled at him, when he finally appeared outside the conference centre at 8:15am. Ed mumbled something about camping, portaloos and digestive problems then quickly registered us and ran down to transition. 8:23am: Chantal had approximately seven minutes to rack her bike, get in her wetsuit and be down at the swim start (a short marathon away). Ed would be taking over from Chantal, so also needed to get ready swiftly, but still managed to fit in time for a few posed photos:
Before Ed's chest hairs became visible through his trisuit.
I had approximately three minutes to spare when I got to the swim handover zone, so I had little hope of doing a proper warm up. I was taking over from Ed and had a lot of work to do on the swim after Ed had apparently drifted with the current around the buoys. Weaving in and out of the slower swimmers, I must have swam a much greater distance than 500m, which is my excuse for why my swim time was horrendously off race pace.
The bike course was a flat and fast 15km around the lake. The time I’d allocated to warm up for this discipline was spent in the toilet queue. Apart from the two sharp turns at each end and a flock of geese that occasionally had a death wish, there’s not much to report back. After seeing some very un-aerodynamic photos of me from previous races, I decided to resort to Ben’s suggestion to get more aero: “sit further forward on your saddle so it’s ramming up your arse”. Needless to say, one speedbump in, I’d ditched this idea and returned back to sitting on the saddle in the way it was designed.
Adopting the more laid-back aero position.
After the bike I’d eaten so many jelly babies that I literally thought I would be better off rolling around the run course and had to sit down for the next half an hour to aid digestion. So there we are: warm-up 3 fail. The run course followed the same loop as the bike course and also had just as much comedy value, with many athletes donning fancy dress costumes; I was particularly impressed by Ben Howard who ran a sub-17min 5km in a leopard print onesie. I can’t imagine how everyone who was overtaken by him must have felt.
Fast forward to a few hours after the race and we were all sat in the nearest pub, tucking into some delicious burgers (not actually that delicious at £5 each), when Ed received a phone call to say we need to get back to race HQ for the medal ceremony: “Errm. We’re in the pub…”. Cue five minutes of intense speeding in Rosy’s car, some questionable parking on a grass verge and a dash to the podium that shouldn’t have left me as exhausted as it did.
After receiving our medals, it was explained to us that the other teams who had finished before us had been ‘mixed teams’ rather than ‘trade teams’. So, we won the Trade category at the National Relays and got some pretty snazzy medals to show for it. Great work Tri Training Harder!
Ross, Chantal, Ed and I collect our medals on the podium. So short that my medal is out of shot. Sob.
Many congratulations also go out to the hilarious Durham team who all raced in onesies and on a bike they’d constructed at the camp site the night before. It’s quite embarrassing that they didn’t finish that far behind us!