Back in the saddle (and wetsuit and shoes) !

Loch LoMan Sprint Triathlon 2016

So I entered the Loch LoMan Sprint Triathlon in the early hours of the morning while feeding a very tiny baby, it turns out looking through the event website trying to find results last night that she was only 4 days old!

This was my first triathlon for over two years, being female having kids really puts paid to your training and racing for a good while, they are basically little parasites (don’t get me wrong I love my little parasites dearly) but they grow in you and then depend on you to grown once they emerge so you’re a bit limited in what you can do for a good 12 months, never mind what they actually do to your body in that time.
Add to that running your own business it is constant negotiation as to who gets to have a bit of work and child free time to do what they want. So as you might have guessed training was a bit of struggle, I managed to get back swimming just before Christmas, was finally able to run again at the end of February (just over a year off that activity) and got out on my road bike twice!

One of the things I hadn’t even taken into consideration until about 3 weeks before the race was the temperature of the water, thank goodness for event organiser Alan Anderson banging on about getting in the water before hand and the option to go swimming at Pinkston Watersports. My first open water experience was on a cold windy drizzly day at the start of May, the water temperature was just over 10 degrees, and after about half a lap round Pinkston Basin I thought ‘I’m going to have to pull out of this race I will NEVER manage 750m in water like this!’. Thankfully after nearly one lap the ice cream head went away and I could breath properly which makes swimming much easier.
pinkston open swim
As part of my limited training I thought the first of the Glasgow Triathlon Club Aquathon series would be a good opportunity to experience a race environment again before the real thing. It turned out (on reflection) to be a great thing to do, I tested my ‘if I keep dipping my head in the water before we start will I be acclimatised enough to breath properly straight away’ theory and it worked. But I then got caught up in the hurry and flurry of the start of the swim and went far to fast so was not well set up for the run afterwards. The Aquathon run was hellish and while I now had a good strategy for the start and swim I suddenly really doubted my ability to complete the race on Sunday, there was nothing to do but start it and see how far I got.

It had been a long time since I felt the pre-race butterflies in my tummy, and these ones hatched on Friday and were doing some crazy dancing all weekend. Given my nerves I decided to take a drive round the bike route and register on Saturday, good thing I did as I turned up at the Maid of the Loch by mistake, the kids enjoyed a wander round the boat any way. (I’d like to add I wasn’t the only person to do that). That evening I laid out all my kit and triple checked it, and packed it up, after eyeing up Bob’s beer wondering if one for nerve calming purposes would be a good idea or not I decided just to go to bed instead.


Sunday morning dawned with perfect race conditions, blue skies, wall to wall sunshine and the loch like a millpond at a balmy 10.9 degrees. Got my arm marked, picked up my timing chip and set up my transition, choosing a break in the tarmac of the car park so it would be easier to find my stuff. I was glad to see there were other folk choosing the bike shoes and running shoes option, I’d decided I would gain more than the 30 seconds it would take to change shoes from being clipped in on the bike. Went back to the van to get changed and decided I’d drop a bag in the change tent to carry my stuff back at the end, good thing I did as I went to walk in to transition one of the marshals stopped me ‘You can’t cross the mat with your timing chip’. The timing chip that I’d forgotten to put on and was still in the van, that would have been a bit of an epic fail! So I addressed that issue and headed down to the beach to see the Standard distance start and for the race briefing.

On the beach it was good to bump into Rosie from the triathlon club and meet her brother, some folk to wait and share last minute nerves with! After a comprehensive briefing from Alan it was soon time to get in to the water. All my butterflies and nerves were gone I was glad it was time to get started. My plan for the swim was to keep to the edge, around the middle of the pack, for the start and just relax, swim at my own pace and not get carried away by those around me. I keep dipping my head in to get acclimatised, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO! It didn’t feel like much of a rammy and I settled into my rhythm pretty quickly, the bouys on the first two legs were easy to sight and I even managed to do a little drafting, although I didn’t quite get it right at one point and got a foot to the face. Many years of being a fairly bad white water kayaker mean I can stay pretty calm in the water when the unexpected happens so it didn’t take long to recover from that. Every now and again when I was breathing I could see all the way up the loch and the surrounding hills, it was just a beautiful place to be!

The glorious sunshine made it a lot harder to see the bouys and the channel markers on the way in but there were enough swimmers around to follow into the beach. Then began the not often mentioned element of triathlon, the wetsuit socked run to transition! On the run I realised I was desperate for a pee and there was no way I would mange the bike route with out stopping. I would not recommend trying to deal with a wet wetsuit and tri suit in an already well used chemical toilet!

That dealt with, it was off with the wetsuit, next time I’ll bring some thing to stand on to stop my feet getting covered in grit, on with bike shoes, helmet and race number. A comedy road bike shoe clip clop run out of transition and on to the bike, I’ve been on my bike so little recently I’m still feeling very exhilarated putting some power into the pedals and feeling the bike accelerate. Some lovely cheery marshals (all from Glasgow Triathlon Club from Transition to the A82) helped along the way.

Some of stunning and steep bike route of the Standard and Middle distance

Some of stunning and steep bike route of the Standard and Middle distance

The A82 was busy as you would expect on a sunny Sunday and on the most part drivers were considerate, so not much energy was wasted on road rage. I knew from my drive round that the A82 was mostly climb and it was good to be prepared for that, the B832 was a bit more mixed up and down and lovely to be off the main road able to take in more of the beautiful surroundings of the race. Loved the fast descent down the A818 to the Arden round about and didn’t even have to stop at the roundabout, which was great as my ability to smoothly clip back into my road pedals is questionable. I had gained a couple of places on the bike and was pleased with that as I knew I would loose them and more on the run.

Back in to transition, a quick change of shoes and off again. Legs feeling not to bad as my memory of the last triathlon I did was that my legs didn’t really feel like they belonged to be me at the start of the run. The run is my least favourite part of the whole thing, I’m not a runner and rarely think ‘I really enjoyed that run’, after the aquathon earlier in the week I really was not looking forward to this part of the race. Off I went and it was tough but not as bad as I thought it was going to be, an out and back run is always hellish until you get to the turn point then you know what to expect and that you have broken the back of it, it still seemed like a very long 2.5 km. As expected I was passed by quite few people on the run, and I also saw a few familiar faces going the other way. Many runners, marshals, supporters and random passers were giving words of encouragement to keep you going, finally the end was in sight and I even managed a wee burst of speed for the final 10 metres or so!

So nearly 36 hours after finishing I still don’t know what time I did the race in, never mind my splits, but it’s been quite nice as I’ve just reflected on how I felt during the race and not been comparing myself to any one else. I’m really happy with how I paced the whole thing and I think I’d like to actually do some proper training next year and take on the Standard distance.

Just checked results, I said I’d be happy to finish, very happy with sub 2 hours and very very happy with sub 1hr 45.

1:48:18 – Very pleased with that! 🙂

All photos kindly by permission of ImacImages Photography.

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