Got back two hours ago from Izvorani, a place around 30-40 km from Bucharest center, where the Winter Triathlon was held.
Had enough time to wash my running shoes, take a shower, eat a big bowl of pasta special (meaning that besides boiling the pasta and adding some tomato sauce I basically put everything I had around in the kitchen…oregano and mushrooms, I decided it’s time to give up on the pepper), do the dishes, make a green tea and that’s about it, what else could you do in a total of two hours?
Seeing that everything is set, now it’s writing time.
Woke up at 7 30, coffee, 3 bananas, changed the stuff in my backpack, not in a rush, I knew my brother was about to be slightly late, like 80% of the times, took the bike and left.
Today’s weather was slightly cooler than I expected. When I woke up google weather showed only +2, so I decided it would be wise to bring some extra layers. Fortunately enough, by the time we started (12 00, because we were in the last group for the individual triathlon) the sun was out and it was significantly warmer.
It was the first triathlon event and I was quite nervous. My problem wasn’t the distances, but the transitions. Even though the tracks were marked quite well and in the technical meeting everything was explained clearly I was afraid that I might do something wrong. It was even worse when I saw the first people making the transition from the 1st group (who started at 10 30). A few stumbled, some made a perfectly smooth transition, some were quite slow and cautious, and one, I don’t know how, but his foot came out of the shoe that was stuck to the pedal. In any other situation seeing this would’ve made me smile or have a laugh or two, but now I was more concerned than amused. My decision was to focus on the running, biking and swimming more than on the transition even if it meant to lose some time.
All this excitement had a good effect because I felt my mouth dry all the time before the start, just as before an exam where you know almost shit, so I had to drink a lot of water to feel hydrated.This, combined with the morning coffee, made me use the toilet a bunch of times, so I was pretty sure that in my favourite part, the running, I will feel pretty light.
The order was:
- 5.5 km trail running
- 12 km biking (mtb bikes where mandatory)
- 500 m swimming
As I said in a previous post about training for this event ( See here ), this was more of a sprint triathlon type of event.
At 12 00 we took off. Unfortunately, I followed my brother’s advice and didn’t go too much in front, near the start line, which meant losing time by slaloming and jumping from one side to the other because the track was muddy until the people dispersed. A couple of times I was about to overdo it and twist my ankles on the landings, but thankfully this never happened.
Due to all the excitement, I was breathing quite loud, louder than usual, but this had a funny effect because this way the other runners knew that I was there, except those who were listening to music in their headphones.
Running through the forest was great, the track was marked properly and sooner than I expected this part was over and I was about to face my fear: the transition from running to bike.
I ran up to my bike, put my helmet first, and started running next to the bike, up to the bike start line. Throughout the transition area we were not allowed to be on the bike, a very good thing, which I think is standard in the triathlon events.
The running time + the time spent in the transition was 24:35. Compared to the time in training, it was good, having in mind that it was a trail run.
Even though I was feeling the terrain and all the shocks from the running part my legs were fine, I jumped, calmly, on the bike and started the second part. Here I did my second mistake, where I think I lost around a half-minute. Instead of turning left, I went straight ahead for around 50 meters, before a cop exits a car and yells at me that I was not on the right track. I stopped instantly, turned around, some people passed me here and I couldn’t catch them again.
The terrain in the bike part was mostly clean, some small downhills and uphills, some parts were muddy and some parts were bad road, but the bike felt heavy and I was falling behind. Here the participants with lighter and better bikes saved a lot of time and effort. The track was about 6 km and we needed to do two laps. In the second lap my moral got up, because I saw people who were on the first lap and I wanted to use this as a motivation to speed up and pass some of them, which I managed to do, because knowing the track already from the first lap I was able to be less cautious, but in the same time others were still passing me.
Got back to the transition area, put the bike in the same place as before, took the swimming cap and goggles and started running towards the swimming area, ending the bike part in a total time of 30:21. I hoped to get a better time here, but for this I need to train a lot more and maybe invest in a lighter bike.
The transition from biking to swimming also meant going through the changing area and showers. Here I messed it up badly. The bag where I was supposed to put my clothes and shoes took a lifetime to open (about 15 seconds), because my hands were shaking from the adrenaline, went to the shower, had problems with the shower as well, and after a couple of seconds in the shower I head to the pool realising that I need to go back after the bag and leave it in the wardrobe area.
After leaving my bag some guy told me which corridor I need to take, jumped into the water and started swimming. Here I faced another sad difference between the training and the event. I’ve been training in a pool of 25m length, but this one was 50m. Fewer brakes, more breathing moments on one length, and on top of that other swimmers on the corridor. The first 2-4 laps were ok, I managed to pass somebody, who was about to finish his swimming part, but then somebody else passed me. After that either the corridor got more crowded or we were swimming closer because I couldn’t pass the guy in front of me because each time I wanted to do so another swimmer was coming from the front and I had no space. Actually, I feel kind of bad for the guy, because unintentionally my hands and his legs got into a couple of “conflicts” along the way. On the last two lengths a new swimmer in the corridor came strong, I saw that he (or maybe she) wanted to pass me, so I left him enough space to do so.
The swimming completed the triathlon, after 18 25 min. The training was good, but for sure it wasn’t enough and I have to train more on the technique, the breathing, the stride and the synchronization with the legs.
My total WinterTri Challenge Triathlon time was 1:13:22. Position 17 out of 41 in my 19-29 years category and a global position of 119 out of 337. I’m pretty confident that next year I will do a better time or, at least, a smoother transition.
Next weekend I will be running again, this time in a marathon, stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you want to see more about what I am doing, check one of this links