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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Helena's Big Adventure. Chapter 7 - I survived!

It is done! I have finished my 1st triathlon!

I will start with the exciting bit – I wanted to finish it! I ended up coming in the 2nd place in the female competition! I am very happy and excited! Total time 00:47:59.

I think I did the wise thing of going to Henley-on-Thames the night before. I had a nice long walk, a lovely dinner and a good nights sleep. If I have had travelled on the same day I might not have been so relaxed. And all the amount of things one needs to bring for a race! Only thing that got me nervous was the long wait in a cold windy meadow for almost 2hrs before my race. Seeing other people finishing, being cold and starting to get hungry, that was not what I wanted. Start time couldn't arrive soon enough!

Amount of stuff one needs for a triathlon (bike excluded)

Finally it was time to go to the start position! I quickly ran to the toilet. While queuing I took my top off to make getting out of the tri suit easier and guess what I saw in the mirror! The young boy who marked my arm had got my number wrong. On my leg it nicely said 716 but my arm had 616, and I had to run and ask somebody to correct it. Good thing, it took my mind off things! Lesson learned – check what people write on you!

Swim time and transition 1 – time 00:06:01. I messed up my swim! The first 2 lengths went as planned, but then when I needed to change lanes I choked, lost the nice rhythm of my breath and started to struggle. Never thought I could mess it up in such a short distance but I did! Changing between front crawl and breaststroke I managed to overtake 3 people and get out of the pool as quick as one can while struggling for breath. I remembered to kick hard so didn't end up with head-rush when I got out of the water! Got my bike gear on very quickly and was on my way in the second leg!

Transition one - remembered to put my helmet on before touching the bike

Bike time and transition 2 – 00:27:26. Trek Madone was flying and all I needed to do was to let it! It was a bit windy but bike felt very stable. Lost count of the people I passed by. Description of the course was flat, slightly undulating. It was a bit more technical than I had expected but as Ben Hallam pointed out, it only seemed so because I was going fast. Good joke! Getting my running trainers on proved to be a bit tricky as I was a bit light-headed. I think I could have done my bike leg faster but I was not sure how my legs would feel for the run, so maybe it was good I did not push myself too hard.

Stay strong on the bike!

Run – 00:14:32. I was aiming for 15 minutes so I'm happy. I have never been a fast runner and is something I am hoping to work on more now when I am doing track sessions. I thought that if I can do my run in 15 minutes off the bike, it would be good. I was lucky as the run was on a grass so had less impact and was easy on my tired legs! Passed some people in the run too.

How not to look when crossing the finish line or "don't forget to smile"

I was just racing myself, pacing myself and making sure I did not run out of energy. When I managed a sprint finish, I was sooooooooooo happy! I was happy that I finished it under an hour as I hoped for! But I never thought I would be 2nd! I still can't believe in my success!!!

This was just a small triathlon, perfect for the beginners. I will have to get better! Now just working on my swim and run, improving my bike and getting ready for my sprint distance at the end of September!!!

"I am in competition with no one, I run my own race, I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape, or form. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before. That's me and I'm free."

Friday, 21 June 2013

Helena's Big Adventure. Chapter 6 - The Final Countdown!!!

Start time 12:58:20.

Received my last emails from the organizers, that included my start time. This is the moment when it all gets very real. This is the moment I get a bit nervous and start to panic a bit. But that's not the only thing to panic about!

Last Friday I realized that the nice Trek Madone demo bike I've been riding will not be available for the race weekend. A week away from my first ever tri race and I have no bike! My typical response is running around in a panic mode, rather than sitting down and thinking it over. By Monday I decided that it was not completely impossible to do a good time on my town bike, my Green Beast, my single-speed. Ben had nicely offered me his bike as well, would need to run a shorter stem, but still a solution. Only, what will people expect of me if I turn up with a Parlee?! ;)

After annoying all with my problem for a while, I ended up buying a new bike. Wasn't planning to do it for few more months but hey(!!!), summer is here! Bike arrived on Thursday and our lovely mechanic Craig even came in early on Friday morning to build it up for me. And Ben gave me a hand in adjusting last few bits – I got my very own handover fit! I only have been fitted on the Retul Muve before. As it goes – when you fit a lot of people, there is not a lot of time left for your own fitting. I am really fussy about my position on the bike. I will know if you've changed even a few millimeters. It was therefore very important for me to get it right. I always suffer from a pain over my knee if the seat is too far back. In this position the quads can't get fully extended, so there is more tension on the tendons that cross the knee cup. I am glad we found time to quickly check my body angles, as we actually ended moving my seat a bit further forward. Now I’m ready!

And my bike!!! A lovely Trek Madone 4.7, full Shimano Ultegra groupset! Loving it! I can't express enough in words, so I have been jumping up and down in excitement all day!

Bike was the biggest part of the story! Other things I have sorted out bit by bit over the last few months. I have a big check list. I have a tri-suit, to save time on changing. Hope the weather stays warm for it. I have elastic shoelaces and number belt. I have planned my transitions and practiced them. I just really have to hope that I do not forget to buckle my helmet up before touching my bike!

How bad can it really go in 200m swim, 12.5km bike leg and 2.5km run? It will all be over before I even realize it has started! Fingers crossed!

I will report if I survive! ;)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Helena's Big Adventure. Chapter 5 - Training on Holiday

There comes a time in life of every triathlete to go on holiday… 

What do I think of when thinking about the holiday? Sleeping, meeting friends, having a lot of food, some wine. Definitely not running, swimming and cycling. So this time, when going to see my dad for his 60th Birthday, I packed my trainers, swim goggles and motivation with me.
I found that the motivation is the thing most likely to suffer on holiday. By changing the environment, all the daily routine just goes out out the window.
I did find the best motivation possible! My little sister Marija and her little baby boy Leo with their lunchtime walk. We did few ordinary walks too, but I would never have imagined them as my running partners!!!  My sister put some roller-skates on, took buggy with 5 weeks old Leo and off we went. They can keep up a good pace; I had to work hard to keep up! Apart from motivation, there was another important lesson I learned. I learned that there are some interesting ways to incorporate sporting activities in the daily routine even if you have no time to do it otherwise.
I did try to do a swim session as well although the lake was still a bit cold. My crazy brother actually swims all through the Latvian winter (with no wetsuit). Without any preparation I was not ready for that sort of extreme challenge. There were some swimming pools around, but the closest I got to using one was to go there and purchase a new swimsuit. I did really need one!
For cycling there was no place. I do have a couple of my old bikes waiting for me at home but carrying extra equipment in suitcase was a bit too much.
 What I am trying to say (in a really weird way) is that it is possible to train while abroad. Just check you have the right gear with you. Latvian summer at the beginning of May was much warmer than in the UK. I took some warm tights with me, so was sweating a bit more than necessary. I will check the weather forecast before going next time!
Don’t forget your trainers when leaving for that nice summer break! :)
 Roller-skating sister
 Circuit training