My First Triathlon – from a Nervous Beginner!
Thursday 20th June 2019
On Monday 27 May, a group of our girls, who had spend half term training hard, competed in the Go Tri Super Duper at Dorney Lake, as part of the Arctic One Tri and Para-Tri Festival. This involved a 200m swim, 5km cycle and 1.5km run.
For many of our girls, this was their very first time competing in a triathlon, and some were, understandable, quite nervous!
Gigi J (U4), was one of them, and you can read her thrilling experience of her first ever triathlon below:
“My feet tingled as I stepped out of the car onto the soft grass. The tension was building up inside me like a ticking time bomb. Adrenaline was rushing through my veins. We had arrived at Dorney Lake for my first ever triathlon.
Before that day, I had only ever swum in a lake once and my stomach turned at the thought of what lay ahead. I took a deep breath and started gathering my things. My clothes for transition all bundled together, my bike, which I prayed would not fall apart and my wetsuit, the only thing that could help me make it through the swim.
Volunteers who gave up their own time to help support the people who choose to do this mad experience directed us. Once we arrived at the welcome tent, it suddenly got real – I was doing a triathlon! This made me want to run away and hide, but somehow I gathered up enough courage to go into the tent and register. There I picked up my swimming cap. You get a different colour hat for every wave. They also gave you a timing chip so you could see how fast you did each section and a strap to go with it, which went around your ankle. All of this was rather overwhelming and I was starting to have more doubts. Luckily, I saw some familiar faces from Queen Anne’s, which made me feel more comfortable. Five minutes later, we were all rushed into transition to organise all our things.
Fifteen minutes later, we were awkwardly standing together listening to the race briefing, I looked at the water. It did not seem very welcoming. However, I was committed, so I decided just to do it without all the hysteria. I shuffled reluctantly to the murky water. I dipped a toe in and was surprised that it was not that bad. I strolled in willing myself not to run away. Before I knew it, I was fully in feeling the cold water seeping into my once warm wetsuit.
I looked around and what I saw was the most inspiring thing I have ever seen. People being assisted out of wheelchairs, with a missing limb were getting into the water giving it a go! This made me more determined. If these amazing people could do it then so could I.
Moments later the horn blew and all the tension I had melted away and I let the adrenaline kick in. Legs and arms were everywhere, splashing, kicking, shoving. It was chaos. Nevertheless, I felt so alive. It was an amazing feeling swimming among other kids, students, adults and even some paraplegics. It made me push myself that much more.
Sooner than expected, we were out of the water. My legs still thought they were meant to be kicking. As I ran up the ramp, I began stripping my wetsuit off down to my waist before I got to transition. Unfortunately, this is where disaster kicked in. I seemed to have left my brain in the lake as when I pulled the wetsuit down to my legs I stood on it trying urgently to get my leg free, but instead I slipped and I literally looked like one of those cartoon characters when they slip over a banana skin! Finally, I ripped my leg free and was onto the next where I spent what little grace I had left freeing it.
After that, I snatched up my glasses, helmet, and lifted my bike off the rack. I began to sprint towards the line where you could mount it. Before I knew it, my legs were pumping and I was off. The feeling of speeding along was great! I felt I could do it, that I could complete it. Sometimes you would pass people and it would give you a massive boost. Equally, people passed you and that did not feel as great, but it motivated you to keep your speed up so that it did not happen again.
On the bike, we had to do a quick loop down across some bridges and back. Frequently there would be random supporters dotted around who would cheer you on. My legs began to feel slightly tired and heavy. Luckily, I could see transition. I was very close. I sped over the last bridge and hurtled towards the line where the marshal was yelling at me to get off. I swung my leg round with the bike still moving and went into a run.
Feeling solid ground again was like coming off a roller-coaster – slightly sickening. My legs felt like jelly but I had to keep moving. I racked my bike and put down my helmet, which as I left rolled away, but I had to move on, as I did not have time to go back.
I was on the last section and it felt great. I had a new surge of energy. Even though everything was hurting, I had started to enjoy myself. The run seemed to speed past and a while later I could see the fantastic finish so close that I knew I could reach it. I was in line with a girl who was about a year younger than I was. We kept going neck and neck. However, she had a bigger sprint in her than I did. She got ahead in front of me and we were nearly at the finish. I gave a last ditch effort but unfortunately it was not enough.
I looked down and suddenly noticed that the girl had a metal leg! I was so happy that we had fought until the last second, because it meant that I pushed myself till the very end. I stumbled over, shook the girl’s hand, and said “you were amazing, well done!” Then I lined up to receive my medal and then it struck me: I had just done a triathlon and I had enjoyed it! I cannot wait to do another one. It was an amazing experience.
The other Queen Anne’s girls were brilliant, super-fast and motivating. Many thanks to Mr Dax. As a first timer, the transition skills it taught were really helpful (particularly how to get into a super tight wetsuit. I just need now to work on getting out of it more quickly!).”