April 6th 2013

Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon 2013

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On Monday I took part in my first triathlon, a "sprint" distance race organised by Thames Turbo Triathlon Club.


428m (+ pool exit chute)
10:23 (2:26/100m)

I was glad to be given a low race number as it would reduce the time standing around 0°C in swimming gear. The 28°C heated pool was a welcome relief and I was quickly on my way, although perhaps overcooking it in the first half.

Overall, I was quite pleased with my swim time as I had cut it by well over 50% during March; there are perhaps 1-2 minutes of fairly easy gains still to be made as well.

T1 (time: 5:32)

Due to the cold temperature and forecast for snow, the race director insisted that competitors added extra layers covering their arms and torso on the bike. An additional "free" 5 minutes was also granted for T1 in order that clothing was not skipped in expense of time. I eventually wore a long-sleeve base layer, tights, a short-sleeved jersey, arm warmers and two pairs of gloves.


13.8 miles (+ mounting/demounting chutes)
39:59 (19.5 mph)

I overtook 10-15 riders in the first half of the bike leg, a couple of them even seeking me out to later to congratulate me on looking so fast. I was thus more than a little disappointed when I discovered my final bike split as I was hoping for at least a sub-39 minute time.

Analysing my GPS later I can see my average speed was over 1.5mph slower in the second half, yet I cannot recall being limited by fatigue or headwind in the last 6 miles. I was either overly reliant on other riders to "reel in" during the first half (but had run out of people to catch in the latter stage) or I simply was not giving 100%.

T2 (time: 3:30)

Leaving T2 I failed to start both my GPS and stopwatch correctly so I do not have splits of my time. I also did not pick up my running gloves resulting in distractingly cold hands in Bushy Park.


24:21 (4:52/km)

Throughout the first kilometer my legs were extremely sluggish and I simply could not get them to do what I wanted - typical triathlon "brick legs". I did not know it at the time but I was also running up a slight—but extended—incline.

I struggled to get to the 1k marker and briefly stopped to mentally regroup. I joined another runner a few moments later and we ran the rest of the 5k at a fairly easy pace.

It's clear that the lack of serious brick workouts compromised my run time, as well as my inability to dial down the pace once it was clearly too optimistic. Knowing the elevation profile of the run should have adjusted my expectations too, leading to a better overall time.


Total time
Position male
Position 25-29 male

Despite finishing just to the left of the overall bell curve, it is difficult avoid feeling disappointed with my time as it was hindered by well-documented and avoidable errors. The sub-optimal pacing throughout meant I still had something left "in the tank" at the end, adding to a general feeling of under-achieving on the way home.

Preperation was also less than ideal - two days before the race I had twinged my back in a 70-mile reconnaissance ride (!) by overusing my clip-on bars although this only affected me mentally in the race. I additionally ate too much before and during the race in retrospect.

Nevertheless, there must be some value in learning these lessons first-hand and and early on.


(Full results)

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