New year, same me. For the 4th time I’d signed up for this event in Edinburgh, based at the Royal Commonwealth pool, with the bike and run taking in the rather ‘lumpy’ loop around Arthur’s seat. No idea who Arthur was, or why he needed a seat. Bet he never did a triathlon though. Too much sitting down.
Every year around the 29th of December, I begin to regret signing up. Wouldn’t it be nice just to be normal on New Year’s Eve for once and enjoy a drink or 7 before staggering home and lying in bed the next day eating leftover Christmas cake. Maybe one year I’ll try it, but it’s unlikely.
However, this year I really did have a serious case of ‘I really can’t be arsed-itus’. To set the scene, I’m probably the least fit I’ve been in the last 24 months. Ever since Kona, I’ve really been enjoying eating some crap food, drinking lots of beer, and not subjecting myself to anything hard in training. It’s been lovely, but it’s left my clothes a bit tight and means I’m carrying a bit of extra timber.
My personality is such that I always want to give it my best, and when I’m not in decent shape, I throw a paddy and don’t want to know. Fortunately, I had Katie around to talk sense into me and told me to stop being an idiot and just enjoy it. A plan was formed to do the race in my Christmas pyjamas, which very nearly materialised – those that know me won’t be surprised about this plan in the slightest, the biggest surprise being it didn’t actually happen.
The great news was that Katie had also signed up. The terrible news is that she’s got yet another injury – this time it’s her foot. I’ve never met someone as unlucky as she is, and it literally breaks my heart to see her so upset. She’d decided to do the swim and bike anyway, and see how her foot held out for the run.
With the support crew not in tow this year, we were flying solo, and taking a very relaxed attitude to proceedings. So relaxed in fact, that as we wheeled the bikes over to transition, they were shouting that transition was closing in 2 minutes. Everyone who does triathlon knows how much faff is involved, and 2 minutes isn’t very long to organise your transition area into nicely arranged piles. We just about sorted ourselves out and rushed back inside for the race briefing.
Thankfully, the start times are arranged from slowest to fastest swimmers, so once we were inside we had a fair bit of time to get ourselves changed – I wasn’t underway until around an hour after the first swimmer. I’d met Graeme Acheson at this event 2 years ago, and he was taking part again, after having a brief hiatus to welcome his first born son into the world. We had a chat whilst waiting for our swim time to come around – top man.
We watched Katie get her race underway before having a quick warm up in the diving pool and taking our place in line ready to start
Swim – 7:33 (33/372)
Not much to report here really. Pretty much the same time as last year, which is a fair result – I’ve done some general swimming in the last month or so but no proper ‘training’. I was overtaken by the 2 people starting behind me and passed one other about halfway through, but that was about as eventful as it got.
There’s quite a long run from the pool to the timing mat, and I recorded my actual swim time for the 400m as 7 minutes on the nose. Still not a dolphin.
T1 – 00:57 (29/372)
7 seconds slower than last year- what a shambles. I stashed my gloves by the exit to the pool so I could put them on while running towards my bike. Still not learned how to do a flying mount, much to Graeme’s dismay, so I ran to the mount line in my cycling shoes. I’m essentially just a runner still trying to fake it in triathlon – absolute schoolboy.
Bike – 30:58 (2/372)
Once you’ve left the pool and made it on to the main loop around the seat, the first mile is super fast and downhill, which gives you a chance to get your breath back and realise how cold Edinburgh is in January. To be fair, conditions were definitely better that previous years, but it was still pretty frigid.
The great thing about the Edinburgh race is the large number of first time triathletes taking part – it really is a beginner friendly event. The only negative to this is that, as one of the final starters, I’m also one of the last out on to the bike course, and some of the bike handling skills can be described as ‘questionable’ to say the least.
I spent a large portion of the time in the saddle weaving through the field and constantly trying to shout ‘on your left’ with the very little breath I had in my lungs. I hit it hard at the bottom of the big climb, tapping out a decent pace all the way to the top. From here it’s just a case of getting as tucked in as possible and screaming down the other side of the hill, trying not to crash into anyone else.
I seemed to be moving pretty well and hadn’t been passed by anybody. I saw Katie just as I was about to tackle the climb for the final time, and she looked amazing, gliding past those around her. If she starts getting triathlon related ambitions, I’ve got a feeling a lot of the other girls are going to be worriedly looking over their shoulders.
I popped my feet out of my shoes and managed a fairly graceful dismount. 2nd fastest bike split, 10 seconds faster than last year, but I reckon we had better conditions.
T2 – 00:37 (11/372)
Nailed it son. 7 seconds faster than last year, with my trainers actually slipping straight on to my feet for once. First time for everything I guess.
Run – 22:33 (5/372)
I came out on to the run feeling pretty good, passing Graeme coming the other way on his bike, giving me the old ‘I’m coming for you’ gesture with his hands. Game on. The first mile is predominantly downhill, and you can absolutely fly through this without using up too much energy.
The main challenge here is to dodge all the revellers and tourists out for their New Year’s Day walk, most nursing blurry vision and unsteady feet. It was the first outing for the flat cap and tri-suit combo, which unfortunately wasn’t documented in photo form. I’ll have to leave that treat for future reports.
Things aren’t so fun in the second mile, when you’ve got to run up the massive hill. However, I got a dose of perspective as I ran past another competitor who was riding up it. At least I didn’t have to haul a metal frame with me this time.
From previous experience, I knew it was just a case of maxing out the effort level to the top, as you can then just roll down to the finish. Or run, if you fancy going getting there even faster. It’s always hard in rolling start races, as I had no one to run with or chase; it was just me vs. the clock, whilst always wondering how others were getting on.
Barreling down towards the finish, I tried to eek out every ounce of energy, a final uphill back to the pool proving to be a sting in the tail. In the end my run was only 7 seconds slower than last year, which was again surprising, but I think the lack of wind played a part. My run split was only 5th fastest, whereas in previous years I’ve held the fastest split.
Overall – 1:02:41 (3/372)
In the end, I managed to scrape on to the podium for a 3rd year in a row, scooping a bit of prize money in the process which paid for a nice dinner for us that evening. Katie also had a cracking result, finishing 6th with only one working foot.
So the race season is ‘off and running’ for another year. I’m sure it’s going to be another rollercoaster ride. If you’re still reading by the end of 2019, then you’ll have earned a beer or 7 yourselves.