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Race Report: Walden Sprint Triathlon, 1st May 2022

Well done to Laura Mitchell who took part in the Walden Sprint Triathlon on 1st May 2022. Read her race report below.

This was a 400m pool swim, 22km bike and 5km run. Only my second ever triathlon which means I have very few expectations and only intend to learn something I didn't already know or build on existing knowledge.

Setting up transition took me all of 2 minutes. Other people seem to be making a meal of it :-) but I figured this isn't a long race, so 1 bottle of drink, some glucose tablets stashed in the bento box on my bike and then shoes - bike and run - helmet, glasses, lightweight jacket, race belt. Still haven't made my mind up about which pair of gloves to wear so both go on the pile alongside two buffs. I know I won't drink on the bike anyway and it's 22km I can get away with that so I stick a small bike emergency kit "get out of jail free card" in the bottle cage in stead - good call, more on that later.

For my last triathlon I did breast stroke for the entire swim. I am very comfortable now doing front crawl for 1000+ metres, although not fast, I figured I'd be fine sticking to FC for this race. My shoulder has been dodgy anyway and BS is not very good for it. It's 4 lengths in 4 lanes, what could possibly go wrong.

Not sure I'm a fan of this setup. Discussed it in the queue waiting to start with some other competitors - we aren't confident we can count :-) I'll be fine I say, I'll just check my watch. It's fine in the first lane as you know whether you've been up and down it once already but by lanes 2 and 3 all bets are off. Have I pushed off this wall once already or no? Haven't got a clue. Check my watch to find Triathlon mode on the fenix 6 defaults to open water swim - no help at all, must check if I can change that! Did possibly two extra lengths, I still can't be entirely sure. Garmin says I did 442 metres so I'm confident I didn't do too few which is the main thing.

The swim itself was a bit chaotic. It's fastest swimmers first so naturally I'm near the back but because of the 4 lengths per lane format you end up behind someone who may have set off after you. I nearly panicked on my first few lengths as I went off full of adrenaline and took a while to settle into my rhythm, thoughts featuring "I can't breathe", "I'm going to drown", "I need to pull out" but I did manage to collect myself and by about half way I was comfortably stuck behind someone breast stroking and thinking completely different thoughts.

Transition 1: I cannot fathom how people do this in 40 seconds. I take a good 2-3 minutes and still feel rushed. Socks on, shoes on, helmet on, can't get my gloves on argh.

Over the mount/dismount line, on my bike, left then left again straight up a 10% hill - what a rude start. The aim here is to stay around 150bpm and not 180 like last time. Overall I think I managed it well. Quite hilly, enjoying the downs, not so much the ups. Past the 5km point with the mandatory foot down stop straight up another hill from standstill.

About 8-9 km in and I am feeling really compressed, uncomfortable like my bike is a few sizes too small. It dawns on me my saddle has sunk again. This has happened before on the TT bike but not in a long time. I think I've lost a good inch of saddle height. Great. Do I carry on or do I stop to fix? I carry on for a few km, past the halfway point, up another hill - no this is ridiculous, I'm going to stop. Thankfully I stashed my emergency kit in my bottle cage and herein sits a multitool that will tighten or loosen practically anything on your bike. Saddle height fixed I set off down the hill and actually enjoy the last 8 or 9 km including a fast descent back into Saffron Walden.

Transition 2: I feel like I'm going really fast but again I'm beaten out by people who come in after me. Something to work on (note to coaches)

Off on the run, straight up another hill. I walked it. A couple of people walked it. I'll probably never know what it's like at the front of the race but at the back it's very chatty and very supportive. Everyone you pass on the out and back run course cheers you on, and you cheer them back. I'm rather glad it's been dry, this ground looks like it's been very muddy. My main takeaway from the run is it wasn't all that bad, so that speaks volumes about my training plan and the club brick sessions - 100% worth doing. The benefit of going up the hill at the start of the run is that you get to blast down it in your last 500m, which was loads of fun.

One pair of socks in the bin as debris I picked up running to T1 has gouged a hole!

All in all a well organised event with super marshals and friendly competitors. I now need to figure out what's next since both Stortford and Culford (August race) have been cancelled!”

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