Beginning to Tri – So i’m now a Triathlete

So i can now honestly say i’m a triathlete, well maybe only a open water sprint distance one but with 2 sprint tri’s under my belt i can still be classed as a novice but i did it.  So what have i learnt?

  • It’s a great event to get involved in! i have loved trying something new, even coming form injury and having poor fitness a sprint tri is achievable and still good fun.
  • You don’t need to buy the gear – lots of people doing sprints buy loads of expensive kit but you wont look out of place on a mountain bike and a surf wetsuit if you want to see how you go.
  • You wont be the only newbie! Both events had lots of new to tri racers.
  • It will help you stay Injury Free! Having to mix your training up across 3 events has stopped me over training and get back to fitness!
  • Each race is different, you cannot compare BUT you will want to do more!

So now my first tri season is over, whats next? Do i have a winter of running? I fancy trying some Cyclo Cross and Duathlons too!  I need to build my base back up both in speed and mileage across Swim, Bike and Run.  I have 2 more pounds of weight to lose and i have decided i want to build on this year and try a few Olympic distance races next year.  Speaking to others it sounds like quiet a step up so here is my winter plan!

  1. Regain focus and build a good training base over all areas
  2. Do some of the Wild Night Trail races to help build strength and running stamina
  3. Stay injury free by stretching and working on my core
  4. Build my speed back up both on swim, bike and run!
  5. have a go at a CX and Duathlon if i can find some locally.
  6. Take my nutrition more seriously, especially around recovery and repair

So i guess now it’s here the only thing to do is get going! Starting as i mean to go on! pool session planned for Monday morning.  Oh and also the fun bit……….

What races do i enter next season? More to Follow! 😉

 

Zone 3 Aspire Wetsuit Review

The team at Zone 3 agreed to send me a wetsuit to test for the Triathlon Season so as I have just finished my last race I thought I would post my review! It needs to go back but after using it this summer I really am going to struggle to let it go back!

The team offered to send me the new Aspire model I had seen it had won several awards and had been highly rated by several magazines but as with everything I wanted to wait to see if it was true myself.

When the suit arrived I was impressed by the quality of the box and the fact that you also got a good quality bag.  The team had suggested what size I needed (I suggest you do this or try a few on first) and I have to say it was spot on.  You can see the quality in the suit right from the start.  The neoprene looks and feels very smooth and the lining is of great quality too.  All the joins look very neat and make this look a high quality suit as it is.

The fit was superb.  The 1 piece shoulder felt very comfortable and on first try I knew it would feel unrestrictive in the water.  The body and legs which are thicker to aid buoyancy felt supportive but easy to get on.  The zip was of a great quality and I was able to do it up by myself, this shows a well-made suit in my eyes.

As this was a test suit I was unable to trim it.  Being 5ft 6inches I normally take a few inches off the legs and arms to make transition easier.  The arm and leg cuffs are well designed and I felt this would have been easy and not compromised the suit.

So the proof was in the testing.  I have used this suit on several triathlon races over the summer as well as some open water training, sea swims and a mile sea swim race.

I used this suit first on the first Open water club swim at Budleigh Beach, Devon.  It was a cold, windy day and the sea did not look that inviting.  I noticed not only that it was a warm suit but you really can feel the extra buoyancy in the body and legs and I was able to keep good posture throughout the training swim.

As expected the 1 piece shoulders really allowed free movement in the arms and I didn’t feel restricted at all.  I forgot to put anything on my neck and was worried how sore it would be but I was pleased it was chafe free.  I have noticed on training swims since that as it helps me keep my shape in the water it also makes me faster and less tiring.

The real test for the suit would be both a mile swim race and a triathlon transition.  The suit performed so well on the mile race, as with the training swims I felt buoyant and kept a good position in the water as I swam around Burgh Island.  I never felt cold and the buoyancy helped with sighting in the waves too.

zone-3-suit-and-biI was a little worried about transitions as I had been unable to trim it down but I didn’t need to.  The pro speed cuffs really help with getting on and off quickly.  I never felt stuck in races to get it off.  Getting the suit off was quick and simple.  The stretch in the cuffs allow it to come off quickly even over a clenched fist with my goggles and swim cap in!  The shoulders are so flexible it is easy to remove.

So after using this for a season it still looks like new.  If you follow the care advice and dry it and then fold and store flat I can see this suit lasting for many seasons.  I haven’t used gloves to put it on and have never had an issue of put any nail marks in it.

I will really be sad to send this suit back.  So much I have been looking to buy one for next season.  If you are in the market for a good quality suit that will not only look good but help you swim smoother and faster, then I would really consider the Zone 3 Aspire.

 

 

Cotswold Sprint Triathlon Review

I entered this sprint Tri for 2 reasons, it was very close to my parents (free accommodation) and i spent many a great day swimming in the lake so really wanted to race there.

Pre-race information was good and the pack given out at the sign in the day before had further information to put even the most unorganised or newbie at ease.  Signage to the event car parks was good and easy to follow.

Race day parking was well marshalled and organised and quickly i was in, parked and starting to get my kit ready.  I was able to find my racking point the day before and go through exits and entries in a calmer and less stressed surroundings.

My initial observation was that the transition area felt very small.  With racking for 500 the gangways between the racking was very tight.  With this in mind i kept kit to a minimum and on a small towel.  More on this later.

The 750m swim was across the lake from the near bank before taking a left turn and then a further left to return to the original bank but nearer the transition point.  The lake was clear and fairly warm.  This was my first lake race this year and it was a nice change from salty, choppy water.

Race briefing was clear and done to each group as we entered the water.  The waves were of about 50 people but as we cuold spread along the bank the start was not as frantic as i have had in previous races.  The depth of the lake was undulating and i never encountered problems but i did hear of some that ‘drifted’ of he route getting grounded.

Swim exit was via a rubber mat covered ramp.  The ramp just touched the water.  I didn’t realise this and on exit went to put my foot down and there was nothing there!  To exit i had to get my fingers into the matting and crawl out.

The route from the swim to transition was not too long (I was near the run/swim end, furthest from the bike exit/entry)  Quick change, making sure to tuck my kit under the racking and i headed off for the bike leg.  My earlier concerns about the size of transition soon proved correct.  I got stuck behind a athlete who was getting his kit on then walking out of transition.  I also found myself walking over/running my bike over others wetsuits as they had not tucked them away.

Once out on the bike course it was well marshalled and easy to follow as like the swim course it was basically a large rectangle.  The roads were fairly flat with only one major junction to cross which was manned by the local police.  There was a technical section involving a few left and right turns in quick succession but once again this was well marshalled.

As a Non drafting race, the straight flat roads made this much easier to comply.  The trickiest part of the cycle was the dismount and transition.  The dismount line was on the road with a sharp left turn off the road into the transition.  This was a little hairy as some left it a little too late to stop!

Transition was once again cramped, i got stuck behind a cyclist walking in and then by a group of relay runners stood in the way waiting for their team mates.

So i headed out on the run, i was looking forward to this as it was a trail run around the lake.  I was worried that i had brought the wrong shoes as it had rained the night before and i had brought my road trainers.  It was a little greasy at times and i may have been a little quicker but it wasn’t a major issue!

The 2 laps of the lake was a refreshing change from road or path based runs and was very picturesque.  After the second lap you had to double back on yourself to run up the finish funnel.  I heard some had fallen as the corner was wet from the nights rain.  I just slowed, turned and began again and had no issues.

I crossed the line, got my medal and headed to get my timing sheet.  Not only had i done a fast run i was happy with my swim too!  Packing up and getting going was simple.  The carpark was easy to get out of and not that hectic.

Would i do it again? Yes, when does the entries open? i have a time to beat!

Pros:

  • Well organised
  • Clear, warm lake swim
  • Easy to navigate
  • Good Marshalling

Cons:

  • Transition was too small
  • Pontoon water Exit would have been better than short ramp

Zoggs Predator Flex Review

The guys at Zoggs sent me a pair of Predator Flex goggles to review for the triathlon season.  As the season is nearly over for me I thought I would let you in to my thoughts.  My first impressions when they arrived I was impressed as they looked sleek.  The smoked titanium lens looked the part and I hoped they would help on my open water races and swims.

I have tried other Zoggs glasses and found them to not fit as with other brands also, so I was really pleased to find this fitted my face comfortably and made a great seal around my face without having to be too tight.  They are easy to adjust and sit well on the back of my head.

I used them in the pool a couple of times to make sure they didn’t leak and were comfortable and I was impressed that they did not fog and still we not too dark so were fine being used indoors.

My first outdoor swim in them was on a sunny sea swim in Exmouth.  The coating helped with the glare and had great all-round vision.  I wore them for a 20 minute swim with no leaking or fogging so I was pretty pleased for a first session.

Since this session I have used them on a mile sea swim race as well as several open water triathlons and I have been really pleased with their comfort and anti-fogging abilities.

At a price point of £30 was happy with their quality and build quality and felt happy that they could be used for indoor and outdoor sessions.  These goggles have won many awards and won best in test in several reviews and I can see why.

So if you are looking for an all-round goggle that can be used regardless of the session then look no further.

Bideford Triathlon

The Bideford Tri is a Local club and Rotary Club run event where all profit goes to charity.  It’s a great sprint tri that is very friendly but still challenging.  Facilities are good with a large long stay car park and toilets within 100m of the finish line.  Race start time depends on tide times so can vary.

The Swim is a straight 600m river swim with the tide from downstream back to transition, The water is not very clear and the tidal race can catch you out on the swim out to the first bouy from the shore.

Transition was easy to navigate and there was lots of support.The bike leg is well marshalled and easy to follow (i never did a pre drive and had no issues) Be warned though this is by no means a flat course! The 24km bike course weaves it’s way around the little villages around Bideford and has 1 enforced foot down junction,  But with tough uphills there are some super fast downhills too.  There is a good flat/downhillish last 500m to spin the legs out before transition too.Bid Profile

The run was perfect after the hills, The route takes you over the old bridge and out and back on the flat Tarka trail.  Thre was a well place water station at the turn point too.  The run was well supported in the final stages across the bridge and into the finish funnel.

This is a small race (Max 250) with a real friendly feel.  This would be perfect fr both newbie triathletes to try there first Open Water race as well as the die hard racers to test yourself with a hilly bike course.

As with the title, this race would be a great race to do whilst down in sunny Devon on your hols due to being in August.

The organsers were super helpful and friendly and it had a great atmosphere!

Hope to see you all next year!

MP Hand Paddles Review

When i was sent these from the team at Aquasphere to test as part of their new Micheal Phelps range i was surprised on the size.  I have a pair of aquashere ones already which i have found a great help in developing my strength in training but i was worried about these would be too big.  But proof is in the training.

I have used these on many pool sessions now and can feel the benefits to both my speed and strength in the pool.  My first session was a speed pyramid pull session, i wanted to start with a tough session!  I was impressed with the ease of fitting and lightness of them out of the water.  I was worried that you would loose feel with such a big paddle but the added grooves/holes allows you still to get a real feel of the water as you use them.

MP Hand paddles

The straps fit nicely and are easy to get on and off.  They are quick to adjust and it is possible to use the paddles just on the finger grip to help work on technique too.  The main thing i noticed was the ‘bone’ structure makes them feel comfortable and the raised ridges on the palm places the palm in comfortable cupped position.

I have continued to use these on a regular basis and really like them.  I have given my old Aquasphere ones away now as these are the ones i will choose for a session.  For those who do not have a pair of hand paddles, i would look at getting some as they help a huge deal with speed and strength.

Happy Training.

Burgh Island Swim Report

So in my quest to become a triathlete i found out that Ashfords Law were organising a charity swim around Burgh Island.  Now i had a vague idea where it was but i had never been there.  Burgh Island is a small island off the south Devon coast just outside Bantham near Kingsbridge, south Devon.

The Swim seemed a great solution to a few of my fears.

  1. Can i swim a mile in Open Water?
  2. How long will it take me?
  3. How will it feel racing in Open Water with other people?
  4. Ho will my Zone 3 Aspire suit fare in a longer swim?

I have my first Sprint Triathlon on the 7th August so i was really keen to try swimming n a group in open water.  Finally the opportunity to raise money for 3 great charities, Parkinsons, Exeter City Football in the Community and The Surf Lifesaving Society.  Another great reason to do it was to swim in what looks like a great venue, so it  was hard to turn down so i signed up 2 weeks ago.

Preparation was not as i wanted as with my last blog and my chest cold was still hanging on so i was still not feeling 100%.  To add to this i had rushed about all day as it was the first day of the school holidays.  Finally i got the kit in the van and headed off for the hour journey to the swim.

As you come over the headland and start to be able to see Burgh Island i realised how great this swim was going to be.  Conditions were great, a few clouds but very little wind and the sea was lovely and calm.

Zone 3 suit and BI

I had heard that Ashfords Law firm put on good events and this was no different.  Huge car park, friendly staff and organised.  Within minutes i had my swim cap and race pack and was heading back to the van to get kitted up.   Cassie Patten Bejing 10km Bronze Medalist was also there and gave us all some advice and was joining us for the swim.  So with my Zone3 Aspire suit on i made my way down to the beach to get wet and ready for the swim.

As this was a more social event than a race the organisers set the more leisurely swimmers off first and then 5 minutes later the rest of us headed off.  I noticed 2 things right from the start of the swim. 1. How clear the sea was. 2. How flexible the Aspire suit is.   I was quite worried about sighting and swimming into the setting sun made this even harder and i ended up getting a little too close to the island which made the swim a little longer and harder.

The swim felt tough but as i got further into the swim the buoyancy in the legs and body of the Aspire really helped.  It’s flexibility is amazing and you hardly notice you are wearing it as you swim.  I got better at sighting and controlling my breathing.  This was a great way of learning how to swim in race conditions in Open Water.

We were heading around the island in an anti-clockwise direction to get a bit of a push from the tide on the back leg.  As you headed around the back of the island the viability was still great and sighting was easier now the sun was behind me.  I suddenly realised i had a swimmer beside me so i tried to stick on their feet but they were quicker than me but i kept with them as we rounded the island and started the home leg back to the beach.

So i started my final push to the beach, i was completely unaware of how i had done, how long it had taken but as i reached the shallows i was happy to stop my Garmin 755XT (Review to follow soon) and lay back in the sea, happy that i had done it.

Swim detail BI

A few moments later i heard a shout telling me to get moving as the finish was up the beach! so i got off my backside and jogged up the beach to the finish line.  The atmosphere at the finish was great, i was given some water before clapping in the remaining swimmers.  i had done the swim in about 38 minutes, i was a little disappointed but i’m happy to write this off due illness and lack of experience.

Heading back to the car park i threw my Zone 3 Parka on and went to enjoy a beer and a Pasty that was laid on for the swimmers by Ashfords.  I have o say the organisation and atmosphere was great.  The swim was fantastic and you even got a great goodie bag and pasty at the end.

Will i be doing it again? Of course not only was it a great swim i need to beat that time!

Zone 3 Cloak BI