Hertfordshire Triathlon (Standard) – Heather

Hertfordshire Triathlon (Standard)

Sunday 22nd May saw the Hertfordshire Standard, Sprint and Super Sprint Triathlons. The standard distance was the Hertfordshire championship race so the pressure was on from Triforce, my triathlon club, for as many club members as possible to compete. 

Despite this being my local race I was still up at 4:30 thanks to a traditional inability to sleep the night before, I might be an ‘old hand’ at this but I still get at least as nervous as any newbie on race day.

But pre-race nerves are good right? They fire up the adrenaline and get things ‘moving’ in the gut department? And that’s exactly what you want on race morning, everything ‘sorted out’. Everyone likes to know there’s a portaloo on the run course but nobody wants to be the person that needs to use it. Only I am that person, all too often, and on Sunday morning, the pre-race nerves hadn’t done the trick, and I had to head to the lake very much not ‘sorted out’.

The swim was super boisterous and despite trying to swim wide, I found myself fighting my way round the first 3/4 lap. Finally fed up with being swum over and punched, I put in a bit of extra effort and managed to drop my surrounding competitors and find some clear water. Exiting the water a little behind Emily, I knew I must have had a good swim, all that extra work I’ve been putting into my swimming is clearly paying off.

The bike course was two laps of the local roads that I know well. The bike leg has always been my strength and I overtook considerably more than overtook me. Playing Cat and Mouse with Debs and Emily, both Triforce club mates, definitely helped to spur me on. 

The roads were busy, no thanks to the slightly later start and we got held up several times by cars stuck behind the slower riders from the sprint race that had started before us. In a moment of madness and frustration I took the foolish decision to overtake a couple of cars I thought were stuck behind cyclists only to find that the front one was turning right and I was very nearly taken out. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to stay on the bike but I was lucky especially as it was entirely my fault. After that I was a tad more cautious and more than a little cross with myself for being so stupid. It really isn’t worth taking such a risk for anything, let alone a few seconds in a local race. 

The rest of the bike was incident free and I returned to T2 with a successful running dismount, no falling in the bushes for me this year!

Out onto the run that I had been dreading all morning and I waved goodbye to Emily and Debs who rapidly disappeared into the distance.

Many runners are familiar with those awful days when we’ve been ‘caught short’ and had to find a bush, assuming a bush can be found in time. For me, unfortunately, it’s a regular occurrence and Sunday morning I was facing a 10K race, with the majority of my club mates in attendance, those very same club mates who wonder why I’m so nervous before a race? No shit I’m nervous! (Pun very much intended). So would they be if they had to contend with the ‘digestive issues’ that I, and so many other competitors do. 

A ‘good run’ for me isn’t about a PB or feeling good or strong, it’s a run where I don’t have to find a bush, and that’s when I have been to the toilet before I start! So forgive me for being nervous before a race, every race – yes, I’ve done this loads of times, but please don’t ask me what’s the worst that can happen because you really don’t want to know!

But somehow (probably due to the six Imodium I took after a lap of the park and considerable amount of praying in a portaloo) my luck, and my tummy, held on Sunday and against all the odds I had a ‘good run’. Not my best run, but good enough to win my age group and help Triforce retain the Hertfordshire Championship trophy. I even picked the pace up a bit for the last lap, pushing hard up the last hill and crossing the line with a sprint and a huge sigh of relief.

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