Recently I went to Chester to take part in my first triathlon of this year, The Deva Tri. This was a middle distance triathlon so consists of a 1900m swim, a 90km bike then a 21km run. I had done this distance once before in September last year so was interested to see how I got on this year. I’ve been doing more cycling the last few months but have only managed to get to Salford for some open water swimming 4 times so was expecting the swim to be tough. The event also runs an Olympic distance triathlon (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) on the same day using the same course although those competing in the Olympic distance have a later start time.
The thing with triathlons is they start SO early. My swim wave was going at 7am so my alarm went off at 5:15am and I forced a porridge pot down as I was far too early to make use of the hotel breakfast! It was a 15 minute drive into Chester where you then go and rack your bike in transition before covering yourself in baby oil, fighting your way into your wetsuit and walking to the start. I was number 12 so luckily my bike was racked right at the end and would be easy to spot when I came out of the swim. In total there were 1362 competitors across both events. 268 in the middle distance event and 1094 in the Olympic so finding your bike among a thousand others can be tricking when you’re racing.
The swim was in the river Dee, I’ve never swum in a river before so was unsure what to expect. It was 1000m upstream to the turnaround point them 900m back to where you exit up a ramp and run up a pathway, up some steps, into transition. The outward 1000m of the swim wasn’t fun. There was 268 people all jostling for positon and you’re getting hit in the head, kicked in the ribs and having people basically trying to swim over the top of you. We were heading West as well so every time I looked up to ensure I was going to correct way I couldn’t see anything at all because of the sun. I just kept looking to the side to make sure I could see other red swim hats and I knew I must have been heading in the right direction. After the turnaround point it became much more enjoyable, the field had strung out so you could get into a bit of a rhythm and there was only a few people around you. There were boats moored down the right hand side and because the sun was no longer in front I could look up and see the exit point.
Swim time 37 mins (slower than last year and came out in 11th place)
The bike is my favourite discipline so after faffing around in transition trying to get out of my wetsuit as quick as possible I put my number belt on, which has to be on your back for the bike, my cycling shoes and helmet and grabbed my bike off the rack to run out of transition. You can’t get on your bike until you have passed the mount line and I’m definitely not one of these that can keep running and jump onto their bike gracefully so I stood awkwardly by the kerb trying to get my feet clipped in before setting off. The bike route was 2 laps and headed out south of Chester before looping back around into the city again. It was well sign posted and on good road surfaces with a few mild climbs just to keep it interesting. During the race you have no idea what position you are in, unless you’re out of the swim first obviously, and there were loads of other women in transition when I was getting ready for the bike leg. As I set off on the first lap I passed a few ladies that were in my race so knew I was moving up the field. The second lap of the bike route we were joined by the Olympic athletes heading out on their cycle, they did one lap of the same route that the middle distance were doing so I lost track of who was in my race and who was doing the Olympic distance. The rest of the bike went by pretty uneventfully, I got my head down and just kept my legs turning remembering to keep drinking and having my energy gels at half hour intervals. I came into transition after the second lap and saw there were no other bikes on the rack already……”oh, that’s odd”.
Bike time 2:30 (I was in the lead at this point although I didn’t know)
The run was off road and you crossed over the river and headed out across some fields to the turnaround point then back around past the finish and out on the same route again. It was 3 x 7km laps. As I got to the far turnaround point on the first lap the marshall there said to me “well done, first lady” and I laughed at him, not realising I WAS actually in the lead! Now, the problem with out and back courses is that you can see the people behind you and as I started to head back towards the finish for the first lap I saw the lady in second on her way out to the turnaround point. She was absolutely flying along and I knew it wouldn’t be long before she caught me. I can’t actually remember where it was that she came past but when she did she left a draft she was moving that fast. Racing is a funny thing, on the second lap of the run I felt like I wanted to stop, my stomach was in bits after eating some energy bars I wasn’t used to (rookie mistake) and probably drinking half of the river Dee 2 hours beforehand, and I couldn’t face drinking anymore water even though it was quite hot. Then once I knew I was on the 3rd and final lap I got a second wind and motored along to the finish. I crossed the line, got my medal and necked a can of coke, which is supposed to flush out any bugs you may pick up from open water swimming and went to get a print out of my times from the tent. I HAD come 2nd! I went running over to Luis waving the piece of paper in my hand and an excited grin on my face. I was absolutely over the moon.
Run time 1:37 ( 2nd place overall)
Total finish time 4 hours 50 minutes and a 10 minute PB
I’d made up 11 places on the bike to go from 11th out of the swim to first after the bike leg. I then got passed by only one lady on the run which I’m happy with as at the time the run leg felt really hard. Suppose it’s not going to feel easy after pedalling like mad for 56 miles though is it?
My plan before the next race is to work on my swimming technique a little more and practice running straight off the bike.
Happy with my race thought overall and would recommend the Deva Tri to others as the organisation of the event was superb.