I am a lucky man; just over three months ago I got a cool job as a senior UI developer at Wiggle and it is a great place to work.
Not long after I started I spotted a message on Yammer, our internal social network, from our Marketing Team:
Are you training for your first Triathlon? Or maybe you're taking the next step and upping your distance? I'd love to support you with some new dhb Triathlon kit.
I'd never done a triathlon. 'I like running, I like cycling, I like swimming,' I thought to myself. 'Why not?' But since I had become a Type 1 Diabetic six years ago I hadn't really been doing prolonged exercise, no more than an hour or so at a time. I had always been tempted to participate in a triathlon and getting to trial a load of the new dhb sporting kit and more importantly, the chance to get the advice and support of people I work with, was hard to resist.
I asked my mate Haydn, a seasoned triathlete and he recommended the Chichester triathlon would be a good place to start. I live there so it made sense. I signed up for the Chichester sprint triathlon on the Sunday June 3rd. 400m pool swim, 33km bike, and 5km run. Then I replied to the Yammer message by email and the dhb team accepted me!
All the gear...
dhb supported me with Trinity Tri Shoes, Hydron Short Sleeve Tri Suit, Lightweight Mesh Sleeveless Base Layer, Short Sleeve Run Top, 5" Run Short, Aeron Speed Short Sleeve Jersey and Aeron Speed Bib Shorts. I was so excited when it arrived; it was really nicely packaged, high quality and was really appreciated.
As with most sports, having the right kit for the job is worth it. When you invest in good quality kit for yourself (or someone else does…) it motivates you to train harder.
I was issued with the dhb Aeron Speed Short Sleeve Jersey and Bib Shorts in red and pink. I liked them so much that I bought exactly the same outfit in blue myself. The speed-focussed close fit works for me perfectly. My favourite features are the silicone hem arm grippers and leg elastic silicone particle gripper, which means you won’t waste time adjusting and pulling kit back into place; it just stays put.
The Hydron Short Sleeve Tri Suit was great; I have to admit the first time I wore it in public was ‘interesting’ but after that I got on really well with it. During the cycle the suit dried quickly and the CyTech Super-Tri S padding offers just enough comfort for the ride without getting soaked and weighing you down after the swim.
If, like me, you're just getting started with triathlon, a pair of triathlon bike shoes and a tri-suit are essential so that you don't need to think about changing in transitions and can focus on enjoying the challenge. I’d also say a base layer really helped me not freeze in early season training. A decent set of sports glasses are necessary and if, like me, you’re not bothering with socks in the event, then talc is your new best friend. A set of elastic drawstring laces for your running shoes are a good investment too.
From training to tri
If possible, it's always a good idea to train for the terrain. My favourite cycle training session involved leaving work to meet my mate halfway between our workplaces. We would then head into the beautiful South Downs through Idsworth, up and down Harting Hill, which was part of my race recce for a hairy part of the ride.
On Tuesday May 29th I did a full run through of the event. I managed to do it all in 1:48 (swim 9 min, ride 73 min and run 27 min) without transitions so I was imagining that on the day I would be looking at losing a little time on this. In the end I managed 1:53 (swim 9 min, ride 70 min, run 30 min and 3 min transition). In hindsight I could have practiced transitions more but on the whole I was happy with my performance
My work-mate Mike pointed out ‘you were well up for it and pumped that day when you left work, but you can not guarantee you’ll feel like that on the actual day.’ This is true; I was nervous, my legs didn’t feel great from my training on the Thursday evening, and it was 25 degrees when I started running. I shaved three minutes off of my best cycle time, but then the run was pure hell; a real challenge. I added those three minutes straight on to the run.
The pain was real
What did we learn?
The list of my training and event mistakes goes on and on but that’s the best bit; learning about yourself and your limits. I don't want to go on about my Type 1 diabetes but did want to mention it as I think it added an extra dimension. In reality, everyone has to figure out their nutrition for longer events. I have a blood sugar test kit to tell me exactly how I am doing but if i get it wrong; it is a bigger problem. I found that 5 grams of carbs 20 minutes before I started, five after the swim and five an hour after, worked for me. I used a third of a Bounce Energy Ball, I find that a bit of protein works for me too, everyone is different and it’s all about seeing what works for you.
As well as dhb, thanks to all my training partners; Ali, Jason, Liam, Tom and most of all Haydn who really got me up to speed. I learnt from all the mistakes, but I am lucky and really grateful to have been supported with kit that made training something I could just enjoy and get on with!
I am already looking for my next challenge…