Welcome to the regular readers and those who may be viewing the blog for the first time. This week sees the continuation of the guest blogs where I invite other friends, athletes and club associates the chance to share their experiences and challenges within the realms of sport.
I introduce to you Jacqueline Fernandez (Jecks), who on Sunday took on her first triathlon (Bananaman) as part of a series of challenges she is undertaking throughout this year, including a hike to Everest base camp. I have been working with Jecks over the last 6 weeks or so in providing advice and helping her to swim better. This is her recount on what I see as a very successful first triathlon. Incredibly apprehensive to begin with in which I assured her that she would love it – AND SHE DID! Jecks has certainly listened and practiced, especially with swimming, her dreaded discipline. I was very impressed at how quickly she has improved. I hope you enjoy this wonderful recount and at the end I’ll give you a short update on my performance. A big shout also goes out to @Hazpicss from Instagram, a Sports Photographer, who captured some of the wonderful shots. Over to you Jecks…
Where do I begin? Firstly, what an honour to be asked to be a guest blogger! I’m Jacqueline, and I recently heard the term “girls who tri”- that is me! Trying new experiences, aiming for 30 fitness challenges this year to celebrate my 30th birthday.
Challenge 20 was a big one – my first ever triathlon at Human Race events. I only signed up for this triathlon a month beforehand as Coach Danny recommended to do a tri as practise for London tri in August (Challenge 25).
Honestly, I am not a strong swimmer, I struggle with cycling (I recently cried during a group cycle!) and I have only been a runner for over a year and a half, so taking on a triathlon was going to be very difficult for me. Sarah, a fellow club member, recommended connecting with Danny as he is an expert in this field and has done so many. Forming a tri group with Han, Danny, Nick and Sarah has been incredible helpful for me, especially as a newbie.
Just about a month ago Danny took me for an open water swimming session. I can say it now- I was AWFUL! Even though I can swim, I was tired very easily and I was kicking frantically! At that point, I was concerned whether I would be able to do this tri! Danny created a training plan after a pool session, aiming for: 1. Better swim fitness 2. Improving continuous swimming. I put a lot of effort into reaching those two goals (I got slightly carried away, over training which was leading to a shoulder niggle and was told by Danny to only swim twice a week!!). I LOVED having a training plan, using different equipment and doing drills (my favourite drill so far is working on my extension).
Doing the other challenges helped training for the cycling and running parts. I am currently training for Ride 100, so I was already learning about my bike and getting used to cycling. Challenge 17 was my very first duathlon, and my god, I was dreadful. My legs felt like jelly on the second run and I came last but I did it!! My worry was putting everything I learnt, all together. I questioned, can I swim, cycle and then run? Well, I was about to see!
The Big Event
Nervous was an understatement, but I really learnt the value of having a coach that day. Danny was doing the Whole Banana distance which was fab because I got to see him in action! I set up my bike early and was hydrating constantly because it was super hot! He walked me through transitions and I watched the earlier waves to see what transitions were liked (this really helped me! Lots of people shouting: “Move! Get out the way!”). I watched Danny do his swim and cycle. His swim looked effortless and very relaxed so I had in mind that I would NOT panic and swim as if I was in the training pool.
Danny exiting his swim and deciding to swim without a wetsuit
My wave started at 1:30pm (bang in the middle of the crazy heat) and I introduced myself to some of the women with most never having done a tri before (thank God!). We got into the water and were briefed quickly. There was an option of not wearing a wetsuit but the buoyancy of the wetsuit helped with my nerves so I decided to swim in my wetsuit (tip: do not put on the wetsuit early in BOILING WEATHER!!!!!).
To my surprise – I loved the swim. I didn’t stay right at the back as planned but in the middle where I felt comfortable. I swam keeping an eye on the person’s feet in front of me. I didn’t stop nor did I need to breast stroke – I was ECSTATIC! My only issue was not sighting enough so I nearly missed the exit (I need to go to Specsavers!!!). Note to self: do not rely on people in front of you because I learnt, you can overtake them or they may end up at the side of you, so sighting is key.
Because the swim went so well, I had lots of energy for transition 1 and getting on my bike. Getting my wetsuit off wasn’t as hard, but getting into my socks and trainers without patiently drying my feet first were frustrating! I’m not normally a confident cyclist, but the buzz of the event got me excited and two laps went by fast! BUT THEN… I was so ‘in the moment’ I got confused on how many laps I needed to do. I stopped to ask an event member TWICE stating that I have seen this part of the lap twice, ‘should I carry on?’ I guess because there were so many waves, I wasn’t very clear and they both told me to keep going. I knew I did a 3rd lap because no one in my wave was near me and one woman who was far behind was now in front of me! I was very frustrated with myself but I carried on and did the third lap as fast as possible (tip: start your watch so you know can check distance instead of count laps!!). I got off my bike and knew I was nearly there. The sun was blazing and my legs felt like jelly, especially because I knew I did an extra lap. It’s probably my slowest 2.5k run but I did finished strong! I had done itttttt!! I, Jacqueline Fernandez, actually completed my first triathlon, and loved it! I am determined to do that event next year so I can correct my mistake!
For anyone who wants to do their first triathlon, here’s my advice:
- Get a coach / mentor, someone who has a wealth of knowledge on all 3 sports and understands your current ability and what your aims are. Danny has been a massive help!
- Get a training plan and stick it to as much as possible. Danny has embedded it into me that training is about consistency, so get each disciple in (also do not overtrain!)
- Get to the venue early and walk transitions (“you must count your racks”) and laying out your stuff in the correct order helps (“before anything, put on your helmet when you’ve entered transition for the bike section”)
- Have all the equipment (I didn’t bring a pump so Danny pointed out after I completed it, what was I going to do if I did get a flat!?! Oops!!!)
- Go at your own pace – there’s lots happening in a tri – lots of waves, lots of movement in transitions and it’s easy to get carried away in the moment (as I did, doing an extra lap!).
I am now officially excited for my London triathlon and look forward to training for it!
Well I am impressed with doing 20 challenges so far:
- NYD 10km
- Benfleet 15 miles
- Virtual Race the distance Half marathon
- Run Through chase the moon 10km
- Accelerator Run Series 5km race
- Roding Valley half
- London Big Half
- . 10km in Rio, Brazil
- London Landmarks half marathon
- Boston UK Half marathon
- . 50 miles a month virtual run
- . Peckham 10km
- Runthrough Crystal palace 10km
- Hackney Half Marathon
- Westminster Mile
- Dagenham 88 5miles
- Go Tri Duathlon (Run – Cycle – Run)
- . East End Road Runners 5K Elvis race
- Orion’s Fell Run
- My 1st Triathlon
I have 10 more challenges to go including London Tri, Ride 100 and Base Camp Everest!
I would really love to train for more triathlons next year!!
Thanks Jecks for a great blog! I hope you all enjoyed that. If you wondering about how I got on, well I did alright considering the heat. Jecks mentioned that I took on the whole banana – 800m swim, 31k bike and 7.5K run. I had the 20th fastest swim of the day and loved experiencing the triathlon swim without a wetsuit. Let’s just say it was the quickest transition from swim to bike I’ve ever done! I averaged just shy of 20mph to complete the bike leg in around and hour and then the run in about 35mins, which was hampered by a terrible stitch on the third lap. A result of 31st overall and 8th in my age group so I can’t complain.
Again thanks to Jecks for the Blog post and the videos of me below.