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On Sunday, I took part in the MPH Westhill Triathlon. This was my first triathlon for a couple of years – in fact, I was starting to wonder if I could still call myself a triathlete! I’d opted for the short distance (400 m swim/16 km bike/3.2 km run) instead of the sprint distance which I’d raced several times before.

The race is based at Westhill swimming pool, about 8 miles west of Aberdeen. The pool itself is quite nice, although the changing rooms could do with a lick of paint. The floor of the pool is adjustable, meaning that for events like this, there’s no shallow end – the pool is just a constant depth.

We arrived at the race site fairly early and got my bike setup in the transition area. As more people arrived, it became apparent that space would be a premium on the bike racks.

After the race briefing at 11:00, which was moved into the swimming pool reception due to what looked like the start of some rain, it was into the pool for the start of the race. I had to make a quick detour via the changing rooms as I realised during the briefing that I’d forgotten to put my heart rate strap on.

Swim Leg.

I was first off in our lane which meant I had a clear run for the first couple of lengths, eventually lapping one of the swimmers who had started after me, followed by another a couple of laps later. A lap or two from the end, I was passed by another swimmer who exited the pool a minute or so ahead of me.

Swim time: 10:19 for 400 m

T1:

T1 started with a 100 metre jog from the pool to the transition area. Putting on my cycle shoes took a bit longer than I’d liked, as they weren’t tri-specific and had two straps + a ratchet mechanism to engage.

T1: 00:02:31

Bike Leg

Out on the course, I passed quite a few other cyclists, especially on the uphill sections. The narrow roads on some parts held me up a bit as it wasn’t possible to check for oncoming traffic. There were other parts of the course where I was unduly cautious, as I wasn’t that familiar with the course. On the run back into Westhill, I was passed by another cyclist, John Hunter, who had started in the same swim lane as I had.

Bike time: 31:28

T2

On returning to the transition area, I discovered that someone else had dumped their bike in my space. I was left with no option than to put my bike in another space alongside. Then it was on with the running shoes and out onto the course.

T2: 01:41

Run Leg

The run leg was around the streets next to the swimming pool .I’m quite familiar with these from my lunchtime runs from my days working in Westhill. After a couple of hundred metres I felt the onset of cramp in my calf muscles, but, from experience, I knew if I stopped to stretch it would become full blown cramp. As I turned onto Old Skene Road after about 1 km, I was passed by a runner and shortly after this I passed another runner. The run turns back up towards the swimming pool up a small path with a few twists and turns on it and as I came to the right-hand turn back towards the transition area, I glanced at my watch and realised that I could finish within the hour. A quick spurt of pace for the last 200-or-so metres got me over the finish line in 59:10.

Run time: 13:45

Overall 59:10, 16th Overall, 2d in Age Group

It’s a well organised race (like all the MPH/Aberdeenshire Council races). Chip timing and print-out of results as you crossed line and provided along with sandwiches and drinks.

I didn’t stay for the prize giving, but once I returned home and checked the results I discovered that I was 16th overall and second in my age group (Veteran Male). All-in-all a good day out.

Lessons learned: Get tri-specific bike shoes to speed up T1. Get a plastic box to hold my gear in transition. Swimming needs work.