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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.