At the beginning of this journey just a few short months ago, the girls of Team 33Shake had no triathlon experience and even less training experience. Fast forward to today and they’re well into the swing of swimming, biking and running having now comfortably racked up the distances required for a sprint race while learning the finer points of bike technique, swim strokes and efficient running form.
Their big goal is a brace of finishes at the Alpe d’Huez triathlon in July but before that they’ve got a training race at Blenheim next weekend to contend with. This will be the perfect opportunity to experience race conditions and all the core skills that go into making a successful tri finish – pacing yourself among other competitors, executing a swift and comfortable transition strategy, and keeping on top of nutrition from start to finish and beyond.
There’s also the small matter of admin to be dealt with and it’s easy to forget, from the cosy vantage point of having a few races under your belt, just how daunting and complicated this all looks first time round. There are forms to be filled in, bikes to be scrutinised and racked, transition gear to be sorted out – the list goes on, and when we all met to go through the raceday plan, the questions came thick and fast.
Here, the modern delight that is YouTube proved to be a sterling resource as we ploughed through a series of transition videos and how-to guides. All gave a great picture of what was coming up, but as with a lot of triathlon advice out there, many of the instructional films were far too pro-centred.
Because while attaching your bike shoes to your ride with elastic bands and learning to dismount straight into a run are great skills for anyone chasing an elusive few seconds, for your first race they’re not exactly needed. To be honest, they’re probably not even relevant for your next race, or the one after that and maybe, just maybe, you’ll never need or want those techniques as you settle into your own routine.
What was missing from these films was the basics. Like walking the transition routes from water to bike, bike to bike exit, bike entry to rack, and rack to run before the event to familiarise yourself with them. Or making a mental and visual note of where your bike is so you can find it in that first transition melee. Or using a tri belt for your number.
The list went on, but after a couple of hours and several cups of tea, the questions ran out and quiet confidence and excitement began replacing the worry that had been hovering throughout the session.
“This is the biggest adventure I’ve ever taken on,” Anya smiled as we were packing up. It’ll be stepping up another gear next week too, because with the wetsuits on order it’ll be time for the team to leap into open water for the first time…
Team 33Shake is naturally fuelled to perfection by 33Shake, 100% natural superfood sports nutrition (www.33shake.com), with additional big thanks to Specialized bikes for the Dolces (www.specialized.co.uk)