"In the week build up to race day, I was torn between resting to recover from the illness that struck the week before and completing some final necessities before I took part on the Sunday. So, I stocked up on vitamins and was carb loading to the max, and finally made it to an open water swimming session! While my training at Queens' Leisure Centre had gone swimmingly, I was advised from many fellow triathletes to try open water swimming before jumping in at the deep end on race day. So I made it to a session at Barton Marina and felt relieved to have got it out the way. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm the wetsuit kept me throughout and I figured I had to keep looking straight when bobbing underwater. Every time I bobbed underwater, I would see something different if I looked straight down. One second it would be a rock, next minute a fish (at least I think it was) and then a massive weed - so it definitely took a bit of getting used to. While I inhaled about half the lake, it was reassuring to have a little bit of experience and also calm the nerves!
I also managed to make it onto the indoor cycling track at Derby Arena. While it isn't necessarily the same as the road cycling I would be doing for the sprint tri, it was still relevant. I had been dying to go on the track for so long and it lived up to every expectation. We started off with basic cycling around the black line, before moving up to the red and even the blue line before weaving up and down. Going around the corners was my favourite when you were riding high on the track - it is definitely an adrenaline-fuelled sport and one I will be continuing to do so.
Following the advice given to me by Livewell, I continued to eat a varied diet. By Thursday, I pretty much had pasta for lunch and dinner every day until Sunday, with lots of chicken - carbohydrates and protein being my main focus. As per the training plan that was given to me by Darren Stromberg, a health and wellbeing advisor at Derby Arena, I completed all of my race distances at an easy pace during the last week, and rested for 48 hours before. I had studied the Jenson Button Trust Triathlon website multiple times by now to ensure I understood all the rules over transition periods and had a look at the route, based around the central point of Markeaton Park. By now, the excitement was so much that I struggled to sleep the night before!
I took a slow stroll to the park on Sunday morning, walking down the closed roads I would be racing down later. When I arrived at the park I could see everything was in full swing already as my wave wasn't until 10am. I made my way over to the transition area to set up my bike and laid out my kit ready to change after the swimming. It all went so fast as I realised by the time I had set that up, I didn't even have time to see my parents as I had to attend a race briefing, then straight to the swim start on the other side of the lake. Upon arrival, I definitely felt some nerves kick in. It was a beautiful day, but one which was made even more uncomfortable when wearing a wetsuit - I just had to tell myself it was keeping my muscles extra warm. We slowly made our way into the lake and were given 5 minute to adjust to the water temperature. Next minute, the signal was given and we were off. I worked my way through the water and found myself at the exit after around 5 minutes. A hand reached out to help me out the water and I finally got to see some familiar faces cheering me on; with my family and friends stood by the barriers.
The first transition took me a couple of minutes as first of all I ran up the wrong bike aisle and then I struggled to take my wetsuit off! It was drilled into us how important it is for the helmet to go on before removing the bike from the stand, else you face disqualification. So eventually I was ready and I made my way out of the transition area with my bike. The cycling route was a steady, relatively flat course taking you around the borders of Markeaton Park and down Kedleston Road into Derby City Centre. It was a great experience to see the city in a way you haven't before, racing through the streets closed off to vehicles allowing you to fully take control. I completed the loop via Derby Cathedral and Queen's Leisure Centre and I knew it was a home straight down Kedleston Road and back into Markeaton Park once again.
Upon returning to the transition area, I once again forgot to take my helmet off before eagerly sprinting off for the run. The many cries (and laughs) of my friends and family at the barrier reminded me before I turned around and threw it back to a kind gentlemen who was stood next to my bike and kindly offered to replace it for me - thank you if you're reading this, you saved me a good 10 seconds! Finally, I was on the last leg and was eager to make my way round the 2.5k route to pick up my first triathlon medal! The route around Markeaton Park was stunning, particularly on the sunny day that it was. We were taken past the Orangery café and through the gardens, a huge open field and then through the woods before returning to the centre of the park where the finish line was in sight. I ran past the swimming exit and could see the crowd thickening which gave me some real last minute motivation to sprint to the finish. One last turn and a 40-metre straight green appeared with a large gantry branded with Jenson Button Trust Triathlon. I picked up the pace for one last time and was elated to have crossed the finish line! I was handed a bottle of water and made my way to the timing tent where I typed in my race number and was given a print out of my time, of 42:28.
I had qualified for the wooden spoon race, which was exactly the same distance at 1.50pm. So a couple hours rest and I was back at it in the afternoon, this time with a finishing time of 40:52.
I'm looking forward to beating my time next year!"