Brighton & Hove Triathlon race report, and a recipe :)

Brighton & Hove Triathlon race report, and a recipe :)

OK, this is an epic report, so here's a summary:

★ Brighton & Hove Triathlon is amazingly well-organised, and they give you a lot of numbers to wear!

★ I had to wear all my clothes under my wetsuit - like James Bond!

★ To train for a triathlon you have to practice dressing, undressing, swim-bike, bike-run, running barefoot on pebbles/cold grass/ice/fire, functioning while dizzy, getting on a bike while still looking cool, riding said bike extremely fast, counting, and swallowing pride :)

★ Swimming in the sea with a large group of very competitive women is fun, if mildly dangerous

★ Cycling soaking wet after a hectic swim in the sea is almost ridiculously lovely

★ I'm a runner :)

★ I did an 8 week triathlon training plan off the internets, and some courses run by local groups. I had a lot of fun training, and am very pleased with the progress I made

★ There's a recipe too!

The Report:

I jumped on my bike (read: Carted the bike down four flights of stairs, pushed it across the busy Kingsway, then gingerly joined the cycle path) and rode over to Hove Lawns to register. My word did they give us a lot of numbers! The woman on the desk strapped a numbered yellow band onto my left wrist - this was the one that crucially would get me past security and into the transition/bike-racking enclosure. I also got (along with a t-shirt and a swimming cap) an envelope full of a plethora of numbers: One sticker to go on my bike, THREE for my helmet, a TEMPORARY TATTOO number for my upper left arm, and finally the familiar one I usually safety-pin to my front. But this time it was going on a number belt, to allow me to wear it under my wetsuit, on my back for the bike ride, and on my front for the run! After spending about an hour (exaggeration) sticking the numbers on my helmet and bike, I got to the bike racks and left my machine there to meditate overnight. Rain was forecast for later, so I festooned my handlebars with a bin bag in the hope of preserving my groovy new handlebar tape. And it sure did rain! Poor bikey. The tape was fine though :)

The next day I didn't have to get up at all early, because my wave didn't start until 11:20 - how cool is that? I'd been stressing about the weather all week, as the winds howled, and the sea regressed into giant, furious white horses. But on the day of the race it was all sweet sunshine, a slight breeze, and a completely flat sea. Phew! I got into my shorts, t-shirt, and race number, with wetsuit over all of that (yes, I had rehearsed this!), and wandered over to the Lawns in plently of time to watch some of the earlier waves, so I could get an idea of what to do :) After a bit of that, I went back into the transition area to lay out my towel, helmet, sunglasses, shoes (no socks), and cap for the run. I also put a little jar of vaseline, and my home-made energy bite* in my helmet, and put my water bottle on my bike. I met my nearest neighbours, who all seemed to be first-timers too.

Off we went to be briefed by a jolly, if slightly scary woman. It was all women together (and it was the Sprint tri by the way), wearing somewhat fluorescent pink caps, and we were going to swim 750 metres (that's just 30 lengths of an ordinary pool), round 4 enormous red buoys, but only after we'd walked barefoot across the PEBBLE beach! Ouch!! A woman said to me "Is it just me, or does this really hurt?" :) After a quick dip in the water to acclimatise (v. important), and another short briefing at the shore (which I couldn't actually hear much of), with a toot of a horn we were off! I was actually the last person to enter the sea :D My husband was there (although I failed to spot him), with the GoPro, so I have video evidence. I overtook a lot of people though, and I have to say it was BEDLAM in there! I was barged into a fair bit, but at least I didn't get kicked in the face three times, as my bike-rack neighbour was (I saw her again after the race, and then when I saw the results later blow it if she wasn't next to me there too!). The breast-stroke swimmers were the worst, it's difficult to see where people's legs are in the sea because it's so murky, and those breast-strokers legs are unpredictable! The other bad thing was getting stuck by both of the buoys we had to turn at; next time I'll give them a wide berth. But overall I was ecstatic with my swim - I enjoyed it, I didn't need to stop for a rest, I front-crawled all the way, and best of all my goggles didn't leak! I'd hoped for under 20 minutes, and it was 18:03 so I am chuffed :) I lost time at the start, too - I must practice running into the sea! I did, however, have a problem with dizziness when I got out, a woman behind me asked me if I was alright! Despite this it was a lot easier to get out than it was to get in, there were helpers to hold us up, and a carpet over most of the beach. I staggered up the steps, across the prom, ran back into the transition area (gawd that grass was cold!). Then, I basically fell over next to my bike :) It was OK, I sat down for a few seconds, and I got a bit muddled, so my first transition was slow, but it doesn't matter. The main thing was I had my energy bite, and a drink; and I got my helmet on and fastened before I touched the bike (otherwise is punishable by death!).

I decided I was steady enough for cycling, and actually managed to run pretty fast with the bike, overtaking someone in the process (score!). I got onto the bike in a highly inelegant fashion, and off I went. I tried to chase a woman whose number was 666 (the Beast!), but she was too quick for me. I did managed to stick with a woman in an orange t-shirt (keeping at least 7 metres behind her, to avoid being electrocuted by the marshals, honestly the triathlon has so many rules! We were also not allowed to crawl during the run leg, if you can believe it!) all the way, though. The bike ride was pretty peaceful, just up and down the Kingsway, flat, and I didn't encounter much bunching. Fun! I love cycling after swimming, it's the best feeling. Got overtaken by a lot of Men (a different species in the triathlon!), and quite a few women. Saw husband and GoPro at the end of Lap 2 (we were responsible for counting our laps, and I had four stickers on my handlebar to fold over at the end of each). I pushed the pace at first, and debated sprinting for the last lap, but decided to save my energy. The bike leg was 20K, four laps of the course, and was perfectly enjoyable. I did wonder whether it might get a bit tedious if one were doing the Olympic distance (40K, 8 laps), but my husband said well, you'd just go faster! So there :) I thought I could do it in around 50 minutes, so was pretty pleased with my 47:51 - although it turned out to be rather slow compared with most so there's room for improvement there :)

I let Orange T-Shirt finish first ( ;) ), hopped off my bike, and - ooh! legs! - hobbled back to my spot in transition. This was a much quicker affair, hang up bike, swap hats, blow nose, off I go. Round the bikes, out of the gate, onto the promenade for the run, passing Orange T-Shirt (score!). My legs relaxed, and I was running! The sun felt warm, and my sunglasses steamed up a bit, but I felt good. I remember thinking wow, I can't believe this is the end! It's been an intense 8 weeks :) I had a drink of "electrolyte" at the first turn, which wedged some air in my pipe somewhere around my chest. Uncomfortable, but it didn't last long. The run leg was 5K, or two laps of the course - just up and down the prom, my usual stomping ground. I ran past quite a few people, and got overtaken by several Men :D I guess it makes sense that running is my stronger point - I'd hoped for 30 minutes and got 27:19, which I'm very happy with. I've been bragging away on social media, but as it turned out, I was nearly last in my age group, which disappointed me quite a lot - although I think that at least half of those women are seriously bad-ass! I think I know where I need to improve, so maybe next year I'll be a bad-ass too :)

I didn't sprint for the finish as I didn't want to spoil things by getting pukey (I could feel nausea approaching), so I just floated over the finish line and picked up my lovely medal with a big grin. This was the most wonderful experience; the training was fun, and the event was marvellously well organised. Highly recommended!

I did an 8 week training plan by Hal Higdon, which I found online. I modified it quite a bit, to fit in with my week and to incorporate extra swimming and cycling (I thought the plan seemed a bit run-heavy). I never know about the quality of these plans, I just like to have something reasonable-looking to follow :) The plan was pretty intensive by my standards, with only one full day off each week, and it was a lot of fun! I also did a couple of training sessions with the local Brighton Tri Club (I'm not a member, they let anyone come if they pay), and also a one day intensive sea-swimming course with the Brighton Swimming School Pool2Pier people. I'm particularly pleased with the way my swimming has come on in the past couple of months.

*Energy bites:

There are couple of reasons I made these. First, although I wouldn't normally think I'd need food during a race of less than two hours, with the wave not starting til 11:20 it would be getting on for lunch time before I finished, so I thought I'd be hungry :) The other thing is that I have almost finished my box of Gu gels, and I don't really want to replace it - gels are expensive and, frankly, not very nice! So I've had a go at making my own snacky-snacks to have with me during a marathon, and here's what I did...

Recipe (makes 4):

Porridge oats 39g (heaped tablespoon)

Cocoa powder 19g (really heaping tablespoon!)

Set honey 65g (enormously heaped tablespoon, plus a bit extra!!)

Desiccated coconut 14g (heaped tablespoon)

Water (about 2 tablespoons, plus a few extra drops)

★ Mix oats and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Add honey and work it in as much as poss. Add water bit by bit to make a firm paste.

★ Divide paste into 4 equal parts and roll into balls.

★ Coat balls liberally in coconut - if they don't seem sticky enough to hold the coconut drop a little extra water on them before coating.

★ Wrap in cling film individually and refrigerate overnight before eating. Store in fridge.

I was aiming to use only ingredients I have around, and to measure in spoonfuls, hence the rather odd weights! Also, I was trying to get close to the macros of my Gu gels (32g weight, 23g carb, 100 kcal). These are theoretically 34g weight, 20g carb (0.8g of which is fibre), 131 kcal - although the last batch weighed only about 32g each, so the macros will have been rather less too :) They have a slightly cakeish texture, quite dry so they need to be chased down with a bit of water (I have to do that with my gels anyway), but not crumbly which is good. They are very chocolately, and I find them quite moreish actually... but I should add that at 4cm in diameter they are more like "Energy Two-Bites" :) The recipe is for four because, for me, that's about the right amount of food for a marathon. If I make a larger batch I'll only be picking at them all day...

...I do realise I've been overthinking this :)

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35 Replies

  • Congratumalations 🏅🎖🥇🏆💐So very pleased that the weather calmed down for you!

    Well done.

  • Thank youuuuu :)

  • Wow that sounds really exciting, glad you had a good time! I like the idea of your snacks, might have to try those out - I'm experimenting for my next HM, got gels to use up, but interested in trying more home made stuff.

    Nice bling collection there! 🏅👏🏊‍♀️🚴‍♀️🏃‍♀️👏


  • Thanks Madge! I have most definitely exceeded my bling expectations for the year :)

  • Wow - what an event! I know very little about triathlons, but feel that I've got a little glimpse into them now. Well done!

  • It was amazing, thank you '3PO :)

  • Goodness well done, all your hard work paid off. I know there are lots of very strict transition rules but why did you have to be 7 metres behind the orange t-shirt? How are you meant to overtake - must have felt great when you did. Really pleased it went well.

    Happen to have all those ingredients in the cupboard so will give the recipe a go.

  • Thank you! The woman running the triathlon training sessions said it was 3 bike lengths, which I guess makes sense to allow for people to move around freely. I was really nervous about it, but it felt fine on the day, and overtaking (not that I did much!) wasn't a problem.

    I edited the recipe a bit, because I remembered that I fridged them overnight before eating. Not sure if that's important, though :)

  • Cheers.

  • Wowsers roseabi that sounds excellent and like you thoroughly enjoyed it! Back for more then ?? I'm going to try your recipe too!😆

  • Thanks Ali, it was great! Yes, I have already entered next year's shindig :D It'd be rude not to..

    Chocolately goodness, hope you like them!

  • Amazing! Very well done! So glad the sea was calm for you :)

    All your times seem pretty speed for me, and you didn't give an expected time for your run but your others were ahead of expectations so very well done.

    I'm a weak swimmer and haven't sat on a bike for years so can't see me ever doing a tri, but I have great respect for anyone who does.

    Recipe looks great. Not that I run distances that should need sustenance, but most recipes I see seem to call for 10 different ingredients, of which I only have 3 and at least 5 are out of my budget (I exaggerate). This has nice simple store cupboard ingredients.

  • Hello hello, haven't seen you here for a while - how you doing?

    Thanks very much, seeing that calm sea on Sunday morning was so relaxing!

    Yes, no chia seeds or coconut flour in MY recipe :D

  • I'm doing fine thanks. Happy with being able to run 10k without it feeling like a huge thing. Had thought of perhaps maybe doing the Beirut half in November (hence signing up to this part of the forum), but actually I'm happy where I am in my running at the moment. Perhaps I'll work up in distance in the future if I know I'll have a few months which are unlikely to be interrupted by either excessive heat and humidity or torrential downpours.

  • I love running 10k.

    You've definitely up against it weather-wise, ours just doesn't compare! Hats off to you :)

  • Felt nice and cool outside at about 2:30 this afternoon, then saw a thermometer saying it was 30 degrees and decided I must be acclimatised. I'm a right wimp now when it comes to cold weather!

  • Wow, what a report! Congratulations, you did brilliantly! I am so impressed with open-water swimming! And the bike, of course (I just fall off) - but all the rules!

    Your recipe sounds great as well. I might just try that, because as my runs get longer I find I need something, and the energy things are generally foul.

  • Cheers, ears :) xx

    There was a Clif Bar amongst the freebies at the triathlon, which I expected to enjoy, but actually thought it rather nasty! Although I also got some Clif Bloks, which I admit I kind of liked :)

  • I don't mind the Clif Shok Bloks - the berry flavours, that is. I don't much like the margarita flavour. My daughter says that's because I love margaritas and I expect the bloks to be the real thing :D Aldi do a Meridian peanut butter and coconut bar which is quite good, not too sweet. I experimented the other day and will go back and get some more. But I'm looking forward to making your choccy treats :) Do they melt and get squidgy as you run - I mean, do they last? xx

  • Ha, I must tell my mum about those margarita ones, she loves a margarita too.

    Ah, well I haven't tried running with them yet. It was ok sitting in my helmet in the sun for about an hour, but further testing is necessary! They do get very firm in the fridge overnight, and the idea of the coconut on the outside is to try and stop them getting sticky. I certainly don't mind testing them rigorously though :)

  • good work and some good times.

  • Thanks, Ben!

    How's you?

  • Well done! You have my utmost admiration as that must take a whole lot of effort, not just the race and the training but the organisation that goes into the actual logistics of it 🙂👍🏃‍♀️🏊‍♀️🚴‍♀️🏅

    I think I would get in an awful muddle. Faffometer melt down 😃

  • Thanks Miss W!! xx It was amazing - I thought at first it was a tad expensive at £75, but with now I know what goes into organising it I reckon it's pretty cheap!

    Yes, it was very confusing - the marshals were brilliant for keeping us going in the right directions, but the transition area is something we just had to muddle through alone :)

  • It sounds complicated and so much to remember, or forget! 😃

    My organisational skills are zero 😊

  • I actually took my faffage list with me, my bike-rack neighbour was most impressed :)

  • I should think so too! It's a logistical nightmare so mucho respect 🙂

  • Loved the report! Sounds like you had a lot of fun - but rather you than me, my swimming is definitely not up to that!

    My son has just started doing triathlons, he says it is more fun doing 3 different things, but personally I like to just run!

    Congratulations on your huge, and ever growing bling collection. 👏🏼

  • Hello EatCake! Thank you, I'm loving the bling on my desk :)

    How old is your son?

  • He is 28. He has always loved cycling and swimming, and only started running last year really, just so he could do a triathlon. Then last weekend he did a half ironman in Weymouth. Bonkers!

  • That is a bit bonkers :) Although I won't say never! So impressive, well done to him!!!

  • Wow... what a fantastic race report... I really enjoyed reading that! You are officially amazing!!! What you've achieved there is just so cool and you seemed to sail through so easily... I'm afraid I'm one of the dreaded breast stroke types ( I can't do crawl), and I always assumed you had to do crawl in a triathlon so maybe I should give it a go. As for your 5k time after all the other stuff... that's just amazing. Your snacky snacks sound delicious and I will attempt to make them as I get fed up of just sweets all the time!!!

    Fab pics, I just love those pink hats!!! Well done you.... now for the next :)

  • Wow, thanks Ju-Ju! xx I AM very pleased with my results, despite all my negative comparing (there are lots of stats on the results pages, which are great, but they are by definition all about comparison:).

    I don't mean to knock the breast-stroke. I practised it, and would have done it if the sea had been more choppy, because it's hard to see where you're going in crawl. Also I've seen plenty of swimmers who can breast-stroke way faster than I can crawl :D I do recommend the triathlon, the training is great for giving yourself a bit of a break from running but still keeping it up (if that makes sense!). Also, one thing I forgot to mention in the report, the atmosphere was really laid back (sea craziness aside), even though there were 1200 competitors and apparently 20,000 spectators (not sure how they know that!). I guess this was because the waves were spread out all morning, from 8 am to about 12, and there's a lot of space to move around on Hove Lawns.

    I am tempted to make some more of those snacky-snacks right now, although I have no big runs coming up, so no excuse... :)

  • Loved reading that report, and it sounds like all your hard training paid off. Amazing times - very impressive! You did yourself proud, and I hope mr husband has edited the footage into a nice trio video.

    Big, big congratulations. Well done!

  • Aww thank you, Tomas! xx

    Must badger him about the video...

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