- What? Delhi International Triathlon
- When? Feb 19, 2017
- How far? 113km (1.9km swim, 90k cycle, 21.1k run)
- Website? https://www.facebook.com/events/269502926716469/
|C||Get Nutrition Right||Yes|
“Aa dekhe jara, kis mein kitna hai dum” The alarm, with this song as its alarm tone, went off at 4 am, and I was up immediately. “Song is really apt!”, I pondered! The event was going to start at 6 am, and I wanted to reach by 5 am. My mind was surprisingly calm. I had packed everything last night, so there was no last-minute anxiety. I quickly ate one banana and stepped out in the wee hours of a cold winter morning. Six months of training - of learning how to swim, running more than 7k,….today was THE DAY I have been waiting for. Reaching the venue, I went directly to check my cycle. Everything was just as I had kept the last evening. The weather was cool and pleasant, with the Delhi winter receding. It looked like a good day to crack Half Ironman.
This being my first triathlon, my race strategy was quite conservative. I wanted to enjoy the event, and not walk through the run segment. Run is my weakest of 3 sports. I had planned to do 60min swim, 3:30hr ride, 2:30hr run, and 10 min of each transition.
Swim [1.9km - 59min]
The swim was at Talkatora in an indoor heated pool stadium. In there were 3 swimming pools, each 50m long and having 10 lanes. Our event was scheduled to be in pool no. 2 For half ironman distance, there were a total of 19 laps, back and forth, in the 50m pool length. It was a staggered start. We were assigned lanes, as per the self-predicted completion time.
Around 5:55 am, Sangeeta Saika, the swim race director, started calling one by one, and assigned lanes. As name call continued, my heart started beating fast. The feeling of being part of the event was sinking in! Damn! All those months of preparation and D-Day already came! I soon heard “Rishi Sareen, Lane 5”. I waved at the announcer, crossed the timing mat, and entered lane 5. Two people were already in this lane. As soon as I entered the pool, I focused on proper breathing to relax and concentrated on taking good strokes. I had learned swimming just a few months back, and I wanted to take it easy and be comfortable. After 2-3 laps, I overtook other people (there were a total of 6 people now in my lane) and retained this lead throughout the swim.
I came out from the pool at 7:01 am, about 5-10min slower than my best effort. But it was a good swim. Strava Link
Something funny happened when I was exiting the pool. Entry in to the pool is simple - you just jump in. But, when you’ve to come out, there are no ladders, one is supposed to hoist himself up. I’ve seen athletes do this very gracefully, using their arm strength. Now, I’ve never practiced this. So, I ended up doing a very confused mix of partial pulling by arm strength, and partial throwing my leg up and hanging on to my dear life! When I came out from the pool, organizers clapped and cheered for me. I feel they were secretly relieved that I didn’t just drown during exit! Anyway, I acted all serious, business-like (hey, the camera was around), and rushed towards transition area where I’ve kept my change of clothes.
I grabbed my towel, rinsed hair, changed to cycling attire, shoes, ate a bar of snickers, and off I went. I took about 10" for all this. Not fast, not slow, it went as per the plan.
Cycle [90km - 3:26hours]
For cycling, it was 9 loops of 10km each. There was a timing mat which was counting all loops. For cycling, there were two main factors bothering me. - First of all, the fear of puncture. I had learned to fix a puncture on Roadie only last evening, and I was not sure how much time I’d take in the event if this happened. - The second factor was the route. This triathlon happens in heart of Central Delhi, and it gets a lot of traffic, which can really put a break on the speed.
Anyway, I decided to see what happens on the course. I moved towards the Starting Mat. Here I could hear a lot of cheering. It was all participating crowd and families who came to cheer. I glanced at my watch - 7:10 AM. The weather was nice. I started and then maintained a steady pace of 25kmph. I kept on sipping water every 25min and ate a bar of snickers every 40min. I eased out my cycling effort in the last 10km, as suggested by coach. This was to get heart rate low and keep energy for the run.
Cycling was uneventful - training on these roads during last few weeks helped a lot. And hats off to the organizers and Delhi Police - they managed traffic so well. It was as smooth as it could be.
When I finished cycling, it was a sigh of relief in my mind - “Look Maa, no puncture!”. Time: 3:26 hours Strava Link
Towards the end of cycling, I was wondering whether to run in cycling shorts or change to running shorts. Finally, I decided to change - running is my weakest of all 3 sports, and I didn’t want to experiment with cycling shorts at the last minute. Good decision! I quickly changed to running shorts, ate another banana and ran.
Run [#21.1km - 2:58hours]
It was 10:47 AM by the time I started my run. Sun was out, and it was turning out to be a hot day. This time it was a loop of 10km, so 2 loops, and then 1km inside the stadium.
I started with a slow run, and immediately felt a pain in right knee. It persisted for 2km, and then it got better. I met few folks from Nasik and Mumbai, who had done short distance triathlon earlier but were attempting first Half Ironman distance. And here I was - attempting my first ever triathlon, that too a Half Ironman distance. I don’t know if I was braver or more foolish :). But as the saying goes - “Stay hungry, stay foolish”.
Running was a pain, it went slow. I grabbed water at every aid station, ran and walked. We had formed a group of 4 people, some guys from Maharashtra and myself. We all were getting tired, and egging each other on. Towards the last 5km, Nasik guy was getting too tired. So, I paced him. It was a little surreal - me pacing someone. But we had stuck around each other for almost entire 10km, and I was not going to leave them hanging at last sprint. Towards the last 1k, my friend Anubhav came over to pace me. I gathered final burst of energy, and finished it! It was a bad run, but I was glad for it to be over! Lot of learning, and lot of positive takeaways! Strava Link
Finally, Half Ironman was done!
Overall time: 7hours 45 min.