On the 27th of April was the 1st triathlon of 2014 in the South of France; it had a sprint format (750m swimming/ 20km cycling/ 5km running), and it was the first stage of the regional championship. My main objectives were to succeed in ranking my team in the top 3, and to get back in my triathlon mood.

Starting the triathlon season with a sprint format is a very good way to remind the body of proper movements and transitions, and to remember the importance of race management.

The wind was really strong, and was definitely going to affect the swim, but the organizers decided to proceed with the triathlon anyway. From the starting blocks, we could see that our goal would be moving from winning to merely surviving because the high waves looked extremely challenging, and were submerging all the buoys.

As usual, I followed my coach’s advice and positioned myself on the outside to avoid all the punches from the flood of triathletes, and the famous washing machine effect of the triathlon departure. That way I can save my energy and stay focused on my movements and my orientation. I didn’t want to add any meters to an already difficult race, so I concentrated on swimming straight despite the current. It is something we often forget because we are mostly used to swim in swimming pool. That’s why it’s very important to train in open water as it’s a very different environment.

More: Mastering the Open Water Swim

The next challenge was removing the swim suit after getting out of the water. The key here is to do it quickly and efficiently. Nobody wants to waste time in transitions, but the cold and the fatigue can be major obstacles, and taking a break for a couple of seconds would be very tempting at this time. So.. I tried not to think about it. I finished up fast and jumped on the bike! I tried to stay hydrated as much as I could while biking, to help me with the recovery and avoid cramps.
The wind was still very violent and I had to double the effort in pedaling and maintaining balance. That was particularly painful for my legs and I felt it intensely during the last transition, after I put down my bike and started running. My legs were heavier than they would have been during a long distance triathlon! But I gathered whatever energy I had left and finished my run.

Within 1 hour and 20 minutes, I was done with this triathlon, and my team finished 3rd :).

The following race is on Thursday, and strong wind is expected again!! But this time, I have an additional reason to be faster: I have a new wetsuit! I already tried it on and trained with it, as I understand how important it is to get a wetsuit that fits perfectly and is completely comfortable to swim in. I believe that my buoyancy and flexibility will be better in the water, which will make me feel less tired and more efficient. The only inconvenience is that it’s causing me some chaffing on the neck, but I can certainly avoid that by applying a good layer of anti-friction cream.

I can’t wait to see what its effects will be on my upcoming swim! Let’s see on Thursday!!

More: Wetsuits 101

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