Gatorade QTS 7 Race Report – Raby Bay

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Raby Baby

4:15am is a ridiculous time of day. Particularly on a Sunday. It’s ridiculous if you’re conscious, at least. If you’re not conscious, then you are in the lucky position of not having to assess the ridiculousness of 4:15am. You are being sensible and sleeping, and you can remain in that state for several more hours. Because it is Sunday, and that is the day the Lord decreed was designated for a lie-in. The whole point of it being called Sun-Day is that you are only supposed to wake up when there is sun and it is officially the day. Not the night.

(You thought you came here for stories of epic mediocrity, but lucky you, you get bonus entomology of words lessons).

Anyway, over the last couple of weeks, I have got into the habit of lie-ins. Lie-ins are a dirty word in the world of triathletes, but I have developed a secret fondness for them of late. Don’t tell any of my triathlon buddies!

But today, I was awake at 4:15am, and had to fully embrace the ridiculousness of it.

Because I had entered for Raby Bay triathlon.

Race Day

I had laid out my tri kit. Or more accurately, left it scrunched up on the bathroom floor.

There was a plastic crate at the front door containing my race gubbins*, along with my bike and pump.

All I had to do was wriggle into my tri bra, which is unfortunately a size too small (bought in readiness for when I get “skinny by tri”) and my tri suit, which is unfortunately a size too small (bought in readiness for when I get “skinny by tri”). And hope I didn’t burst any seams. Then place items at the front door in vehicle and steer said vehicle to Cleveland without incident.

It is ridiculous to be driving at 4:45am in the morning. I could barely discern whether the traffic lights were red, yellow or green. Let alone decipher what that meant for me.

By some minor miracle, I got to Raby Bay without altercation. Or, maybe I should rephrase – without altercation that I was aware of.

Raby Bay

How to Lose a … Bike

This was the 3rd event I have attended at Raby Bay. It was my third attempt at triathloning. (Disclaimer: There are other triathlon events – I just haven’t bothered with anything that requires more than 30 minutes driving. Why subject yourself to a long journey for the purpose of major discomfort)?

So, I parked in my regular car park, because, well, 3 times makes you a regular, yes? And I decanted the contents of my box into a Lorna Jane bag (met with much derision), then checked in and tried to rack my bike. For once, having gleaned how it’s meant to be done by stalking Rena’s Instagram account, I thought I’d done a good job of setting out my stuff.

Raby Bay

Then I went on a transition recce. #LikeAPro!

Last time I was here, I lost my bike.

Then I lost where I was supposed to put my bike back.

Yes, I could NOT find where I was racked.

I chanced upon Kat, who was also sussing out the logistics of how to get back to her spot (it’s important when you have Kat’s level of ability – she actually places in races). And she asked why I didn’t rack near a lamppost.


You can actually place your stuff near a landmark that makes it easy to locate? Fancy!

Breakfast at… the South Bank Tent

So, with sensible strategies in place, I went to surreptitiously dump my not-very-tri bag by the club tent before going to get much needed coffee.

The tent was still at half-mast.

My plan was to sidle off, and leave the tent-raising to competent members of the team. But before I could caffeinate, I became part of a working bee with Graham and Alice. (NB. There were no sudden tent-collapsing incidents resulting from my ineptitude). #MiraclesDoHappen

Coffee acquired, back under the erect tent, I found I had packed breakfast. #2ndMiracleIn1Day

For anyone interested, I’d made a berries and muesli concoction inspired by Taryn at Dietitian Approved and it proved to be the perfect fuel. No tummy discomfort whatsoever!

Sink or Swim

I felt very prepped for the swim. Oh no, that’s right. I hadn’t swum in 3 weeks.

Why? Because, well, we all know that swimming really stresses your knee…

So, I jumped off the jetty, into the very briney water, had a quick wee (doesn’t everyone?) and freestyled off in the direction of the starting buoy. That was the sum total of my freestyle for the day.

As the starting hooter blared, I launched into breaststroke, and quickly found a comfortable pace. I avoided swallowing too much of the Raby Bay. And I was ahead of at least 2 other swimmers!

I did get involved in a brawl. The swimmer to my left was determined to head right. But I had a perfect line of sight (hello – breaststroke) and did not want to get tangled with the super-yachts, which is the only place we were going if we kept heading right. But she kept swimming on top of me, as I kept trying to maintain a line towards the marker buoy.

I stopped, let her carry on towards her super-yachts, moved left, and exited the swim some distance ahead of her.

(Top triathlon tip: sighting is easier for breaststroke swimmers – trust their directional judgement. It could save you time).

By Bike, Raby Bay-by

It’s amazing how easy it is to locate your bike if it’s by a landmark!

In fact, I had a good transition. I managed to get my shoes and helmet on, correctly fastened to the correct parts of my anatomy, slurped a goo, forgot my sunnies, but didn’t feel the need to have a nap. That was a first…

I attached my Garmin Edge, so was able to calculate how many laps I had or hadn’t done. Which is handy.

The wind got up, which was cheeky of it, but it wasn’t horrific. And whilst it did sprinkle a few drops of rain, it gave that up as too much effort.

All was going well until we reached the dismount. Sonya was directly behind me, and I suspect she thought that I was back to my usual tricks of falling off. For once, though, the little stumble as I put my foot down was not my lack of coordination, but the fact that my knee had decided it had retired from the race – unannounced. It just wasn’t there, performing it’s function. That is, holding me upright.

To Run or Not to Run, that is the question Horatio

Or at least, I thought that was the question I was going to have to answer. Only, with the early retirement of my left knee, the response was already provided.

I walked back to my lamppost to rack my bike.

… I kept walking out of transition to the start of the run.

…  … I was still walking at the first aid station.

Knee and I tried a little trot. Nope – knee was still stoically refusing to participate.

… … … So I walked to the halfway turn around.

… … … … Then I walked to the lap turnaround, greeted by many club mates, competitors and spectators reassuring me that I could do it, keep running, you’ll make it.

I might make it, but not by running.

Vlam’s 20 Steppers**

On lap 2, my knee realised it may have been a little hasty, and reopened negotiations about its participation.

We came to an arrangement. We agreed I could run 20 steps, walk 20 steps, so it only needed to be partially involved.

I tried to trick it and go beyond 20 steps, but my knee can count, and complained loudly if I didn’t keep to my side of the bargain.

On lap 3, my knee was as bored at the prospect of having to keep walking as I was, and we both agreed that we just needed to get this thing finished. We managed to get to 100 steps before major complaining and when we saw we were just around the corner from the finishing straight, we both stopped counting.

The run has been my best leg in both previous outings. Today, my knee and I finished last in our category.

But we finished.

Raby Bay #7

Sunday Funday

And despite everything, I had fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day.

  1. Time to appreciate the volunteers (the water station ladies were awesome)!
  2. Space to interact with and appreciate the other participants (when they weren’t trying to drown me)…
  3. My fitness has improved by leaps and bounds (despite 2 weeks of self-indulgent total rest).
  4. And yet again, I got to enjoy being part of a really supportive and lovely club.

Raby Bay

And whilst I might not have won anything personally, it was great to share in the success of the superstars that did podium. Well done you champions.

Plus, SBTC came third overall in the QTS Club Championships. Well done, President Sonya 😉

Raby Bay


* for non-UK readers, gubbins is a northern expression meaning stuff

** Vlam Pieterse is an iconic “bus driver” at the Comrades Marathon, and 20 steppers is a key technique he uses to get his runners to the finish line before the cut off.

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