Louise jumps in at Chantilly Sprint

Chantilly Sprint – 26 August 2017 – Castle Triathlon Series

Race reporter Louise

On the 26th of August 2017, for the first time of my life I completed a triathlon, the Chantilly Sprint triathlon. I am very new to triathlon. I had just come back from a one month holiday in the South of France where my training was limited to a few swims in the sea during which I painfully rotated between crawl and breast stroke, and told myself that the club’s swimming sessions would be extremely helpful and that I should definitely join the swim sessions from September 🙂

I had initially registered for “The Condé” (800m/40km/8km) but a few weeks before the race I realized I was being a little too ambitious and changed for the Sprint distance (400m/20km/4km). I came back a little early from my holiday to be able to run this triathlon and I was so excited but at the same time quite stressed out since I didn’t feel prepared at all and I didn’t even have a wet suit or a tri suit. Actually I was so panicked that the day before I was still wondering what the heck I put myself into. To reassure myself, I watched videos from the past years showing gorgeous views of the Castle under a great sun, but when Stéphanie and I arrived at Chantilly on the morning of the race, there was so much mist that we couldn’t even see the castle!

Saturday, 6am

I woke up so nervous, but mostly excited. I met Stéphanie at Gare du Nord, where we met up with several other triathletes, and no need to say that parking all those bikes in the train was a challenge in itself. We arrived at the Chantilly train station and cycled to the Castle as a little warm up. The bib pick up was very smooth and I am really thankful to the organization for not adding an unnecessary stress for registration. I also really liked the idea of a French-British organisation and having French and British staff and volunteers added a little classy touch to the event.

At around 9am she and I were waiting in the transition zone where we had parked our bikes and passed the bicycle checkup, and we had the chance to speak with an referee who explained some stuff I didn’t know about triathlon rules, such as the reason why headphones were not allowed etc., and I thought this was very interesting since the only races I had done so far were 10k and half marathons during which I have to confess, I usually like to play my running playlist.

My starting time was at 10am and waiting in the bike area was one of the longest hours of my life, since I was getting so nervous seeing all those people who seemed super well equipped and very surprised that I would swim in the moat in my bathing suit (thank God it was a sports bathing suit, not a bikini).We finally walked to the starting line and I was so relieved to see that no, I wasn’t the only one without a wet suit and I suddenly felt super confident. I was afraid the water would be cold and I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be much warmer than I had expected. The swim part wasn’t quite the best swim of my life, since we were all literally stirring silt at every move, and I heard about one guy who got stuck in the mud and had to finish the swim part walking in the water, so I was very careful not to touch the bottom with my feet (which was actually not too hard since I’m not exactly the tallest person on earth).

The transition went pretty well, even though I didn’t have a tri suit and had to literally dry myself (a little) to be able to put on my shorts and t shirt over my bathing suit. I really enjoyed the bike part and was surprised by the other athletes’ kindness: for example a more experienced triathlete slowed down to give me advice on how to hold my bike’s handlebar (I was holding it way too low).

Finally, even though it was only 4km, the running part was the hardest. I had only done one bike and run session since I just joined the club, and I had the feeling my legs were heavy as if someone had attached a cannonball to my ankles. I finally made it but those were the longest 4km of my life. I’m really motivated to attend the bike and run sessions this year!

I finished with an overall time of 1:47:28 (11:31 for the swim part, 1 hour for the bike and 26:52 for the run).  I really loved the experience of doing the three sports in a single race, and even though I am not really satisfied with my time, I am really motivated to continue training and improve my time for my next challenges J

The day after, I woke up at 4:15 am to join Stéphanie, Antoine, Chmou, Luis and Camille, as they were racing and Stéphanie and I were volunteering.  The volunteering went very well even though the morning registration was a little more complicated than expected since it was pouring cats and dogs. Stéphanie and I then spent most of our time indicating directions to the racers – which was actually more like a cheerleading exercise, very fun!

The day ended with a picnic in the Castle’s garden with a few club members, most of whom I didn’t know, and it was great to get to know everyone and drink British beer 😉