The dust having just settled on the London Tri and I’m back, already gearing myself up for yet another race, the Europe135. However, before I get stuck into the present, I’d like to take a moment and reflect on my first triathlon and the experience of dealing with a 1500 metre swim when scared witless of water.
If you’ve kept up with the posts on run247 and tri247.com, you’ll know that when I was five I had a good go at trying to drown myself. I won’t repeat it here, so please have a look at the aforementioned sites and you’ll get an idea of context. In short, I approached the event with trepidation; if not a measure of absolute panic at the thought of open water swimming!! I discussed the matter with Chuck at Orca and well….after swallowing half the lake at the Tri Centre in Reading and having many lessons with a very patient Clive…I arrived late at the London Excel!!
Loads and loads of bikes racked row upon row. A really impressive sight, which lead me to look at the location details many times!!! I even took a large blue towel, not that it helped. Still got lost in transition. There must be a film in that?
Shouting, “We are Spartacus!”, and wearing my yellow swim cap, my wave (over 500 strong) stepped out and got into the massive Victoria Dock. Water was a bit chilly at 17 degrees but my mind wasn’t on it as the start came soon enough.
The swim wasn’t bad but the water tasted…horrendous! With swimmers veering into my path due to the fact they weren’t sighting well, was pretty much the most I had to contend with. I mixed crawl with breast stroke and even managed to remain calm when I breathed in at the wrong moment. Finishing the swim in 38 minutes, I felt wobbly in the legs but knew that I had faced my fear and took it head on. Not only that, but I overcame that fear. I am sure, like you, I have other fears that are still to be conquered but they are yet to come. This is now and that moment is one I will savour for a long while…and grin alot about. Not bad for a novice!!!
The bike (a cube, fully carbon affair, lent to me by Jason at the Big Adventure Store – thanks mate) was fantastic!! PureTri (Helen and Andy…thank you) had set up the bike perfactly for me. However, the ride was less so. The route had been split into a small loop, followed by a longer loop making a total distance of 40 km. Getting straight to the point, the route was confusing and badly marked. So I asked a Marshall for directions and was told to go around the route again!!
I had thought that, perhaps, this was a new route, but eventually dawned on me that I was repeating what I had previously done. I was really annoyed. What got my goat was as I was passing the Excel centre another Marshall came up and shouted, “What lap?”. I responded, “second”. This was daft on my part as she shouted that I must get off the course and start running. I tried to explain but it was so busy that she repeated the demand and so, I left the bike course…. Racking the bike, I knew that in coming in, I had messed up and not fully completed the bike course and, as a consequence, would not complete the Olympic distance. The 10k run was, as a consequence, a mixed affair. I ran it but my heart was not fully into it. However, I met some great people taking part in the race and they were inspirational in that they did not give up, even though their bodies were telling them otherwise.
I did a sprint finish and the cameras flashed as I was approached by a marshall who extended a medal for crossing the line. I could not accept. It’s not that I didn’t want the medal. I really did. However, I didn’t do what I set out to do, which was to complete an Olympic distance triathlon, and it would (in my opinion) be wrong for me to hold out that I had.
So it was a day of learning. For my first triathlon, it was an achievement on the swim front! One which I am forever in Orca (Cheers Chuck!), Clive and Tri20′s debt. Thank you guys!!! You really improved my swimming so much! (I am so on for an Ironman!!!!). In the end, it was also a lesson in preparation and a realisation that I need to get it right next time and to distrust Marshalls..
It was also good to meet up with Andy from Run247 and the PureTri guys. Moreover, Dave (the new nagger) came down to meet and catch up. A solid bloke and one who I am really looking forward to undertaking the Europe135 with!
One week and counting…..