There’s not many races my husband and I do together but 2017 was starting with one. Afraid of being beat by his wife he suspiciously got ‘sick’ beforehand so it was touch and go whether or not he would participate. Excuses set however and we were off to Edinburgh. Again. We went to registration and I was ecstatic to discover I had jumped from 87 to 212 in the year. Joe was 336. No comment.
It was cold but not as cold as the year before. I wasn’t as nervous as I had been either – surprisingly that didn’t hit me until I was 3 people away from jumping in the pool. This was a change. Previously you got in the water and waited until you were told to go. This was new. I don’t like change. And I especially don’t like unexpected change. I watched everyone getting in and tried to suss out the best way to do this. Climb down the ladder. Walk over to the wall and then push off. I repeated this time and time again so I knew what to do.
I was counted down to my time and then climbed down the ladder. The ladder ended. My feet didn’t touch the floor. I kept going down. And down. And down. Not forward. Then I couldn’t find the wall. What the actual hell was happening!! Eventually after 6 hours I reached the surface, grabbed the wall and pushed off. I say pushed off but it was more of a duck under the water and back up again – there was no movement forward. The next guy had already climbed in. So naturally panic set in. I couldn’t breathe, I was swallowing soooo much water. I was petrified of how deep it was (I hadn’t touched the bottom despite plunging deeper than the titanic) and it was twice the length I am used to swimming. I stopped half way through the first length chocking on the water. This was awful. I got to the end and tried to calm my breathing. Someone passed me and that was it again – panic stations galore – I even started breast stroking for a few seconds! Now I’m not knocking those that breast stroke, Christ many are faster than my front crawl, but I had practised front crawl and I wanted that sub 9minutes.
I remembered what Joe had said to me the first time I had done this triathlon. Very basic, very straight to the point. ‘Calm. Down.’ (Was a bit more colourful than that but it worked). I eventually found my rhythm and slowly started to get through it. I even managed to pass a few people who had obviously gone out too fast.
I was too embarrassed to turn round and see if I could see Joe when I climbed out the pool so I just ran to T1. As I went through the doors in to the cold I heard ‘It’s Ella!! Go Ella!’. It was Gosia from one of my running groups. She was volunteering as a Marshall. That cheered me up no end and put my mind back in a good place. Thank god!
I couldn’t get my trousers on over my Tri suit but I knew I couldn’t handle the cold without them so I persevered. I was slow, very slow, but I needed to be. And do you know what, that’s ok. I wasn’t out for the win. I didn’t want to risk catching a cold because I didn’t spend that extra 10seconds putting a top on. I could have gotten changed indoors but I braved the outside.
Off on my bike and could I get my bloody gloves on? Could I heck. I ended up wobbling dangerously side to side to put them on. 3 times round Arthur’s seat. 3 times up that hill. Up. That. Hill. However. I was on a better bike than last year, and I like to think I am a little bit fitter than last year. (Think a lot of yourself there love). I did find it easier, and I enjoyed it. Most of all, I didn’t die. There was a man in a long army style coat standing at the side cheering everyone on so I smiled and thanked him that first time and had a joke with him the second and third. I saw a few numbers in the 300’s go past me but I expected that. There’s always a few elite types. I kept watch for my husband as I had expected him to catch me in T1 but hadnt seen him yet.
On the downhill I decided to go for it and went flying down. A bit too fast as I was yelled at to slow down and if I had had my porridge like I should have done it would have been making a reappearance. Good thing my clothes are black that’s all I’m saying.
In to T2 and surprisingly I didn’t fall off and I was able to run ok. Well, as good as you can in cleats. It felt like I was trying to run on heels. Not great. I frantically looked over to Joes section to see if his bike had gone genuinely believing if he hadn’t passed me he must have pulled out. He really shouldn’t have done it as he really wasn’t well but apparently winding him up that I was going to beat him was too much for him to take. His bike wasn’t there so I knew he must have been out on the course.
Trainers on and I grabbed a gel and took off. Then quickly went back to take my helmet off. It happens. It was only a few steps, no big deal. My legs were ok to run on which I really was shocked at given I had just ran every day in December (and the last 3 in November, that’s an important point). I did find the hill quite hard but another smile and joke with the man in the long coat and I made it to the top. All the while watching over my shoulder for Joe. Downhill and I tried to give it the last of what I had in my legs. Up the last incline and through the finishing banner.
I went straight over to the transition area and looked for Joes bike. It was there so I searched the crowd, couldn’t see him, so went back down the course. The marshalls asked if I was supporting or gloating. ‘A bit of both’ I cheekily laughed. To be fair it wasn’t long before he came up that last hill and yes, I made sure he knew I was there.
It was actually quite nice cheering him over the line for once. It’s not something I normally get to do. He hasn’t done any races himself so there’s been no opportunity for me to play the eccentric, supportive wife screaming from the sidelines. It will happen though. And he will love it!
Of course I know I didn’t actually beat him. He started a good 10 minutes after me and was only a few minutes behind me finishing.
But. I was first over the line. That is an actual fact.
He pretty much died after it and is still ill but that’s what stubborn does to you. We have a race we are both doing next year and I am more than aware he will beat my ass. But for now, I won!