East Fife Sprint Triathlon. The day I returned to my Oscar winning performance of ‘look like you’ve just seen someone murdered but you can’t tell anyone or you’ll die too’. Although being murdered – however gruesomely – was an option I would have been willing to take at some points of today.
750m pool swim. The distance wasn’t an issue but I know my already questionable technique flounders even more as the time goes on. I also knew I was slower than the girl who was behind me in the lane so that tap to the foot was a guarantee. Had it been allowed I would have said she can just go in front from the start.
24km cycle on roads which were not closed. I’ve been on the roads twice this year. New Years Day Tri and about a month ago. I may have done a few spin sessions with the club but it’s not the same. Goal for the cycle? Don’t fall or crash.
5km run. 3 miles. Usually this would be no issue but my IT band had suddenly woken up and that’s not pain I’m used to running with. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I would manage the cycle based on the spasms I was getting the 2 days before but what could I do? Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must – but you’re crossing that finish line.
Joe came along with the kids which was a good distraction. There were 26 registered from Perth Tri Club and all I kept hearing around me was ‘Joe’s here, Joe Webley, have you seen him?’. He’s still in the process of adjusting to his meds so he hasn’t been out and about. I was hoping being there in the atmosphere of a race would keep his head in the game. A bit of a gamble I know as it could have completely put him off however lets be honest, who doesn’t love their ego being stroked a little – and he loved poking fun at my nerves.
The first 2 heats were the fastest guys then it was slowest to fastest. I was in heat 5. Quite a wait to begin which does absolutely nothing to help the butterflies and the nausea feeling – great. There was some light relief provided in the form of a participants daughter though. ‘How many people do they have counting your lengths?’ Answer: 2. ‘But there’s 6 in a lane – how can they count 6 people!’. ‘She just hit a swimmer with a float!’. The mother kept apologising saying she had never seen a triathlon before. It was a welcomed tension breaker.
The physio I had seen at the New Years Day Tri was in heat 3 so I had time to cheer her on before I had to go get ready for my heat. Once changed I sat at pool side in my usual ‘I want to die’ stance. ‘You look pretty nervous’ – it was a regular from the pool whom I had no idea would be here. I thought it best not to say what a crap swimmer I am given I lifeguard when he is there.
In the pool now and I decide against the offer of a 50m warm up. I just want to get this started. There is 5 seconds between each swimmer but the person in front of me hasn’t turned up so there is now a 10 second gap between me and the guy in front. I know it won’t be long before the girl behind me needs past either. Surprisingly I don’t go out too fast. I want to catch the guy in front but I’m not going to go hell for leather in the first 50m. I’m on his toes before long and I feel a tap behind me so I wait at the end to be passed and then go in front. Thus then begins a swim of him drafting me, touching my toes and then falling back so I’m waiting ages at the wall for him to pass and then because he has no one to draft he’s slower and I have to pass him. Frustrating does not quite cut it. Especially not when he didn’t always stop and let me past. I’m frustrated even further when I realise I haven’t started my watch. Are you kidding me! I have no idea how far I have swum, what pace I am doing, nothing! Anger kicks in and when the guy in front doesn’t stop at the wall the next time he gets a big old slap on the ankle. Yes he does!
Last 2 laps and he isn’t getting past me. I’m not in the mood.
I climb out the pool and head to the bike. I’m fine on the tiles but as soon as I hit the gravelly car park I turn in to a fairy and start prancing around on my tip toes – it was sore! It’s also cold so I fight with my straight jacket trying to put it on whilst repeating over and over ‘don’t touch the bike, helmet on, don’t touch the bike’. Not the best chant to be honest as there is a high likely hood that I would actually leave transition 1 without my bike. Best change that for future. I cross the mount line and decide to zip up my top before getting on. I can put my gloves on whilst cycling but I’m not convinced I’m pro-cyclist enough to zip a jacket. There would be definite wobble going on. And I’m not talking thighs or bottom lip (maybe double chin though).
So I’m on the bike and I know this is not only going to hurt but I’m going to suck at this part. I’m just not a cyclist. Probably (read that as factually) because I don’t ever ride my bike. Could have something to do with it, who knows. This will change though as my working hours are changing so I have no excuse not to cycle to work. (Kind of hoping no one is going to read that). I’m over taken by a few and I notice that they are all pedalling faster than me on the incline. I remember talking to John when we were waiting to start. He’s a mountain biker/cyclo cross rider and he had mentioned he was going to spin his legs on this ride. Well. He bloody knows better than me so I drop a few gears and push on. This strategy does me well. At least as well as someone who should still have stabilisers on can do. Jo from the club goes past me and I manage a shout out to her. She’s invited me out a few times for a cycle but due to work etc I haven’t managed. Also, I’m not completely confident I could keep up with her.
Well now’s the time to try! I put some effort in and go for it. She’s bloody fast. We come to a sharp left and typically I all but slow to a halt and she briefly goes out of my sight. Damn it. I eventually get her back in my sights but as soon as she turns to go up the climb that’s it. Game over. My full concentration is now on the fact I am trying to get my legs to keep pedalling up this hill whilst fully aware I am clipped in and highly likely to perform an extremely slow fall to the side whilst the guy behind me shouts ‘TIMBER!’. Thankfully this doesn’t happen. I get up out of my seat and try to force my legs round before sitting back down again.
It is at this point I remember I am still in my tri-suit which I wore for the swim. There is ever so slight padding in my tri-suit for a certain area. Padding which appears to retain water for a little time. Nothing quite like a cold squelchy feeling when cycling up a hill in to the wind and cold. No one told me about that!
The cycle was 2 loops so I knew I had to go round again (this time I didn’t stand up, one squelch was enough thank you). As I came to the end there were 2 signs – Sprint to the left and Duathlon straight on. The marshall again directed me left. Hmmmm. I’ve done this twice now and can’t see where the turn would be to transition. I am NOT doing that hill again. I keep going but I’m slowing down as this doesn’t feel right. Another cyclist goes past and out of nowhere I say to him ‘I think I’m going the wrong way’. He asks if I have done my loops and then tells me yup, I am wrong. Should have gone straight on.
I turn back around and head back.
As I come back in for the run Scott and Kathleen (also tri club members) are standing cheering. I shout out to them I went the wrong way. I can kind of see the funny side. I’m not a top cyclist so it’s not going to affect anything.
Into transition and I also tell Joe. Oliver rather ‘helpfully’ tells me what way to run out of transition. There are a couple of people who come in at the same time and I head out trying to make sure I am not overtaken. I grab some water at the station and naturally choke a little on it. For me it is virtually impossible to drink and keep running. Absolute nightmare. And do you know how much it hurts your throat when you choke on water?!
Anyway. Back to the run. It’s only a 5km so there’s not much to say. I get onto the playing fields and Scott and Kathleen are there. Kathleen’s cheering and Scott’s shouting obscenities/encouragement like ‘at least put SOME effort into it’. I’m not going to lie. Being shouted at to run and move faster pushes me on more than being told I’m doing great. Probably because it’s been a while since I have done great a race ha ha. Definitely a coaching mentality ha ha.
Nigel’s up ahead and I decide to try and catch him. I’ve left it too late but I’m pleased I still had a little something in the tank for the finish. I check my finishing times and overall I am quite happy. It has given me starting times to work on. Joan checks I didn’t fall off my bike and I very happily tell her no, I did not.
I go and get changed and grab my bike as Joe is keen to get home. I can’t find him when I come out of the bike area so I walk to the car with Deborah. She was as nervous as me and we had a little competition for last place. Neither of us won. She has parked right next to us bit Joe isn’t here and the car is locked so I turn to head back. As I do so I some how tangle my feet up on the bike and before I know it – yup, you guessed it – I am face planting my bike frame and then lying on the ground with my right ankle twisted under the pedal. I wasn’t even ON the thing!! I was pushing it!!
Deborah is just stood there looking at me as if I am a 2 year old child at the end of an almighty tantrum and asks in a plain voice ‘Are you ok’. She’s probably just as mortified as me. I scuttle back to find Joe so we can get home.
Next up is Stirling Marathon. This means no bikes to fall over and no wet crotches. I’m not going for a PB but I would like a respectable time. Then it’s a couple of ultra’s and more work on swimming and cycling. I have to admit I really enjoyed doing a triathlon again. I’m definitely not done with that.