Having spent 90 minutes meticulously packing and then checking the contents of
my car it was time face the fact that there really was no going back. After a
night of broken sleep I jumped in the car and made my way to Hatfield Water Park
to set up for the race. I was allocated my place in the second wave, with all
the remaining females from what I could gather. Pink swimming hats and T-shirts
were distributed very efficiently and it was officially time to start panicking!
I grabbed all of my gear from the car and once I finally passed transition
security I eventually found my place in the racks as basic number ordering
skills were apparently beyond me at this stage of the day. A very kind lady
could see my blind panic and talked me through the racking system of bikes
facing alternate ways and where I should put my kit. A few tips from some more
passing competitors and I was feeling a little calmer. I decided to walk the
exit route from transition to try and minimise later confusion and it did make
me feel better. The briefing took place as planned however although I heard
every word of the instructions it was simply far too complex and it was at this
point that I was glad that I had driven around the course the previous day so
that I had a good idea of where I would be going on the bike.
I watched the first wave start the swim and felt strangely calm and as we
entered the water this feeling remained. That is until the starting klaxon
sounded while I was still chatting to the woman next to me and all of a sudden
there was water and bubbles everywhere. Despite this, I tried to get into a
rhythm, frustrated that the person in front wouldn’t go any faster shortly
followed by rage that one competitor seemed determined to use me as a personal
surfboard. After 2 mins of being repeatedly bashed from one side I decided to
stop, let them past and then resume my race. This left me placed between the 2
main groups with plenty of space and minimal stress. I rounded the first and
second buoy without a problem despite them being very difficult to see. The
third was a little more complicated as it completely blended into the shoreline.
At this point I realised that rather than stop and look for it I would just have
to follow the masses and hope for the best. Sticking down the mid-line of the swimmers that I could see, I was lucky enough to take a good line to the buoy and then head straight for the exit point. With minimal crawling I managed to stand and even jog to transition.
T1 was a lot easier than I thought and before I knew it I was jogging my way to
the mount line. The mount could have been smoother but I was soon on my way and
feeling good. The wind did not make the bike leg easy. Whilst it was nice to
have a back wind down a very long straight it had not escaped my attention that
the leg along the A18 would have a significant head wind; and it did! I made
time for a gel on the bike just before returning for T2. I was ridiculously
breathless upon arrival at the racks again but I persisted in changing as
quickly as possible and then headed out for the dreaded run!
Almost immediately my legs seized. I could barely lift them from the floor but I
had to get out of the park and away from my adoring public and so I carried on
but stopped as soon as I was out of sight. With stabbing pains in my shins and
an apparent inability to breathe I decided that a combination of running and
walking would be my only viable option for the next 5k. It seemed to work.
Whilst the time I set for completion came and went I was determined to finish
and finish I did! My total time was by no means record breaking but it was still
a result. Well done to all club members that took part. Hope to see some of you
at the club relays in a few weeks time.