5th June 2021
Total: 01:34:51. 1st Age Group (WTF!!). 28th women. 118th overall
My aim has always been to do Redcar Triathlon hence learning to swim and joining the club, but open water swimming terrified me - the cold, things touching my feet, the no walls..... Tadcaster was a test run in the pool where I was comfortable, although 400m none-stop was a new experience. AJ Bell was NOT on the cards until there was an option to reduce swim to 200m. PERFECT – a nice build up to Redcar! WRONG, organisers had messed up and I realised Thursday evening I was doing 750m. PANIC!!
4.30am: up, some breakfast, stuff in car, dogs hugged and ushered back to bed
5am: we hit the road. I was trying to tell myself I was just doing 200m and Nige was giving me lots of confidence: “you can swim, Al”, “count 1, 2, 3…breathe” “pretend you are in Redcar pool”….it was helping, I had some positive self-talk rattling around in my head. I used to suffer quite badly with pre-game nerves, but I think years of hockey has taught me how to keep the demons at bay.
6.15am: arrived in the plenty of time, thankfully as the queue was getting long behind us, and we had to spend 10mins getting the grass off our bikes. Who cut the grass last night?! Idiot!
6.30am – 7.45am: queue again to enter the park, grass off bike, register, grass off bike, faff about getting changed, stuff in transitions, grass off our bikes AGAIN.
7.45am – just one pre-race wee, improvement! Wetsuits put on relatively easily, all going well!
8am – Nige suddenly abandons me to enter the water…
A lovely marshal took my glasses and left them on the chair at the exit of the water. This meant I didn’t have to either go from swim to bike in my prescription goggles, scramble about blind, or try and swim with my glasses in my hand. Honestly, there is so much to think about in Triathlons!! The sight issue always made me avoid swimming, but this kind gesture settled me down as a bit of panic had started to rumble.
Preparation for this had been two face-freeze sessions at Scaling Dam where I did 300m of swimming/bobbing/complaining I was cold, and 175m with Nigel Fleming in the Tees last Sunday! This was not the prep I wanted before 750m!
Pink hats called up, that’s me - here I go! Feeling quite composed – I can do this! Enter the water – great, not to cold, get swimming, trying to keep calm and stroke rate down. Going ok, spotting going well then about 150m/200m in I suddenly realised how far OUT I had to go before I could head for the shore. A LOT went through my head…..Shit, I have no tow float to hug for a little bob about, there is no Andy or Mark on a kayak watching me , OMG I am alone, no one knows this is WAY TO F*CKING far for me, how stupid doing 750m after three tiny practice sessions, I think I am tired, I think I have a cold foot, what if I drown, hang on where are the safety kayaks I don’t see close to me!?, I am going to have to go on back and raise my arm, I cannot do this…. All this forced me to breaststroke slowly but moving forwards was my priority. Headshake time: there was no way I was quitting 1) because then I wouldn’t finish; 2) I would never forgive myself; 3) it costed a lot so I am getting my monies worth!
I kept the breaststroke going and realised most people around me weren’t actually going much faster and they were doing FC so that was a boost. Also a lady to my right looked friendly, and I am sure I knew her (clearly was just making shit up as everyone looked the same, I could barely see her face, and I knew no one swimming in my wave), but this is what I told myself and it helped settle me. Managed to do some FC then back to breaststroke but still moving. Around first bouy, keeping close to the bouy like Matt said yesterday so not swimming any further than I needed to. A bit of panic again as we had to go across before we turned for home. Turned for home, thank the lordy!! Breaststroke and with a bit of FC continued. Spotted a camera so tried some Fc to finish. Finally, I was on dry land – huge relief. I was convinced I was terribly slow, and even though I started ‘just wanting to finish’, I know I always up a gear in a race so I expected to do so in the swim but that ‘grit’ was just not there. I think I was in a daze!! Steady amble to T1, helping a bloke on the way with his zip, and spent the rest of the steady jog trying get the wetsuit over my watch!
At transition, calmly got sorted. Had a few jelly babies – thanks to Jenny for reminding me how awesome they are! Steady jog with my bike to mount line….
On bike – yippie, zoomies! Ops not quite, someone nearly took me out as they took the corner too fast. Steady first lap to get a feel for it. But I got to do some “ON YOUR RIGHT” shouting which made me feel professional! I had my tape on my bike again to help count the laps – worked a treat. Every race you learn. Second lap: I think I was still mentally recovering from whatever the heck just happened in the lake but I got a bit quicker; took the corners better and got out of the saddle to peel away. Someone shouted “You alright” – oh what a lovely man, I wonder if he knows me…. I replied “yeah I am good thanks – well done!” – oh you muppet he said “on your right”. Doh! Third lap: I suddenly realised my ‘grit’ was starting to kick in. Looking at my Garmin splits, it definitely did, about 9km/h faster. Final lap done – into transition. Unclip early as I am a fanny I fall off – crap, unclipped WAY too early – clip back in peddle a bit more – “not yet Hornsby” a bloke called from behind so I copied him and got off when he did and had a little chat to T2. My target was 38 - 40min on bike – I was a little over that but I was in one piece so happy.
T2 quite smooth again – grabbed some jelly babies for company on the run (again, copying Jenny!). Running felt good – I got to a steady pace quickly. I do little running training and my default is ‘steady-away’ but I know I can find some pace when needed – I felt good and relaxed, so I was pleased. I was aiming for about 25min. A few hills and more corners! Nearly took the corner for the finish line but got ushered for my second lap. Round I go again - Jelly babies still in hand but now a gooey mess! ‘Sprint’ finish up the little hill and that was me done! I saw I was over 1hour 30min and a little disappointed as I knew Nige was aiming for that and I was confident he would have got that or under - we like to try and beat each other in a loveable way (clearly I had forgotten about my lake meltdown though!!).
1) I can do 750m swim, I just need more open water practice and confidence
2) I need a lighter, smaller and more aero bike. *cough cough* my birthday is in July, Nigel...
3) I LOVED it!
Thanks everyone for the good luck wishes, tips and encouragement!