Sunday, 6 July 2008
I had written a long e mail to some of my 'endurance racing buddies' across the world so i thought i would recount as much of it (minus some swearing) on here. Obviously this was my first triathlon of any sort and therefore I was not expecting miracles but nevertheless i could not have anticipated quite how badly the start might have gone. My birthday present this year was a wetsuit, tried it on in the living room saturday night and it felt a bit tight (like i couldn't breath properly) but I figured id get in the water and it would loosen up. What actually happened was that I got in the water and it felt as though a 30 stone man was sitting on my chest. I queued up for the mass start (everyone in the water at the same time) and had trouble even breathing without swimming. No doubt here that there was a problem. The gun went and 285 people started swimming and i started drowning. I realised after 5 strokes that i was totally out of control and had to breath every STROKE just to keep enough air in my lungs which weren't expanding one bit. I ended up on my back after swallowing a pint of green water and started spewing. Then the girl in the canoe who acts as a rescue boat came over and I couldn't let her see me doing that after 15 yards or she'd have pulled me out of the race. It genuinely looked like I couldn't actually swim. So i unzipped the wetsuit all the way down and started breast stroking it to the first buoy. Just then I hear the gun go for the male vets. Sure enough 15 mins in and ive gone 400m and they're all coming past me. One bloke actually looked at me like 'what are you doing' and i just kept breast stroking and swallowing water as they swam over me. Got to the 800m mark and the women and 1 junior start coming past me. Male seniors with black caps are nowhere apart from one chap who was competing partially disabled swimming breaststroke in front of me as he was unable to swim crawl due to his disability. I honestly thought about pulling out at the end of the first lap after all what kind of idiot spends his birthday like this? Instead i climbed out of the water at the bank by the crowd where we had started, took my wetsuit off and then dived back in. The officials started shouting at me and the crowd started cheering so i gave it the fist pump and swam the last lap in just the tri suit. It was FREEZING. Out of 285 finishers I came out of the water 284th with no wetsuit on. When the bloke gave me a hand out he was like 'where's your wetsuit mate?' i just started laughing. 48 minutes in total. It felt like 6 hours. I picked up the bike and head out in the wind and lashing rain for the 92km but I realised that I had made two mistakes. 1. because i had no number belt and i had to have a number on my back for the bike leg i had safety pinned the number over the jersey pocket so i couldn't put the food bag i had in my hand behind me without tearing the number off. I stuffed the two mars bars and salami stick up my shorts pocket but it started rubbing on my crotch and it fell out and i couldn't face stopping so i just rode on anyway. Then i tried to drink out of my aero bottle but i had cut the straw without testing it and i couldn't reach it with my mouth so i ended up chucking it on the side of the road. No food and no drinks bottles. Well aero. I got a bottle of water at 30km and carried on by this time it had stopped raining and i started to pick up a bit. When i got to 70km i was done. Bonked big time. It was all i could do to get to the transition area in one piece. 3 hours 10. I picked up a load of food and water for the run and started off feeling terrible. Pretty quickly it all hit my system though and I just started feeling 100% better. After 2 of three laps i had a pain on my inside leg so i felt it and i still had my bike gloves stuffed up there from the start of the ride and had forgotten to put them on. 1 39 for the half marathon & I didn't get overtaken once. I loved the run. It felt so good to be so sure of something after all that anguish. Moral of the story, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Lessons were learned and fast. When you're going through hell, don't stop.