Bit of a moody roller coaster this one. I arrived at registration just as the rain started. It wasn’t too long before I was asking myself “Why?”. I needed to snap out of it to be honest. You live in England, Olly FFS. Kerry said to just try and embrace it, so with that in mind I went to rack my bike and set up my transition area. Thankfully I had a carrier bag in the car to stick my runners in so they weren’t just sat there getting soaked for the next 2 hours. If I’m completely honest, my heart wasn’t totally in it at this point and I think it was more because it was my first proper event and I didn’t really know what to expect. Daft little things bothering me like “when’s a good time to get my wetsuit on, don’t want to be too soon, don’t want to rush” etc. Anyway, once I’d packed myself into my very tight, rubbery little number, any body image issues were laid bare for all to see and just to hammer the point home, the word “Orca” plastered across my chest. Balls to it, you’re invested now so get in the river! It turns out in just the right conditions, certain parts of the male anatomy can actually go back inside!
I stood back and went for the rolling start, which I was pleased about because I’m new to it but also, watching the mass start really got the adrenaline pumping and as I’d already acclimated to the water, I was all of a sudden right up for this for probably the first time today. Sadly, the swim didn’t go to plan as I couldn’t quite get my rhythm right. I usually breathe every third or fourth stroke but today was every second, which was a shame because it’s one of the only technical aspects I usually get a handle of but fine, I went with it. Possibly too much adrenaline? Maybe just the lack of sight underwater, I don’t know. What it did result in though was a sore neck and a swim split that was 3 mins or so slower than I’d hoped for, which initially I was disappointed with, but I need to remember that was based on nothing other than training in a warm pool. Getting out of the river should be its own discipline. The platform to get out (which was more of a slide) meant that as I got near the bank, I ended up sort of moon walking back into the water. They had guys there helping us out thankfully, so they pulled me up like an old shopping trolley full of junk.
On to the bike, I felt I had time to make up so I just thought I’d go for it and see what happens. I was pleased to be out of the river and much more in the right mindset. Now, a few weeks ago, I went up to Runcorn to join a mate for a couple of days of his LEJOG. My legs blew up about 3 miles before the end (heat + hills in the Lake District + a great big lump on a bike). At the time, it was the worst, most embarrassing thing I’d gone through in training. Today, I was grateful to know what that felt like, because I knew how to listen to my body a bit more. I was pleased with my bike split with it being at the more optimistic end of the scale I’d predicted and I was happy that my recce had paid off, so I knew where I could back off and where I could gain some momentum.
On to the run, I was pleased to make it to this point unscathed. The greasy road surfaces could’ve made for a bad ride but we’re all good. My mood was up still. The first 2 or 3 km were ok but then if I’m honest, I just couldn’t be arsed. It doesn’t take much with me at the best of times, but this particular moment, my stomach started cramping a bit and the demons start piping up. It was fine, I wasn’t close to quitting or anything like that, it just wasn’t particularly enjoyable and I wasn’t breaking any records, that’s for sure. For me, in the endurance sport that is triathlon, the run is very much the thing I have to endure. On the final lap of the course, the cramps lifted and I could just crack on and get it done, which I was delighted to do.
The whole experience was a hugely interesting learning curve for me. Doing an official event felt much more real and gave me more of a buzz than the solo 70.3. That buzz could have been the difference to make me get on with it because on arrival, I was not in the mood. I think this distance is a good one for me, actually. I’ll do a few more 70.3 (team RedAlert @ Grafham, right?) but I can already see where I can improve and hopefully execute that a little easier in training perhaps? Next month, I have the same race in the diary. I’d like to beat my overall time and I’d like to buy that time on the run. Let’s see.
Swimming downstream in a wetsuit
Overtaking quite a few people on the bike
Having my little boy hand me water on the run and then at the end say he wants to join a running club!
Watching a lot of those I’d overtaken, get me back on the run!