It’s 4am on Sunday 25th May. My alarm has just gone off. It must be time for the Arundel Lido Triathlon.
Any regular reader of my blog will be more than aware that I do not enjoy getting up early in the morning, and today was no exception. My normal annoyance of rising from my slumber early was compounded by the fact that I had slept poorly, and also gone to bed rather later than I probably should have.
The night before my lovely wife and I had gone out for a few drinks and dinner with our friend Bushy, and his girlfriend who is not really his girlfriend as they don’t want to admit they are boyfriend and girlfriend though they obviously are but are in denial about it for some reason. Anyhow, we met them for a late lunch, stayed out in the pub till 10pm, then went for tapas at a local Spanish restaurant! Eventually I managed to get into bed about midnight with a belly full of food and too much beer, to settle in for a good 4 hour sleep. It took me almost 2 hours to fall asleep, and when I did I slept awfully as I was aware I had to get up at 4am.
All of this was OK (I told myself) as Bushy was competing the next day too so at least I wouldn’t be suffering alone. Or at least so I thought, as I received a text from Bushy when I woke up to tell me that he wouldn’t be competing as he “wanted to spend time with Marie”. Now bearing in mind that she isn’t even his girlfriend, even though she actually is, you would have thought that his loyalty would be with me rather than her. How wrong can one man be?
So back to the plot. It’s 4am and I am up, and waking my wife up. Being the super supportive and lovely wife that she is Cat had agreed to come with me and be support crew. I gathered up my gear (which I had obviously not prepared the night before as I was out eating dinner), loaded the bike into the car, woke up the dog (who was also coming to support), loaded him and the rest of the gear into the car and off we set.
|Not pictured – Dog or Wife|
I arrived at Arundel Lido and immediately went to register. This was super quick, and soon I had the bike out of the car and was heading to the transition area. Carefully racking my bike and arranging my gear underneath, I was ready to go.
I did expect that I would be nervous for my first ever Tri; however thankfully the only emotion I felt was excitement. Of course, I also had the feeling that I imagine every single triathlete feels before an event, which is simply that I had not done enough training. I imagine that everybody feels this way, or at least those that don’t have actually done way too much training (as opposed to the correct amount) but anyway I gave my lovely wife a quick kiss, and then went poolside to start my swim.
The Arundel Lido Triathlon standard distance was an 800m swim, then 40k on the bike and a 10k run. The swim was in the Lido (though the more astute of you will probably have already worked that out) and consisted of 32 lengths of the pool. They were running late on the pool start times, and the air was chilly waiting to start but all I could focus on was how much stronger and thinner everybody seemed to look compared to me. Memo to self, lose weight before you have to put the tri suit on again!
Soon it was my time to start, so I pulled on the orange swimming cap that allowed me to be recognised from the other 3 swimmers in my lane, and off I set. The swim went well, and before I knew it I was tapped on the head to indicate I had 2 lengths left. I was very pleased that this service was offered, as I had totally forgotten how many laps I had swam after only counting to about 3. Perhaps the tiredness was catching up with me.
I lept out of the pool like the athlete that I am, and jogged (yes jogged) to transition. Every second counts after all!. Bike helmet and shoes were on in no time and I was off on my ride. It was my plan to take it easy on the bike as running is by far my weakest event, so I set off at a pace that would mean I should be able to complete the 40k ride in about 90 minutes. The route immediately took on a 15 minute climb, where I was overtaken by all manner of skinny men on all manner of super aerodynamic TT bikes. Who cares about all that though, I was competing in a triathlon. I may be overweight, I may not have done enough training and my gear may well be mainly borrowed / extremely cheap but I was actually taking part in a triathlon, which is something that not a lot of people can say they have done.
I rode almost entirely on my own for the two laps of the bike course, which suited me perfectly. I wanted to average around 15mph, which would give me a time of approximately 1hr 30 mins on the bike. This is far from quick for 40k, but I was desperate to pace myself for the 10k run (which I knew would be very hard for me). Making sure to take on plenty of fluids during my ride, I eventually pulled into the Lido car park and jumped off my bike, jogging it to the transition area and popping my running shoes on.
At this point I saw my wife, who gave me a huge smile and a cheer which really lifted my spirits ahead of the run. It really makes all the difference having a support team at these events. If you are reading this Doc – thank you so much for coming to support me.
So I had my shoes on, swigged down a final mouthful of water and headed out of transition and into the run stage. Again I saw my wife, who had made her way to near the transition exit and gave me a high five and a quick shout of encouragement. I felt good. Perhaps this run was going to be OK after all. Or perhaps not!
My back went into spasm only 500m into the run. And it was hurting me…….a lot. I had back surgery a few years ago, and occasionally it will play up. Looks like the swap from 40k ride to 10k run is one of those occasions.
I ran when I could, and walked when I had to. My back was agony, and the course was extremely hilly. Well it was mainly just up-hilly for the first 4k which practically killed me. There was no chance of me quitting, I had to get to the finish line. We ran up and up and up, then down a bit, then up a bit, then down a bit, then up a bit. The run was taking forever. Every step was painful, and 100’s of faster runners were streaming past me. I was absolutely convinced that the 10k run stage would be taking me at least 90minutes, perhaps more. I had never moved so slowly.
Eventually we stopped with the up and down hilly part of the run and it was downhill to the finish. This was probably about 2k, but felt like 200. I staggered along, disappointed with myself for my horrific performance in the run, but happy that I was going to finish. Soon I rounded the corner into the Lido, and across the line.
I looked around for my wife. We had discussed before the race that as soon as I started the run I would be back in around 60 minutes (my approximate 10k time) and she was nowhere to be seen. This was not a surprise, as I was convinced I had taken forever in the run. Then I caught a glimpse of Cat walking over from the carpark direction, and the first thing she said to me was “that was quick”. Surely not. Surely I hadn’t run 10k faster than 60 minutes. I walked for quite a bit of the uphill sections after all. After quickly working my timings out it appeared that I had actually run10k in just over 60 minutes, and that Cat had gotten her timings a little bit wrong for meeting me at the finish. I couldn’t believe it!!!!!
My overall time was 2hrs 54 minutes, which was below my 3 hour target. My other target was not to finish last, and later when I received the finishing results there were 8 people slower than me, meaning I managed that too.
So all in all a total and complete success. I am officially a Triathlete. Only 14 more months of training and then I will be competing in an Ironman. A slightly bigger challenge, but one I cannot wait for.