*** many thanks to Bekky Britton for this race report ***
In hindsight was it really a good idea?
I'd firstly like to lay the blame at a few people's feet! My very good friends Aimee and Caroline who went and did ADIT which subsequently made me utter the words "well if they can, I can!" My husband Matt, who bought me a bike; I really am going to have to take up triathlons! And lastly all the people I have met this past season through TriDubai; you have made it all the more fun, motivating and provided so much support and advice I really can't blame you enough!
My 2013-2013 season has been a good one, I had reduced the number of races I was competing in, was showing steady improvement and focusing on running (the dreaded discipline). So after the Michelle Dillon camp I was cruising the British Triathlon Federation website and was inspired to enter a few London World Cup qualifiers!
The first one was totally by mistake; I had filled out the online entry form for the Crosby Aquathlon, but not submitted it as I wasn't sure I was ready. A week or so later I was looking again and found my name on the start list; no turning back now! So with 4 weeks to race day I had to get myself sorted!
In hindsight I hadn't really thought through that I would be swimming in a lake in the north of England in May or possibly running in cold wet weather. All I could think about was I really needed to get my 5km run time down and 4 weeks wasn't a lot of time.
My mini plan was very run focused as a nasty shoulder twinge had turned out to be worse than I thought meaning very little or no swimming for a couple of weeks. I felt the plan had worked i ran 2 x 5km PBs and smashed my best km pace during the ABRAS 3000m track race during those 4 weeks, my running was feeling good for me. When I boarded the plane on Thursday 16th I had studied every entry on the start sheet, worked out what I needed to do to possibly qualify, bought some extra warm clothes and worried endlessly about how cold I was going to be! Getting an email from the race organizers saying the water temperature was a balmy 11*C and a wetsuit was optional once it reached 13*C sent shivers down my spine. Having lived most my life in Dubai I am not a cold water person and have had some interesting experiences when faced with the prospect of swimming in some! However I was feeling confident and had a plan.
I arrived in the UK on Friday am and ran a gentle 3.5km in the afternoon. It was chilly but the sun was out and for the first time ever I enjoyed going out for a run! Saturday was my planned open water swim; I knew I had to do one before I raced to ensure I didn't suffer from cold water immersion shock; I have experienced this and it was horrible, I lost all ability to swim and not something I wanted to repeat. I chose to swim at the same venue the event was being held at the next day. This meant I could check out the course, check on travel time and meet the Mersey Tri Club guys organizing the aquathlon. It's safe to say the weather on Saturday was atrocious; cloudy, grey, rainy, windy and cold; not really what I was hoping for and no chance for the water to warm up a couple of degrees. The swim was an experienc to say the least. My hands and feet were numb before I'd even swum 25m! I made it round the 500m choppy course with no massive issues! Out for an extra long shower and a day of relaxing I was confident I had done all I could.
Sunday dawned and so did I at 5am! Nerves kicked in and the pursuit of a couple more hours sleep was fruitless! The car journey with my in-laws was extremely quiet as I couldn't shake the butterflies; something I am usually really good at channeling!
The Crosby Lakeside Centre was buzzing with lots of extremly fit people all wearing their uni team tops or previous race souviner jumpers; I wasn't feeling intimidated at all! Sign in came and went as did laying out my minimal amount of kick in transition. The nerves were terrible and even my 20minute stretch and run session couldn't disperse them! Time to get the wetsuit on and listen to the brief. Before I knew the first wave were off and out the water in under 9 minutes! The exit out of the lake prooved to be a challenge for everyone; best tactic was to swim until the 2 marshals grabbed you and pulled. I noted this with great interested as i really didnt want to fall flat on my face in front of the crowd! The 2nd wave shot off and then it was the ladies turn. 12.5C of water felt no different than the previous day but at least the sun was out.
The nerves dissappeared as the countdown started, I was determined to cash in on my swim strength. I had a solid start and many Saturday buoy practices put me in good form for fighting off the flailing arms and wayward feet! As usual I struggled to draft anyone for long, I just can't seem to find a rhythm swimming on someone's feet. After about 500m I really started to feel the effects of the cold and felt I was just flailing and just not moving. The feel of an instant face lift was not comfortable but the occasional tap on the feet or elbow round the head took my mind off this very bizarre feeling. Suddenly the exit marshalls were in sight and I am sure I pushed a few competitors out of the way to ensure I was literally pulled out of the water!
I fired into transition maneuvering round a few ladies really taking their time. I had a reasonable wetsuit removal apart from catching the cuff on my watch and really struggling to coordinate numb fingers to pull it off. What felt like minutes I was then free, trainers, glasses and hat on and I was on the run. I had opted for an extra crop top under my Tri suit as I was convinced I would be freezing, luckily there was little wind and therefore little chill factor.
I really struggled to find a rhythm, my feet were numb and I just couldn't shake the dead weight feeling. As I noted the number of people in the same age group pass me I knew within the first km that I was out of the running (literally) to qualify. This was tough as I was already struggling mentally. It was then I should have kicked my butt and gone hard to really get a solid pb, unfortunately I couldn't find the extra kick and felt I crawled around the course. I managed to pick up my pace in the last 2km but not as fast as I had planned. I crossed the finish line devastated; I hadn't had the race I had planned for.
I am a very emotional person when I finish racing and this time was no different it was just a little more bitter to deal with. I missed the automatic qualification places by 1 and I was way out of the qualification time to be considered for a roll down place. This was really tough to cope with and I apologize to my in laws who had to put up with the sulking teenager for the rest of the weekend!
To put the race into perspective I had a good solid 11.01 swim with a fast transition and I did run a pb for a multi sport race for me at 25.49! As always I didn't register any of these until Matt (my straight talking husband) had put it all into perspective! I am still upset at not doing better but have learnt that you do need a bad day to give you the drive to do better next time. I need to work on my mental motivation when I'm running and this is my challenge over the next few weeks.
Thanks to everyone who gave encouragement and supplied good words after my race, as always it is greatly appreciated and I hope to do a little less sulking next time!