After another week of very little training it was good to have an event to look forward to.
Swimming is my strongest discipline so the leg and the distance (3K) wasn’t a worry at all. We got to the event, registered and went for a coffee as we were early.
The swim events started at 6pm with the 750m swim, then 1,500 at 6.15pm and my race (the 3K) at 6.30pm. I was there at 5.30 pm with just my wetsuit to put on. There was a short briefing: due to weather the laps were 750m each so I had to do 4 laps, the race starts were as directed but each wave would not start until the previous wave (all swimmers) had finished. So probably over an hour to go until I started from when the 750 started.
The 750m swimmers started, about 30 or so of them. They all swum in the centre of the river and went nowhere fast, the current was very strong or they were very slow. There was a group of Macmillan charity swimmers who were just not prepared for an open water swim in hard conditions. Five had retired before the first 150m.
It was going to be a long wait for the start of my race. Then I noticed the next wave getting in way ahead of schedule. I asked if the timings for the starts had changed ‘yeah everyone is going off together and starting now! Mad rush to get the top of my wetsuit on, vasaline on my neck, spit in my goggles etc and in I went.
Water temperature was OK, current didn’t seem to bad. And then we were off. I was quite near the front so was swum over a bit by the eager ones behind me. I made my way to the bank on the right and swum upstream to the turn bouy. Took a while to get into a rhythm and it was a bit frantic on this first bit of the first lap. The turn bouy was in the middle of the River and as expected once I had turned it was very fast back to the start bouy. Lap one done.
Lap two was better, good rythm, no traffic all the way to the turn bouy. But there wasn’t one! I saw it on the river bank. The swimmers in front had stopped and were asking the safety personnel in the kayaks what was going on. ‘Turn at the Kayak, just turn at the Kayak’ they were shouting. All the Kayaks were moving, no one had their hand up saying turn at this one. It was madness.
In the end we all just started swimming again and turned at the nearest kayak. It took a while for me to get my head in gear again. Were we stopping at this lap, was there a safety issue so the race was cancelled or being stopped, had their been an accident?
I slowed at the end of the 2nd lap and sighted more to see if swimmers were turning or all getting out, but swimmers were turning so it looked like we were carrying on.
Third lap I nailed it. Swum very near to the bank and had someone to swim against. Was a good strong swim up to wherever I was going to turn. I had taken the guy I was swimming against but in the confusion of where to turn he over took me again as I was trying to work out where to turn. There was a Kayak saying ‘turn here, turn here’, but as I got closer I realised he was paddling backwards so it was hard to get to him. Eventually I got to him and turned and started the third lap down stream. I gave it everything I had. It was a bit early in the race to go so hard but it was just frustration of losing time at the turn bouy.
I caught the guy who had taken me the previous lap and we had both caught the guy in front. As we turned it was all on.
Within 100m there was only two of us battling it out …
By the end of the swim upstream I had over taken the other guy and there in front of me was the big yellow turn bouy. At least I knew where I was going now. I turned at the bouy and went hell for leather all the way down to the finish. I was in the middle of the River, getting the full benefit of the current and just dug in and went for it. I turned at the finish bouy and got to the end in no time. I got out of the River expecting to run to the finish, but the finish was just getting out of the River. They took my timing chip and handed me my medal.
It was then I realised it was raining, very heavy rain. We dashed to the registration tent and got changed and waited for the rain to ease.
But it didn’t stop so we ran to the car and got changed again at the car as we got soaked getting to the car from the registration tent.
Results were up a few hours later. Swim time of 44 mins and 27 secs. Placed me 30th out of 49 finishers and 2 DNF’s. For my age category I was 8th out of 13 finishers.
A good time for me, the Half I did 3 weeks ago was 21 mins far half the distance so 2 mins longer for double the distance wasn’t too bad. I did start too slow and didn’t go to the bank as close as I should have, the mucking about with the turn bouys slowed me down as well. But no excuses there were a lot of others who were searching for the turn as well as me.
Interestingly the times for the 1,500m swim mean if I had done that event and halved my 44 mins time to 22 mins I would have come 9th out of 44 finishers.
But it was good to get out and compete. Feels like I haven’t done anything since the Half 3 weks ago when I picked up the knee issue. Hopefully I can string together a block of consistent training and then make a decision on the Half on 18th August.
Thanks for reading.