After a number of weeks of anxiety, yesterday’s day of reckoning was finally upon us, and we headed off (at dawn) to the southern (and surprisingly not rainy) banks of Loch Lomond, for our first attempt at an open water triathlon. When we signed up a few months ago this seemed like an insurmountable task. However, after successfully completing the Bute novice triathlon in May (albeit not an open water event) with no significant injuries, and even a medal to show for it, a glimmer of optimism had begun to creep in, that perhaps this might not be the impossible feat we had originally feared. (I say we – included in this task were trusty Lindsay (obvs) and also Karen, another novice triathlete that I had roped into signing up. By the night before the event, and with a rather recurring chant of ‘I can’t believe you’re making me do this’ in each ear, I was feeling that I had somewhat bullied these two friends into taking part, and perhaps they might not be such good friends 24 hours later.) I’d even managed to get to a couple of sessions at Pinkston outdoor swimming facility to try out my new wetsuit, and one swim on Loch Lomond itself.
But my creeping optimism was washed away six weeks ago when I caught, what appeared at first, to be a simple I’m-ready-for-my-holiday cold but turned into something more of a virulent I’m-not-leaving-you-for-weeks chest infection which has left me, it seems, with (we’re hoping transient) post-viral asthma. As a result I have found myself on inhalers for the first time in my life, some difficulties in the breathing department, and have been unable to do any training for close to six weeks. For the sake of those who know me and have had to live with or near me during this time (I am a terrible patient, mostly due to extreme grumpiness) I shan’t harp on about this, suffice to say preparation for this event has been poor (none) and general health remains questionable.
The race was very different from what I expected. We’d been told lots of things about what to expect about a mass start open water event and had lots of tips about the best way to approach it, but I think until you’ve done it, you can’t fully appreciate what a mass of kicking, swirling limbs it is. I found it impossible to get into any sort of rhythm, fast or slow, couldn’t breathe, tried crawl, breast stroke and even some back stroke at one point and genuinely thought I might drown until I realised I could put my feet on the bottom. I realised there were quite a few people in the same boat who were just walking beside me, and indeed some who were walking but didn’t want to let on they were walking so were doing crouchy-down walking with pretendy breast stroke arms. But finally the uncoordinated flailing was over and I was out the water and running up the (very steep) hill (thanks for that) to transition to get ready for the cycle.
This was a mountain bike only race. I don’t have a mountain bike (thank you again Jenny for lending me yet another bike – I do promise to give this one back), indeed I have never been on one, nor have I ever gone mountain biking (why would you) but I had watched the video of the race course that had helpfully been put on line so felt obviously fully prepared for what lay ahead. Actually I wasn’t entirely sure why mountain bikes were mandated because the video had shown a few miles of cycle path that didn’t look off-roady at all. Except that it turned out that the route was entirely different, and whilst some of it was indeed on cycle path, much of it was proper mountain biking with much jiggling and shoogling, a lot of mud and rather too many involuntary yelps. After two laps of the cycle course (and a very definite thought of ‘who would ever want to do mountain biking? I’ll certainly never be doing that again’) we pushed our bikes back up the steep hill to transition (again, thank you) and set off on the run.
As I started the 2.5km run (this is such a teeny distance and looks so rubbish on paper but after the preceding two events it feels about ten times as long) I was thinking to myself that maybe I wasn’t doing too badly, just as I saw Karen running back in to finish the race. Hmmmm. And the 2.5km did indeed last for roughly 40 miles. And took me about that long to do it, but I had a lovely welcoming committee to great me when I (finally) finished.
Thank you again to those who continue to support the fundraising. The whole family are signed up for the Loch Ore Open Water Triathlon at the end of August and I’m hoping to actually get some training in before that one. As ever, I’ll keep you posted…….