Sunday 28th August 2016: Lochore Open Water Triathlon – our first family event!

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Prior to the Wee Beastie event in July I had been quite looking forward to this. For the first time, all four of us (me and Paul to the adult novice event, Jamie and Holly to their respective Tristar events) were signed up to race on the same day. There was a great sign-up from the youth section of the Glasgow Triathlon Club too, which was especially helpful as we didn’t feel quite so bad about the prospect of abandoning the children when we took off to race.

However, after the panicky near drowning experience on Loch Lomond my enthusiasm had very much waned and my anxiety had steadily risen. That said, at least on a breathing front, things had improved so I had managed a good two weeks of training (just running really) in the build up. Paul was similarly nervous – he had never taken part in an open water event, and when we both, somewhat reluctantly, had a wee go at one of the club evening aquathlons a couple of weeks ago (a lovely social friendly affair with a post race barbecue) which happened to coincide with one of the junior open water sessions, he had a similar mass-start-induced swimming wobble.  Suffice to say neither of us had covered ourselves in glory in the open water swimming department. With a week to go we weren’t sure we’d make it out the loch in one piece on race day, but it’s amazing how you can turn things around in seven days.

ERC (Edinburgh Road Cycling Club) Tri Squad were the organisers of the triathlon, and they also organised a practice/recce session for the children taking part in the Tristar events and the adults taking part in the novice event the week before the race. We had (fortuitously) signed up for this, and although it meant we had to get up at dawn on a Saturday morning to get to Fife for 9am (much grumbling in the Glen household) it was so worthwhile. The coaches who took this were excellent and it made a huge difference seeing the course in advance and having a session swimming in a relaxed fashion without the pressure of a race environment. Paul then went to one of the GTC open water sessions at Pinkston at dawn on Tuesday and got some great help from Elton, one of our coaches who also takes the juniors and I managed a lunchtime session on Wednesday (no dawn swimming for me thank you very much), and after all this we tentatively hoped we might make it round the swim without drowning after all.

The day of the race itself was great. The weather was lovely – calm and dry and quite warm but not too hot. The standard distance triathlon (for proper triathletes) was taking place first thing in the morning and so was well underway when we arrived. (A standard distance triathlon is something I think one can only aspire to, but I do seem to have a wee inkling now at the back of my mind that this might be something we should aim for). The Tristar events were first, and with the great turn-out from the youth section of the club we had great fun watching and cheering them on. Many of them are relatively new to triathlon and seeing how they have improved over the last year or two is just amazing. This is thanks to the magic coaches we are lucky enough to have – many of whom had come all the way to Fife just to cheer on the kids. We even managed two podium finishes in a very competitive field; Charlie in the Tristar 1 boys and Mia (my niece, very proud) in the Tristar 3 girls. For me though I think the greatest thing of the day was the team spirit amongst all the children, and seeing the way they cheered each other on wherever they placed.

But throughout all this loveliness there was a creeping feeling of dread as our race start approached. But before we knew it we were on the beach in our wetsuits and the hooter was going and we were running into the water…….

And actually it was completely fine. I’d even go as far as to say I enjoyed it. The novice race actually comprised adult novices and the youth/junior section who were 15 and over (i.e. the very good older children). We were split into 3 heats – we had hoped this might be by age, and we would therefore be in the ‘old folk’ category, and hence racing against people roughly the same standard as us, but this was not to be. We were in the middle heat along with some equally old looking people (I hope I don’t offend anyone here) but also some lithe, athletic looking youngsters. I held back at the start of the swim and got into a steady panic-free rhythm – I even managed to sprint the last bit (is that the word for fast swimming??). The cycle and run courses were pretty flat which suits me very nicely and I didn’t seem to get overtaken by too many other ladies which seemed hugely surprising. A number of boys clearly from the heat after me shot past at various stages right enough and Paul had disappeared into the distance but all in all I was very pleased with how it went.

And the support throughout the course, right to the finish line was brill. A whole bunch of the families of the club Tristars had stayed on to support Paul and I in our race which was just lovely and made a huge difference – thank you to you all! Our enthusiasm for triathlon is restored and we shall embrace our ongoing training with renewed vigour (i.e. we will get back to our Sunday night beginner swim class).

Of course the blog wouldn’t be the blog without a wee video of the day. This one is mostly of the children who were amazing – their determination and support of each other is inspiring.

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