Sunday, 20 March 2011

Aquathlon Amazement

I've always thought that an aquathlon (swim then run) was a completely pointless and rubbish race to do. Mostly because it involves all the things I'm not very good at and I would miss my bike. In a bizarre turn of events today (which is a long story involving vomiting, I won't elaborate too much), I went from planning to do a 100 mile bike ride, to getting a last-minute entry into a local aquathlon. The event entailed a 500m swim and a 5k run. Short enough to go as hard as possible. 

The golden rule in racing is to never try anything new on race day. I decided (with the decision-making help of Tamzin and Claire) to break the rules and try running sock-less and in elastic laces for the first time. The justification for this was that the run was short enough to get away with it... even though really, for me, 5k is not that short.

We arrived at the leisure centre, registered, and went to recce the transition area. I should really put transition area in inverted commas as it was actually a slab of concrete just out the back of the swimming pool fire escape where people had strewn various towels, trainers and miscellaneous items of clothing.

I almost had second thoughts about the sock situation but I decided to wing it and see what happened.

We got ourselves ready by the pool. There were to be three people in each lane, so not too cramped. I barely had time to get nervous as we were in the first wave. The swim started well, I was trying so hard to pace myself and not go out too hard but I do get so over-excited and I just can't help myself. About halfway through I had caught up to Claire in front and was happily drafting her. Then with 100m to go I accidentally swiped her feet so she stopped to let me past at the end of the next length. I ploughed through to the end and breathlessly hauled myself out of the pool using the classic "beached whale-esque knee up and roll" manoeuvre.

Thanks to the elastic laces, the trainers were on in no time at all and I was off. However I realised very quickly that going from swim to run is an absolute killer in terms of being able to breathe. At least when there's a bike involved you get a chance to sit down for a bit! I was gasping to get enough air in and when I'd just about managed to get it under control the run turned uphill. Slowing down of course, was not an option - I could see another girl up ahead and the red mist set in.

The run just kept going uphill until we got to a man with a cone, at which point we turned around and it was alllll down. I tried to pick up the pace on the downhill, which worked quite well until it flattened out at the bottom and I felt myself slow. The last bit of the run then goes across a field which feels even SLOWER, but I tried to hold the pace even though I felt I could be sick at any minute through the sheer intensity of it all.

Considering how small the event was (22 competitors), quite a crowd of supporters had turned up and getting cheered in to the finish was a great boost. The event - though short -had felt really hard. I found out why when the results were put up. I had done the swim in 8:57; an enormous personal best for me and absolutely trashing my goal of swimming an 8 minute 400m. The run had also been a big personal best over that distance (although that was common amongst everyone so I suspect it was slightly shorter than 5k) and I was chuffed to bits. In fact we all had a good race and were super happy with our times.

I suppose sometimes going out of your comfort zone can yield good results.. The elastic laces did the trick, but I probably wouldn't go for anything longer without socks, I missed all the padded comfort!

Bianca wasn't happy, she barely spoke to me on the way home..

1 comment:

  1. Very proud of your PB darling. Congratulations xx