52% intelligent. 9% modest. More monkey than bear.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

So slow down, slow down, you're taking me over...

"worth the wait...."

Well. That's that done then.

Here are the stats:
Swim (750m in a lake) - 7-ish minutes
Cycle (20km) - 39-ish minutes
Run (5km) - 26-ish minutes

[the official stats aren't up yet, so I'm doing this from memory, so please bear with me....]

My provisional time was 1:14:59.

I think they've got that wrong. I timed it on my watch at about 1:23, with the extra few minutes all coming in the swim. I've done a few "sprint" triathlons before, but all of them have had a 400m pool swim. This one was obviously a little different, in that it was longer, and was an "open water swim" requiring that you wear a wetsuit. My wave set off at about 08:30 this morning, and as it was an 'in-water' start, a couple of minutes before the off, I hopped into the lake to get into position and to see what being in a wetsuit in water actually felt like. Initially the water didn't feel too cold, although it was a pretty chilly morning. Then the water began to seep in through the zip on the back of my suit. I didn't have too much time to think about that though, as we were off. The water was quite green, although not too bad, and I set off doing the front crawl at a fairly easy pace. At first the hardest thing was the sheer number of people in the water, and I was very mindful that if my goggles were kicked off, I could probably kiss my contact lenses goodbye.

Increasingly though, I became aware that my chest was beginning to feel quite restricted. I tried to keep this out of my mind, but I started to panic and fight for breath. I thought my wetsuit was too tight and that it was stopping me from breathing. I stopped for a minute, and then carried on, switching to breast-stroke in an effort to calm down. I still hadn't reached the turn that marked halfway. I began to think that I wouldn't finish, and the London Triathlon, with its 1500m swim, felt like a very distant prospect. I made it to the turn okay, but I was still struggling to catch my breath. At this point I made the conscious decision to carry on with the breast-stroke and to work really hard on calming myself down and not fight for breath. I fell off the pace a little bit (although there were still plenty of people behind me), and I made it to the end, where I gratefully staggered out of the water and wobbled over to my bike. I was quite shaken, but at least I had got through. I had a quick look at my watch as I was taking off the wetsuit, and I think it said 11 minutes... not the 7-ish minutes on my 'official' time.... so hence I'm taking that time with a hefty pinch of salt.

The bike was fairly uneventful, except that it was my first ride on my new bike. Not just my first race, but my first actual ride.... You might remember that I ordered this at the backend of April, but what with me being in Korea, them forgetting to order it, it being too small and them having to re-order, I actually only picked the damn thing up on Saturday afternoon. Still, at least it arrived and it was great. It was nice to actually overtake a couple of people for once. On my old mountain bike (weighing a tonne and with tyres so big they wouldn't look out of place on a tractor), that was definitely something of a rarity.

And then the run... the transition from the cycle to the run is one of the hardest things about this whole ridiculous sport. It's not just the wobbly legs either: the first km or so is all about finding your legs, getting your body accustomed to using the same muscles that you used on the bike in a slightly different way. I find that although my brain is telling me to run faster, because I feel okay and not too out of breath, my body just will not respond. I often cross the finishing line feeling very tired, but looking relatively comfortable. It's weird. I think it's because swimming and cycling can both be quite strenuous, but neither of them are especially hard on the heart or lungs... but the cumulative effect of all of the events mean that the body just refuses to respond.

Anyway. I got through it. Which is more than can be said for C., who was forced to pull out during the course of the swim. I nearly panicked and pulled out, but I pushed on. Then again. I'm not an asthmatic. C. went through the much the same experience - the constricted chest, the shortness of breath and so on - but in her case it triggered an attack, and she just had to stop.

She was gutted, and is totally determined to enter another event this year so she can prove to herself that she can handle the open-water swim. Actually, I'm now really worried about London. The aim of this race was to get a feel for the swim, and I clearly need to get some more practice, as I can't risk panicking on the big day. During the swim today, I felt that my wetsuit was too tight and was impeding my breathing. On reflection, I think it was more likely to be a combination of the excitement, the number of people and, above all, the coldness of the water.

I just need to get back in the water and put some more work in before August.

1500m swim? From where I am now, it feels like a mile.

honk honk....


This post is powered by Rogue Smoke Ale.... my very own Ice Cold in Alex moment (because, hey, I've been off the booze since tuesday). Weirdly, when I walked into my mum & dad's house on Saturday night, my dad was sat watching the film itself on the BBC, and it had just got to the scene imagined here earlier in the week, and pictured above....

I don't know if it means anything, but it was a coincidence, and no mistake.


  • At 10:18 pm, Blogger LB said…

    good work, mate. that's a hell of an effort.

    i did chuckle when I saw "Ice Cold In Alex" on TV yesterday after what you had been saying. I was sitting in a pub having some Sunday lunch with Maddie today when I heard two old blokes (easily in their eighties) discussing how they'd both watched it yesterday...

    any excuse for you to wear lycra on a weekend though, I guess. how was it for you?

  • At 10:22 pm, Blogger swisslet said…

    there were official photographers there, and rest assured.... if they put up any pictures of me, I'll be sure to post them up here....

    and thanks for asking - the lycra was great....

  • At 10:34 pm, Blogger John McClure said…

    I decided not to enter this one for fear of frightening myself out of doing the London one - but now, having read that, I get to be frightened anyway.

    I saw a thing recently - it might have been that 100 Greatest War Films on Channel 4 - with an ancient John Mills describing that scene from Ice Cold in Alex. "We used real beer. We had to do nine takes. By the time we had the shot the director wanted, I was absolutely plastered. Best day's work I ever had."

  • At 5:34 am, Blogger Aravis said…

    Congratulations on making it through to the end, ST! The bit in the water sounds scary though. Sorry C. couldn't finish. I'll be rooting for her next time!

  • At 12:01 pm, Blogger adem said…

    Well done ST.
    I went through the exact same thing this weekend...well minus the swimming, cycling, and running...I did have a beer though!

  • At 5:11 pm, Blogger HistoryGeek said…

    Wow, that's amazing. Glad you were able to keep going.


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