I just can’t stop grinning, this sport of triathlon really gives you the full emotional spectrum from frustration ( punctures), pain ( high levels of training ) and sheer elation when it all goes well and you perform much better than you expected. That happened to me today at The Chester Deva Triathlon.
Since Thursday I’ve been unbarable, which probably explains why Em has flown to France for a week. I didn’t mean to be miserable but I was just withdrawing and trying to psyche myself up for today. The thought of 1500m in the River Dee terrified me, I don’t know why, I proved I can swim that distance last week at Pine Lake. I think it was the talk on some websites about how fast it was flowing after all the rain this week in Snowdonia, the cold, and plainly just the fact that I’m not the strongest swimmer in the world and here I was planning on getting into a fast flowing, grimey river.
My alarm went off at 5:30am and 2 weetabix later I was on my way. I psyched myself up in the car and convinced myself that I could do it. I met Dave and followed him in to Chester. Registered, put the bike together, sorted out transition and got ready. The walk down to the river in bare feet was awful on the gravelly pavement, we’d be running back up it after exiting the river. Rather amusingly right by the start was a sign proclaiming “Dangerous River, absolubtly no swimming!”
With 5 minutes till the off I plunged into the dark muddy water….sh*t it was bloody cold ! A couple of minutes of swimming and treading water and I warmed up a little. I started at the back of my wave and was a good 5 or 10 metres behind the start line when the gun went off, it was worth the extra time/distance just not to be in the middle of the washing machine. So I had a smooth swim and didn’t get hit or kicked at all. I had decided to just swim relaxed and not look at my watch until I got out of the water, this was me racing me, for once I wasn’t bothered that people were swimming away from me. It worked, I never once felt out of breath and was so relaxed, I loved it….and my worries about being last were unfounded as I caught people and passed them all the way along the course. I even managed to get well past the turn before the fast ones in the next wave came past.
Kick hard in the last 100m to wake the legs up and suddenly the hands appear to pull me up onto the pontoon and onto transition. Goggles off, wetsuit stripped to waist, ouch my feet hurt on this path, helmet on, shoes and number on and away we go. Out of transition in under 40 mins, superb considering I thought i’d be looking at about 45 minutes for the swim alone.
Onto the bike, a few sharp turns to start with and then get into my rythym ( my av speed for the the 40km was 20.01mph – my fastest ever ! ). Get onto the big ring and work the legs, passing loads of people as I’m powering along. I was laughing to myself as I passed people on state of the art carbon dream machines from planet x, quintana roo and cervalo that probably cost about 4 or 5 grand, and I’m riding along thinking “£260 quid from ebay and its going faster than yours !” In fairness some speed merchants came past me later on. Pass Pirate Wicket a couple of times as the course doubles back on it self, and get plenty of shouts of “Go Pirate” from spectators and officials alike.
Get to 20 miles and the heavens opened in spectacular fashion, the road became very slippy and as I rounded the last corner I could feel my back wheel sliding, thankfully I remained upright. Hit the dismount line and run back to rack my bike, change into my now drenched running shoes and out on my way for plod round a 10k run course.
There was a couple of nasty sharp hills on the run and because of the rain, the cross country path along the river just turned into a river. Was weird running through overflowing drains on the first lap. Saw Dave and Pink Minnie and high fived both of them, they were running really well. My legs felt heavy especailly my left hamstring, so I deliberately ran slowish on the first lap just to be safe. Picked it up a bit on the second lap and was running quite strong, looked at my watch with about 2km to go and realised that if I put my foot down I’d break 2:40, so I went for it and passed about a dozen people on the final stretch and even managed a sprint finish to cross the line in the unoffical time of 2:39:39.
I was over the moon with that as I thought before hand that given my swimming weaknesses that I might just dip under 3 hours if I was lucky but realistically it may be 3:15. I smashed that and I’ve never been so proud of any athletic performance in my life before….I actually consider myself a triathlete now and not just a runner with tendancies !!
And considering that less than 4 weeks ago I was lying in hospital struggling to breathe, and have missed 2 weeks of training as a result I feel now that I’ve put that whole episode behind me…and yes Emma I had my inhalers in my transition bag just in case !
Saw Dave and Minnie, both had done superbly and I can’t express how pleased I am for them. And there is Viking, what can I say about this guy? Last week he tried open water swimming for the first time and he panicked and left the water in a matter of minutes in sheer terror. He vowed he’d never do it again and it took a lot of talking this week to persuade him otherwise. But you know what he overcame his fears and he completed this, now thats guts for you, and speaks volumes about this guy! I’m very proud of all my friends today, they performed out of their skin and it will be an honour to line up alongside them on September 1st when we bid to become Ironmen.
And the best thing is guys, we are one step closer…..