Well I’m still alive, though to be honest I thought it was touch and go for a while last night! My second aquathon has been completed and is now just a memory. Is it a good memory? Well I’m still debating that!
As per my previous blog entry, I had been stressing about the aquathon all day. I knew just how hard it was going to be this time and was kind of dreading it, particularly worrying about being sick again and getting the nutrition all wrong. Fortunately my personal mentor and nutrition expert was on hand to offer advice (thanks Rod ;)) and I followed what he’d said by eating a small bowl of tuna pasta at about 4ish, packed a banana for an emergency and filled a bottle full of water for the journey. I think his advice helped greatly, because in my head his expert opinion had to be a lot better than what I had done last time and I personally think mental preparation is just as important to get right (if not more so) as the physical stuff.
I left a bit later than planned… initially I was going to leave just after 4 in case of traffic as sign in was at 6:30pm for a 7pm start and it takes around an hour and 15 mins to get there. However; team GB had just won gold and bronze in the cycling time trials (how comes it’s all about Wiggins anyway? Sure he did an awesome job, but if we win bronze at other events it’s a massive achievement. Froome deserves a bit more acknowledgement I think, but hey, I’m digressing now ;)) So as I wanted to watch the medal presentation, I ended up leaving a little later at 4:30pm. Fortunately, although it was rush hour, traffic wasn’t too bad and I got there at about 6ish which gave me plenty of time to sign in and get changed.
I was slightly less worried this time around. I knew what was expected of me, I knew the route, and I knew I could complete it. The only factors were whether I could get around without being sick, and whether I could better my time. My last swim split had been pretty good so that part was debateable, but I knew the run needed a lot of improving. I got in for a warm up and there seemed to be a lot more people taking part in this aquathon than the last. As it turned out there were 25. Last time there’d only been 14! We all got ready for start, and though I’d thought I should be near the back, we were fairly spread out so I was able to get a position a bit nearer the front… a far better place to start to try and better that swim! So we set off. I settled into pace fairly quickly and remember thinking it was a slightly quicker pace than if I was just on a training swim. I kept with it but conciously thought I needed to make sure I didn’t use my legs too much as I’d need them later on! I was a bit unsure whether I was going too quickly, again I needed to consider energy useage as I’d need it for the run! I was aware of other swimmers around me though and didn’t want any of them to get too far away from me, although one group of swimmers had already disappeared into the distance 😉
I kept a similar pace right round the lap and swam back into shore and got out for transition. Hat and googles came straight off and I started to strip my wetsuit.
Out for transition…
Again I decided the best approach was to get the wetsuit half off and then sit down to do the rest and get my trainers on. This gives me a chance to regulate my breathing, get my breath back a bit and recompose myself for the run. I grabbed an energy gel (never sure whether I need it, or it just helps mentally) and took most of that… I didn’t quite clear the packet as I was concious I was losing a few seconds in time! I set off for the run… Slowly! It’s quite surprising just how hard it is to swim, ditch a wetsuit and then start running, but similarly to last time I decided to start off slowly until I could recover a bit and find some sort of pace. The first 1/2km is always such a killer. Breathing is always all over the place and I just want to stop and walk, but that’s not what it’s about. The second 1/2km seems a little easier. Not sure why, maybe as it’s a return to the start, maybe as I know there’s always someone at the end of there that claps and cheers everyone passing, or maybe just cos I know it’s the end of that particular lap. As I was running down that part someone went past me and puffed “well done” at me and I thanked them. All the while wondering why the hell I was doing this thing. Running hurts. Multi sports are absolute killers and I wasn’t enjoying it one bit. I kept moving though, ran past the supporters and one of my daughters at the start and went around for the second lap. Someone else passed me, in fact a few did throughout the run and also said “well done” to me. It seems this is part of the race etiquette… not to make the slower runners feel rubbish, but to congratulate them for actually doing it in the first place. The first half of the second lap was again hard, with the return to start slightly easier, and I went for the third lap.
Second lap pain!!!
At this point I really was struggling but kept putting one foot in front of the other. I was not going to stop until I finished. I was questioning everything though. Why was I doing this? I was rubbish at it, it hurt, I felt sick, I wasn’t enjoying it, so why? Maybe I should quit the silly multi sports idea and just concentrate on swimming which I did enjoy? I got to the end of the loop and did the turn and started the return to start for the last time, just feeling glad I was nearly there. People were clapping and saying well done (and at this point I think I’d lost the ability to talk) but I crossed the line and was told I had completed in 42:30. As soon as I was told this I was happy. The month before my finish time had been 44:50, so it was over two minutes faster!! And my swim split was 18:02, a personal best, and 5 seconds faster than last time. I’d finished 19th of 25 in the swim split, and 24th overall, but I didn’t care about that, I’d bettered my own times and I was WAY quicker than everyone else sat at home on their sofas 😉 A little rush of elation appeared, and I suddenly realised. THAT was why I was doing it… for the feeling at the end! It suddenly became clear that I was NEVER going to enjoy the actual event, it was the achievement afterwards that mattered. It’s a bit like childbirth… complete and utter pain like you’ve never felt before, but afterwards you forget it all as it all seems worth it. Lets face it, the pain you feel during the event is temporary… in my case the duration of the run, which was around about 20 minutes. The satisfaction you get afterwards lasts far longer. 🙂
Finish! Can’t work out if that’s a smile or a pain face. Both I think!