Date: 7th September 2014

Location: Reading Lake Hotel, Reading

Weather: Sunny

Distance: 1.5km / 44km / 10.8km

This was it, the big one, the one that would mean I could tick “standard length tri” off my 2014 to do list.

Quite unusually for me, I arrived in plenty of time, and registered and set up transition with plenty of time to spare. This gave me time to struggle into my wetsuit and watch a couple of earlier waves of the swim head off. A nice, relaxed start. This trend was not to continue.

Swim

The swim was two laps of the lake. Nice and simple.

Swim Course
Swim Course

How did I get this wrong? Ok, so the line to the start and buoy number 1 looks like it runs parallel to the shore, (do lakes have shores?), and it didn’t in the water, but I’m not sure that’s an excuse. My main excuse for adding an unnecessary 200m to my swim distance, is that everyone else was doing it too. We all swam to where buoy 1 should be in our heads and according to the map. There was a very little buoy there that we all swam round, then on to buoy 1, which was actually placed to the right of the lake. If only I had swum straight to the buoy, diagonally across the lake. I will have more belief in myself next time, I don’t have to swim the same way as everyone else if I think they’re wrong. When talking to other competitors at the end of the race, the ones who had done well were the ones who had swum the right way.

I definitely had a dawdle at one point on the swim too, somewhere between buoys 2 & 3, when the small fish swimming beneath me distracted me. It was very fun to swim in a lake that was so clear I could see the fish.

It took me 39:05 to officially swim 1.5km, but I really swam 1.7km (according to my Garmin). So not particularly fast, and not particularly slow.

Bike

This was hard. I need to work on my bike skills. The course was lovely, through country roads with great views. And only one main hill. But I was not fast. In fact, as I was coming in to transition, some competitors had finished and were walking back to their cars. “Oh dear, bike troubles?” asked one. I just smiled, whilst thinking “yes, you could say that, the trouble is….. I’m pedalling!”.

Despite the terribleness of my bike abilities, I did manage to save a life. Whilst pedalling along a fairly flat piece of road, I saw a shrew start to cross the road ahead of me (a long way ahead of me, I wasn’t so slow small wildlife was able to cross in front of me without worry). A bird of prey swooped out of the trees next to the road, aiming for the shrew. Fortuitously for the shrew, the bird of prey was spooked by my wheeled presence, and flew away without attacking. The shrew was able to carry on to the safety of the long grass.

So who cares how bad my bike was? I saved a shrew!

Run

A 5 lap off road run.

It already sounds terrible.

Plodding was my goal for this run. Just keep plodding. Number 212 gave me some respite from the plodding when she shared her jelly babies with me, thank you very much for this if you ever end up reading it. That jelly baby was one of the highlights of my race.

With five laps, I was seriously considering just running four, or three. It would still be a long run, and I was shattered. But no, I told the marshall near the end of the first lap that I still had four to go. By this time I was dead last, which unfortunately (fortunately?) made me memorable. That marshall remembered me, and got me round. Every time I didn’t think I could carry on, she was there, cheering me on, counting my laps down, she even plodded a bit of the way with me. My achievement of finishing full five laps is firmly on her shoulders.

As I came into the finish, competitors and marshalls had lined the finishing chute, it felt like I had won, not come last! I couldn’t keep the smile from my face.

I won! Well, I finished.
I won! Well, I finished.

Conclusion

For me, this was a very hard race. I wasn’t fit enough, and surprised myself with how hard it was. I definitely need to train more.

It did reaffirm my love the for the triathlon community. They are so friendly. Professionals, Age Groupers, First Timers, Marshalls, Organisers, everyone. Being cheered in made all the pain that had gone before worth it.

And……….an update to the triathlon spreadsheet!

Updated
Updated