Monday, 28 September 2009

Hever Triathlon; Race Report

overall time: 1hr 25 mins 5 seconds

overall place: 24th out of 184 women

swim (400m)

time: 11.15 (included T1)
overall position: 15th out of 184 women

the decision not to wear a wetsuit was playing on my mind from the moment we arrived. the water temp was 15 degrees and 98% of tri-ers were wetsuit clad. the compare man was reiterating that though the suit was optional, you’d be nuts not to be wearing one. i was like, “thanks. where is the microphone off button.” anyway, i’d comitted, no turning back and anyways, it was only 8 or so minutes of cold. surely i could manage.

we hit the water. the cold took my breath away as expected, but i tried to remain calm, and managed for a little bit.

i positioned myself front and relatively straight to the bouy line, and once the gun went i managed to hold my own for the first hundred metres. not too much contact, was actually feeling quite good.

then there was contact, and to be honest, i fell apart a little. there were people infront, to the sides, behind, and i had nowhere to go. every stroke was making contact with arms and legs and my breathing was shot. i wanted out. helicopter please.

finally the bouy arrived and it was time to head back. i realised at this point i could actually stand in the water, and my hands were making contact with the silt at the bottom far too often. but finally, with 100 metres to go, i found clear water and got my breathing and nerves under control. i was actually enjoying it for a little, hopeful i wasn’t at the back by this stage.

upon exiting the water, however, i had a quick look behind, and i didn’t see as many as i wanted. i honestly thought i’d rubbished the swim and my heart sank! looking at my placing, i can’t believe i was the fifteenth fastest woman, i really thought i’d bombed it. pleased in retrospect but at the time i wasn’t a happy chappy.


i arrived into T1 with Paul having overtaken me on the run in, and tried my best at moving through the motions while frozen. We were both so cold we could barely speak. we muttered a few words, then i got out quickly, and headed off.

cycle (20kms)

time: 47.58
position: 16th out of 184

ouch. i felt like we were defying gravity; was it possible to climb for 20kms without going down? there was hill after hill and then, oh, guess what, another hill!

the good thing about thinking i’d rubbished my swim is that it made me put my heel down for the cycle, and that’s exactly what i did. i was convinced i had time to make up, so off i went. i also knew that paul wasn’t far behind me, and wanted to hold my position for as long as possible. this i managed a whole two kilometres (which at the time felt like an eternity, but of course in reality is a little blip on the clock).

the cycle wasn’t easy (did i mention hills?) and not really enjoyable because i was pushing myself hard. my breathing was constantly laboured and a few times i did get to the “is it possible to vomit while cycling” point (side note: is that actually possible?)

fortunately the course worked in my favour, as i’m better at going up hills than going down. can’t believe i placed 16th! i managed to pass far more people than passed me, and overtaking men going up hills *never* got tiring! i’m sure they hated me secretly.

have i mentioned i LOVE cycling??

when i hit 17kms i started really enjoying myself. only one woman had overtaken me, i was feeling like i was pushing myself hard, and i could feel a good time coming on. i probably slowed a bit at this point, but who cares? i was excited and needed a little bit of joy!

best part of the cycle? i passed a guy i knew who started in the wave before me (10 minutes before!) - that was a massive bonus and there was lots of internal high fiving.


tragic. the aftermath of not wearing the wetsuit finally caught up with me.

i got off the bike, and realised i couldn’t feel my feet. i thought the feeling would come back after a few metres, but it didn’t, and i did get scared. i’ve never been able to not feel my feet like that before.

i ended up walking half of T2. it hurt in a weird frozen way. i knew what was coming (and it wasn’t the PB i’ve been praying for)

run (4kms)

time (with T2): 25.51
actual time: 94th out of 184

let’s start with the good news; the run was very pretty! it was around the grounds of the castle, on a trail, which suits me very well. i love running on trails as it reminds me of Australia, and my mood lifted despite what was happening with my body.

oh the feet. my poor old feet. they were frozen, possibly quite literally. that first 1km was horrid. i was shuffling, really shuffling. barely running. i looked like i had a problem, possibly several problems, it wasn’t pretty. thankfully no race photographers at that stage.

in all honesty, i was really worried. a little hypochroniatic at the best of times, i had images of gangrene. amputation. stupid in retrospect, but i couldn’t feeeeeel them. it was scary and i thought with every shuffle i was going to have to stop.

but i didn’t, thereby further proving my theory that no matter what happens in the run; keep running. the pains *will* subside!

so fortunately, as the run continued, my feet de-froze, and i was able to find my stride. brilliant! by the last km i felt great, but it was too late! my chance at a PB was well gone, but i didn’t care. my breathing was laboured, i was doing the best i could, so where the hell was that finish line?!

here's some post race re-capping/stretching. paul did an amazing job on his first tri; and came 32nd overall! i definitely feel a podium coming next weekend ;)

SO the best bits:

- overtaking on the cycle from the previous wave; brilliant!
- finding my stride after considering foot amputation. i’m one of a kind :)

and the worse bits:

- no wetsuit. NEVER again!
- letting body contact freak me out in open water. i need to practise this more.


Anonymous said...

well done Al! Sounds v challenging...where are the pics of the king and queen handing out medals?!


TRI-james said...

I hate the cold water - in the south that means anything under 72F.

Lisa said...

brilliant effort lady!!
i've just done a little number crunching and this puts you within the top 15% of all female competitors.
totally impressive!!!
it was a beaut day too, on all fronts, and i'm feeling more and more inspired.
bring on warwickshire!!

Anonymous said...

I did it yesterday at Hever in a shortie wetsuit, I was still freezing and had the worst swim of my life. It took me and my T1 19 minutes, the swim should have tken me 10mins. Lost all ability to swim yesterday. So cross with myself. You did excellent. Well Done. SS

Beth said...

What a great job! I'm so sorry that you were so cold. Now I feel so bad that I encouraged you to go without if you didn't think it was too cold. Sorry! I hope you are proud of your race- you did so well!

anthony said...

I was at hever as well wave 4 , have focused on my swim in both pool and lake and i feel apart in that lake, not sure why but i really felt bad,had pushed myself to the front to take it on might of been my downfall.
Well done on your times you must be happy
I too loved the cycling , quite a few hills good for my fat Ar*e

Paul Carter said...

Weeeeee, and i worked it out as 35th out of 339, you sure it's 32...? Hmm. Lol. Nice Blogpost, love your choice of the first pic of you... Hmm. You know what i'm talking about!

And i didnt feel the water was that cold, (no wetsuit either), although that might have been first triathlon adrenaline, because i couldnt feel feet or hands for the first 11km on bike either!

See you thursday Al, congrats!


Kelly said...

just found your blog and loved reading the race recap :) I did my first sprint tri this summer and I can't wait to do another one!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on finishing and congrats on being able to keep all your limbs ;). Racing in the cold sucks.

Steve Stenzel said...

That run sounds like it SUCKED!!

Wetsuits rock! End of story.

NICE JOB on the race!! Great pace overall!!

(Oh, and yeah, I wear the short yellow shorts for humor and humor alone. It's not a look I can really pull off. Ha!)

Jaakko Hiekkaranta said...


and thanks for your comment!

I highly recommmend Elbaman 70.3 if you're looking for a beautiful and challenging race!

Anonymous said...

yes it is possible to vomit whilst cycling ..... and don't clean it off ..... its a good reminder ...