Training DiaryJune 29, 2006 - 20 fixie miles: 2x10 fixie, easy commute.
England were nil-nil against Ecuador when we suited up. Typical - I got a tear in my suit. Forearm seam, not critical, so there was much muttering as we zipped each other up. And then it started to feel serious. Men went first, in a mass floating start in the shipping channel. Stroke, stroke, breathe...
After about twenty metres, my crawl packed in. I suddenly didn't know how - it was as if my shoulders had forgotten what to do, all my core was a dead stick. Argh! I broke into a breat-stroke with crawl kick, and tried to compose myself.
Another go, another argh. This felt serious. Back to my lifesaver stroke. "Are you all right?" asked the lifeguard in the kayak tailing the back-markers. I was, but I was seriously out of kilter. Told him I'd signal if I was in distress. The star tailed me all the way.
So, no crawl, a hundred metres gone, still among the boats. I wanted to go home. But up ahead was the rock before the buoy. If I could make that, I could make the buoy. And I had promised. So I just dug in, found a rhythm, and chewed through it. Out past the rock it got choppy and all of a sudden there were swimmers. The ladies, wave after mine. Progress was agonising.
And then I reaced the damn buoy, punched it, called it a very bad name and laboured the turn. There was my sighting point, Castle Fang, and there was the beach.
Dig in. Plod through. Here come the age-groupers past me. I want to go home. Dig in. Keep the rhythm. You might make it yet.
And then sand underfoot. Blessed land, terra for-real firma. Godzilla lurches from the sea, hat off, goggles off, nose-clip lost, staggering to T1 in zombie motion. De-suiting was okay and I'd worn my singlet with numbers under my wettie, so all was zombie monster gravy. I'd made it.
The bike course is Cornwall's idea of rolling. Starts with a climb, then a fiddle through town, before climbing out of Bude. That climb was nearly the straw. Had to stop, shuddering breaths hanging over my handlebars, a little cry because I couldn't do it and surviving the swim just to pack on the bike was too cruel. Then there's the whirr of bikes passing, "Are you okay?" and "Come on mate!" and dammit, I won't pack here either.
Three miles later, I found my legs and had some fun chasing down coltish teenagers and leathery age-groupers. T2 was a blur: shoes, gel, nearly ran out wearing my helmet.
The run was long but steady: canal (with attack-swan obstacle), hills, back down into town. The whole thing was at my standard fatigued shuffle except the end: "one-nil mate!" yelled some bloke and pow! The last quarter mile wasn't so bad.
And finally, a frosty cold brew in the van, checking on the races of compatriots of the day (Sue had a similarly hard swim, Glasgow John did pretty well; the relay family loved it; Iain got 2nd; Rob was pipped at the post), and thinking: holy gods, that was tough.
Swim: 00:26:30, second slowest there. Woot! Not slowest! (I feel like Fry in Futurama) The modal swim time was about 15 minutes, so that nominal 500m was pretty stiff for all.
Bike: 00:38:47, halfway through the field. Happy to keep that relative position despite the aquatic beasting. What I need to work on is finishing the bike leg fresh for the...
Run: 00:31:21, can we say "fatigue" boys and girls? A 6:20 kilo (10-minute mile) pace again - definitely need to do work on this. That was as much of a shuffle as it felt.
Total: 01:36:38, 78th out of my group's 81 (!) As expected for an OW event, the "tail" was very short - a tight competitive spread from 1:02 to 1:25 then a short scattering of us noobs.