Always set two alarms - Thorpe Park Olympic Triathlon
Oh boy oh boy was this an interesting one...
I'm starting to get used to the pre-race faff and arduous time spent working out how the hell to get to races for stupid o'clock in the morning (without a car). I felt pretty chilled about heading to Staines, finding my airbnb and settling down for a quiet night with Roxy (my host's staffie). I had a super calm evening which is an acceptable substitute for sleeping badly as I often do before a race. I re-read the race pack, transition closed at 6:40am so I needed to be there for 6am ideally. Pa ni pwoblem!
I set my alarm for 5am, set up my favourite Calm App sleep story and put on my eye mask. I usually set a second alarm on my phone. For some reason, this time, I did not.
I open my eyes in the morning, assuming it's only been an hour or so as I usually sleep in restless bursts on race nights. I go to check my watch and -
6:30am. Transition closes in 10 minutes. My heart rate SOARS.
I literally jump out of bed, throw on my trisuit, pick up my bag and leg it as fast as I can out the door. No time to eat anything or for a pre-race poo. I pedal as hard as I can to Thorpe Park where the first official lets me through the gate. The second set of officials plead my case to the Race Referee over the phone and they give me my race pack.
'There's no guarantee she'll let you race, it's up to her.'
I peg it down to transition where the Race Referee is finishing the briefing and start to get my kit together. When I finally find her she is furious. She says she'll let me race and beyond that I'm not really paying attention but I know she's giving me a hard time, telling me I've caused her and everyone else a huge problem. My brain is not working properly so I start to put on my wetsuit outside of transition before I've put my bike away. This warrants another shouting at from the Race Referee. Whilst I'm being given a second dressing-down, a number of marshalls and volunteers take pity on me and flock to help me get my stuff sorted and calm me down. As always the volunteers and marshalls are spectacularly kind, thoughtful and helpful. I was late, the Race Referee had every right to turn me away and I was lucky and relieved that she decided not to. I probably could have done without the second telling off though...
I was flustered, I started to get a little upset and I thought to myself -
'I can get upset about this now and cry and panic but that will mean that all of this stress was for nothing and I will have a completely horrible race.'
I decided against it ('deciding against it' is a completely new phenomenon to me) and sought out some friendly looking women in my swim wave. A bit of nervous chitchat always takes the edge off.
Swim 1500m - The reeds! The reeds!
The water is hella warm, in fact so warm that by British Triathlon standards wetsuits should have been banned but this race has an exemption. The swim is fairly uneventful, I keep well left this time to allow myself to come up through the field but this finds me swimming in and around quite a lot of reeds. Fun! As I approach the finish I start to overtake some of the back of the previous wave. This feels good, a solid swim, I'm happy with that.
Bike 40km(ish) - Pissing rain and broken elbows (not mine)
It started raining before the swim, something no one was expecting, and it continued to pour with vigour as I started the bike leg. The route was on completely open road and at moments when I could not see someone ahead of me, quite difficult to see signposting. I rarely got in the drops, feeling increasingly nervous about the road surface as I passed rider after rider on the roadside who had come off or had mechanical issues. My legs were not in the least bit fresh and started to hurt about 13km into the ride. I spent a lot of the ride just willing the kilometres away whilst trying to cram some food in my mouth that hopefully wouldn't come straight back up on the run. Last week I got a new trisuit from dhb - it's colourful and it's got sleeves (yay!) - so this was it's first proper outing. Early on I noticed it was pinching in the groin-meets-leg area in a pretty painful manner. Ouch. More on this later.
Finally I start to re-enter the park and know it's nearly over. Just as I approach the last, very tight corner, I see a female athlete on the floor being tended to by another athlete and a paramedic. She hit a pothole, did some airborn acrobatics and broke her elbow coming back down. Ouch.
Run 10km(ish) - This too shall pass
Since the Night of the 10,000m PBs I had been struggling with plantar fasciitis on both feet (yes! both!) which meant they easily become swollen and painful on the soles. I wondered if this would be an issue as I slipped my run shoes on and exited transition but alas, instead of painful feet, I could not feel them. I could not feel them at all. It was like running with breeze blocks on the ends of my legs. The run felt slow, a real grind and I ticked the first two laps off with grim determination. All I wanted was to finish and have a really, really big coffee. The final lap arrived and the park started to fill up, confused customers pushing around the blue cones marking the route with their toes, staring at us with incredulity. As I came towards the finish I spotted the Race Referee. I called out to her 'Thank you for letting me race' as I passed and she did a little smile. She'd let me race and I'd finished, all was right with the world.
Finish - 'I am so glad that's over!'
I actually shouted the above as I crossed the finish line, raising my arms in the arm in triumph. It was indeed over. Thank. Heavens.