Lordshill Road Runners Monday night training

After Sunday’s half marathon, I was not sure that I wanted to run any time soon and my Garmin backed me up by suggesting I take up backgammon or gardening or, at the very least, take 72 hours off before training hard again.

Although the garden needs some attention, I really enjoy Lordshill Road Runners’ Monday night training sessions and didn’t want to miss it as I knew I’d not be able to train with the club later in the week due to needing to ferry the boys around for their weekly activities.

With the decision made to go and train, I wasn’t sure whether to join my normal group, E, in one of my favorite sessions,’City Loop’, or drop down to group D and do a session called ‘Catch Me If You Can’. My head said go for the latter. My heart said stick with group E. In all likelihood, I’d regret either decision later.

I decided to follow my heart and chose ‘City Loop’.

Having battled the traffic across town, I got to Hill Lane at about 6:10 pm and then headed over the road to Tauntons College for registration.

There were a lot of members out for training (attendance seems to grow weekly regardless of weather) although notably quite a few regular faces appeared to be missing. Could it be the earlier rain, the chilly breeze, or something exciting on TV? The reality appeared to be that many who’d run the half marathon had wisely chosen to have a rest day. Had I made a mistake?

As group E set off up Hill Lane, I was pleased that my legs were working ok and not screaming at me. I was looking forward to the descent along Winchester Road to the western end of Shirley High Street though.

Within the first 10 minutes my Garmin advised that my Recovery Check was ‘fair’. Far better feedback than I’d expected.

I shalln’t bore you with the details of the session other than to say that we did some Fartleks along Shirley High Street which I enjoyed immensely.

In fact, I loved the whole session. There’s no way I’d have gone out and run 5 miles the day after a half marathon without having the club session to motivate me so my decision was the right one. It felt great to complete the session and that restored my confidence in my running.

Gosport Half Marathon 2014

On Sunday, I ran the Gosport Half Marathon. This was my 3rd attempt to finish in under 2 hours and I’ll spoil the ending by stating right now that I failed! D’oh! This is your excuse to bail unless you fancy reading the gory details and numerous excuses because as usual I have a multitude of excuses for this and I’ll summarise those later. However, with every race come the lessons learned and the intent (however short lived) to learn from those mistakes and do better next time!

Let’s start with mistake or excuse number 1 – not enough long runs in training. In fact, my longest run since Challenge Weymouth Half was 14km.

I arrived at race HQ at 8am and picked up my race number and timing chip and had just affixed the chip to my shoe laces when Becky Cleeves came out and offered me a free pre-race sports massage. Becky is a few weeks into her course and will complete it in May 2015. The massage took about 15 minutes and warmed my legs up (as well as making them glow like beacons!) Having left a charity donation, I went back out to see who I could find. After a few seconds, I saw Chris who told be that his partner, Ali, who I planned to run with was close by. We wandered into the hall and settled in before being joined by Andy, Robert and Susan amongst others. On my travels, I also bumped into several LRR members and other running friends from other clubs. With almost 60 LRR running, this was quite a well supported event.

My original plan had been to run with Tamsyn and Ali, but, I didn’t find Tamsyn in the start area. However, as I lined up for the start with Andy and Ali, Clare S from LRR and Ian Bowers both stood close by. It was clear we were probably a little too close to the start line given our anticipated pace. Oh well… I looked back and saw Di about 20m behind us! D’oh!

The course this year is new due to building work on the airfield that’s been traditionally used in previous years. This meant 2 loops off the sea front. Although almost pancake flat, this kind of course can be tough although I had enjoyed (in hindsight) Weymouth’s Half Distance Triathlon course which was similar so was unsure whether I’d love or loathe the new Gosport course (it turns out I preferred it to the old course and I hear that was a common view).

Fortunately, the heavy showers that had drenched the area in the 45 minutes prior to the start of the race had subsided and we started in dry conditions. Not too bad at all really.

Within the first km, it was clear our pace was too quick and we didn’t really settle back into our desired pace for the first 3km. However, I felt strong and didn’t want to back off too much (mistake number 2). Unfortunately, Ali got a stitch and had to slow up so Andy and I continued on. At times I thought I was running by myself until Andy reminded me we were ahead of target! Oops! I ran along with Andy Porter for a while and managed to keep up with him as he slowed to get water from the water stops. I didn’t take on water or jelly babies (mistake number 3).

I have to say that the first 7-8 miles felt good. I was on target for a sub-2 hour finish. However, that’s when the wheels came off and I got a stitch. I ran through it the best I could. There was a turn around point and as I headed back along the seafront I spotted Tamsyn, Helena and Paul all close behind. I knew that I’d struggle to keep ahead of them at this point.

It wasn’t long before my fellow club-mates passed, all looking like it was a walk in the park. This was a little demoralising but I tried my best to keep them in my sights. Up until I got to the 10 mile point, a sub-2 looked possible. However, at 10 miles, I knew that a sub-2 hour finish was going to be unlikely and this hurt! In sympathy for my pride, my right calf started to spasm. Hey ho!! I then needed to take regular 5-10 second walk breaks. Andy did his best to entice me to run. He said that there was still a chance I could get close to 2 hours so I tried. At the next couple of water stops, I drenched myself in water and took on some jelly babies. These helped but it was too little too late. The last mile was agony, mentally and physically but I was determined to finish. As we hit the last 400m, I tried to open up the throttle. I wanted to finish in under 2:02. That was my new goal! I gave it all I had and went for the line. Crossing the line in 2:01:27, I was pleased that I’d found the energy to get under my revised target.

I was shattered. The simple act of walking was a big struggle. I’d given it my all but paced wrong, fueled and hydrated wrong and messed up my chance of a PB. As I’ve said, I liked the course and think that I can seriously improve my finish time with better training and on-the-day pace management.

Every cloud has a silver lining though. According to Strava, my 10 mile split was a PB! In fact, Strava helped prove how hard I’d worked:

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My HR shows that I was working far harder than my pace analysis does!

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Spot where my target of a 2 hour finish disintegrated!

Many thanks to Andy for running with me and for putting up with me especially for the last 5km.

My race season for 2014 is now over. The next race on my calendar is Stubbington 10K. Between now and then, I have some work to do!! I want to do well in this race and that means some decent training, some weight loss and trying to get some sleep occasionally!!

Turning my frown upside down

For the last month or so, I’ve felt a bit ‘glum’. It’s difficult to put a reason to this feeling. It could just be the weather or a combination of a multitude of other minor reasons but I know it’s nothing to worry about. Those minor reasons for feeling negative have included negativity towards a contribution I’ve tried to make, uncertainty about the future, work-related negativity and sometimes just the negativity of others.

In life, I’m very positive generally, I have goals and, more often than not, achieve them. I like to make things happen. I do like to see others being happy over and above my own happiness (but not at the expense of my happiness).

In truth, my mood has been a little self-perpetuating. I’ve put on weight, I’ve not swum our cycled for over a month and I’ve struggled to focus. None of those things have made me feel more positive though.

However, alongside the negatives, there have been many things to be positive about. Most of these thIngs have been due to what other people have done or said and they probably have no clue that the fact that they did something without a moment s thought could lead to a posmotive impact on someone else. These moments have included banter with friends, meeting new people, seeing someone unexpectedly, the potential of new opportunities on the horizon or something as simple as receiving a message on Facebook.

My mood can often become polarised in a millisecond and be triggered by the simplest of things.

I know several people who suffer from depression and until quite recently couldn’t understand why most of those who had so much to be positive about could be depressed. However, the complexities of the human brain (and mind) mean that it doesn’t always act as we’d like. It’s amazing just how much of an improvement medication can make on those that suffer. Truly amazing in fact.

But, I don’t advocate giving out antidepressants to all and sundry though. I truly believe that exercise is one of the most effective ways of combating depression and does so in the much the same way that medicines do artificially. From personal experience I know that missing a workout can easily turn a good day into a not-so-good day and visa versa. I suspect that scaling back my exercise activities since the Weymouth Half Triathlon has been partly responsible for my mood of late (and a contributor alongside ‘comfort’ eating in paying on a stone in weight).

So, I have a plan. I’m refocusing on my activities. I’m getting back in the pool and back on my bike. I’m including a couple of strength and conditioning sessions per week and I’ve set myself a couple of ambitious goals for 2015. Two are fitness-related. One isn’t. I’ll share them soon.

Winter Wolf Run 2014

Sunday saw me complete my first off-road obstacle course as part of a team I’d put together after the summer’s Thunder Run. The team consisted of several friends; Raymond, Scott, Charlotte, Phillipa, Laura, Aaron and myself.

The event is held near Watford in November and is renowned for being muddy and challenging.

Aaron, Laura and I traveled up together on Saturday evening arriving at about 9pm at the Travelodge in Lutterworth. The others had traveled up earlier in the day and were staying in a traveling in a Travelodge in Rugby. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from home and about a 15 minute drive from the hotel to the race venue.

Once checked in, we headed to our separate rooms. I was impressed with my room. Much better than the Premier Inn I’d stayed in recently.

Having got a reasonable night’s sleep we meet in reception at 8:45am as our race started at 10:30am and we had to register from 9am.

The journey to the race venue was really easy and we arrived at about 9am. At the time it was raining and the ground was getting a little muddy under foot as we walked to the marquee to register.

Registration was simple enough. Once we’d handed in our waivers, picked up our race number and completed the medical form on the back, we waited for the others in the marquee.

Once they arrived, we said our hellos, dropped off our warm layers and prepared for the fun that lay ahead.

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Looking forward to the challenge ahead… kinda!

We met back at the marquee and watched the first wave as they warmed up and then set off. There was a big screen showing live video footage of them which was good for spectators.

Our wave was setting off at 10:30am so we had a little time to wait. Fortunately, the rain had eased.

At about 10:20am we were called into the start pen to warm up. This was quite fun and helped reduce any nerves.

Before long we were called to the start line, shared a few anxious glances with each other and were off.

The first obstacle was less than 10 metres away. A river crossing. It meant getting wet very quickly and trying to stay upright was the main priority. It was too soon to get completely immersed in water. That delight could wait a bit.

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It’s not as cold as it looks… Honest. I’m definitely looking forward to it getting any deeper though.

Once we’d waded through the first river, there was a scramble up the far bank before another muddier crossing. Great!

After that, there was a little opportunity to run before the next obstacle. I don’t recall the order of the obstacles or their names but they included:

Tyres – this wasn’t too much of a challenge but was made a little treacherous as they were sloppy as we clambered over them.

Tunnels – crawling through a narrow and dark tunnel

Scrambled nets – climb over a very high net wall. Normally I hate these but enjoyed this one

Undulating muddy banks – up and down over lots of little undulating humps with very muddy inclines. Quite a challenge to find the least muddy path through

Muddy Sucker – unbelievable muddy wade. Waist deep and thick mud that almost swallowed me while

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Looking like a scene out of All Creatures Great And Small – It Shouldn’t Happen To A Vet – quite apt really

Other very muddy obstacles – numerous mud related areas you had to cross. In some cases it was possible to run across. In others, you had to wade able deep. In a couple, you had to crawl across. Unbelievable!

River wades – several walks through rivers and streams of varying depths

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Almost mud-free… but for how long? Hmmmm!

Water slide – an awesome water slide that had to be tackled head first. Probably the best Water slide. Ever. So good, most of the team did it twice

Walls – obstacles we had to climb over with no real places to plant a foot. Quite challenging and probably the most dangerous obstacle. In fact, this is the only obstacle type where someone was injured that I’m aware of from falling from the top

The first 3 km seemed to go on forever and I don’t think any of us could believe we’d only got that far when we saw the km marker. In fact, the first 5 km seemed much longer that the last 5 km. We’d probably just got used to the challenge in the latter half though.

We lost Aaron and Laura at one point and I didn’t see them again until the end. The rest of us kept together and that made the event much more fun. I’d bout have enjoyed out half as much as a solo participant.

I’m as 50 minute 10 km runner bit out took us about 2.5 hours to complete the Wolf Run course. Ray had completed it in 2013 in under an hour so it’s achievable to go flat out bit I’m sure it’s far more fun as a team all helping each other out along the way and sharing the funny moments such as Phillipa’s face plant into the mud. Classic!

After we’d had a finish line photo taken, we waited for Laura and Aaron to finish but they were some way behind and the others had to leave so I waited by myself on a foil blanket. It was cold and I was wet. Fortunately the last river crossing just before the finish gantry washed most off the mud off!

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The finish is in sight. Hoo-bleedin-ray!

Finally finished and in need of a shower!

Finally finished and in need of a shower!

To save travelling home wet and dirty, we’d paid £10 for a late checkout (until 2 pm) so headed back for a shower and change of clothes for a more comfortable journey home. Definitely a very wise move. Highly recommended.

Overall, it was a great event with a great team. Would I do it again? I’d highly recommend it as an event. Great organization. Great marshals and sort from other participants. However, there are plenty of other events to try so the answer is no. We have already made plans for a tougher challenge – Tough Mudder London South 2015! Also signed up for Ensure 24 and Equinox – both 24 or team relay off-road races.

I should have probably had a rest day on Monday but instead chose to go to Lordshill Road Runners training and did a great 13km steady run around Southampton. Good stuff.

Grrrrrrr!

I haven’t posted for a while but have a couple of gripes to share….

I was contacted during the week by the group leader of a local ‘Weight Loss’ group asking if she, mentioning no names, could promote her group (and the benefits of her organisation’s approach to ‘healthy eating’) to parents and junior runners at Southampton junior parkrun using ‘flyers and special offers’. When I explained that I wouldn’t allow a commercial organisation to do this, she said that I’d misunderstood her and that she didn’t intend to promote the group and meant she’d talk to the parents about healthy eating. Hmmm, why the mention of flyers and special offers then? Having made it clear I wouldn’t condone this as we want to keep events simple, free from commercialisation and not open the floodgates to other commercial organisations wanting to jump on parkrun as a means of touting for business, the group leader said she’d try the Southampton event! Excuse me for stating the obvious here but I’d consider that many people who have made the choice to get up early on a Saturday morning to complete a 5k run may also be considering a healthy lifestyle already. Having said all that, there’s clearly a synergy between healthy eating, lifestyle and exercise and many dieters looking to get active should consider parkrun as a means of introducing a regular fitness activity into their weekly schedule or enhance their existing physical activities.

Lo and behold, I spotted an A-frame promo board for the group leaders slimming group as I was helping to pack up and as I left the car park at the end of the event. Had the group leader been trying to promote her group just out of sight after all at the junior event? It appears that she had! Hmmm! Surely I’d made it clear that such promotion wasn’t welcome? Also, you’d think that targeting families whose children weren’t already active on a Sunday’ll morning might prove more beneficial. Clearly, parkrun is a low hanging fruit for such promotion.

My other gripe relates to dog poo! We’re very fortunate to have a great park to host the junior parkrun but one major issue we have every week is dog poo. It appears that a large percentage of dog owners who walk their dogs at Riverside Park, Southampton don’t ‘bag it and bin it’. Prior to the start of every event, the event team have to do a sweep for poo and bag and bin countless little unwanted messages from the finish area where we also hold the pre-run briefing. However, that didn’t stop me from standing in some once I’d set up the course with Daniel just off the path lurking in the slightly long grass. Grrrrrrr! That was annoying enough. However, the icing on the cake was Daniel getting home with his friend Anisha both covered in dog poo from where one or more dog owners had left piles by an area that a lot of the children play after the run. When I say covered in it, I mean from head to toe. Hands, clothing and shoes.

Rants over.

HOWSC 100 sprint Tri 2014

Yesterday, I completed my last triathlon of the season, the HOWSC Sprint Triathlon. I had originally intended to do the Olympic distance but after the Challenge Weymouth Middle Distance, I felt like a bit of a rest.

The event is another TryTri event and now in its second year. Based near Fordingbridge, it takes about 30 minutes to travel to the event from home. As a local event, several triathlon friends were taKing part. Although I was doing the Sprint distance, there was a Novice event and the Olympic distance. Tamsyn, Stuart, Teri, Steve and Liz were all competing in the Sprint with Suzanne, Jenny, Sonia and Katherine doing the Olympic.

I slept really badly and got up just before 5am. My plan was to leave at about 6am and get a good spot in transition. As it was, I left home 5:50am having loaded the carlr the night before. The journey was nice and quick and I arrived at about 6:20am. There was already one line of cars in the car park adjacent to the transition area as I arrived although no one had reached their bikes.

I wandered through the field to registration to see a, friendly face, Donna, who signed me in. There was a choice of freebie, a mug and coaster, a buff or a water bottle. I went for the mug although in hindsight which I’d gone for the buff.

Having registered, I headed back to the car to get my bike ready for racking. This involved a quick check that everything was secure and that the tyres were pumped up.

I made my way to transition, helmet on head and found a spot on the Sprint rack near the transition exit. It took a while to get everything in place and I prepared a few extra layer fort the cycle and run just in case the forecast sunny weather didn’t materialise.

Once set up, I headed back to my car to get my swim stuff ready. That just meant putting my wetsuit, cap, goggles and deck shoes in the boot. As I wandered around the site, I bumped into Jenny from STC and Run Camp.

I soon speed Teri arrive and one she had started racking, I went over to say hello.

As Teri finished off, we spotted Tamsyn, Stuart and Liz racking too at the far end of the rack near transition entrance. I’m not sure what their rationale was.

By this point, Katherine and Suzanne had arrived too. It was almost a reunion of the Challenge Weymouth gang!!

I bumped into Gareth Sylvester-Bradley and chatted with him a little about how he’d been doing and also about my middle distance experiences. It’s always good to chat with Gareth and even though he’s at the elite end of triathlon and I’m definitely at the other end of the spectrum, he couldn’t be friendlier. His post about the HOWSC Sprint Tri is well worth a read.

We all wandered down to swim start to see Suzanne and Katherine off.

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Olympic distance competitors heading for the first buoy

Once the Olympic distance triathletes were heading off on their swim, we headed back to prepare for our race. This meant me going back to my car to get my wetsuit on and then back to transition to make sure I was all set up. I chatted with Teri once I was ready and tried to slow her down as she was starting to rush a little. Once Teri was set up we wanted down to meet the others and then headed down to the swim start area to get our timing chips and listen to Ben’s race briefing.

Before long, we were in the water. It was pretty chilly. Far cooler than Lakeside had been 3 days before. I’d forgotten just how muddy and squishy it was underfoot. Not the most pleasant feeling! I found myself a little too close to the front of the pack and tried to move back a bit. Having wished Liz and Teri good luck, it was time to pose for a photo and then the ‘starter’ counted down from 10 and we were off. The swim course was a 750m course comprising of 2 laps around very easy to see yellow buoys. It was such a difference swimming in a flat, calm lake after the sea at Weymouth. Being able to see the buoys was a definite advantage. With 100 in the event, there were a lot of swimmers around me and I felt as if I must be swimming ok to still have swimmers around me. I could see a good percentage of swimmers ahead although many weren’t too far away. The 2-laps went by pretty quickly and I didn’t feel too tired as I swam for shore. Many thanks to fellow STC member, Jonathan Northcott for helping me out of the water. Another top bloke!!

I soon recognised Teri immediately in front of me. Teri had had a good swim too. We’d make it to dry land in about 16 minutes and just had the run to transition before we could get on our bikes. I’m pretty sure that the swim course is a little over 750m (especially as I can’t swim in a straight line at the best of times!) The run to transition is a little longer than I’d like and includes a sharp little incline which does its best to sap any energy!

I ran into transition and headed for my bike. As I was only a couple of bikes down from Teri, I was able to keep track of how she was getting on. Although I had a cycling jacket and fingerless gloves set up, I decided against both and got out on the road as quickly as I could. This worked in my favour as it meant that I left T1 before Teri. I wasn’t sure whether Tamsyn was ahead of or behind me.

The bike course was rather nice! I’d heard it was undulating but compared to some of the inclines at Challenge Weymouth Half, I’d say that the course was much flatter; not flat you understand!! There were a few cross roads where we had to slow down and one where I had to stop completely but overall, wheels were turning at all times which felt good. Unlike the middle distance at Weymouth, I didn’t feel as if I were being overtaken much. Having said that, with no distinction between race numbers, it was really difficult to tell whether those I was being overtaken by or overtaking (yes, I overtook some riders!) were competing in the Sprint distance event.

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An unflattering side view of me on the bike – must lose a few lbs!

The one lap loop was an improvement on last year’s two-lapper although I didn’t have the advantage of knowing 3/4 of the course. That was no bad thing though.

As I approached the end of the cycle course, I looked down and realised that I’d not taken on any fluid. This wasn’t great as I’ve suffered from cramp before having not hydrated. Too late to worry now so I took a large swig of water (with High-Five Zero in it) and hoped that it would see me through the run.

As I ran into T2, I saw Donna who was now making sure that cyclist and runners didn’t meet in any nasty accidents! Jon was also close by doing the same.

My T2 was rather slow! I have no excuses. I took the time to put some socks on! Having got two nasty blisters at CWH, I wasn’t going to make the mistake of not wearing socks. No sign of either Teri or Tamsyn so it looked like I was ahead of them.

The run course was two laps starting around the field where the race HQ and transition area was and then around the lake where we’d swum. The course was mostly on grass with some trail and a very short section of tarmac. It’s quite energy-sapping and as the temperature was rising, I wasn’t going to be running too fast. My goal was to finish the run in under 30 minutes. This was based on a goal time to complete the event in 1 hour 40 minutes (based on 18 minute swim + 2 min T1 + 48 minute cycle + 2 min T2 + 30 minute run). I knew that I was about 2 minutes ahead of schedule so had some time to play with if things went wrong on the run. However, the plan was to keep moving and not let myself stop and walk!

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Practising the Ironman Shuffle

Having completed the first lap, I knew that the end was in sight. I maintained my pace and plodded until I got back into the field where the finish was only 100m away. As I headed for the finish, I heard Steve shout some encouragement and I ran to the finish gantry. At 1:35 on my watch, I counted down the 60 seconds in the hope that I’d get to the gantry in 1:36 but didn’t quite make it. In the end, I finished in 1:36:08 which was almost 4 minutes faster than I’d hoped. Very happy with that. I can’t really compare times with last year as each course for the swim, bike and run was different to last year.

Teri and Tamsyn finished about 4 minutes after me shortly followed by Liz and then Stuart who’d had the misfortune of getting not one but two punctures on the bike course. We then watched Katherine, Suzanne and Jenny finish their Olympic distance event. Great results all round. Just before heading home, I had another conversation with Gareth who’d finished in 2nd!

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Tamsyn, Teri and I showing off our medals (race number well positioned so that’s all I’m showing off)

Swim + run to T1: 00:17:16

T1: 00:1:38

Cycle: 00:48:26

T2: 00:01:20

Run: 00:27:27

Total: 01:36:08

Yet another great TryTri event well executed by Chris, Ben and the team. Many thanks to all involved.

Eastleigh Aquathlon – September 2014

Having completed the Challenge Weymouth Middle Distance Triathlon a couple of weeks ago, my season is coming to an end. However, I’ve still got a few events to go this year. These are:

HOWSC 100 Sprint
Wolf Run
Gosport half marathon

Since the middle distance event, I’ve not really done much training and with the last aquathlon looming this week, I decided that I’d definitely commit to doing it. However, that didn’t stop me from trying to find several excuses to not go during the day. Fortunately, I chose to not too listen to the ‘devil on my shoulder’, packed my kit and headed down to Lakeside along with Denise and the boys and dog who had decided to come and watch.

We left home at 5:30pm and arrived shortly before 6pm.

I was one of the first to arrive and spoke to Michael Akers about the Weymouth Half tri before lots of regular started to arrive. I was a little torn between spending time with the family and socialising so apologies to anyone I didn’t say hello to.

Once I’d register, I headed down to transition and put my wetsuit on. I’ve put on about 3/4 of a stone on recently due to bad diet so it didn’t slip on as easily as it had mid-season. Must get back in control of what I’m eating.

I then turned on my Garmin to find that the battery was dead. Grrrrr!

Ben delivered the race briefing as Chris arrived (due to the darker evenings, the races was starting half an hour earlier than advertised) and we headed to swim start.

The water was quite cold as we got in but not quite as cold as I was expecting which was a pleasant surprise. The slow swim to the start area gave me chance to say hello to Liz, Jenny and Katherine. It was also good to see Steve from STC at the event.

I found myself a little closer to the front than I’d have liked and tried to move back a bit. This was unsuccessful but given the fairly small number of participants it wasn’t too much of an issue.

We waved while Ben took a photo whilst we tried not to sink and then we were off.

Within 200m, the lead pack were swimming away and I felt I was being left behind. The weight gain and less visits to the pool are definitely taking their toll. The swim was 2.5 laps as I was doing the long distance event. It was unclear whether there was anyone behind me but I hoped I wasn’t last.

On my last lap I overtook someone. It was a first at any lake swim as far as I could remember. They may well have subsequently overtaken me later of course. The swim to the exit always seems to take an age even though it’s only a short distance. Ben gave some words of encouragement and took a photo as I emerged from the lake and I started to peel off my wetsuit as I ran to transition. I won’t share the photo as I look awful!

My transition was very slow. I’d bought my wrong running shoes and has to do up the laces rather than just slip them on (thanks to elastic laces). I sat down to do this and decided to not put socks on which could have been a mistake given I still have the blisters from 2 weeks ago.

As I started the 2-lap course. I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me. I had some catching up to do. My aim was to try and not get overtaken.

As I got to the start of their tree tunnel, I could make out two runners at the far end. Was there a chance I could catch them up?

Over the 2 laps, I slowly got closer and worked out that it was Steve from STC ahead with Katherine ahead of him. As I got to the bowl, I was getting fairly close with Steve less than 50m ahead. It took me most of the 2nd lap to get to Steve’s shoulder and as we got to the last 100m or so, I ‘opened up the throttle’ and ‘sprinted’ for the line overtaking Steve in the process. Unfortunately, my speedy arrival at the finish wasn’t captured on camera. Maybe I was just too quick or the photo was too blurry.

Without my Garmin I had no ideas how well I’d done. I congratulated Steve and then headed down to the transition area with Connor to collect my kit. It was good to catch up with Chris on the way down.

I was happy with my effort although I didn’t know how well I’d done. Shortly after getting home, Chris Sees left me know my result. 43:29. A little sedate and a minute or so slower than the last aquathlon I did in August.

Next up – HOWSC 100 Sprint Tri