By Sarah Clough
After completing my first duathlon and first triathlon, I thought it would be nice and neat to complete my club championships entry with an aquathlon, and wrap up the trio of multidiscipline events.
I had picked up a bad cold the morning before the event but I was determined not to let it bother me. Some things are beyond our control of course, and with it being quite a cold pool and my muscles creaking, the second I pushed off for the swim and started kicking I got cramp in nearly all of my toes. It lasted for at least half the swim. I tried to turn my toes up as I swam which unfortunately created more drag, and didn’t cure it either, so at the ends I had a good push off to stretch my toes out.
I had taken care to enter an accurate time for my swim so that I would be correctly placed and could try hard, so when I left the pool I glanced at the clock and was pleased to see I was just ahead of it, despite the tweaky toes.
I was also keen for a fast transition after the fiasco in my last event. I had laid my kit out very carefully, both for speed and so that nobody took it away! I’d copied a tip to put talc on my towel to stand on, which worked great because by the time I had pulled shorts and top on over my cossie my feet were already dry. I had missed one bit of prep and left my trainers laced: I pulled them out and ran towards the timekeeper, but they were too loose so had to stop to re-lace. So there’s still something to improve on for next time.
I had been suffering from silent reflux for three months which makes me dry heave when I do intense exercise. Given the effort I had already put into the swim, as soon as I started to run I really struggled to keep my body under control, and it wasn’t pretty, but I didn’t want to stop running and thankfully it passed after a few metres.
We had four laps to run. I find one lap races good, two laps fine as the second lap goes faster, three laps tedious, but four lap races great again as each lap is short so supporters and marshals are spread all along and give great support. The marshals, as ever, were lovely, and there were plenty of club members making me feel good by saying I was looking strong, whether I felt it or not. One of the juniors made both me and the guy in front giggle by yelling “don’t worry about the guy in front, just go for it!”
Burntwood is different to all other races I have entered before, as the slowest swimmers start first so the fastest people are behind you. This means the finishing period is more compact, but meant I couldn’t do my usual tactic of catching people up one by one. I was passed frequently, but it didn’t make me stressed as I knew they were faster competitors. Actually it was kind of nice to just try hard with no influences other than how I felt.
They give you a wristband after each lap and you finish wearing 3, a nice system meaning you don’t have to count. The wristbands were quite baggy and I dropped one just before the finish, so had to pick it up in case they wouldn’t let me complete.
I finished with a swim time (400m) of 7:36, run time (5km) of 29:30 (including 2:30 transition). Total: 37:06, putting me 61st out of 91 for the adults.
The event was very well attended by the club so there were other members finishing behind me and some already done. There were plenty of facilities to shower afterwards, and then a nice social aspect with the awards presentation, a group photo and then Sunday lunch at the local carvery.
Despite my cold I definitely feel like I am back on top form now after a fitness blip since 2015. I did a big event in 2015 but l let my fitness and weight slip after then as well as my social life. For the last couple of years I knew I wanted to get back into things but it takes more than a thought.
Newcastle Tri Club showed me what I could do to get back into it, even though I wasn’t in the right situation to fully engage it. It was moving to Wales that gave me the change in lifestyle needed, that meant I could put into practice what NTC had taught me. It is satisfying to bring it full circle and be back in the area competing with the club.