Photo by Dan Bullock
Since my tri last weekend was cancelled, I decided to enter another pool sprint for some early season practice (because my first openwater sprint is not until June). This race was within about an hour's drive and actually involved an outside swim, albeit in a heated swimming pool. Hampton Pool one of my favourites as it's open all year around. One of my tri friends who won several races in the series was also racing and said that it was a good race to do. The final incentive was that I have ordered a new wetsuit (more on that soon) and I was able to pick it up from the race because my coach from swim camp was going to be there too.
It involved a VERY early start (4am!), almost like going to the airport, except that when you go to the airport you don't really need to exert yourself much more than carrying your suitcase to checkin. Coupled with the clock change the previous night my body is entirely confused as to what time it now is. It also meant that I had to set up my transition...in the dark at 6am. Should have borrowed the head torch that I gave Mr Tuna for Christmas....
It was also very cold. It was 0.5C when we left our house and only 2C when we got to the pool. I have never laid out so many clothes. Rather than cancel the race due to the conditions, the organisers decided to give us a "dead zone" of 5 minutes for T1 to make sure that everyone dried off and covered up; we were all instructed to cover at least our arms and chests. I laid out underarmour long sleeved shirt, fleece, windproof jacket, shorts (decided to swim in bikini bottoms so not to have so much wet next to my skin), leg warmers and a hat and gloves!
We waited around for a while for the race briefing but after that I was lucky to be able to go almost straight away. When entering, we had to predict our overall time and then give an accurate 400m swim time. We were then seeded into 5 waves, and then the fastest swimmers in each wave went first. I was in the slowest wave but seeded number 4. Stripping off my clothes quickly, I was suddenly very cold, but luckily I waited only about a minute before I could get in and go. Not the best swim for me, I should have gone a lot faster than 7m20s for 426m, but somehow satisfying as I could hear several people cheering me on (thanks Vicky!), AND, I managed to catch up and overtake the people seeded numbers 1-3 and made it first out of the pool. That was good.
Unfortunately, I'd forgotten my watch, so I overshot the 5 minutes I had for getting dressed by nearly a minute, but then I was out on the bike. 21.5k to do. Pedalled as hard as I could but as usual loads of people overtook me which is always a bit dispiriting. I wasn't too cold, until towards the end when my wet bottom really started to feel really clammy. My back also started to hurt. The final bit of the bike course is a 7 minutes dead zone to take account of a big junction, traffic lights and having to cross over a pedestrian crossing. This means you don't compete and risk compromising safety.
Back into T2, bit slow as wanted to change to a running hat and get rid of my windproof jacket (which my number belt was around the outside), and then out onto the 5k run. It was through a delightful park which I'd not been into before, with 2 loops, and without a watch it felt pretty long. I didn't get a spectacular time on the run, but 27:20 is fine for me, I'm happy with anything under 30 minutes for 5k really
Overall I was 241st out of 261 finishers. Not very impressive. But more so when you consider that yesterday I was barely able to get out of bed, and that my swim was probably in the top 40-50. I bet I had the slowest bike ride, even though I felt like I was really pushing it! On the plus side, I wrote on facebook about how this is a stepping stone towards the half ironman in September which I'm doing to raise money for Mind, the mental health charity, and 4 people sponsored me today which was great! I was proud to be wearing my Mind swimming hat.
The marshalling was fantastic, with the lovely Natarsha cheering with lots of enthusiasm at the exit from T1 and T2, and all of the marshalls having been provided with a list to match numbers to names which led to a lot of "Go on Verity" from people who I didn't even know. That was fun!
Overall my time was 1h34 (that didn't include the 5 minutes of deadtime for the T1 but did include my extra 52s, nor the 7 minutes deadtime going back to T2)
After I got back, I went and put on some warm clothes and then went out to cheer on my friend Vicky as she went through T2 to finish with a stunning run to win again. It's definitely an advantage of a pool triathlon that you get to cheer on the other competitors! Vicky got an awesome time of about 1h5m but I am pleased that I beat her on the swim by a few seconds ;-)
By the time we got home, it was only 11am. Maybe I should always get up that early?! I have had a nap and some food and now I'm ready for another swim. Hope I still feel like that tomorrow.