Four weeks ago Clinton and I came across an advert for the Clash of the Tritons Aquathlon 2017. It was organised by the Greenwich Tritons – a triathlon club we have joined in early August since moving to South East London.
Most people who know me will know that I am not a swimmer. I did a bit of swimming back when I was 13 but I didn’t really swim since – nothing more than two lengths in a pool. I don’t know what exactly went through my head when I saw the advert a couple of weeks back but at the time I just became a member in a local leisure centre at the time and I thought it would be a great way to motivate myself to learn to swim.
The event was a 750m swim and a 5 km run. I was confident of the 5 km run. The swimming aspect of it made me nervous. You see, when you are tired from running, you can either stop or just walk. If you stop swimming, you will drown.
Once I signed up for the event there was no going back and it was “go hard or go home”. I would swim two or three times a week and at times Clinton would come along and coach me. I went on Google and YouTube to find tips to work on my stroke. I joined the Greenwich triathlon club so I could get coaching sessions with them. The key was to swim efficiently, so I can conserve as much energy as possible. The coaching sessions were fun but not easy and I started second guessing my swimming technique.
Fast forward to race day. It was 7am on a chilly morning. We checked in at the registration desk and our race numbers were branded in thick black ink on our arms.
The poolside transition area was well marked and spacious. It was cold so I left it as late as possible to change into my swimming suit (most people were wearing tri suits and I was probably the only one wearing a swimming suit – spot the amateur!). After a race briefing Clinton and I waited in a cubicle to stay out of the wind. The fastest swimmers started first so I waited by the side of the pool as Clinton got in the water.
Then Clinton was off! He looked like he was swimming well, happily overtaking swimmers ahead of him, snaking up and down the pool, tumble turning under the rope at the end of each lap to continue in the adjacent lane.
Thirty seconds. Twenty seconds. Ten seconds. Then it was my turn to go! The first 300m of the swim was quite easy but after that it became pretty difficult. It was my first time swimming without resting in between so I had to slow myself down to a pace I could maintain. I think four or five swimmers overtook me but that was okay – at least I managed to do the swim!
750m swim completed and I had a smooth and quick transition (though I do remember at one point one of the marshals telling me to stop drying my hair with the towel and just run – so obviously I wasn’t as quick as I thought)! Soon I was running out into the adjacent park for the three-lap 5k run.
Lap 1. My legs seemed to feel great, until I started running. I then realised how tired and heavy they were. The first lap was long and difficult, my ears were blocked and my legs felt like lead but then I got into a nice rhythm. Lap 2 seemed shorter but my legs, calves and hamstrings were still heavy. I shook it off and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Lap 3 was a battle of mind over matter as I became aware of some kids half my height chasing behind me. I tried to make myself taller and keep my stride light to stay ahead of them.
Thankfully the support from the marshals was brilliant, matching our race numbers against their lists to cheer us on by name.
I crossed the line, collected my finishers’ medal and a can of Erdinger alcohol free beer. As I sat down I checked my watch – turned out I did the 5k in 22 min! I definitely wasn’t expecting that! I wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad – either I did really well on the run or I could’ve pushed harder on the swim. Not sure. But I was the 10th female and I headed home with a smile knowing that I’ve just completed my first ever aquathon!