My first ever national race: the Monster Aquathlon National Championships and I came 5th in my age group! This time last year I couldn’t even swim so it’s amazing to think that so much could change in a year.

Pre-race

We got to the Nene Park race site at 7.15am and there was a sign saying the water temp was 22.5 degrees and that it would be a non-wetsuit swim. I’ve never actually raced in open water without a wetsuit so it was slightly unnerving, but part of me was also really excited about having a non-wetsuit swim. It would mean that I could “really” swim and not need to rely on the buoyancy of the wetsuit to make my way around!

At around quarter to 9, I grabbed my cap and goggles and headed for the water for a swim warm up. The water was FREEZING. When I got in the temperature was more like 19 degrees, maybe even colder. I was shivering a lot and I had to keep swimming to keep warm before the race even started.

Swim (750m)

At 9am the gun went off! The swim was one lap (750m) in Gunwade Lake and I had what I felt like was a good swim. It was a mass start so it was a little crazy (200 people all starting at the same time!) but I stayed toward the back and just focused on my own swim. I concentrated on a good catch and front rotation (rather than just getting into a churn fest) and tried to pick up on a pair of feet to draft behind. I managed to hang onto the back of a pack, which meant I didn’t have to swim alone.

Transition

Transition was really smooth and took me only a minute (my quickest transition ever!) It would have been less but an official stopped me and asked me to zip up my tri suit as my sport bra was showing (oops!) – that probably added another 20s to my transition time!

Run (5km)

The run was a one-lap loop within Ferry Meadows Country Park. The first km was quite tough. I had a stitch, my heart was beating way too quickly and I felt like a turtle.

My first km was 4.10/km which was slower than I’d hoped for but it was the best I could do with at the time with a stomach full of lake water. But after the first km I settled nicely into my run and I passed a good number of people!

My finishing run time was 21.20 – pretty decent for a 5k run post swim. Strava gave me some “medals” for some segments too!

Post race

The race had good post race food (haribos and bananas) and we were each given a decent tech finisher shirt. The t-shirt isn’t cut very well for women but it’s really good quality – a great training shirt!

Results

Overall I’m really happy with my race performance, and with coming 5th in my age group in the nationals! My swim time wasn’t fast by any standard but considering it’s my first non-wetsuit swim I’m pleased with how I’ve done. Last time I did an aquathon this length I was 8 minutes slower so I’m just happy with the progress I’ve made.

Of course I wish I’d taken up swimming and running much earlier, but my improvements in both sports have shown that it’s never too late to start anything in life.

I’m also super proud of Clinton – who came 4th in his age group in an incredibly tough race – missing a podium position by just 30 seconds!

– Jess

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