On Sunday I took part in the Whitstable Surf n Turf Aquathlon and had the most fabulous time. I went into the race with a very positive frame of mind as I had resigned myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be a fast race for me so therefore I could just enjoy myself…I knew I was under-trained, under-fuelled, under-tapered, all-round under-prepared. But I didn’t care because I knew that I had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and was ready for some fun, and fun it was.
Everyone seemed to be in a great mood which was perhaps helped by the glorious sunshine we woke up to on race day. I received my first cheery hello from a fellow competitor who recognised me from Facebook during the line for registration, and when it was time to register had some great banter with the organisers who recognised me too…and then told me my race number was ‘1’. I had a little giggle to myself at that point because even though I was feeling good, my lack of preparation meant that there was a possibility that race number ‘1’ would get a DNF. Luckily I didn’t need to worry about that.
I set up my kit in transition and was conveniently located next to my Instagram friend and Team GB athlete, Yiannis Christodoulou, who very kindly lent me his talc as I had only brought Lush’s Snow Fairy Dust with me and didn’t really fancy having pink glittery feet for the run. I set everything out in the order I would need it…including my inhaler and my raisins for a bit of a post-swim energy boost, and then walked down the slope to the beach for the sea swim briefing. By this point, the sun was shining and there was a fairly strong breeze, but really and truly perfect race conditions. Until we got in the water…which was choppy.
Waves aside, the swim started off great for me and I was confident enough to swim front crawl from the mass start. Unfortunately before reaching the first buoy the lady swimming beside me rolled on her back and started screaming for help…the safety surfboards were quite far away so I tried asking her if she’d like me to help. She was clearly having a panic attack and couldn’t respond at all with a coherent sentence other than yelling ‘help’, so I took her arm and placed her over my shoulders whilst attempting to tread water until the safety crew arrived. As soon as they had her on the surfboard I was back off to continue the swim. Unfortunately that little episode meant I had lost my front crawl momentum and finished the swim doing breaststroke, at the start someone also knocked one of my feet too which are pretty painful at the moment due to a persistent injury. Still, I wasn’t disappointed because throughout the whole of the swim I was thinking how proud I was for doing this and for feeling happy and relatively strong – a few others had been pulled out of the water too and my husband was stood on the shore worrying whether I’d make it.
He needn’t have worried, soon enough I was running out of the water, ripping my wetsuit off and tackling the slope into transition. Had my inhaler, a few raisins and some water, and off I went to tackle the run (I actually spent a whole 4 minutes in transition…clearly taking things very easy). I had run a strong ParkRun the day before so knew I was capable of the distance with my feet in their current condition, but thought I would take it as slow as possible and continue to enjoy myself. There was no way that I was going to get a DNF when I was in such a good mood. Although I wasn’t wearing a GPS I think I kept a very consistent pace throughout. I didn’t push myself on the run and didn’t get out of breath and that meant that I continued to feel strong for the entirety. The marshals on the run were brilliant and gave all the support and encouragement you could possibly want in a race, and soon enough I was on the home straight and running into a manageable headwind, back up the slope and onto the final 200m where I gave my usual sprint finish.
Slow, steady, and finished.
It really was a brilliant event, the organisation was spectacular, the people were friendly, the weather was superb. I couldn’t have hoped for a more positive experience and cannot wait to take part again next year. I feel very lucky to have such brilliant local races right on my doorstep. A huge thank you to the Active Life team for yet another great event…next stop, the Oysterman Triathlon!