How would I sum up my performance in the Oysterman Triathlon? Sloooooooow. Really slow.
I didn’t go into this race in the best condition unfortunately. After my last big race I developed a chest infection which lingered for 3 weeks, and as an asthmatic that sort of thing really does hinder me when it comes to training. I then had one week before Oysterman to enjoy training sans chest infection, however became ill in other ways during that week and was hit with the very sad news that my grandfather had passed away. Add to that mix the fact that my bad feet (I was diagnosed with hyperextension in early summer and spend most days in pain) flared up three days before the race, and involved me trying to force my toes to dislocate so I could re-set them on race-mas eve, and well, you pretty much have a race that shouldn’t happen.
But it did happen, and boy am I glad it did, because…I got to race with my family! Whilst my uncle was off running an ultramarathon nearby (he’s a modern-day superman), Bex and Sam tackled the triathlon with me. I liked to think that Bex and I were the female version of the Brownlee brothers. However in reality, whilst Bex is very hardcore, I am far less focussed and spent most of the race just enjoying the scenery.
I think the swim was my favourite part of the race, although I really did enjoy all elements of it. Sea swimming is one of my favourite activities in life and although I consciously recognise that my technique becomes pretty poor when swimming in the sea I find it incredibly soothing (perhaps not quite the feeling you’re aiming for when racing…). Despite the fact that there was a really strong tide on the day and some rolling waves forcing us back on the longest stretch of the swim, my time was actually quicker than in the aquathlon – and it was 100m further too. On the whole I was rather pleased with the swim however the one annoying part for me was that just as I had broken away from the group I had been comfortably swimming with and headed towards the last buoy before swimming back into the beach, that group were told they no longer had to swim around the buoy. Whilst I am really pleased that I swam the entire course, I was annoyed that at least 10 people left the water having swam approximately 75m less than me. I did still leave the water before them though so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.
Unfortunately de-wetsuiting became a bit of an ordeal. I had been distracted in transition when preparing for the swim so didn’t vaseline my wrists and ankles properly and so inevitably I got stuck. I’ve only included one photo of me exiting the water whilst struggling with my arms as there are already far too many photos in this post, however trust me when I say I have a whole sequence of me pulling weird faces whilst my monkey limbs were flailing about. Still, I eventually managed to free my arms on the run up to transition, and then had the exact same problem with my legs. Unfortunately this meant transition 1 was still a good 4 minutes for me but soon enough I was out on the bike.
The bike was 20K out into the surrounding countryside plus a busy carriageway. My method of fuelling for this race was to have two sachets of baby food whilst on the bike as I can’t really stomach gels and thought baby food would be better than nothing. I actually only ended up picking up one sachet in transition though and soon realised I hadn’t actually secured it properly in the pocket of my tri suit. I heard something hit the ground about 7K into the cycle and looked behind me hoping it wasn’t something falling off my bike, only to see that lone sachet on the floor. I wasn’t prepared to stop and pick it back up as I knew my legs would struggle to get going again if I stopped, so I chose to carry on and forget about fuelling.
Again, I really enjoyed myself on the bike. There were strong headwinds for approximately 60% of it which is something I really struggle with as I don’t have the same power behind me that other athletes do (something I’m determined to work on for next year) but I spent the whole time smiling and not once did I allow anything negative to creep into my mind. The only thing I was worried about was encountering any mechanical issues or a puncture as I had deliberately left my tools at home and knew that if I did get a puncture it would be game over for me. There was one stretch of road which we had to cycle twice and had smashed glass in a few spots at the side, so I became very paranoid about this and made sure I cycled towards the middle of the road whenever passing it. By the time we were on the bikes it was about 7.45am and so the roads, despite being open, were relatively traffic-free and easy to cycle on.
I do recall having multiple conversations with my bike on the route – I really like to talk to myself when cycling. Anyone else do that?
Unfortunately the run for me really let me down. I knew that I would be struggling by this point because of my feet, but had no idea just how much pain I would end up in. The run route was one I was fairly familiar with as it was almost identical to the Whitstable Park Run which I occasionally do. But even being able to visualise the route did nothing to help me get through the run. I had to really dig deep in order to finish as I didn’t want a DNF in this race…plus despite the pain, I was having a really good time.
Eventually I crossed the finish line with my usual sprint finish and heaved a sigh of relief whilst giving high fives and hugs to my husband, Bex and Sam. I had told everyone the evening beforehand that I wanted to come in under 2 hours. My time? 1 hour 59 minutes and 27 seconds. So whilst this really wasn’t my perfect race, I managed to achieve my time goal and left feeling satisfied in the knowledge that I had given all I could possibly give on that day, despite the fact that it wasn’t my best.
Hever Castle Triathlon is my next race in three weeks and after that I will be hanging up my running shoes for 5 weeks to try and fix my feet properly. But until then, training resumes at full pace because Hever is my A race of the season and I have high hopes for my performance.
I should also say a huge thank you to my wonderful husband who wakes up at 5am to take me to my races and then spends hours stood up taking photographs of us all. He’s a hero!