Gower Triathlon, 2010

2010-07-24, Comments

Foor quantum

My wetsuit is designed for warmth and durability. Getting it on and off is a struggle, and any extended swim turns into a battle with wet neoprene. Contrast this with a triathlon wetsuit, which is flexible, taut and sleek, the sort of thing a porpoise would look good in. I had no intention of spending money on a triathlon wetsuit, though. What’s the point in forking out when I might not even like triathlons? Besides, not having a proper wetsuit was a good excuse.

Michael ruined that strategy. He turned up last night with a Foor Quantum F3 racing wetsuit. It’s too small for me, it might fit you, give it a try in the bath, he said. Caveat emptor and all that. Good luck tomorrow.

It fitted. When, at last, I marched into Port Eynon bay alongside 326 similarly clad athletes, a shade after 7 o’clock this morning, it felt good. I tried a few strokes. Oh, it was good.

Unfortunately I wasn’t. Despite the suit, I found myself flailing and out of breath. No one warned me about triathlon being a contact sport. Swimmers barged, kicked and gouged. The orange buoys marking the route had seemed so close together from the shore. At sea-level I could barely make them out on the foamy horizon. And then I was trying to cut a racing line around one at the same time as a hundred others.

I finished the swim about half way down the field. I felt pretty dejected coming back up the beach. Thank goodness some people were cheering me on. I felt much better once I’d got on my bike. The rolling course suited me. I know these roads.

Riding near the centre line coming up Cefn Bryn, overtaking. A van coming down the hill. A sheep leapt from the bracken and dashed through a cluster of cyclists. The van slammed on its brakes. The sheep stopped abruptly, all four legs rigid, eyes goggling, then sprang back into the verge. It sprinted alongside the race for another couple of hundred metres before finally veering across the road and safely away.

The rain came. My shoes filled with water.

End of the cycle leg

One of the things I’d been told about training for a triathlon: try running immediately after cycling, otherwise you won’t know what it feels like. Good advice! Shame I ignored it, choosing instead to find out on race day. At least I didn’t fall over. I stumbled into the transition area, racked my bike, swigged some water. Then off on the run, the best bit of which was finishing.

Here are the results.

My entry reads: 357, Thomas Guest, MV, M, 13:19, 3:16, 45:28, 20:52, 1:22:53, 30, 8

357 was my race number. MV means Male Veteran. M means Male. The agony of the swim lasted barely 13 minutes. I then spent over 3 minutes getting ready for the cycling. 45 and a half minutes on the bike was good, my best stage, and just under 21 minutes for the run and second transition isn’t too bad. I came 30th overall, and 8th out of around 100 male veterans, amazing.

Will I do another one? I like sports which involve getting from A to B. For me, the feeling you get when you can cover ground efficiently, in control, you can’t beat it. Now if I could get that feeling when swimming …

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Thanks to my dad and Fynn for coming along to support me, to everyone else who cheered me on — you made a big difference, thanks — to Michael for lending me the wetsuit, and to the organisers and marshals who ran everything with efficiency and good humour.