Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Outlaw - 2/5 - The Swim

So Lauren and I were up at really dumb O'clock to give us time to shower, have some breakfast and have a last minute check of the kit. We left the room a little after 4 and managed to bump into the late night revellers in the hotel lobby, hardcore! We got the car out of the multi storey and drove down to the start for around half 4.

I had to make a few last minute adjustments to my transition bag, adding my cycle shoes, pinning on my race number to my running shirt and a few other little tweaks but I left the tent happy that everything was in place ready for my long day.

Whilst I had been in the tent Lauren had been talking to some other spectators and they all confirmed what Lauren had suspected I am nuts! It's his first tri? He's never done an open water swim? He's crazy. Well we were soon to find out how it was all going to turn out, but first we had to get on that blasted wetsuit!

Lauren and I found a quiet corner and got cracking, I was already in my Trisuit so Lauren got to work with the body glide stick making sure to get my neck, shoulders,wrists hoping to stop the wetsuit rubbing during my two hour swim. I then attempted to get the wet suit on and made a pretty good effort apart from the crotch part of the wet suit being about 4 inches too low and so Lauren told me jump as she pulled it up. It did work, but to any onlookers we must have looked like a right pair of prats.

There was now about 40 minutes to the race and so I decided to make my way through to the start area. Kissed Lauren goodbye, leaving her looking more than a little bit worried and I knew how she felt!

Around 5:40 they started calling us through and into the lake ready for the off. I was keen to get going so went in pretty pronto. I eased myself into the lake, and as promised it was a fairly warm 18 degrees and I was in a wetsuit so felt fine. As feared the minute I got in the water I needed the loo and I didn't fight it and just warmed myself up even more. I tried to paddle away from the hotspot in the hopes of avoiding detection by my fellow swimmers and I think I succeeded.

I treaded water on the right of the lake with the other slower swimmers but had inadvertantly found myself at the front and so I knew I was going to take a few hits. The hooter sounded at 6am and we were off, the hits duely came, but I got going and into some kind of a rhytm, it was nice to have people around as I knew the kind of time I was hoping to swim would mean a lonely last half.

There isn't a huge amount to say about the swim, you put your head in the water right, left, breathe, right, left, breathe look up to see where the hell you are going, can't see where the hell you are going and repeat. The field began to spread out but I felt my pace stayed fairly consistent on the way out. I was waiting for the turn around buoys and hoped the return leg would be easier knowing what lay ahead.

But before the turn around there was my first scare of the day as my right calf began to cramp after 40 minutes swimming. I tread water for a second then attempted one stroke of breast stroke and then thought better of it. As my head bobbed in the water I did start to worry this might be my day done. But in the middle of a lake there isn't a whole lot of choice get fished out or try to get yourself home. I began to swim crawl with just my arms and I finally made it to the turn around buoy where I managed to see some other heads in the water so I knew I wasn't dead last I looked at my watch at what I believed was half way and it showed 45 minutes.

I went round the end buoy and began to head back towards the crowds and the swim finish in the distance. By now my legs had begun to wake up and so I could kick a little. The pace slowed as I was now getting some rough waters, the wind had obviously been with us on the way out and we now going against it. But having reached half way in 45 minutes I knew I had just under 75 minutes to get back and so I felt confident I was going to make it out of the swim.

The steady pattern of right,left,breathe continued but I at least had some markers and landmarks on the way back. I really couldn't sense too many people on the way back in and so felt very isolated and had a second problem when I came across a really thick patch of reeds and started to panic I had swam too close to the bank but I was fine and carried on.

I became aware on the way in of distance markers I think it was 750m,500m and 250m and those let me know I was almost there. As I pushed on for the finish I caught 3 swimmers I think all of them were doing breast stroke :-) but my ego wasn't bruised, I was just pleased to have made it and in a time of 1hour 50 minutes.

I was helped out of the water and had my wetsuit undone and then jogged towards the changing tent, I decided I was going to get my own wetsuit off and so stopped short of the helpers assisting people. Wetsuit off and I was into the tent, grabbed my bag and went to the changing area.

My stomach had been casuing me grief for much of the return leg of the swim, I think I had swallowed too much lake water. This came back to haunt me as I was halfway through changing for the bike. I had to go to the loo! My body wasn't waiting, so I legged it out in just my cycle jersey and shorts, a helpful marshall told me I needed to take my bag with me but I told her I'd be back. Into the portaloo the rest I will leave to your imagination, but then to further increase my problems they were out of loo roll, I nipped out and into the next portaloo and sorted myself out before heading back to finish off my change.

I now took my time, I knew I was safe for the cut off and just needed to compose myself so I was ready for the bike. I did however not dry myself, put lube on or put on suncream so hardly an ideal transition. After 10 long minutes I emerged from transition to big cheers from my parents, it was incredible and was the first but not the last time I was nearly moved to tears. I grabbed my bike with only a little struggle getting it off the racks over the line and on I hopped ready for a possible 8 hour slog.

Part 3 the cycle should be heading your way tommorrow.

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