I actually thought I was going to be swept to France. Who would have my bike when I drowned? Maybe Josie would want it when she came back home. It’s a nice bike. Pretty reliable, pretty sexy, pretty fast.
I swallowed a bit more salt water, threw up in my mouth a bit more and regained some composure. Crash! Another wave smacked me in the side of the head. “Never mind, Cathy, carry on”, I kicked a little harder; shut my mouth a little tighter and pushed on and on to the bobbing red buoy in the distance. It seemed to be getting further and further away rather than closer. Glancing at my watch for the first time since I started, I saw I’d been in the water for over an hour: 35 minutes more than I had expected to be in already, and I still had over 350 metres to swim. I carried on, feeling more and more nauseous and the buoy getting further and further away.
The lifeboat came into view and I had had enough. I asked if if I stopped now whether I’d be able to finish the race, and they told me it’d be fine. Being pushed into the shore by the waves, finally, was the biggest relief. I stumbled out of the water and onto the pebbly beach to be met by a concerned looking Bez and a couple of marshals. It was the hardest hour and fifteen minutes ever – give me a marathon any day! I clambered up the hill and into the transition area, where the marshals looked bemused to see me. I’d taken nearly an hour longer than the first person out the water… I hung out in transition for a while, mostly trying not do a vom, and then gently headed out on the bike.
The bike course was 12 lap bore-athon, made better only by seeing Laura S, Mark and Mark’s mum and dad over and over again. Only problem was, there are only so many poses you can do on a bike, and I’d exhausted them by lap 4’s picture session. The whole 40K were really quite dull, and all I could really do was count and try and pass people in sperm helmets and/or on a bike worth more than the car. It was super hot, and I knew I’d be told off at the end for not drinking very much, but I just couldn’t – my tummy was still full of sea water. I couldn’t bring myself to have a gel either, which I wouldn’t recommend, unless you like racing for over 3 hours 45 minutes on nothing but salt.
Finally the bike came to end, and although I was convinced I’d miscounted, I stopped anyway and eased into T2 again, to some more puzzled looking marshals.
Visor on and only 10K to go, I ploughed on. My first mile was pretty speedy, and I overtook some of the people who were good at the rest of triathlon. It was getting hotter and hotter, and I felt more and more miserable as the laps seemed to get longer and longer. I pulled stupid, sad faces at Mark, as if that was going to help the situation, and eventually finished – pretty sure I was last. (I wasn’t: I was 2nd to last lady, but beat lots of men. We really are the stronger sex 😉 )
I learnt a lot from Saturday: I need to respect the sea and that no matter how much of a ‘strong’ swimmer I am, without practicing and with panicking, I’m a tiny tug boat without a hope. I also learnt that I’m tough. I was being chucked about in the water for ages, and I managed to finish the bike in a decent time and actually came 4th in the run (#humblebrag). I mostly learnt however, that I ought to train… I can’t just rock up to these things and expect to be awesome – that doesn’t happen!
I also learnt that Mark is the best supporter in the world, and will watch me cycle 12 times round and round and round, then run past, over and over. On our 4th anniversary… Thank you, Mark!