AQUATHLON – Wednesday 16 September 2015
Age Cat 60-64 – Race Number: 1000 – 2nd position and 1st GB lady (43:47)
A surprising feeling of CALM was the only way I can describe how I felt as I jumped into the water of Monroe Harbour, Chicago, for the start of the Age Group Aquathlon at the 2015 World Triathlon Championships. After all, I had only entered this as a ‘warm up’ thinking it would be a good recci for the sprint tri the following day. The cost was just £20 too, so compared with the £240 for the sprint distance tri, it seemed a pretty good deal.
The Swim (15:35)
At midday the horn sounded and we were off ……. me and about 60 other female age groupers. The 750m swim was in a straight line parallel to the harbour wall, however sighting a small orange buoy half a mile away was not easy, so I relied on maintaining a symmetrical stroke, concentrating on my rotation, catch, pull, kick, and breathing…….. With so much to remember about technique the minutes flew by! We gradually spread out and I really started to enjoy the clear water and perfect temperature for a wet suit swim (about 19 degrees), and the water wasn’t salty! Before long the orange buoy near the exit came into view, and keeping this on my right shoulder I turned and headed towards the two yellow buoys and the exit steps. There were 4 or 5 ladies ahead of me but I felt I’d had a good swim.
The run to transition was nearly 400m however I managed to overtake 3 ladies on the way and arrived just in time to see Jo Lewis (experienced GB age grouper and tri coach) hopping out of her wet suit and putting on her trainers. It was great to see I wasn’t too far behind her………. Off with the wet suit, on with the trainers (it did seem a little odd not to have my bike there too) and out onto the run course along South Columbus Drive.
The Run (24:20)
Running after a swim is really envigorating and when I saw Jo about 10m ahead of me, my thoughts initially were just to keep a steady pace. She had so many students there cheering her on, but this only made me all the more determined to close the gap between us……… 8m…. 6m… 4m… and suddenly I was in front! I acknowledged her as I passed, my legs still felt strong so I maintained a steady pace for the rest of the run. After 2 laps, I turned off the road, rounded Buckingham fountain for the second time and onto the blue carpet. With the welcoming sight of the finish arch and clock ahead, I sprinted to the finish and this time managed a smile instead of a grimace!
After the race I had about 30 mins to run the half mile back to transition before it closed to pick up my wet suit, then back again to the stage/awards area and ‘medal tent’ as the ceremony was being held immediately after the race. At this stage I had no idea on my time or place, but when I saw Jo Lewis already there, looking confident…… it could only mean that I had won a medal too! I didn’t dare get my hopes up, so went to find Mike Griffin to see if he had any information. He was frantically trying to confirm the results on his phone, and everything was rather disorganised. However I was eventually ushered into ‘the medal tent’ and shown to a chair with a sticker on: ‘F 60-64 2nd’. Was that really my chair? I sat down and chatted excitedly to an American lady on my right who had won the gold by finishing 3 mins ahead of me (I never even caught sight of her during the race!) and to a Canadian guy on my left who had also come 2nd. We didn’t see the other age groupers being awarded their medals as we had to stay in our seats until we were called to the side of the stage. Mike Griffin handed Jo and me UJ flags and then we were called onto the podium…….. Wow – what a proud moment that was! The American guy who won gold was so exuberant that he grabbed my hand before I could get my flag organised properly for the photo. Jo did a much better job than me – with far more podium experience under her belt! However if I’m lucky enough to ever make it up there again, me and my flag will be better prepared next time!
Fast forward to………….
SPRINT DISTANCE TRIATHLON – Thursday 17 September 2015
Age Cat 60-64 – Race Number: 1534 – 8th position and 1st GB lady
The Swim (16.40)
Well here I am again, back in the clear water of Monroe Harbour – much choppier that yesterday and with 55 others in my age category – waiting for the horn to sound once again at midday and feeling slightly more apprehensive this time………… Then we were off, the choppy water and competitiveness of the other ladies making the swim much more challenging this time. I tried to get into a steady rhythm and managed to draft for about 100m but then annoyingly felt someone drafting me for quite a while but managed to lose them about half way into the swim. The orange buoy was even less visible in the choppy water so keeping parallel to the harbour wall was the only option. Round the orange buoy once more and on towards the yellow buoys and exit steps. I took advantage of a friendly hand to help me out of the water this time, found my legs and set off along the blue carpet and up the long hill into T1.
T1 (4:01 – fastest time!) Spotted my bike just after the sandy section on the grass. Wet suit off, helmet on, race number swivelled round to my back, unracked my bike and off along the grassy stretch (passing Jo Lewis on the way J ) towards the exit, over the green mount line and out onto South Columbus Drive.
The Bike (34:52)
The 20k bike leg (3 laps) was pretty flat with the exception of the flyover, two 90 degree turns and two ‘U’ turns. Due to the volume of traffic we were not allowed a recci ride beforehand so the uneven concrete surface combined with a large number of very temporarily filled pot holes caught quite a number of us by surprise. The first lap was very much a recci of the road surface in preparation for the next 2 laps. 3 laps completed (which seemed more like an obstacle course) I dismounted at the red line and ran up the hill barefoot towards T2. It was at this point I realised how much the temperature had risen – to nearly 90 degrees – far from ideal for a run in full sun at 1pm!
T2 (3:09 – just missing out on the fastest time by only 7 seconds!)
Found my space no problem (thank goodness for my brightly coloured Newton trainers!), racked my bike, helmet off, shoes on, race number swivelled round to my front and a quick glance up and down the GB racking area as I set off. No bikes back yet! This gave me the incentive I needed heading out of T2 back onto South Columbus Drive for the final time.
The Run (27:32)
Once out on the road it was evident that this was going to be hard work. The temperature had soared in the last hour and unbelievably there was only one water station en route. Coming out of T2 I passed the water station located on the return leg and just grabbed a cup of water from the outstretched arm of a marshal who shouted ‘on the way back!’ which I ignored as I wouldn’t have made it back otherwise! Lesson learnt, and my fault entirely – the drink on my bike was too concentrated and the sharp rise in the temperature had taken us all by surprise. Everyone was feeling the heat which resulted in all our run splits being at least 2 minutes slower. I felt a great sense of relief passing Buckingham Fountain for the second time and saw the blue carpet and finish line ahead. I managed a sprint to the finish, but unfortunately not much of a smile this time! Nevertheless I was pretty chuffed with my result, being 1st British lady.