This piece is supplied by our man on the spot-or possibly IN the spot, Simon Jamison. If you’re planning to do a Tri in the near future, maybe look away now!
Duck Poo is Lovely and Warm and Other Thoughts from My Second Triathlon
– by Simon Jamison
I love running and I love racing, it’s such a simple thing to do. On race day it’s just a matter of remembering your shorts, vest, Garmin, trainers and race number and off you go.
Triathlon is an altogether different beast. On race day it’s just a matter of remembering your tri suit, garmin, trainers for walking round, trainers for running, shoes for your bike, race number, bike race number, number belt, goggles, swimming cap, bike helmet, sun glasses, gels, drinks, sorted.
Damn it, I forgot my helmet race number!
So its half 5 in the morning and after only 4 hours sleep my alarm goes off, one hour to go before me and Paul head off onto our newly discovered journey into the world of triathlons. Since September I’ve taught myself to swim and tackled the Ashington sprint tri, where I was constantly mistaken for Javier Gomez and pulled off a mighty fine flying dismount from the bike. The swim was awful and the run more of a shuffle but my god that dismount was Olympic standard. Next stage of the journey was to be the Newcastle triathlon, 1500m open water swim in the Tyne followed by 40km round the Quayside on the bike and finish off with a 10km run. Too good a race to miss for a local lad but sadly a last minute problem meant a change of venue.
At just after 8 I find myself walking out into the QE2 lake at Woodhorn Colliery and feel the warmth of the sludge up to my ankles. Best not to spend too long thinking what it actually is, but it’s lovely and warm. One practice session of open water swimming and now its race day, quick splash around and my god it’s murky down there………….and we’re off. 20 seconds of swimming and a fellow competitor scared by my obvious fish like swimming ability decides to take me out the game with a swift heel into my face. A bit of spluttering and panic filled moments and I start up again slowly with a bit of breast stroke to get my confidence back. Steady swimming and I see fellow Poly man Matt Fletcher up ahead—well I’m saying it’s Matt but considering we’re all wearing bright yellow swimming caps and black wetsuits I have no idea, but I’m convinced its him. Try my best to keep him in sight and relax which is easier said than done with weeds tangled up in my fingers and toes and brushing across my face and I swear I can see an octopus. Octopus turns out to be a lady doing back stroke and I have a laugh watching her go so off course, she has to be reeled back in by the bloke in the canoe. Even I’m not that bad.
Damn it, I forgot my wetsuit!
Was hoping to break 40 mins for the swim and I’m heading out in 34 minutes. Try to stand and my legs give way, and I make a graceful face plant back into the water and get pulled out by the marshall who’s trying his best to hide his sniggering. Running up the bank and I’m impressing myself with my wetsuit removal technique. Swimming hat proves a little trickier and after yanking at it three times only for it to twang back and smack me in the head I realise my goggles are still on top holding it down! Schoolboy error that I’m hoping has gone unnoticed but my head’s killing now.
Into transition and not many bikes left, guessing there are only a dozen people behind me and backstroke lady could well be halfway to Japan by now. Some nice encouragement from transition marshall Bruce Robertson and my favourite bit of the day lies ahead. 1hr21mins to cover the 46km and I manage to pass 54 people on the bike leg. Nobody gets past me coming back into transition and a dismount that leaves Bruce speechless.
I honestly think transition is my favourite bit of the whole triathlon process. It’s a bit like getting dressed and doing some housework at high speed, shoes off, shoes on, glasses off, helmet off, glasses on, actually changed my mind, glasses off and run.
Next up is 3 big laps of the lake for a total of 9.6km running. Start well and feel ok for a good half mile or so and then I’m done, I have never felt so completely drained of energy in my life. Poly runner Michael Hindmarch gives me some encouragement as he comes past me in fine form on his way to a 5th place finish and I think about using him as my pacer but then I remember that I’m not actually Javier Gomez, turns out that was just a dream. A bit like that dream I had about having a tattoo of an ankle, on my ankle. Not as stupid sounding as you might think as I have quite a hairy ankle and the tattoo was of a non-hairy ankle. Genius idea eh!
Race plan for the day had been to break the 3 hour mark, and a great day would be sub 2hr 50 minutes. But my running just gets slower and slower and by lap 3 it couldn’t even be described as running but merely a shuffle, I am broken, completely and utterly broken but I past the finish line in 2 hours 49 minutes and something seconds, collapse in a heap, drink way too much water and feel incredibly sick. My first thought is never again, meet up with Paul Robertson who echoes my thoughts with a memorable quote of “that was bloody awful”. But it’s not long before we’re discussing a half ironman, a longer swim, double the distance on the bike and more than double the run. I mean how hard could it be?
Special mention has to go to fellow poly athletes Kris Whitelaw with an outstanding performance and 22nd place overall and Paul Robertson finishing in 41st place in only his second tri. Onwards and upwards and next for me will be the Adidas 24hr Thunder Run this weekend, race report to follow .
So remember, plimsolls on and eyeballs out.
Damn it I forgot my bike !