As I found myself standing on the start area of the beach, the nerves properly set in, and those who’d come to support could tell too! The swim leg was my Achilles' heel. Never had I faced a mass start, let alone fought through the sheer chaos of open water racing. Picture it: a huge group of strong athletes surging around you, swimming over the top of you, arms colliding, and the constant threat of being kicked or punched in the face as you fight to find your own space in the water. About 300-400 meters into the swim, a turn around the buoy finally allowed me to break free from the chaos and swim at my own pace, settling into more of a rhythm as I had set off way too hard and burnt too many matches due to the adrenaline of it all. But then came the horrific task of exiting the water up the steep pebbled beach, undressing from a soaked wetsuit at the same time, as well as then locating my bike among a sea of others to then get changed for another sport as quickly as I could. It genuinely felt like I was in a deep slumber-like/drunk state for the first few minutes.
Surprisingly, the bike leg was no easy feat either. The fatigue and exhaustion from the swim stuck to me like a shadow. While my legs felt okay, my energy levels were shot to pieces for the first few kilometres. Eventually, I found my rhythm and got the gear turning well, maintaining a HUGE 250w average for the 30 minutes - luckily this was enough to allow me to close gaps, hold off chasers, and even catch a few marked athletes at each turnaround point.
Then came the run, a 5km ordeal that looked more like a leisurely stroll to the shops on Strava. I had promised Noosh that I’d give it my all in the run, regardless of how I felt from the previous two events, to make up for my "controlled" swim pace earlier on. I can hand on heart say that I left everything out there on that course, and you've probably seen the video evidence of my dramatic finish to prove it, with not a kcal to spare to get me over the line - the jelly legs were REAL. With hindsight, the fall was almost inevitable, and just so glad the legs didn’t give way on the tarmac beforehand.
Would I do it again?
100%. It was such a rewarding event/sport, and a feeling that I’ve not felt since my days of competitive boxing where you had to truly put it all on the line to do well.
Things that I’ve learned along the way:
You can’t hide in a swimming pool. You either put the hard work in, or you don’t improve. It really is that simple.
Listen to people who know more than you and absorb everything they say - whether you like it or not. Constructive criticism is so beneficial in such a technique-based sport, and if you don’t listen, you don’t get better at it. Another huge one was being patient, as the penny will eventually drop, but you’ve got to just be “there” day in and day out until it does.
Support is everything. I really couldn’t have done this without a support network. Especially Noosh, Harrison, and ZONE3. They were always a constant help, and on the bad days helped me focus on the good days as well as the events. Being able to do something like this alongside my best friend was something truly amazing and an experience I will never forget. From the nervous bowl of porridge in the morning to the weeks of build-up and anticipation as I learned new things each day. It was also incredibly rewarding to do something that Noosh truly and utterly excels at, whilst I was a complete novice, meaning I could learn and share the experience alongside her while she taught me. Forever in awe of what she is capable of.
If you’re considering doing one, I couldn’t recommend it enough - and I’d be happy to help with any advice or tips you’d need in trying it all out.
Noosh and I will be looking to find the next challenge, and will no doubt have some news soon.