Thursday, 12 September 2013

Little fish in a big pond

Where: Hyde Park, London
Course details: Lake swim, closed road/path 2 lap run
Distance(s): 1000m swim, 5km run
Marshalling: Lots of technical officials and marshals at crossing points.
Facilities: Expo, toilets, showers
Technical: Chip timing. Pontoon start
Freebies: Bottle, Frisbee, Bag, Tech Tee

Big races necessitate arriving early. So having arrived on Tuesday lunch I registered, signed the wall, got briefed, got wet as the 10% chance of rain gained a zero, had a walk of the route then met my key support crew for dinner. After a nights sleep in a room far nicer than this seasons staple diet of Travelodges it was race morning. Having wandered around Harrods the afternoon I had some posh yoghurt for breakfast. Eat like a champion, race like like a ...

A gloomy cool walk through Hyde Park and I rocked up for check in. They were inspecting wetsuits so I had to get that out, and then I had to drop my trousers do the trisuit could be inspected. Then it was into T1. To leave a lone pair of trainers. A little odd, it felt like I'd forgotten something. After a few dry runs of transition I headed off for a coffee, appeased The Fear's partner in crime and awaited the support contingent. Faith and James turned up, followed by mum and dad. Now I just had to kill an hour. After a lifetimes wait I suited up and then everything happened at warp speed. Into the holding pen, onto the pontoon, sit on the edge. Water is cool, but not cold. 2 minutes. 30 seconds. "Athletes enter the water". 3... 2... 1... Honk.

The pontoon start was odd in that there is no mêlée at first, that comes later. 50m in and I move from head up to proper stroke as I get comfortable with the water. 200m in and I start thinking of the fight for the first turn buoy. Sighting every stroke scanning for clear water. I'm round. Next turn. Getting tighter, a little tussle, I feel my legs getting pushed under on the way out. Power kick and I'm clear. Third turn and it is a brawl. Some muppet doing breaststroke. At a world champs. Long straight, into the sun. I plough on. In a nice spot, in the murk of The Serpentine it feels like I'm on my own. I overtake a blue hat. Fourth turn and I'm clearly not on my own. Fifth turn and some more argy bargy. Into the swim funnel now. Last buoys and I'm looking down for the ramp. My fingers scrape something. I'm up and running.

Feeling for my zip cord. Mind goes blank. How do you remove a wetsuit? Velcro. Zip left shoulder. Right arm. Left arm. Zip cord gets stuck in the arm. Round my waist and 100m has been and gone; I'm at my shoes. Push suit down. Step left. Right. Left. Right and I'm out. Shoes on. Cap off. Goggles off. Glasses on. Best get running Jibby. I hear Faith, but I don't hear the time she calls. Over the mat.

I spy a GBR suit and a name I recognise. That's him overtaken. He keeps beating me in qualifying so I'm buoyed by this, which helps as my legs feel empty. Turn down the hill, turn again onto the long back straight. Man this feels a long way. I get left for dust by a couple of super fast runners. Stomach hurts now. Oh no. Some words of encouragement and I make the bridge. I'm almost on lap 2. I hear a call from my supporters in the stands. Through transition. I hear Faith's call, but not the time again. Oh well, my legs are coming back and I try to find the limit of my pain threshold. Balancing stomach hurting effort, with a stroll through the park. I'm taking people now. Probably from a later wave. But making progress. Make the bridge. Turn for the carpet. I go left. Too left and off the carpeted tarmac onto carpeted sand. Back right. Make the u turn and I'm on the final straight. Carpeted sand again. Careful sprint now Jibbs, don't stack it now for God's sake man. Clock showing 10:38:xx. Cool, 38-39 minutes. I'm over. I've finished a world's!

The finish area was kind of an anti climax. Racing without a watch I had no idea of my time. I get my medal and stumble out of the finish area and go in search of people. I spot my hoodie and find Faith. She tries to track the others down, as I get cold I head into the expo marquee and chat with coach. Then get word the supports are out now. After some photos I get my phone, and find my splits on Facebook. Nice. I'm content with those.

Swim: 16m29 (37/51)
T1: 1m12 (32/51)
Run: 21m24 (43/51)
Total: 39m05 (42nd / 51)

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