You may recall my first attempt at proper open water swimming was a mini aquathlon held in Victoria Dock during the Triathlon Show. This was recorded as a DNF after my complete horror at the experience of putting my face in 10 degree water made me squeal, gasp, swear and flap about ineffectually trying to remember how to do breaststroke through the brain freeze before throwing in the towel, or more precisely getting out of the water and wrapping myself in the towel.
Victoria Dock Open Water Swimming are now running a “race night” every Monday which features not only a replica of the aforementioned aquathlon (400m swim, 3km ru) but also a 750m swim race and an extra mini aquathlon (200m swim, 1.5km run). I thought it would be a good idea to give it another go, after all, it couldn’t go any worse…
Well. It didn’t go worse, in that I actually finished the aquathlon this time, but this time I had a totally different water related issue, which just so happened to be on my list of triathlon worries that I posted yesterday. Leaky goggles. I only got a few metres in before the bastard things started filling up with water and try as I might, I just couldn’t get them to seal on my face. I tried just closing my eyes and swimming but I found I just couldn’t do it – that goddamn survival instinct again, telling me that it was a bad idea to be thrashing blindly in a body of wild water. After a while I gave up and swam breaststroke which of course was even more ponderous than it usually is because breaststroke and wetsuits don’t mix. Still, eventually I got back and went on to the run section. The route here is just unnecessary – two circular laps of Victoria Dock. You will notice that Victoria Dock is U shaped, not circular and therefore the only way to get from one side to the other is by way of the bridge. This is not a small bridge, it needs to be tall enough to allow ships underneath, so stands at 15 metres tall, roughly the height of a four story building. Let me tell you that climbing those stairs certainly put a dampener on my pace that it never really recovered from! I was perversely amused to see a sign from the Samaritans on the stairs. “There is hope! Call 116 123!” Oh come on, I know my running is bad, but I wasn’t planning on topping myself over it.
The run transpired to be well over 3km, closer to 4, and had interesting obstacles such as clouds of very strong Funny Cigarette smoke and annoying scrotes on stupid electric scooters.
Everyone else taking part seemed to be Proper Triathletes in fancy trisuits and of course two of them lapped me and I felt really bad that they’d all waited for me to lumber round the course and squeeze back into my wetsuit, especially when as soon as I started swimming my stupid bloody goggles did exactly the same thing. This time I decided to give up and doggy paddled back to shore whilst moaning to Safety Man in Canoe about my rotten goggles. Sure enough, a thorough examination of said item revealed a hole between seal and nose that was stopping them sticking and letting the water in.
For the third race I officially binned the leaky goggles and put on my non tinted goggles and suddenly I could swim again! I was still last in the swim but this time I was a respectable distance behind the proper grown up triathletes rather than flapping on the shore when they’d nearly finished. Unfortunately with the clear goggles and evening sun in my eyes I couldn’t see where I was going at all and went way off course. Still, at least I made up for some of the distance I missed earlier. I decided not to put myself through the step related ordeal for a third time.
Anyway, in summary, it was all a bit shambolic but marginally less shambolic than the first time. There are positives that I can take away: my running pace was fine until I got to the stairs, running in wet clothes felt fine, the transition didn’t take as long as I feared, and my swimming pace was acceptable once the equipment failure was sorted. It is also a learning experience in that I have learnt to thoroughly check goggles for potential leaks before setting out and that I absolutely cannot swim crawl with leaky goggles. Thank god I discovered this now and not in the actual triathlon!
I hope to get back to Race Night in about a month and just maybe it will be third time lucky and nothing will go wrong! Maybe.