I was about to do my first Go-Tri aquathlon organised by Stafford Tri Club. Go-Tri is an initiative set up my Triathlon England to give people the chance to take part in a triathlon, duathlon or aquathlon and is aimed mainly at newcomers. I have to say though that some of the participants looked a little too professional for my liking!
An aquathlon involves a swim plus a run. I had decided to sign myself up for it as a way of dipping my toe into multi-sport events before taking the plunge and doing a full triathlon.
First up was the swim which unfortunately didn't quite go to plan. Since January I have been teaching myself to do front crawl as my usual breaststroke was a no-go after my knee op. I thought I was doing pretty well, but it seems that swimming in a very small hotel pool alongside ladies who do not like to get their hair wet has lulled me into a false sense of security. It turns out I am not quite as competent as I thought I was.
Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was the race environment, maybe I just set off too quickly to try and keep up with the speedy bloke in the next lane but I just couldn't get my breathing right and a little bit of panic set in. For a moment I actually thought I wasn't even going to be able to finish the swim. I discovered that panicking and front crawl don't mix and, after a taking a couple of large gulps of water instead of air, I switched to breaststroke to regain my breath and my composure.
It was then that I caught sight of my little fan club looking though the large glass window at the end of the lane. There was no way I was going to let them down. Spurred on by my children grinning and waving at me each time I swam in their direction, I made it to the end of the swim, hauled myself out of the pool and ran to the transition area to put on my trainers.
The swim had exhausted me much more than I had expected and I found the run really tough. My limbs ached, my heart pounded and I felt a bit nauseous but I pressed on. I was very relieved when I saw the Leisure Centre coming back into view as I knew I was nearing the finish line.
When one of the organisers asked me straight after the event if I had enjoyed it, I couldn't honestly say I had as it didn't feel like a lot of fun at the time. "Er, sort of", I replied. But now, looking back, I feel a huge sense of achievement that I did it. I was pleasantly surprised by my result - I didn't come last as I had feared might be the case - and I am even starting to think about my next one!
But it also made me realise that I have a long way to go before I am ready to tackle a triathlon and there is some hard work ahead. Bring it on!