"Each step forward has a sacred meaning of its own"   Sri Chinmoy

Tribal Triathlon Aquathlon at Vobster Quay July 4th 2019

With my next big challenge a 10k swim, I thought I'd better get some open water sessions in as practice and this 3.8k seemed a great choice - with an option of 5k or 10k run I decided to go long. When I got there - a mad dash through deepest Somerset after work - I found hardly anyone signed up for that combination with most opting for the 750m or 1500m swim. I warned the organiser I'd be out there more than 2 hours (I expected 2.06 or 2.08 ish) and he said that was no problem.

The route was well marked with massive yellow buoys but with the sun so low over the trees we knew that swimming westward was going to involve some tricky sighting! I set off at an easyish pace with the one-lap swimmers leaving me behind, and soon found that my goggles had misted up a lot and that sighting was going to be tricky in both directions. I managed to get round a lap and found I was able to grab fleeting glimpses through the non-misty patch of one lens - not the best situation but I was getting round. The water was lovely - just as well as I was drinking it now and again when I got distracted and breathed in too early. There were the usual squeezes at the buoys and sometimes I found myself racing someone to a turn, but the main challenge remained the simple act of finding my way round the course. I soon worked out that the sun, which turned everything else totally invisible on the westward sections, was the only landmark I could use so I tried swimming straight into it then correcting myself with a trim to the right when the trees hid the sun. Next lap I swap a few degrees to the right of the sun and had to correct to the left. Next I got it just right! By lap 3 though I was desperate to loosen my goggles as I'd got them on too tight and on a swim so much longer than I'm used to that was starting to really bug me - the pain wasn't too acute but it was giving me a headache and somehow it was getting to me mentally as well as physically so I stuplidly loosened the straps. Instantly I leaked water into my left lens but fortunately the right stayed watertight - the pain was marginally less with the loosened strap and now I was just contending with water in the goggles. If it had been in the other side it would have been a nightmare but as I breathe on the right some water sloshing around the left lens wasn't a problem. On the plus side, it demisted me a little and for the last few laps sighting became easy, at least when I had the sun behind me.

Lap 5 was a solo affair and I became aware that I was going to be last out of the water - I was fatigued and slightly nauseous but my arms were turning over well and all these things I'm complaining about were quite manageable - through all those niggly things I was still grateful to be there in the beautiful lake surrounded by silent forest, swimming a full iron distance swim.

At last I came out on to the ramp, extracted easily from the superb wetsuit and got my trainers and some skinny socks on for the run. Back on dry land and in my element I stormed the run, solo for most of it as I was a lap behind everyone else, but that didn't detract from the experience. They were clearing up the signs behind me as I raced back for the final 2.5k - the course was on deserted lanes between silent fields, with views across the rolling landscape and only the sound of birdsong.

I got my final time of 2.02 and was very pleased - despite some struggles in the swim which were all useful lessons I'd completed that course a few minutes quicker than expected and I felt amazing.

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