Bryn Bach Aquathlon
Number 3 in my "40 races at age 40" caper was my first attempt at swim-run. A fell race two days prior had left me a little knackered, and I cleverly enhanced this feeling by doing a workout on the bike on the Thursday morning which was intended to be easy but ended up featuring a batch of 85% efforts on the grounds that I don't get out on the bike much and need to get the quality sessions in. Yes, I'm a little stupid at times.Then I spent the afternoon shifting furniture around the house. Well, it needed doing.
So it was I got to Parc Bryn Bach Thursday evening feeling tired, with the weather appalling too. The park is high up and exposed, and the wind was whipping up a small chop on the lake, which was devoid of any signs of life as all the athletes were taking refuge indoors. I didn't know whether I should warm up or not, so I just faffed around a bit and eventually got my wetsuit on with less lube than usual and headed for the briefing feeling underprepared and keen to get it all over with. "Not in a good consciousness" you might say. Oh well.......
Picture shows Bryn Bach lake & island on a nicer day...................
The wind had got up even more and I was glad to get in the water and flail around for five minutes before we were lined up by the first buoy and started by a blast on a whistle. I got on the outside of the crowd and found I could swim unimpeded - not sure of the number of entrants, but it was not enough to make the lake seem crowded. I was soon into a rhythm, but a bit disconcerted to see everyone pulling away from me at quite a rate - I was well outclassed here, but I'm a novice swimmer so I should have expected that. Water was the usual murky lake fare, but I was able to keep a reasonable line by sighting every third stroke and picking out the orange buoys. The route took us round an island, lots of right turns making a rectangular course then a 90 degree left which gave us a nice straight run at the quay. For me, the swim seemed to last forever, and I was having a real "Why Moment" by the halfway mark - still, when that happens I take refuge in a bit of concentration or mantra and it keeps me going. Just beffore the quay I overtook one swimmer - well, it mean't I wasn't last out of the water! We were all helped out by a marshal, and it was just as well as I would have had trouble hauling myself up the slip even after "only" 750 metres. I had been trying to keep up with the rest of the pack, and this had left me a bit worn out, wobbly and with a belly full of lake water.
Standing on the quay, wrestling with my wetsuit, a gust of wind nearly blew me over and I ended up sitting down on someone's transition box to do battle with the stubbornly glued-on left leg of the suit. I hadn't lubed that ankle enough, I was weaker than I should have been and I had a well stuck-on plaster on the heel protecting the raw skin and blister I had acquired in the recent fell runs. When I finally got desuited I had to laugh at how pathetic the transition had been, but at least it meant I was ready for the run - I pulled on a cap to keep the hammering rain out of my face and lumbered out on to the course.
Warming up slowly, I began to pick off those who had swum much faster but either weren't so fast on dry land (well in this case very wet, rain-sodden land) or were just there for a session and not going for it race-pace. Actually, I reckon it was the former as most seemed to be trying pretty hard. The two laps around the lake went quickly and I felt good, so when I did finish it was with a smile on my face despite the ugly conditions.
In nice weather, and with good preparation rather than stupid, this would be a lovely way to spend a summer evening. I arrived feeling rubbish, found the swim hard and the transition difficult, but had a good run and came away feeling great. Learn't a lot, as always, so if I get back to this series I should do better. Who knows, may do the whole lot next year.
Checking the results after writing the above, it turns out I was 19th out of 43, which is really surprising. Means there must have been swimmers behind me that I wasn't aware of and perhaps I wasn't the only person to do a pants transition!
If you're thinking of doing it, it's a very beginner-friendly event - go with a friend and pick a nice night!
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