Marshman Middle Distance (Half Ironman) Triathlon 2009

My first attempt at a seriously LONG triathlon! And, primarily, intended as prep for an attempt at the Forestman (full Ironman) in July.

The Friday night I was up late doing results from our Self-Transcendence 2 Miler, and despite being geneously let off work early on Saturday it was still around 10pm before I found my B&B in the brooding coastal plain of Dungeness. Although off to bed very soon, I kept waking, very nervous, mostly about the swim. Alarm went off at 4.20 and I was at registration just as it opened at 5.15.

My last open water swim had been a disaster, with "cold water shock" hitting me and tightening my chest so I could hardly breathe. Fortunately, I was able to watchc the first wave of swimmers in the Marshman head off without incident, and that reassured me that I should survive the lake!

In fact, on a cool breezy may morning it was good to be in the water and warming up - after a couple of minutes I had acclimatised and felt really happy that the water was not going to kill me after all. What a sense of relief! We didn't have long to wait - a few seconds of warning to line up then a horn sounded and I was off on my first Half-Ironman journey! The swim course was N shaped, in a long narrow lake of 650 m or so. Sighting was easy and I reckon I swam a pretty good course. I tried drafting and it helped a bit, and there was the usual thing of arms flailing and people swimming over your legs/body, expecially at the turns. At once point I had a head-on collision with a guy swimming the diagonal leg (while I was on the home straight) but neither of us suffered more than a bit of shock/surprise. All in all, this was my most enjoyable swim ever, which was a relief as my previous outing - as mentioned above - had been totally hellish.

Once out of the water I took my time in transition, grabbing an extra layer (short sleeve cycling top) and filling my pockets with bars and gel bottles. We mounted up on the road and span our way out through the village, heading inland on flat roads in a steady, quite chilly breeze. The first half of the ride was pretty easy - mostly flat with a few short hills, well marshalled and signed, good road surfaces. It was scenic too, starting with the eerie flatlands of Dungeness and transitioning into a more typical british pastoral scene as we left the coastal plain behind. The second half of the bike proved a big test - not just as fatigue was setting in, but because of a sudden and drastic deterioration of the weather. A strong wind and spattering rain began to drive into our faces - round every bend it still seemed to be blowing straight back at us. My earlier speed of a steady 20mph was blown away and I was down to 12 even on the flat. This struggle into the wind and rain seemed to go on for ever, and it was a huge relief when I finally saw the church at New Romney and knew I was nearly home.

Once off the bike I made a very embarressing mistake - I ran out across the soft carpets to start the run leg only to realise I was still in my bike shoes! The soft surface made them feel almost normal to run in. I laughed it off and it only cost me a minute - I was dazed from the bike but cheerful to be starting the run, which for me is the easiest part of the race, so I didn't let a little error bother me too much. One I had the right shoes on I set off down towards the sea on a flat road, with the clouds rapidly dispersing and hot sun beginning to beat down. The weather was definitely the wrong way round here - after freezing on the bike I was cooking on the run. 3-mile markers came and went, and water stations, and the course did not disappoint; totally flat, easy to follow and with lovely views across Dungeness. On the return section heading back into New Romney we went off-road, running on pathways and through fields of golden rapeseed. My pace crept down and down - it was over 5 hours since the start - but I held my own among the runners and was very happy to finish at the lakeside in 5.40

So, having set myself the target of 40 races at the age of 40 I had finished with a couple of weeks to spare. This was a great race, quite encouraging with 6 more weeks to go till my attempt on the full Ironman distance, and a really enjoyable (if challenging) day.




Name GARGA CHAMBERLAIN 66th from 152 finishers

Category M-40-44 Club SRI CHINMOY AC - Swim Time 00:35:01(65) 3.26km/h 00:18:26

T1 00:04:23

Bike Time 03:13:34(87) 27.9km/h 00:02:09

T2 00:01:23 - - Run Time 01:46:30(46) 11.83km/h 00:05:04

Overall Time 05:40:53

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