Season 1, race 6, amongst the rolling hills of the South Downs, the Bewl Water Sprint. A field of 110 men climbed into the resevoir for my first mass start in open water. To make it interesting the mist was down and none of us was quite sure where the first buoy was, never mind the second. We waited a while for the sun to burn off the mist and then suddenly it was 5,4,3,2,1 GO! First lesson – be at the ready. My watch had gone to sleep and I took a moment or two to get it started and ready to record.
Most of you reading this will by now take for granted the swirling froth of bubbles and neoprene, limbs clashing in an orgy of endeavour that marks the start of the race. First time up it is discombobulating. I certainly lost form, became breathless despite a pretty mediocre pace, and headed off to the wrong second buoy. Not a great start, but at about 400 meters combobulation was regained and I made up some water. Second lesson, warm up means put some effort in, not just wave your arms about and have a little swim.
Characteristic of Bewl is a pretty steep 250 meter run up to T1, then onto the bike for a hilly ride through the villages of the Kent and Sussex borders. Now it was me passing people, although one man did pass me, kitted out in full aero gear and a whizzy looking TT bike. But over the 20 km it felt good to climb through the field, make up for the iffy swim. The last couple of k’s was uphill, so breathless T2 and straight into lesson 3 – recce the out route, a few seconds and a place were lost as I ran to the wrong corner in my breathless fluster.
A two lap run in the by now hot sun proved useful for me, down and up and up again, not an easy course, not where you set your PB. I concentrated on trying to get the foot strike under the body, midsole, not the over reaching heal strike I had been running until picked up by James B and set right. In the last km I ran past quite a few people, and running up hills is not something my 88Kg is well suited too, but I realised that the training, the coaching, the effort…it was really counting, that bit about owning the last 200 metres, or at least being determined.
When I picked up my timings and saw my category position as ‘1’, I wondered if it was a mistake. Happily it was not, and I won a water bottle, and a really good feeling. But with 44 men and 11 women in front of me, and lessons to be learned, there is a very long way to go. Happily, I’m enjoying the journey.
Age groups 50-59 – 1st
Men – 45th out of 110
All – 56th out of 165