After 10 days away in Ireland and Scotland and arriving home late Saturday night, my choice not to enter the Phoenix triathlon seemed a good one. With the Avenger coming up it seemed a good plan to go and watch the Phoenix to get some hints and tips.
Having only ever done one open water swim (two weeks before – managing two 400m swims),Why I entered the charity swim I don’t know!! I walked into the registration area to find out some information and was welcomed to the registration table (that had no queue) to give my name – and that was it, I was entered into the mile swim. What I didn’t realise until i was walking out, was that the other people in the room were queuing for the 1/2 mile swim. “There’s a half mile swim? – oh balls, I cant backtrack now”. So, i now had about an hour to drive to the kennels, pick up our dog, get home, grab my wetsuit and back to Ragley – oh and eat… can i eat? is it too close to the start? Am i better off not eating? Will i have any energy? – the mind games started.
Arriving back at Ragley just in time, I didn’t really have much time to get nervous. I asked Steph Cox, who was there supporting, to tell my wife i love her if I didn’t make it out alive. Oh the irony of drowning at a Royal Lifesavers Society charity swim….. We were in the water and then back out for the warm up – a jazzy exercise version of ‘Blame it on the boogie’. It was at this point I realised that this could be the last time I ever get to dance, so as others were cringing at the thought of a group warm up, i went for it… throwing out shapes not seen since The Wildmoor, circa 2001. Warm up done, back in the water and I overhear someone say they have never swam open water before – that made me feel better!
I decided to start off at the back, out of the way of elbows and splashes and set off nice and slowly, hoping that id leave enough in the tank to get round. In fact, the tactic worked well, I passed a few people along the first straight and a couple more down the back straight and felt comfortable (will I say I was actually enjoying it? Yeah, I think I was). Another loop to go and I see an orange armed lady alongside me (well, orange armed wetsuit anyway) and we were going along at similar speed. We stayed side by side for much of the second lap until my competitive edge decided, unbeknownst to her, it was a race and I pushed on (and surprisingly finished half a minute or so ahead of her in the end). No fatalities – more importantly for my wife, I survived. It was a great experience, a real confidence builder – I might be able to do this triathlon stuff after all… should I have entered the Phoenix? The mind games never stop……