Tag Archives: Bustinskin

The GU Energy Weymouth Bay Triathlon

12 Jul

This was the first Olympic distance triathlon that I did last year, so I decided to enter it to try to beat my time. I also thought it would be a good race to do as it involves a sea swim and I haven’t done any sea swims so far this year.

Unfortunately, the day didn’t start well. I spent yesterday evening organising everything and Stuart set a 5am alarm, before having an early night. I slept well… but probably a little too well. When I woke, I decided to check the time, rather than waiting for the alarm to go off – aarrgghh! It was just after 6am. We had hoped that getting up at 5 would ensure that we would be on the road before 6am, but that wasn’t to be.

Stuart and I dressed as quickly as possible and took our breakfasts out to the car. Stu managed to eat a slice of peanut butter on toast, but I realised that adding whey powder to my pre-race favourite of porridge with ground almonds and dried apricots had made it completely unpalatable. It had a strange texture and a really unpleasant taste, so I gave up trying to eat it and hoped that I would have enough energy to complete the race. At that point I also realised that all of the food I had carefully prepared to take with me was still in the fridge 😦

Race registration was due to close at 7:30am and we didn’t leave until 6:20am, so we knew there was a risk that we would miss the race. At times, there was some traffic, but we managed to get to the car park and we directed to a space that wasn’t far from registration (although we weren’t sure where registration was and wandered around the entire car park before going into the right building.

We took our race packs back to the car and stuck the labels on out bikes, bags and swimming hats, so that we would be able to enter transition. We put pur rucksacks on and cycled to the start.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to get ready, which made me a bit stressed. I had hoped to have enough time to get myself really well-organised. I’d also read this week about the importance of doing a ‘reverse tri’ before the start of a real triathlon – the article suggested that I should go for a 5 minute run, followed by a 5 minute bike run and then 5 minutes in the water. This sounded sensible – the run gets your heart-rate up, the ride ensures your bike is in the right gear and the time in the water helps you to acclimatise.

After the race briefing, I rushed back to transition as I needed to put my race belt down and grab my goggles, ear plugs and swimming hats (I hate the free latex hats that are given out at races, so I like to wear my own silicone hat underneath). We were then told to hurry down to the beach as the race was about to start.

I managed to get nearly waist deep in the water before we were told to return to shore. I had put my face in the water and although it was a bit cold (16.5 C) it didn’t feel too bad. In the briefing we had been told that the race would start in the water, but this wasn’t quite true – we had to start at the water’s edge. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to properly acclimatise, but it couldn’t be helped and at least we’d made the start.

 

Swim:

The start horn sounded and we were off. I was able to stride out a bit before I started swimming, but I found that I wasn’t able to breathe. I was also surprised by how much salt I could taste as soon as I put my face in the water (no, I wasn’t trying to drink it, but it was seeping in through my pores!)

I struggled to get my breathing under control and don’t think that my swimming strokes would be acceptable at tri club, but at least I was moving. I tried to swim normally, but it was very choppy, so if I swam the way I usually do, breathing every 3 strokes, I found that I kept getting a face-full of water. I decided to switch to an even pattern, so that I was just breathing to my left, but I was too panicky to breathe every four and found that I was hyperventilating when I tried to breathe every 2 strokes. The only thing that made me feel better was that I was surrounded by others swimmers and knew that I was ahead of a few people.

A positive about the swim was that we had to swim out a long way from the shore, whereas in previous years, we haven’t swum out as far and have had to swim a long way parallel to the shore which has looked much further from the shoreline.

I turned at the buoy and saw that the distance to the other marker buoy wasn’t far, which was good as there was quite a swell. Later on people told me that they saw quite a few jellyfish near to the buoys. I can see much better in the water than last year, but I didn’t notice any jellyfish, which was a relief.

The swim back to shore was much better. If I’m not bilateral breathing then I prefer to breathe to my right, however, I had my breathing under control and breathing every 3 seemed OK. I could also see that there were still plenty of swimmers in sight, which made me feel a sense of relief that I wasn’t going to be last on the swim.

The last 25m of the swim was fairly shallow, so I waded to the shore and then up onto the shingle. I was very close to three other women and could probably have beaten one or two of them if I hadn’t removed my goggles and then promptly dropped them in the sea – doh!

  • Last year: 53:38
  • This year: 33:06 (20:32 faster) 58/64

During the briefing, we had been reassured that the swim course was accurately measured. My Garmin made it a couple of hundred metres short, however, I can’t compare it with last year when I accidentally clicked the lap button on my watch halfway through the swim. Either way, I’m really pleased that there is evidence that I have made progress – I was 20:32 faster!

T1:

It had started raining a bit, so I struggled to get my socks on (yes, I do need them!) and I faffed around a bit. However, my lack of organisation held me back. I think I just about managed to squeak some progress on last year as I didn’t need to insert contact lenses!

  • Last year: 3:22
  • This year: 2:46 (0:38 faster) 50/64

Bike:

I glanced at my watch when I went out onto the bike and was surprised by how well my swim seemed to have gone. I could still see someone in the sea and started to wonder whether I had somehow taken on a short cut on the swim and would therefore be disqualified later. This was something I pondered several times during the race. Could I really have improved that much?

The bike course is an out and back to Wool that has a fairly long climb early on out of Weymouth before dropping back down to Wool.It started with a left hand turn before going around a roundabout and heading back past where we started. Somehow I ended up in the wrong lane and suddenly realised that I was going in the wrong direction. I managed to pull over, unclip one foot and then had to clamber across a traffic island to get back on track – oops!

I managed to pick up my speed a bit, but was soon passed by a female cyclist. Then it was on to the long, hard climb out of Weymouth. I managed to get about halfway up before I was passed by a male cyclist. I kept pushing as hard as I could as I was determined to beat my average pace from last year (and also wanted to hit an average pace over 25kph, which is the fastest pace I’ve ever managed to maintain). At that point I decided to have a cherry shot blok as the strong flavour would take away the salty taste in my mouth.

I started pushing harder and was really motivated when I got to the main turn and saw Stuart shortly afterwards. When I neared the turn, I was really cheered by seeing lots of cyclists who didn’t seem to be too far ahead – I started to believe that I could catch up with them.

When I got to the final turnaround point, I was averaging over 27kph and feeling strong. I got halfway around the roundabout… and was hit by the wind. I hadn’t realised there was a tailwind on the ride out (I just thought I was doing really well!) The ride back was really hard, but I could see a cyclist ahead and decided to do what I could to catch up with her and then pass her.

One thing that I didn’t like about the bike ride was the number of dead animals on the road, it was like this:

I finally caught up with the female cyclist ahead and managed to pass her. I then kept pushing and saw a male cyclist on the final hill heading back into Weymouth. He seemed to be struggling, so I decided to chase him down.

I had discussed my nutrition strategy with Sam and he advised me to eat some dark chocolate on the bike. I foolishly decided that I would eat a piece of chocolate whilst trying to go uphill. It was dry and wouldn’t melt, so I decided not to try another piece and had a bit of my nuun Kona cola drink.

The male cyclist got to the big downhill before me, and I’m still a bit nervous on hills (especially as the road was quite slick by that stage), so I couldn’t catch up with him. (I think he may have had some weight on his side too).

As I passed by the side of Lodmore Country Park, I saw Stuart turning on the run, so I shouted to him. He raised a hand in acknowledgement, which made me feel good. I knew that he would be more than 15 minutes ahead of me, so he must be on his second lap.

I wanted to save time in transition, so I decided to remove my Garmin from its bike mount and put it back onto the wrist strap. I couldn’t click it on and realised that I needed to brake at the roundabout, so I quickly put my watch down the front of my top. After the roundabout, I got my watch back out and put it on the wrist strap, but realised that I had pressed something and it was on a screen I didn’t recognise. I tried to get it back to normal, but couldn’t. I pressed the lap/reset button and saw it click onto T2 – oops! I had hoped to beat my time from last year, but now had no idea whether I was on track.

I finally passed the male cyclist on the road back to transition. I had wanted to remove my mitts and use my inhaler, but didn’t have enough time on the bike. I took my feet out of my shoes and nearly lost a shoe on the road as I couldn’t get it the right way up. Next time, I’ll not try to get my shoes off whilst cycling uphill.

  • Last year: 1:32:11 (23.9 kph)
  • This year: 1:33:20 (25.1 kph) (+1:09, but a longer course) 59/64

 

T2:

As it had rained hard when I was out on the bike, all of my kit was soaked, so I decided not to pick up my visor. It had also stopped raining, so I wasn’t too worried about having driving rain on my face. I put on my shoes, grabbed my inhaler and was off. As usual, T2 was my best discipline of the day, although I was not as good as Stu, who managed a 42 second T2 and was the fastest competitor of the day!

  • Last year: 1:42
  • This year: 1:02 (40 seconds faster) 17/64

 

Run:

My goal for the run was to finish in under an hour. I was a little concerned that I had perhaps run too hard at parkrun yesterday, so my strategy was to start in a steady manner and try to keep under 6:00/km.

Fortunately, the run started with a downhill section, which allowed me to make good progress without getting out of breath.

I like the run route as it reminded me of the triathlons that I did in Weymouth last year and all of the happy memories from that time. I passed a few spectators who told me  that i was running well, which gave me a boost.

After a while I saw another runner up ahead in a turquoise tshirt, so i decided to try to chase her down. It tok me a few more minutes, but I managed to pass the other runner and then headed into teh country park. There were some ladies from teh sprint distance walking two abreast, so I called out ‘excuse me’ to them and they stepped aside, so that I could pass. I then got to the junction: left for lap 2 and right for teh finish. I collected a wristband and then headed left for my second lap.

I was still feeling quite good although my pace had started to slow a little. When I got to the drinks station, I grabbed a cup of water and had a mouthful before picking the pace back up. I kept an eye on my average pace and was pleased that although I had slowed, I was still comfortably under 6:00/km.

There was another female runner up ahead, this time in a turquoise vest. She looked like she was slowing, so I put in a bit more effort and passed the other runner.

As I turned right at the final junction, I showed the marshal my wristband and straightened my race number. I had to cross a car park and could see someone else in a turquoise top – it was Stu waiting to cheer me in 🙂

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There was a slight incline towards the race finish, but I gave it everything I had and was delighted that I had beaten last year’s run time by over 10 minutes.

  • Last year: 1:08:49
  • This year: 54:50 (11:59 faster) 48/64

Total:

Overall, I had a fantastic race.

  • Last year: 3:39:42
  • This year: 3:05:04 (34:38 faster) 55/64

If only I could have dug a bit deeper and been 5 seconds faster!

GU Weymouth Classic goodies

The marshals from Bustinskin Tri Club were fantastic as always and there were some great goodies: a technical t-shirt, buff, water bottle and giant medal for everyone.

2014 race awards

18 Dec
For this post, I’ve linked up with Montana at Pretty Lil Mudder  and a few other fab fitness bloggers – be sure to check out their posts. Here are my 2014 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
For me this award has to go to Lanhydrock parkrun It’s in a beautiful location, but as the course profile shows, it’s not an easy route:
Lanhydrock parkrun course profile
The event takes place on a National Trust property, which is a stunning old country house. This photo of the gatehouse shows just how magnficent it is.
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Most Challenging Course
This was a difficult award to decide on. The profile of Lanhydrock parkrun made it a runner up, but overall, I decided to present it to Adidas Thunder Run. This event is a 24 hour relay on a 10k cross country course. It has lots of different sections: uphill, downhill, short grass, compact ground, mud. The weather conditions were also quite warm.  I ended up running 50k as part of a 7-person relay team.
Best Expo
This was a tough choice as the only races that tend to have expos in the UK are marathons, and I only ran one this year (Brighton). In the end, I decided to award it to the Triathlon Show with Primera Tri Expo as runner up.
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Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
Braishfield 5 mile beer race – beer, cake and water – what more can I say?
Best Swag
This was another tough category to judge. The goodie bag at Brighton Marathon was good, but the prize has to go to Good Fri Tri, where finishers were not only given a medal, some dried fruit, a drink and their choice of free gift (mug and coaster; bike bottle or buff), but also a lovely Cadbury’s Easter egg 🙂
Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I before collecting our Easter eggs

Most Unique Medal
I loved the ribbon on my Brighton Marathon medal, but probably the one that I liked most was from Eastleigh triathlon:
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TryTri have custom medals for every race 🙂
Favorite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
I’ve not received many tshirts from races this year. I quite liked the Wiggle Spring Sportive tshirt, but the one that I’ve worn the most is the  Gu Energy Classic tshirt from Bustinskin. It’s a wicking cotton tshirt that was produced in both men’s and women’s sizes 🙂
GU tshirt
Favorite Overall Race
I really enjoyed taking part in Weymouth Half. An advantage of taking part in triathlons is that the order of the disciplines is the same as my confidence levels. I started the day feeling nervous, but my confidence soared when I was on the bike and although my run didn’t go quite as I’d hoped, the crowds were brilliant. The whole event was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone.
Tamsyn running in Weymouth

It was such a relief to see the finish arch © Katherine Anteney

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc)
I loved the crowd support at Weymouth Half… but there wasn’t a huge amount of support out on the bike course. I’m awarding this one to Brighton Marathon as I desperately needed the crowd support during this race and it didn’t let me down!
14 miles © Emily Smith

14 miles © Emily Smith

Race You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Weymouth Half – as someone who couldn’t swim 18 months before the race, it has taken a lot of hard work and determination to get to a stage where I could take part in this race. I also had various health battles this year, so I was proud to make the start line and even prouder to finish!
Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

Lap 3 © Marathon-photos

I’d recommend checking out which races my fellow Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors have presented their awards to:
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to?

My first Olympic Distance Triathlon

13 Jul

My first Olympic distance triathlon was the GU Energy Weymouth Bay Triathlon. As it was in Weymouth and started at a typically early time, Stu and I had to get up at 4:45am. We ate breakfast and then drove to Weymouth, where we parked the car and went to register.

It was our first Bustinskin event and we were impressed by the organisation. We collected envelopes with our race numbers and stickers (for bike, helmet, hat, wrist and bag) in them.

GU triathlon number

Lucky number 137

Racks were numbered, and I was pleased to see that I was next to Stuart, which is always reassuring. It’s helpful to have numbered bike racks as it’s a small decision taken away from me.

There were various distance events going on: sprint, standard and middle. I think probably quite a few of the people who had signed up for the middle distance event were using it as a warm up for Challenge Weymouth, so they had come from far and wide. There were also some local people that I recognised, including Brian Grierson (a fantastic veteran) and also Luke, from LRR.

Start of Gu Weymouth Middle distance

Watching the competitors line up for the start of the middle distance event.

After we watched the start of the Middle distance event, there was a bit of time for selfies with Liz, before our final race preparations.

Selfie with Liz Gu Weymouth

Quick selfie with Liz © Liz Carter

Group shot before Gu Weymouth

Group shot at the start (L-R Stuart, Suzanne, Me and Roelie) © Liz Carter

After my previous experiences at Weymouth, I was a little nervous about the jellyfish in the water. Fortunately, it was overcast, which meant it was harder to see the jellyfish. They were still there, but I couldn’t see as well, so I only saw 10-12, which was a massive improvement!

I was quite pleased with how my swimming went, as I knew I wasn’t the very last person and was also aware that I was quite close to other competitors. I felt I was doing really well, especially as I was swimming against the current, so I decided to press the lap button on my watch when I got to the turn around buoy. I thought this would help me to see the difference between the first half of my swim and the second half… But I forgot that the lap button is meant to signal T1, so my Garmin data makes it look like I was in transition for a very long time.

After the event, I did a few calculations. It was meant to be a 1500m swim, but I swam 890m to the turnaround point, so I think my sighting must have been a bit off. The first half of the swim took me 29:42, so the return swim must have taken me 23:56, which is nearly 6 minutes faster.

Swim: 00:53:38

Position: 39/41

 

As usual, for me, the transitions were the highlight – I managed to beat 4 people in T1, even though I had to put my contact lenses in! I hope to start smashing my T1 times next year when I’ve had laser eye surgery.

T1: 00:03:22

Position: 37/41

 

The bike started on a hill, which was an immediate challenge and by the time I got going, there were really any people in close proximity who I could chase. I think that as soon as I’ve improved my swimming and had laser eye surgery, my bike times will also start improving as well, because I do so much better when there are other people that I challenge myself to beat.

I found the bike course quite challenging and I struggled to eat or drink anything, which probably didn’t help me. As I cycled in, I saw Stuart finishing his run.

Bike: 01:32:11

Position: 39/41

 

T2 seems to be my discipline – it is the part of races where I perform best. I managed to beat 5 people 🙂
T2: 00:01:42

Position: 36/41

 

I was too far behind to chase anyone on the run, which was a little disappointing. Like the bike course, the run started on a steep hill. I had intended to use my inhaler on my bike, but I forgot, so I ended up getting out my inhaler on the hill. A woman ahead noticed me and decided that she would stop and try to run with me as it was her first event. This helped to encourage me, but the other triathlete was doing the sprint event, so as soon as we got to the downhill, I left her.

I quite enjoyed the run as it was two laps of a local park. There weren’t many other runners around, but I’m quite used to running on my own, so it was fine. The hardest part of the run was the final hill. I was a little frustrated that I struggled to maintain a good pace for the run, but it wa fantastic to be able to finish with a speedy run down the hill.

Run: 01:08:49

Position: 38/41

 

After crossing the finish line, I collected my medal, water bottle and t-shirt before meeting up with Suzanne, Roelie and Stuart to cheer Liz on.

Final result:

03:39:42

40/41 finishers

Massive well dones to Suzanne for being 3rd female finisher; Liz for being 3rd in her AG in her first attempt at this distance; Roelie for beating her PB and Stuart for finishing 14th overall in his first attempt at this distance.

31 minutes a km!!!

24 Jun

On Sunday morning, I went down to Bowleaze Cove with Stu, Suzanne and Roelie for the first of this year’s Big Cove sea swims. There are two distances on offer: 1.5 miles and 3 miles. I’d looked up information about previous events online and in the past couple of years the number of entrants has fluctuated between about 24 and 40, which had advantages and disadvantages. I knew that it meant I would be less likely to be crushed in a melee at the start of the race, but it also meant that I would quite likely be out on the course on my own for long stretches.

As it was only a swim and not an aquathlon or triathlon, there was no need for the event to start really early, so we didn’t need to leave Southampton until 8am. We arrived in Weymouth quite early, but then we had to work out where we needed to get to. Stu’s satnav was determined to take us down a route that was inaccessible and then we ended dup driving around a caravan park before we looked at some online maps and found an alternative route.

It was a beautifully warm and sunny day (20°C by 9am), so there were already quite a few people on the beach and eating full English breakfasts in the nearby café when we arrived. We parked the car and I was surprised by how cheap the parking was for a lovely tourist destination (£2.50 for 4 hours).

We had a bit of time to waste, but none of us wanted to out our wetsuits on and stand around in the sun for too long. We went and registered, which was a very simple process. We were all given green hats to indicate that we were doing the shorter distance; the 3-mile swimmers were given orange hats. We also had our numbers written on our hands. It’s a trivial detail, but I was pleased that the woman who was doing it has neat handwriting – I hate having a number scrawled badly on my limbs!!!

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We thought that we had seen the course marked in the bay, but as we were waiting, we realised that more buoys were being towed out into position. In terms of running, I can conceptualise how far a mile is, but seeing it marked out in the sea, made it look like a huge distance, and was more than a little terrifying.

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The email that we had been sent before the event had stated that all entrants should be strong swimmers who are experienced at open water swimming. I’m not really sure that I fit either of those categories. I’m definitely not a strong swimmer as I’m most definitely in lane 1 at Tri Club (although I can hold my own in the middle lane when I go to public lane swimming sessions). I’m not sure that I’m an experienced open water swimmer either – I’ve swum at Lakeside and HOWSC as well as a lake in France, but the only ‘sea swim’ that I’ve done was Fowey Harbour swim last summer, which wasn’t too long and was in a very safe environment. We had also been asked to state how long we thought it would take us – I had written down 90 minutes.

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At last it was time to put our wetsuits on. Foolishly, I ran and cycled on Saturday with a vest and shorts on, so I had burnt my shoulders, which was not the best preparation. I liberally applied bodyglide to my neck and just hoped that nothing else would chafe during the swim. I meant to put on lip-gloss, but I forgot. I also had to use my inhaler as I was finding breathing difficult and was wheezing a bit.

I’ve got really poor eyesight, so I still had my glasses on. Without them, I can see nothing, so if I took them off, I would have to walk around with my goggles on, which is not a great look. I had been undecided about which goggles to wear. I prefer my tinted goggles as they were more comfortable and have slightly larger lenses than my clear goggles, however, the replacement strap that I’ve been using since my last one broke just doesn’t seem to work well and I ended up stopping frequently at the pool to empty them out, so I decided that the clear goggles would be the sensible option.

I also dislike getting water in my ears. I’ve never tried earplugs, but find that if I wear a good swimming hat, my ears are well enough protected. The temperature meant that I thought a neoprene hat would be excessive, but I decided to go for two swimming hats. I put on my favourite shark motif hat, then my goggles before finishing off with the green Bustinskin hat.

We had time for a quick dip in the sea before the event. In hindsight, I should have spent a bit more time acclimatising to the water. My hands felt cold, but the rest of me was OK. The sea temperature was actually quite pleasant at 17.3°C, although the wind speed was 8 knots – according to local weatherman Bob Poots.

Just before the event started, we were called over to the blue start mat for a briefing and roll call. I’m guessing that the event’s proximity to the Challenge Weymouth course accounted for the surge in popularity, as there were 36 people in the 1.5-mile event. We were given some instructions about staying with 5m of the buoys and to pass them on our right hand side in both directions. The 3-mile swimmers were told where the turning point was, and then there were some other comments. I gathered that the gist of them was about jellyfish and bumping into things, but my hearing is not great, so I wasn’t really sure what had been said. After the event, I read a news item that said there has been a huge influx of jellyfish in the area because of the warm seas encouraging plankton growth. I was so glad that I was unaware of that when the event started.

I positioned myself at the back of the pack and to the side, as I knew I would be one of the weakest swimmers there and I didn’t want to have anyone swim over me at the start.

The start of the race was in very shallow water, which started to deepen as we reached the end of the pier. At this point, other swimmers were still in sight, but it was already clear that I was going to be last. I was doing my best to relax and swim with smooth strokes, but my breathing was all over the place and I did wonder whether I would make it around.

For the first quarter of the race, I was accompanied by a stand up paddle boarder, who kept saying reassuring things to me and checking whether I was OK. I did wonder whether I should just turn around, but I didn’t want to fail. I was grateful to have someone beside me, but I also felt guilty that I was so far behind everyone else and that so much attention was having to be focused on me.

I started to get into some sort of rhythm and was really surprised by just how much I could see. Suddenly, I saw something ahead of me… Oh My God! It was a dead baby! I have no idea what must have been on my mind for that to be my first thought! I put my head back into the water and realised that I was mistaken. It was only a jellyfish… hold on… a jellyfish?! Aarrgghh! I panicked and started swimming sideways as quickly as I could.

When we did the Fowey Harbour Swim, there were list of jellyfish and some people got stung. They said it wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t want to find out what it would feel like. The only parts of my body that were exposed were my hands, feet and arts of my face, but I was still frightened.

Unfortunately, the jellyfish were part of the event. I would get into a rhythm, only for it to be interrupted by me freaking out about the appearance of something in the water beside me (mainly jellyfish, but occasionally, faster swimmers who were lapping me).

I also realised that there was a mark on my goggles that looked like a huge black jellyfish whenever I looked out of the corner of my eye. (On inspection after the event, I’ve realised that it is the prescription label on the lens – these will definitely be picked off before I do a similar event in future!)

The course was well marked out with enormous yellow buoys that were clearly visible even for someone with eyesight as bad as mine. I think the buoys were about 250m apart, but I don’t know, as I didn’t check my watch.

It took me a long time to feel like I could breathe comfortably. I also realised that my legs weren’t doing anything useful and my shoulder still isn’t quite right after my accident.

By the time I was halfway out, I could see the lead swimmers coming back on the other side of the buoys. At this point, the stand up paddle boarder swapped roles with a chap in a kayak. There were quite large distances between some of the buoys, and not everyone is very good at sighting. I realised that unless I moved, then a large group of swimmers would swim straight into me, so I started heading further out to sea. The kayaker shouted at me, so I had to explain what my manoeuvre was.

I decided that I needed to start pushing myself harder, so I tried to get into a better rhythm. Unfortunately, I somehow ended up swimming very close to the kayak and its shadow. For some reason, this made me think about Jaws. The thought of sharks in the water did no help my mental state as I became aware that if there were to be anything in the water, I would not be able to get out in a hurry.

I carried on and eventually reached the final buoy. I glanced back towards the beach and realised just how far I had to go. Part of me was tempted to look at my watch, but I knew that wouldn’t help me and that I just had to keep going.

My breathing had finally settled down, so I thought I could swim in a good rhythm, but the swim back was much harder. Some of the others reckon that it had become breezier and the number of ribs, jet skis, and motorboats out in the cove had created some waves. I hadn’t particularly noticed any swell on the way out, but it was definitely there on the way back. I had been swimming bilaterally, but breathing to my right wasn’t really an option on the way back, so I settled into a four-breath rhythm.

The return leg seemed to take forever. I was passed by a number of the 3-mile swimmers, some of whom swam extremely close to me.

Towards the turn, I could see lots of people on jet skis riding about. Although the logical part of me knew that I had on a striking coloured hat and that there were marshals around, I became a bit paranoid that I might meet an untimely end being hit by some sort of craft.

Eventually, it was time to head back to the beach. I was feeling exhausted and was ready to divorce Stuart for convincing me to join in with this madness. Two three-mile swimmers passed me, but I had no energy to try to keep up with them even for 5 seconds.

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The water was very clear and it looked like I could touch the bottom with my hands. I wasn’t sure how soon I could stand up or whether I was expected to swim as close to the beach as possible. With about 15m to go, I stood up and waded to the beach. I’d done it!

One of the marshals put a medal around my neck, but I felt so shattered and numb that I was unable to do or say anything. I barely spoke for 10 minutes. My legs and arms were not as tired as after running a marathon, but the adrenaline caused by my fear throughout the event meant that I found it mentally exhausting.

Stuart, Roelie and Suzanne were waiting for me on the beach, having finished quite a long way ahead of me. They had all changed and were starting to get cold and hungry, whereas I wasn’t particularly interested in eating.

Stuart finished in 11th place in 43:12.

Roelie came 22nd in 50:36

Suzanne was 26th in 55:59.

The winner was a woman who completed the course in just 36:38!

As expected, I finished last, with 9 of the people doing the 3-mile swim finishing ahead of me. This was not unexpected – as I’ve never swum further than 2000 metres before, and have only ever spent an hour swimming in the pool. It took me 1:22:32, which is a few minutes ahead of my estimated time of 1:30, but really not good enough. If anyone wants to see the full results, they are available here: http://www.bustinskin.com/download/big_cove_swims_2014/big%20cove%20swim%20race%201%20.pdf

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

New swimming PB for distance, time and calories

My Garmin data for the course is here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/526034617 Zooming in on it, you can see just how wonky my swim was!

Stuart and Suzanne have already signed up for the next two events in the series, and if I’m going to make the start line of Challenge Weymouth, I guess I’d better give it another crack! Hopefully, next time, some more people that we know will be able to make the event.

I decided not to swim yesterday, as I was feeling exhausted. My poor technique combined with the duration and length of the swim and wearing a wetsuit mean that I have got some very stiff muscles in my back. Also, although we all applied plenty of body glide, all four of us have been left with burns on our necks.

Overall, it was a very difficult experience for me. However, it does now mean that I should feel more confident about Challenge Weymouth. I have now swum the distance in similar conditions; cycled for about the right distance with the Wiggle Spring Sportive and run the distance (plus more) at Brighton Marathon.

What’s the toughest event you’ve done?