Worthing triathlon – 28thAugust 2016 – by Anne Johnson

 

I entered this race on an impulse after been encouraged / harassed / bullied by Hannah Mansell to have a go at a GB qualifying race!! Bill had been saying for a while I should have a go but I felt my swimming prevented me. This was the only race I could do of the 3 qualifying races so thought why not. A week before the race, after seeing results from the 2nd qualifier at Liverpool , I nearly chickened out, what was I thinking when I entered, no chance, and Worthing, about as far away as you could get!!

The day before, drove down with Bill and stayed at Brighton youth hostel.  So grateful to Bill for accompanying me on such a long journey on a bank holiday weekend!! Not pleasant!!  Kept thinking, can’t let him down. Not been to Brighton before but quickly discovered it is very vibrant, a place of many hen and stag do’s and a town that doesn’t sleep!!!  Spent the night (all night!)  listening to people trying to get off with each other below our bedroom window!!  🙁

Up at 5:30 for a quick breakfast and short drive to Worthing. The day before was sunny and 27 degrees, now it was considerably cooler with the wind whipping up. Oh my god, the sea did not look inviting. Warm at 19.6 degrees but big waves and a strong current made me start to panic. The briefing did nothing to reassure me. Told the conditions were going to make for a very challenging swim with a strong current! Help!!!

Bill was doing his best to reassure me as I stood panicking on the start line.  One guy went in for a practice swim and came out deciding he wasn’t even going to start!!  The klaxon went and w2016-08-28 07.46.57e were off.  Hannah’s advice on a beach start was run into the water and dive in!! I tried that but diving into  crashing waves didn’t seem to work for me!! I was going nowhere. The first buoy looked miles away.  Trying to swim out against the waves, with strong swimmers swimming over me was scary. I soon started to panic and hyperventilate.  Did breaststroke on the spot for a bit thinking I can’t do this. A kayak came over and calmed me down.  She told me I could do it, breathe slowly and be calm. I nearly quit at that point  but got myself together and set off again.  Eventually  made it to the first buoy.  Never been thrown around so much in the sea and swallowed so much sea water.  Then there was a line of 3 buoys to follow. The strong current was in your favour now which helped but still big waves tossing you around. Coming back against the current  took me forever, felt like I was swimming on the spot . Very relieved to see so many safety boats in the water. They were pulling people out all over the place.  I felt slightly traumatised  when I eventually made it back to the beach but so happy to be on dry land 🙂  From Bill’s stats!, out of 110 women in total, my swim time put me in 89th position overall.  In the V50’s, 9th out of 14 starters. Meant to be 22.

A slightly slower than I wanted T1 but quite happy now on solid ground. Crammed in 5 shot blocs as  I wasn’t going to do any fuelling on the bike. Not 2016-08-28 08.21.33intentional, but on my lovely new Giant hadn’t thought about where I’d put food !!  A minor problem.

More worrying was the strong wind as I set off. Slightly concerned about my deep rim wheels which I wasn’t really used to in the wind.  If windy,  I normally slowed to a pootle or used my other bike!  The bike route was not as flat as I thought, 330m of climb. Lots of roundabouts to negotiate with oncoming traffic.  Had one narrow miss with a car who wasn’t indicating.  Back wheel came off the ground as bike skidded but stayed on, just!  It rained on and off throughout the route with a strong crosswind for a lot of the time! Five nasty looking accidents on route made me slow down. Bike position was a lot more respectable than the swim. 28th overall and 2nd quickest in V50’s which moved me into 5th place.

A 2016-08-28 10.01.10quick T2 in 57s and onto the run – my favourite bit. I had no idea what position I was in at this point but knew I had to pick as many women off as possible. Set off quick, too quick along the promenade. Felt really focused. The first 3k’s passed very quickly, all under 4 minutes.  Slowed down a bit after that as thought no way could I maintain that pace for another 7k.  Great to see Bill just before 4k. Each time I overtook a women I’d try and work out what age category they were. Plan was to pick up the pace again after 8k and really go for it but my quads were bordering on cramp so abandoned that plan.  So  glad when the finish marquee appeared. Couldn’t believe it when,  as they announced me finishing they said ‘ Well done Anne Johnson, 2nd in her age category. My first reaction was that’s incredible, then  I quickly thought, they’ve made a mistake!!  My run was my best bit, 7th quickest overall and 1st in category.

Swim    30:58 (1258m)   T1   1:42    Bike  1:17:27 (40.3k)      T2   0:57      Run  41:12 (9.7k)

What an amazing day.  So nearly didn’t do the race!.  Massive thanks to Bill for his unwavering support and belief in me and keeping me grounded. Also to Hannah for somehow forcing me to enter a race at the other end of the country!!  Eternally g2016-08-28 10.31.47rateful to  Charlotte and Joe at ‘Back to fitness’ for keeping my body
together over the last few years  – Joe’s description of me used to be ‘great engine but the bodywork’s knackered’!  🙂

So,  pretty certain I’ve qualified to for the European championships next June in Kitzbuhel!!! Can’t quite believe it for someone who’s swimming leaves a lot to be desired, but I’ve got  9 months to get it sorted!!