When is a race not a race? Or is it in fact even more than a race? Sometimes I’m not sure.
Southport Standard Tri is a European Qualifier; a fast, flat course and near home. Great choice of race. Paddy, my husband, also had an entry. It was planned to be a good day out and part of a training week for longer events.
Then, two months before, Covid made its appearance. Finally I caught it, like so many others. Ten days later and I was getting better. A few days after that I went on holiday with my daughter to Madeira and left my common sense at home. Despite knowing all the protocols and coaching clients successfully through Covid recovery I made some basic errors. They always say its very hard to coach yourself. It should have been four days of ultra running training – I refused to run and we went for easy walks instead. Miniscule compared to a normal week for someone about to run a 47 mile ultra, but still too much. Or maybe it would have happened anyway. Came home and was floored. Difficulty breathing, erratic heart rate and very low energy – like so many others. Needless to say no 47 mile ultra, one A race of the season out the window. But Madeira was incidentally spectacular.
Five weeks on, nursing myself with vitamin D, B12, Omega 3, iron, magnesium, sleep, rest, lots of good food. Just about well enough to go to work. Not well enough to fully work as a swim guide.
But the entry is paid and I’m a very bad supporter. How could I race?
But could I complete? Have some fun and learn something along the way?
Three weeks after being in out patients with a dodgy heart rate I turned up at the start line armed with some very solid goals designed to keep me safe. I felt both very lucky to be there and very anxious!
This race was momentous for us as a couple, my husband has gone through four years of atrial fibrillation, a heart condition. This race was his first after a final successful medical procedure. Important or what. It also proved to be very social with us bumping into loads of people we knew but didn’t expect to see.
Great chance to practice staying warm before the swim! Any option to reduce stress. On with the neoprene hat, old socks and plastic bags to keep my toes warm, my dry robe and a flask of warm water down my suit just before the off. Fashion never was my strong point, and I’m not winning any prizes here. Thought BREATHE on the swim, followed by long and smooth. All 150 women went off at once so it was a bit bumpy for a female wave, we are usually quite gentle with each other. Salty and murky but warmer than Windermere and I came in still able to breathe, a minute and a half off my pb – having not trained for 8 weeks, so I was delighted.
The bike is flat, flat, flat but often windy. First time at an event on my new tt bike so good chance to practice. Handling improved through the course. Heading for an aerobic bike so never out of breath, putting minimal strain on my system, good old base work but in a race context. Practice position, drinking, eating, cadence, handling. Non of it will go to waste.
The run is also flat, flat, flat and here was my big race aim – I had to nose breath the whole way. I’ve spent years struggling with nose breathing so this would be a challenge. I don’t like failing so setting this as my main race goal prevented me working too hard. Its not a race, its an event and completion not compete is the name of the game. YES – I succeeded, nose breathing all the way brought me in in 1:07, far from my fastest 10km ever but that was never the aim.
Paddy came in safe and sound in the time he wanted; we had a great time, we socialised a lot, I completed an event as an aerobic exercise, he completed his first event for a long time. So a fantastic weekend, the start of a new phase of our lives where we can race together.
Although not a race we both came in within the required 120% of winner of age group to give us qualifying times for the European Championships 2023. So it was also one tactical race with a solid aerobic base being put to good use and a gamble paying off.
So maybe this time it is a race, and quite a lot more? I still don’t know.