Well who could ever think that 10 minutes of exercises could be so exhausting? It took me about three days to recover from my Semer Water swim experience but weirdly, as with most races, it is one I’d like to repeat. Having never swum in open water or in a wetsuit before (I didn’t even own a swimming cap!) I thought I’d better have a practice, so on a rather windy day, with Pete in the kayak alongside me, I entered the murky waters. Naively I had thought ‘how hard can this be?’. I soon found out…ridiculously hard with either waves pushing me back, swallowing half the lake or swimming round and round in circles. After half an hour of splashing around and getting nowhere, and actually feeling quite freaked out about what could be underneath me, we called it a day, safe in the knowledge that conditions wouldn’t be as bad on race day…it would be like a millpond.
On race day the swim to bike transition was under water, there were white horses on the lake, it felt more like December than August and I had my swimming cap on the wrong way. Still, I was mildly put out that the swim had to be reduced to 400m due to the rise in the water and subsequent decrease in temp. Since my practice attempt I’d learnt to breathe on both sides and look up every so often so it would have been interesting to see if I could have made it to 800m…maybe next year. In the end it was 10mins of thrashing through the waves on the way out and almost surfing back in. I was completely disoriented when I got out of the water, and couldn’t feel my legs. Immensely glad that my part was over and I wasn’t handing over to Jill in last place, I passed on the chip and breathed a sigh of relief.
Off and within 100m of flat up a 500m section of 1 in 4 so I wasn’t cold for much longer. Struggling not to pull wheelies and not being able to zig zag to reduce the gradient as cars were parked on this already narrow section of road, I was already wondering what I had let myself in for with only two front cogs on my black beauty (this is what comes from taking your big brother with you when you have your bike built!) As my cycling shoes are terrible to walk in on the flat I knew if a got off and tried to push I would end up kissing the tarmac that had now become a river in most places.
I was passed before the top of this hill by a BRATS tri club lady (who was doing complete half cheese all herself-respect) who I passed several minutes later on the downhill towards Bainbridge. We continued this game all the way back to the transition for the run where I was only a minute or so ahead. As it was still blowing a gale and raining hard the course organizers had placed several red arrows on sections of road that were now even more hairy than normal. On the descent just before Muker a guy came off just in front of me and I managed to stop myself running into him by going into the grass verge to stop. I noticed several cyclists on mountain bikes (with easier gears) with slick tyres on so think if I am not any fitter next year this would be the way forward or a new road bike with more gears!
Kirsten had a great 6 mile run and we managed a first in the team event (there were only 3 teams but we were the only all female bunch!) all getting a great SIS hamper and voucher for the Kudo bikes shop. Quite fancying doing the full cheese bike section next year (42 miles) but need to convince Jess to do the 1800m Semer water swim!! Maybe if conditions are as bad again she could hope for it to be reduced again! Kirsten are you up for the 12 mile run? Or have heard a vicious rumour that you may be doing the whole thing yourself! Murf says we should all bite the bullet and do it individually but I think our combo is a very strong one and we could win the full cheese team in 2009.
By Jess Cunliffe, Jill Eccleston and Kirsten (still) Hardiman