September 2013Eclectic Cake: September 2013

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Race Report: British Gas Swim Britain

DESCRIPTION:  4000m swim relay
DATE:  8th September 2013
LOCATION:  Hillingdon Leisure Centre, London

I love being part of a team. They're the best supporters you can get in an event. They understand exactly what you go through – from the pang of doubt that kicks in when things get tough, to the elation you feel across the finish line – and they understand why you do it all over again! So when I found an opportunity to bring a team with me to my first swim challenge, I jumped straight in.

Roping in three triathletes to form a four-man swim team was pretty easy, they love a splash around. In this case we'd be splashing round five buoys in a zig-zag across the olympic-sized pool to complete four 250m legs each. For the gadget lovers, there was also a bit of technology involved. Each swimmer had a chipped wristband, which was swiped on the 'start' board before setting off then on the 'finish' board to stop the timer. This meant that only our swim times were recorded avoiding the need for speedy transitions and to break that crucial poolside rule about running!

Swimmers of all shapes and sizes, ages and abilities were welcomed to the pool with great enthusiasm. Each had a different aim – to win the race, to just finish the 4000m – but all were there to have fun doing it. This made for a relaxed atmosphere, helped by the smooth organisation of the event (a relay could potentially be a complicated logistical nightmare). After a quick briefing and an introduction from swimming legend Duncan Goodhew (who I later cheesily high-fived!!!), we all jumped in for a slightly bemusing yet fun aqua aerobics warm-up.

Ready to go, we sent our first swimmer to the start and waited for his return. I was third and pretty chilly by the time I plunged into the pool to start my first leg, but I soon warmed up. It was great to swim continuously without having to touch the sides and turn around. It meant I could get my strokes, kicks and breaths into a good rhythm, relax and enjoy the swim.

Not too much relaxing you understand, this was a race after all! And the event-ers were poolside with their iPads to show us our accumulative team time and individual splits the moment we 'clocked out'. We came a respectable 5th out of 22 teams with a time to beat next year...!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

New Kit for New Challenges: Swimming

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After three years of the same swimsuit, it's about time I buy a speedier version for my first ever swim race. I've always been loyal to Speedo as being one of the leaders in swim innovation, and my new Monogram Pullback swimsuit and Multi-Colour cap certainly prove they also create stylish products.

It was also time to replace my *cough* 12 year-old *cough* goggles with a pair I can actually see through! Speedo do a great range of goggles specially made to fit women.
I'm hoping that having 'Speedo' written all over me when I swim will make me that little bit faster!

Monday, 9 September 2013

Race Report: How to Complete an Aquathlon

RACE: D3 Triathletes Adult Aquathlon
DESCRIPTION: 400m pool swim - 5k run
DATE: 7th September 2013
LOCATION: Gurnell Leisure Centre, Perivale

Lessons learned from experience...

1. DO ask for support from your willing husband if you want it.

2. DO smile at the beginning of the race.

3. DO take the swim at your own pace and celebrate that you managed to overtake others.

4. DO laugh at yourself when jelly legs cause you to fall over in transition when attempting to put on your shoes.

5. DO try and encourage others to keep running when they start to walk.

6. DO take cue from your race number (190) and channel 'The Force'.

6. DO celebrate finishing 33rd (22nd in the swim (!!!) and 32nd in the run) and 12th in category!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Race Report: How Not to Complete an Aquathlon

RACE: Hillingdon Triathletes Aquathlon
DESCRIPTION: 750m outdoor pool swim - 5k run
DATE: 5th September 2013
LOCATION: Uxbridge Leisure Centre

Let's put this one down to experience, shall we...

1. DO expect to perform your best after travelling 5,000 miles on a plane that day and on 4 hours sleep.

2. DO use an old too-big wetsuit meant for messing around on the beach when attempting to swim 15 lengths of a 50m pool.

3. DO forget which way round the buoys you're meant to be swimming. This only results in crashes with other swimmers and ultimately being punched in the face.

4. DO give up 4 lengths into a 15 length swim. Although it prevents you embarrassingly finishing absolute last in yet another club race, you will only wish you carried on to finish properly.

5. DO underestimate the support and kindness that your club can provide when you're struggling.

Follow these tips to ensure that you too fail to finish your first aquathlon.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

New Kit for New Challenges: Multi-Sport

My race page is filling up with new challenges, including a lot of multi-sport races – aquathlons, duathlons and triathlons. Surely this justifies getting piles of new kit?!

My first ever multi-sport transition from wet (swim) to dry (cycle) involved wriggling around as I attempted to pull on tight shorts over clammy legs – not very efficient! So, as a new member of a triathlon club, what better way to represent than in a tri suit? This little beauty can be swum in, run in and even protects my butt as I cycle! So going from pool to pavement is now only an issue for my shoes...squelch!

Talking of shoes, with each race featuring a run I treated myself to a new pair of trainers. And I did it properly by getting my gait measured at Runners Need. They certainly knew their stuff and, after I managed to trot on the treadmill without crashing on my face, they deducted that I'm a neutral runner and that these Nike Pegasus+ 29s were the shoes for me.

Next on my shopping list, was a race belt. This means that I no longer have to suffer safety pin holes in my technical tees, I can just clip it on. Also I don't need a sandwich board to display my number for multi-sport races (number on the front for running, on the back for cycling), I just twist my belt to change the position of my number and off I go.

My biggest challenge yet requires the most technical bit of kit – a proper wetsuit. The old baggy wetsuit just isn't going to cut it on a 750m sea swim so it was time to invest. Blue Seventy have a billion different wetsuits to choose from but I went with the Sprint as it's recommended for beginners. Also because is says 'Sprint' on the leg, I thought this may help me go faster in the race! It's pretty figure hugging but still has enough mobility to swim in and it should keep the Solent chill off.