Race Report: Welwyn Hatfield Festival of Sport Sprint Triathlon | Eclectic Cake: Race Report: Welwyn Hatfield Festival of Sport Sprint Triathlon

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Race Report: Welwyn Hatfield Festival of Sport Sprint Triathlon

WHAT:  750m swim – 25km cycle – 5km run
WHERE:  Stanborough Park, Welwyn Garden City
WHEN:  25th May

"I don't know why she swallowed a fly, perhaps she'll die."

After nervously pacing up and down the Hercules Events village scouting for places to hide so I didn't have to race, whilst listing all the things that could possibly go wrong, it was almost refreshing to be given a new thing to worry about in the midst of my first triathlon of the year!

I'd already coaxed myself into the chilly lake and placed myself behind the other competitors, trying to remember why I'd enjoyed it so much last year as I kicked myself for being underprepared. But as I began to gain my rhythm (and the feeling in my toes) in the green but clear water, there it was...gliding. The swim felt even better as I passed swimmer after swimmer, pushing my position up the leaderboard after losing so many places to lack of confidence. Despite having to run to transition with my hands stuck inside my wetsuit as I wrestled to pull it off, any worries about the swim had been dispelled. I'd survived. I just hoped that would be the case for the cycle leg – my weakest discipline.

Only a few kilometres in, a fly flew straight to the back of my throat. I swallowed it. It was a rash decision – having eight legs seemed better than two wobbly ones. From then on, I wasn't worried about the swimmers I'd overtaken now whizzing by on the bike, I wasn't worried about the pot-holed country roads the course took us through, and I certainly wasn't worried that I may have followed the wrong route because of the confusing signage catering for super-sprint up to half-iron distances. All my brain power went into worrying what to do with the fly now inside me.

Looking suspiciously like a robotic fly – a drone that filmed the day's events

Unfortunately, rational thought only went as far as realising the fly's six legs weren't going to help much with cycling, so I'd have to keep mind spinning. Beyond that, it was fatigued nonsense – the fly was obviously living somewhere in my oesophagus. I'd ruled out coughing up the mini beast, seeing bits of fly that had come out of my mouth seemed worse than sending it further down. I wasn't carrying a drink with me because reaching for a bottle on a bike would only end in disaster for this novice cyclist, so I decided to wash it down with a gel. Accidentally squirting the last few dribbles all over my handlebars, a thought dawned on me. Flies love a bit of sugar and I'd just fed this one a bucket load – if it was still alive in there, I'd now given it the energy to survive a few days potentially laying its larvae in my innards. Crap!

The only feasible solution was to use all that sugary goodness before the fly did. Forget the triathlon, I was now in an entirely different race. Luckily, the hilly course gave me plenty of opportunities to tire myself out and, even though the roads were still open to traffic, the quiet early Sunday morning roads meant I could speed along without being too worried about cars. All this distraction meant that, before we knew it, my bike, the fly and I were back at transition for the run.

Carrying a little extra weight (how much do flies weigh?!) and zapped of any benefit from the energy gel, I stumbled onto the run course – a pretty trail course around the park. Keeping my mouth firmly shut (I'd learned my lesson), the green views and interesting, lumpy terrain was enough to restore my faith in nature and some sanity. Sensible again and certain the fly was no longer with us (RIP), I was pleased that one of us made it over the finish line safely.

Races tend to bring out many fears, worries and "what ifs" but most of them, as the fly debacle proved, are completely irrational yet somehow absolutely instrumental in finding focus and getting yourself across that finish line!

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