We had the best weather we could have hoped for - quite warm and sunny with no wind or rain - perfect!
This is how it went....(The boring comparison of times against what we had hoped to do is here).
Alarm at 04:50 for a breakfast of a big bowl of porridge to build up the energy reserves.
Sandie and Benjamin came down by car just before the start and Benjamin enjoyed preparing for the race on the Wingfield Castle paddle steamer.
I went down to the dock for a little dip to acclimatise while Benjamin warmed up a bit more.
- The swim was surprisingly pleasant.
- I started from as near to the back as I could manage - there was a bit of competition for that starting position!
- The water was a bit cooler than a couple of weeks ago (15 degC compared to 16 degC last time), but it was not bad - I had got used to it after about 100 m.
- The fast swimmers all disappeared off into the distance and I was with the breaststroke swimmers and the slower front crawlers.
- The shocking thing was that I was passing people. (I can't promise I am in this photo, but you get the idea of what it was like!)
- At one point I passed someone who was struggling a bit so I told him to slow down a bit and concentrate on breathing. You would almost have thought I knew something about open water swimming.....2 practices and a third of a race make all the difference....
- The rest of it was nice and steady - overtook a few more and then caught up to some going about the same pace as me, so I just paddled onto the slipway and jogged off to find the tandem.
- The first transition was never going to be fast for us - as well as me getting out of the wetsuit (getting it over the timing chip on my ankle was difficult), and getting my cycle top over my damp back, we had to find Benjamin and get him on. Should have worn my cycle top under the wetsuit to make it easier....
- I thought the mount point was going to be quite a way out of the transition area, so I had agreed to meet Sandie and Laura with Benjamin up on the road out of the way. As it happened the mount line was quite close, so I could have put Benjamin into the tandem in transition. Not to worry!
- We didn't do as well on the cycle as I had hoped - we were overtaken by more people than we overtook (I think - hard to tell because the fast cyclists lapped us!).
- The other competitors were really great though and shouted encouragement as they whizzed by!
- I think I was a bit worried about running out of energy and did not really go as hard on the bike as I could have. We averaged 23.5 km/hr, which was better than last weekend, but the conditions were perfect and I think we could have gone faster. I suspect I had got into a 'we are not chasing anyone down so we'll just tootle along and wave to the marshals and spectators' frame of mind...It made it more fun though!
- Was quite thirsty on the ride, and I had to slow down a lot to drink out of a bottle without becoming unstable - may have to go for a back-pack drink carrier for next time.
- I don't remember much of the cycle to run transition - must have been delirious by then....
- We stopped the tandem at the dismount line and I wheeled the tandem with Benjamin in it into transition.
- Sandie helped Benjamin into the wheelchair.
- Benjamin started his mars bar treat to fuel him while I got into my running shoes - the velcro cycling shoes and elastic laces on my running shoes made this nice and easy.
- Benjamin was still eating a third of the way around the first lap...
|Benjamin on the home straight!|
- The run felt hard....but it was four small laps, which meant we went through the spectators quite a few times, and they all shouted encouragement, which Benjamin liked and it did encourage me to keep the pressure on.
- The surprising thing was that for all it felt hard, and I didn't feel like I was going very fast, we were overtaking quite a lot of competitors.
- My guess is that because we had not done particularly well in the swim or cycle, we were well down the field, and we were among the competitors who were struggling most, and running comes more naturally to me than the other disciplines. Also, we were quite well back and I think we were un-lapping ourselves rather than overtaking them as such.
- I did feel quite bad about overtaking people pushing Benjamin - being overtaken is one thing, but overtaken by a wheelchair must be a bit disheartening, but everyone was really good and encouraged us on as we went by.
- With a couple of hundred metres to go to the finish we abandoned the wheelchair so Benjamin could finish the race under his own steam - he enjoyed approaching the finish with the crowd cheering.
- A really enjoyable morning - I was really pleased that Benjamin liked it, which was helped immensely by the good weather. Benjamin even looked at his medal!
- I always say that I don't enjoy doing sport, I just enjoy having done it, but this one was fun even during. This is probably a sign that I was not trying quite hard enough, or I was too delirious to realise how much it hurt!
- The organisation was great, and Gemma from Hartlepool Council made a good job of making it happen, and making sure that Benjamin and I had a bit of special treatment off the referees so we didn't get disqualified.
- The help from Sandie and Laura looking after Benjamin made it possible for us to do it - thank you!
- And we raised several hundred pounds for the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group which is a bonus.
So now I am wondering what to enter next - people said that open water swimming is addictive, and I think they are right!