I’m pretty nervous around water. If I can’t see the bottom I freak out. In fact, if I can see the bottom but can’t reach it, then I also freak out. Essentially, unless I’m in a bath or a shallow swimming pool, I’m usually screaming and flapping about like I’m drowning.
I am NOT the sort of person who gets into a murky lake, let alone races round one. The perfect time to face my fear and do an little Silverfit aquathlon then, really! A 500m swim in Hyde Park’s Serpentine lake followed by a 5k jog round the park itself. A cute little race- perfect. I was fearful when I signed up; both for the swim and the multi-race element, but decided I’d be really chuffed with myself for completing one.
The Boy had kindly come with me for a swim in the serpentine the week before, giving me a taste (quite literally!) of swimming in outdoor water for the first time in the UK. I was scared of everything, but pleased I had experienced the lake at least once before the race.
I arrived on race day, monitoring the number of ducks out of the corner of my eye. My friend Sophie was racing with me (we missed you, Kate!). Sophie was using the chance to train for her triathlon in August. I was happy to learn from her!
There were about 70 of us taking part- all ages and abilities. Even those who looked like seasoned multi-race people were smiling, friendly and welcoming. It was a really nice atmosphere for a first experience. Silverfit (the organisers) should be proud of running such a good race).
We were in the first wave, and I lay out my little transition station (towel, trainers, socks, belt, number). Before I had time to realise what was happening, I was jogging over to the start and plopped in the water without even thinking. A swan swam in front of the group, psyching us out.
GO! Everyone splashed off, and Sophie and I joined behind a couple of seconds later so we didn’t get kicked in the face! Starting off was a bit of a shock. I am used to pacing myself in a run, but pacing myself for a swim is a whole new challenge. I just went mental for about 25m- I was panicking and my breathing was out of sync.
I was shaking a bit then, I think from the adrenaline. Time to SLOW DOWN. I was last in the race already but I had to work really hard to park that fear of “being slow”, and commit to taking the race at a pace that was comfortable for me. I was in this to finish it with a smile, not win Olympic gold!
I looked ahead, and Sophie was bobbing about, waiting for me at the first marker. “Come on! You’re doing so well!” she had stopped her race and was yelling encouragement. I nearly cried. What a lovely person!
We bobbed the next 2 and a half laps round together- Sophie swimming off looking strong, and me panting and flapping behind! The last 100m- Sophie stopped and said to me “can you put your head in the water?!” I said “YES!” and so…. I did. And it made a MASSIVE difference. I went a lot faster. I was over the fear of face-in-murky-water at that point. Really got into my rhythm by that last stretch.
And Sophie had put her face in for the first time during this race, too. We were ROCKING the aquathlon, achieving new things together! Yay!
I was last out of the water, and the stewards were so lovely. We got into our running gear at the transition station and gently plodded off round the park together. It was a wonderful evening, the sun was setting and the route was relaxed. We had a chat while we ran. I felt a bit dehydrated- more water during the transition next time.
We took our time, found our rhythm, and had an incredibly nice run. I’ve also never been for a run in shorts before- like, EVER. Why? Because I’m embarrassed of my chubby knees. Well, I ran in a TRI SUIT. Take that, London. Here are my chubby knees, running past you in all their glory, pah! This was a race of achievements and friendship.
We went for the sprint finish, and did finished (just over 51 mins) with a high five as the sun set behind us. Honestly, it was so very glorious. Medals, photos, cheesy grins, and we ambled off to tackle the tube strikes.
The next races are on 5th August and 2nd September- and I will definitley be doing the 5th August race with Kate and Charlie, if you fancy being brave and coming along too! You can sign up by clicking here. Let me know if you decide to, and we can all race together!