We were up at the crazy hour of 4am, had a breakfast of porridge and bananas, and were on the road before 5. I noticed 2 girls on our street coming home from a night out, and felt pretty smug that I was up and ready to do something athletic instead of crawling home in the wee hours of the morning (though, let's face it, it wasn't so long ago that that was me!)
We made "darn good time" as my dad would say, arriving at Higginson Park before 6am. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, a rarity in the UK lately. Registration and bike racking went smoothly enough; it was a small race - only about 160 racers doing the Sprint Distance. I noticed that I was pretty much the only one there without a road bike, which made me a bit nervous... where were all the novice triathletes with hybrids like me?!
|Walking to race briefing|
6:45am came around quickly, which was race briefing time. We were told there that the swim course was now one way, downstream only, as the current was too strong to have us swim upstream. Hurrah! I couldn't have asked for better news. I had been really worried about swimming in a river with the current, as I have never done it before. I was standing next to a super competitive guy though, who was not at all happy about this. He told me he was a strong swimmer and this meant he will lose his advantage over the rest of us less strong swimmers. Seriously, he was a bit up himself, and I think he got a bit bored of talking to me when he realized that I did not give a crap about his lost advantage!
We had to walk upstream 750m in the mud to the start of the swim which was an unusual warm up. We then got into the river and realized just how strong the current was. Some of the swimmers, the "serious" triathletes, were warming up by swimming against the current, and they weren't going anywhere! It was like one of those training pools where you basically swim in one spot (like a treadmill for swimming). I spent the swim pretty relaxed and trying to take in the gorgeous scenery - Marlow is a beautiful town which I wish we had had more time to explore.
|Swimming in the Thames|
With the swim done in about 10 mins I met with mrwandymcnoble in transition, who was about a minute ahead of me. On to the bike.
|mrwandymcnoble heading off on his bike|
Most of the ride was pretty uneventful. As the race was so small, I was on my own for most of it. The scenery was, again, gorgeous, and the weather amazing. I was averaging about 15mph which I thought was ok on my hybrid! Some tough hills, but these were rewarded with long stretches downhill to relax my legs. It was an out and back course, so mrwandymcnoble passed me when I was at 7 miles, so he was about 1 mile ahead of me.
|me heading off on my bike|
The last mile was at the end of a long downhill. I was going fast, too fast, and realized too late that I had to turn right. I turned in too quickly and tried to slow down with my breaks. Only mrwandymcnoble had just tightened my breaks the night before and I pulled them too quickly. Next thing I knew I was skidding and then laying at the side of the road, bike on top of me. I hit my head, but of course my helmet took the brunt of that (thank goodness for bike helmets!)
My first thoughts were that I was ok, and I had to get out of the road. There was a marshall across the street from me, who was pretty useless. She eventually called the paramedics for me when she realized I wasn't able to complete the ride. The paramedics took about 15 minutes to come as they got lost on the way. In the meantime a police car had driven by and stopped and the 2 police officers kept me company until the ambulance came. We watched the marshall together who was completely rubbish. She started telling some of the runners the wrong way (apparently some of the front runners went a mile out of their way!) and was pretty rude to anyone who asked her a question. I know marshalls are volunteers but she could have been a bit more helpful!
|mrwandymcnoble about to cross the finish line|
Once in the ambulance they cleaned me up. I have some bad scratches across my arms, back, shoulder and neck, and am pretty sore today. Mostly though I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the race. I was only 1km from the bike finish! How could I have been so careless and stupid! I am really annoyed with myself about it all, to be completely honest.
Once I got back to the race finish with the ambulance I met up with mrwandymcnoble and his dad who had heard that I'd had an accident. By then the shock of the fall had worn off and I was pretty tearful about it all. We had to wait around for a while to get my bike and I needed a lot of help changing into dry clothes, but luckily I was generally ok.
Last night I kept thinking "what if"and imagining my accident again. It could have been a lot worse. But, I can't let this put me off cycling and triathlon. I'm not ready quite yet, but I need to get back on my bike as soon as possible and not dwell on this. So I guess the only question is... when is the next tri???