RACE REPORT – Stirling Aquathlon 2014

STIRLING AQUATHLON 2014

Official time: 37 minutes and 04 seconds

Overall position:49th/121

Gender position 11th/57 (7th/37 senior ladies)

Medal: Yes

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I’ve been thinking about trying a triathlon for a while now so when my friend Kat suggested giving and Aquathlon a go, I said yes immediately. Was there any better way to ease my way into the world of multi sport than with my two favourite activities? I signed up there and then.

Stirling Triathlon club were the hosts of this event and it took part at the National Swimming academy up at Stirling University, which was where I went to Uni (all 13 years ago now!) and I am always more than happy to revisit the campus. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and once registered (which took a bit longer for Kat as someone else had been given her number!!) we pottered about, had a look at the transition area (a first for me!), set our shoes and towels and then went for a tea and a flapjack as we still had tons of time to kill before our heat.

Kat and I setting up in the transition area. Me pretending I've got the slightest idea what I'm doing! Photo - Stirling Tri
Kat and me setting up in the transition area. Me pretending I’ve got the slightest idea what I’m doing! Photo – Stirling Tri

The event consisted of a 750m (30 length) swim and a 5k run. I hadn’t swam competitively since I was 16 and even though I’m in the pool every day teaching, I can’t remember the last time I timed myself swimming! On entering the race you had to submit your time for 750m so the lanes could be seeded in order of fastest to slowest. This was my first big mistake. I had a total guess at a time and then the following week went and completed the distance in training at about 75% effort and was about a minute and a half faster than the time I’d submitted. By now it was too late to say to the organisers as they’d already sent out an email with lane order, so I’d just have to see how it went on the day….

The carpet to transition after you come out the pool. About 500m of barefoot running!
The carpet to transition after you come out the pool. About 500m of barefoot running!

Kat and I were in the same heat in lanes next to each other, so when it was time to start, we gave each other a final thumbs up and off we went… for all of about 20m before I swam straight into the feet of the person in front. Now, I know it’s my fault for putting in the wrong time, but there is meant to be lane etiquette of moving aside if the person behind you catches up. I’m guessing the Ultra running rule of “don’t be a dick” does not comply with triathletes. A few taps later and I still wasn’t allowed by, so I gave a gentle ankle grab to be a bit less subtle… but still no budging. I tried not to get frustrated as after all, this was my fault for being in the wrong lane… but come on!!! Soon enough the 30 lengths were over, I hauled myself out the pool and ran out the fire door of the pool and across the grass and red carpet down to transition. Again something totally new for me and I felt a bit lost! I had decided to bring my trail shoes as they already have lace locks on them and are easy to slip on, but it didn’t help that I ran straight past them! Eventually I found them, quickly dried my feet, shoved on my socks and shoes and picked up my race belt with attached number and I was back out in all of 35 seconds…. not bad!! The run route was 2 loops of the uni campus which went across the sports field, up a very sharp hill (which I remember stumbling up and down in my uni days!), round the back of the industrial estate, back down the hill and round half the running track before heading across the grass fields and back to the pool. It was a great route but running after swimming is a weird experience – I couldn’t reset my legs and running while soaking is HARD! I have a new found respect for anyone who does an ironman – you are total legends and one day I hope to be part of your crew!

I gave it my all on the last loop and flew across the finish line with my arms in the air and a huge grin on my face. I was given a goody bag (containing milk and water) and a lovely medal. I went across to get my time printed out and wait for Kat to finish and she also flew across the line with her arms in the air and the biggest smile – quite the come back for having had such an awful year post injury!! We were both elated with our times and once we were changed we headed to the pub to celebrate with wine and amazing food.

Done! Full tri next!!
Done! Full tri next!!
Nothing beats a post race wine!
Nothing beats a post race wine!
Kat in her funky egg chair
Kat in her funky egg chair

I’m definitely going to try another aquathlon and see how I get on with a better swim. Considering how shattered I was, I was still only 30 seconds off my 5k pb so thats also a bonus! Next time however, I will NOT go to CX works and metfit the day before a race. My calves and bum were KILLING me!!! One day I’d love to do a full triathlon, but I need to buy a road bike first. Or a nice person could just buy me one???

7 Comments

  1. Sounds awesome, well done 🙂 I’m yet to brave the world of aquathon or duathlon! That’s the next goal now I’m learning to ride a bike, though I haven’t swum properly in years so who knows how that will go!

    1. It was amazing! I really want to do a triathlon eventually but I do worry about the cycling bit too. I’ve got a mountain bike and I love throwing myself off the hills, but the cycling in close proximity in a tri really freaks me out, I’ve seen some horrific injuries from bike crashes. Might just stick to aquathlons for now but there aren’t very many of them unfortunately!

  2. I was hoping to do my first aquathlon this year but it got cancelled. Next year though (maybe take a swimming lesson first). Great to read about your experience.
    P.S. you look so much younger in running gear than regular clothes 🙂 (that’s meant to be a compliment)

  3. Haha, I’ve noticed I’m starting to look old and I don’t like it! 🙁 Good job I wear my running stuff most of the time then 😀 It was great fun, you should definitely give it a go!

  4. Well done! Although I’ve only done one triathlon, I love them! My husband does them and I just love the atmosphere at the event. Transitioning is almost its own discipline: you pretty much have to visualise how to go about things before you do it. And it’s brand new feeling changing from one discipline to another! Just wait until you start brick workouts for your first tri; they’re called ‘brick’ for a reason!

    As for the bike situation, you can get a quality used one on Gumtree, or sign up for Pink Bike and search their for sale section. It also helps to just post it on your FB and see what happens. Good luck, and maybe I’ll see you at a tri next year!

  5. I too did the Stirling Aquathlon, it’s a great well organised event that I keep coming back to. I’ve done a few triathlons but I’m not that fussed on cycling so Aquathlon is ideal, just a pity there are so few Aquathlon events on offer in Scotland.

    1. It’s a shame isn’t it. I keep thinking about getting a road bike and doing a full tri, but my 2 main sports are swimming and running so I’m not sure if I should introduce a new sport (and yet another form of training!) into my schedule. There a few in England, but not sure if I’d travel for such a short event. Maybe we should push for more!! How did you get on? I’ll definitely be doing it again next year!

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