Smells Like Deja Vu
I’ve been here before, so to speak. Not quite satisfied with one energy sucking endurance activity in a “race format” I decide to enter an event that involves two. An attempt to put my feet firmly on the road towards Triathlon and Ironman country. Last time I attempted this, it was a Duathlon in cold wet Autumnal England. A XC Run-Bike-Run which quite literally beat me into submission and what I think is my fist and only and hopefully last DNF.
Harder Better Faster – Stronger
Not only a cracking Daft Punk track but also an accurate summarisation of my current form. When I was first coming to Qatar, I was warned of a lack of racing. Oh how wrong this is. The weird collage below is the sum of races that I have entered in the 10-11 months that I have been in country. This Aquathon is my 4th event this year. I’m already ahead of my average (parkrun doesn’t count).
I thought, for a while that I may have overdone it. My New Year’s Day 10K and Ooredoo Marathon were super-hard and although I was happy with my performance I felt I could have done better Not stopping since, well, May last year sort of took its toll. But some much needed rest and a focus on increasing my strength and flexibility seems have been a positive move. I finally set a sub 50min 10K PB at the Doha Dash at the beginning of Feb and today’s race – well. Let’s get onto that shall we.
Aspire Aquathon Race: 500 meter swim & 5(ish)K run
Standing around an Olympic sized Swimming pool in just my togs and a rash vest is a little intimidating when surrounded by men and women of varying age, shape and fitness levels in Tri-Suits. But it was better than going topless – there were children watching after all. I had “trained” for the 10 lengths by swimming 20 in a 25 meter pool, once, and about a month earlier. Swimming pool access, well access to a decent sized swimming pool, is expensive in Doha. However, my one and only training swim had given me a benchmark. 15 minutes. 15 minutes of breaststroke. Thankfully, I saw slower swimmers being overtaken (simply) and even the occasional fellow breaststroker (is that the correct term?). What is the correct adjective for breaststroke? Although at the moment, this string seems to be just reasons to say breast. And when I say, I mean think. Or write. Or whatever.
Ok moving on.
So. My aim was 15 minutes, which would give me 30mins for transition and the 5K run. 45mins in total, a good benchmark. There were no obvious clocks for me to keep an eye on though, so my swim time went unknown.
Nearly had a costume malfunction when setting up. I forgot to put my trainers down. Luckily it only took me a few minutes to realise this. Good job I wasn’t in a rush. What I did learn in transition is:
a) wet rash-vests are really hard to take off quickly.
2) t-shirts are really hard to put on when one is a little bit damp
iii) Transitioning areas are very public.
Now I know why people like wearing tri-suits. I’ve never had to run 5K in my togs before. Maybe this is what added to my swiftness.
Running immediately after swimming HURTS!! Also, running while still damp – no – wet – no – dripping wet in mid-20 temperatures is a rather damp experience. However, despite my moderate discomfort, the day was very pleasant, the lap is straightforward (there are 2 laps) and I quite like running around the Torch/Dome/Sport City end of this complex. Again, I am watchless – it was just easier not to wear it. The course is roughly measured and not marked (for distance), I have no time references. I am running, well. Naked.
Naked of real-time technological feedback. As this is a race, it is a little distracting but it’s a short race so I just soldier on. Push forward, run as efficiently and quickly as I can. Do NOT WALK. The first 2.5K or so lap feels like it is taking an eternity, I think it is because my legs are tired, but soon I am turning left and heading for the start of the second lap. My legs ache, my shoulders ache (from Bootcamp on Wednesday), my core aches (from all the core work I have inflicted on it recently). But I am an endurance runner, a marathoner. I have less than 2K to go. Dig deep, breathe.
I don’t really pass anybody on my run, but then nobody passes me either. As I power along for the final few hundred meters another runner – a tri-athlete I suspect – says “good running”. He sits on my heels for the remainder of the distance, the will to sprint is strong but I just want a steady finish, a benchmark. I consider slowing to let him pass, I don’t like him back there, but then that impacts my time and I want to get as close to 45mins as possible. We cross the line together-ish.
The Cool Down
Water (Yes. Finally). Bag of snacks. Yummy. After a brief sit down I go retrieve my stuff. Still no idea how long I’ve taken. When I retrieve my bag, my watch reads 08:57.
Fuck! If I take into account my sit down and the time it took to get my deposit back on the timing chip…. I may have done a sub 45. Maybe 42mins, something like that!?? I need to get some official times.
Well. I am very pleasantly surprised. Total time (including transition) is 38mins. I have unwittingly hit my target time for April. Fuck! If I can improve my swimming, maybe learn to do 300 meters front crawl and if I can get a little more efficient in transition (maybe I need to buy a tri-suit) I can shave maybe 5 minutes off of that, easily. And if you compare my times to those around me. A few minutes could get me significantly higher in the final standings.
So. Looks like I will be aiming for a 30min effort on April 16th.
A Good Race!