by Chris Brook
So 3am the sense of doom - why am I doing this ? I need some sleep !! Sleep is over rated I tell myself and up I get to force feed myself some porridge. Everything laid out ready the night before and checked another 20 times just in case I've forgotten something when I know full well it's all there.
We leave the room at 4 am and pack the car up for a short drive in the dark to the field where all competitors were now slowly arriving and we head over to T1 to rack bikes and lay out our kit and re check again probably another 20 times. I visualise where my bike is from the 'Swim Exit' - nothing more can be done. Oh dear though - just one small problem !! No one can actually see the lake due to the lingering fog which meant understandably for the Health and Safety of the athletes the race start was delayed 30 minutes - no hang on another 30 minutes and oh dear another 30 minutes - 90 minutes later the first wave get going and I still have yet another hour to wait as I was in the last wave.
Finally, I get started and apart from the usual fist fighting at the start of the swim it went pretty well, although still the odd thumps and kicking when negotiating the turn points. I get pulled out of the swim by the very enthusiastic volunteers and look at my watch - wahoo another PB swim (all down to Coach Dom Roe and those Friday night swim/beasting sessions !!) I have a great transition (another PB) and off I tootle on my bike. From here this is where it starts to get slightly tricky now. The roads are now full of traffic due to the late swim start and although very well marshalled and police stopping traffic at the major roundabout it meant a lot of stopping and starting until I got to the quieter sections and now it's breezy (not headwind type breeze) but enough to make you have to work a little bit harder. Two laps later and I'm back in transition and another good one by my standards (I normally spend way too much time tidying up my little area ) I hit the run course and boom the sun decides to break through - now my biggest nightmare !! I'd been hoping to pull back some time but instead I was getting slower and after the first lap I was now in pieces due to the heat. I see Nigel and duck under the tape - I'm done, can't breathe properly but am amazed how kind people were and after what seemed like forever I tip water over myself and make the decision that I've come this far and if I have to crawl I'll finish this race - not thinking properly I set off walking and doing the 'shuffle of shame' - but I'm quite glad when I see lots of competitors also shuffling. Second lap I see Nigel and then as bad as it seemed there was no option but to finish - I was an expert in shuffling now !! The sun was incredibly hot in places so that was a walk/shuffle. Last lap and again Nigel is there and I see the worried look but I'm ok I tell him the last lap and I can do this. One mile left to go and I've never felt so relieved I even managed to get a fast shuffle in to overtake a few women (well they may be in my category I think to myself). At last the finish and I stagger down the carpet !! Never again I tell myself. Never again Nigel tells me..... now where do I sign for next year !!