3525m of open water swimming over 5 sections, 18.23km of running over paths, trails, tracks, mud and marsh in 4 sections, 2 people, 2 hand paddles, some nutrition (not enough), 1 pull buoy tied to my leg and a lot of adrenaline – oh and did I mention ALL the rain! This was going to be a fun day!
Working with CLIF Bar inspired this little adventure (see the last blog: http://www.jetstri.co.uk/feed-your-adventure/) and so here we are, Hartree JETS Alumni Joe Tomaney and I find ourselves standing on the shores of Lake Windermere in the UK’s Lake District about to start our first SwimRun event. Ill advised to even give it a shot? Maybe. Ill prepared? Definitely! Ill? That depends on how much of Windermere were drink en-route (it turn’s out, quite a lot!).
There’s aerobics for a warm-up and then rather than a ‘START!’ there’s more a decision that the event should proceed. When you’re used to triathlon starts which are akin to diving through the door of your washing machine when it’s on a spin-cycle, this was all very calm and people wandered towards the waters edge giving each other encouragement. This was all far too polite, so in a desperate attempt to feel some sense of familiarity, I decided to swim over someone who had placed themselves unwittingly between me and Joe. SwimRuns have a strict rule that you must be within 10m of your partner at all times, I could blame this for my overly aggressive swim start, but actually, maybe I just need to feel some sense of normality on this day of firsts!
I’ve never worn a SwimRun wetsuit before (you get very clammy thighs), I’ve never run with a pull buoy tethered to my leg (it slips down and cuts the back of your knee which is fine until three days later when you are forced to keep your leg straight at all times), never swum after running at all let alone one 5km then another 10km section (it turns out that it’s like someone has injected your muscles with cement and then thrown you into a vat of treacle), never done an endurance event as a team (it’s much more fun!), never swum in my shoes (hence pull buoy), never swim 3.5km with hand paddles (I’m currently trying to sell my lat muscles on eBay – condition, ‘will never be the same again’!) and never peed while running (ok, ok, I have!).
But do you know what? Despite being less well prepared than any sporting event I’ve done in a decade and having done no specific training what-so-ever, it would be difficult to see how we could have had a more enjoyable race-day experience. Windermere is clean, clear and beautiful to swim in, the feeling of speeding through the rolling trails around the lake is some kind of natural drug, the camaraderie of all the competitors was such a boost, doing something as a team enhanced the whole thing through the shared experience of this adventurous day, the deluge of rain made it feel more epic and the feeling of euphoria when crossing the line was unlike anything I’ve experienced before (that is before realised I couldn’t focus anymore and needed to lie down, before I fell down!).
What’s more, on this day of firsts, we finished first in our first and indeed the first Great SwimRun event in the UK. What a splendid way to cap off the day.
The point of all this is that new things are great. I’m 35 in a couple of months and the world would have me believe that it’s high time I stopped all this sport stuff, slowed down and grew up. Well, based on our great SwimRun adventure, I say no to that and yes to more firsts and more adventures.
You should too!
Thanks To CLIF Bar and the Hartree JETS for inspiring the adventure #feedyouradventure