Anyway the point is to arrive relaxed and confident, and finding a group of ready and willing Expatries set the mood perfectly. A large group of licensed men in black spandex armed with a hole punch is not usually my kind of thing on a Saturday morning, but in this case it was great to have help in getting organised and in getting excited for the start. We had an exceptionally large group lined up for the men’s licensed race, Nick, Sudeep, Cesar, Ionut, Bertrand, Adrian, Manuel, Duncan, Julien, Julio, Matthieu, Philippe, Paul, Mark and yours truly. We almost didn’t have Manuel but he arrived in the nick of time.
The start of the swim seemed to sneak up on me, after a delayed entry into the sulfurous dark liquid the hooter seemed to be in a hurry and we were off. Elbows, feet, water, a random hand on my face, a kick to the side, a game of twister, another arm on the shoulder, swallowed water, there was everything at the start and I would have rather swum a mile if only it were calm. So the idea at this stage is that my super mental strength should take over, calming my breathing and banishing panic. Well I was still try to calm myself down after the second turning buoy, so that didn’t work; it was just simply a long and painful swim. I climbed out of the water like a dizzy orangutan in fogged up goggles, and ran into a sneaky camouflaged small step and almost ate some of the lovely green carpeting. Could it get any worse?
It was at this stage, and it would not be the only time, that I heard the screaming of my name, and I knew it would be ok. The support was there! Hallelujah.
The transition was a mess, I forgot to get started on getting the wetsuit off on the run in, so it was way too slow. To my right Manuel had beaten me in the swim and to my left I had beaten Adrien. That didn’t count for much as Adrien left transition first, followed by me and then Manuel. How does that work? There is some practice to be had.
On the way out the dream support team were in full voice, thanks very much to Sarah, Kath, Rajah, Laetitia and Ed for the support and epic photos!
The cycle was flat and fast with many hairy moments when bunched up and approaching the turns. I was caught by Philippe riding the crest of an aerodynamic wave in a great bunch and I did my best to stick with them and the giant man in a bright pink tri-suit. The pace was good especially coming back and the legs had a chance to lighten a little. I heard Nick coming the other way and saw a few others en route. It was great to see the team shouting each other on. I was vaguely aware of people being treated on the side of the road by the medics, but had no idea it would be Duncan who had a big crash and a rather lucky escape. Before I knew it we were honing in on the blue arrows of the end of the cycle leg. Besides a botched dismount it was good to get running and the second transition was better than the first.
So after a weird loop around the bike park the real running began, I knew I had Manuel behind me and that it would not take long for him to fly past my like I was standing still. Sure enough, it happened. But with a long way to go I managed to extract more than I thought I had left in the tank and was happy to stretch out of the last few turns, enjoy the encouragement, and finish well. Before regaining the ability to speak I waddled into a barrage of high-fives and well-dones, what a pleasure it is being part of the best team there on the day.
So what time did I have? A great time, thanks for asking. The picnic, the company and the warm sunshine was cherry on the cake of a great day out with the Expatries. Thanks to all involved.