Sunday, 16/3/14, a day after the English Schools Cross Country final, beside the Castle Donnington Racetrack and under the take off flight path of East Midlands Airport, I packed and set off for my first multi-event of the year.
I was excited and nervous, not really knowing what the race would be like, or how I would put together the 400m swim and the 3km run. I arrived with my Dad and joined the big queue for registration at 9am, where I got my number (137) and wrote it on my arm in the permanent ink pen.
We went into the pool area to watch the youth section swim and there we were able to see the layout for transition. Seeing someone having their t-shirt stuck on their back, and another struggling with shoes gave me some ideas about how to approach this discipline. I followed the runners out to see the route and the circuit, and felt I had a good idea of what was needed, but still I didn’t know who I was racing against, and what the competition would be like. I felt a little conscious that I was the only person in a swimming costume and not a tri-suit.
My wave was due to swim at 10.40. I adjusted my number belt and discussed some options for transition with my Dad before going down to get changed. The first hitch came when my locker took my £1 and wouldn’t close, so my dad had to come down to take my bag. Suddenly it was time, and the marshal called us together and gave me my lane number, also explaining that instead of running 3 laps, the race was now 4 laps.
We all walkedout to the pool, and my area was at the poolside, at the end of my lane. I laid out my towel, opened my shoes, put my number belt face down and ready, and then rolled my t-shirt inside out so I could put it on like a scarf. The final item was the plastic bag with my number on, for the marshal to collect my things once I left transition. Just time for a couple of half lengths to warm up, and then under starters orders.
Starting with the swim, I was in the third and final wave of swimmers for my age group (tri star 3) . I set off at a steady pace, trying to pace myself, and noticed the other swimmers pulling away. My pace was a little slower than I expected and eventually after 400m I got out of the pool in 6:18 and almost last!
My transition went smoothly taking me 18 seconds to put my shoes on and set off running while putting a top and number belt on. I set off on the 3000m run and I was already beginning to catch people. The race had been changed to a 4 lap race of the Leigh sports village from a 3 lap race. By the 3rd lap I had taken the lead, but as I came in from my 4th lap the marshal had missed me go by on a previous lap so he sent me on another lap! I knew that I had run well, and had felt very good, and was pleased that I had won, but also felt very disappointed that the error would cost me the win. Fortunately all the parents had seen that I should have come in to finish in first place so when the results came out, it was amended and I was put in as the winner.
I enjoyed the race, and especially loved the run, feeling stronger each lap. The learning was important, and has given me a lot of confidence going into the next race. I know how to wear a race belt, will concentrate on the running course and laps, and have been well and truly bloodied as running in bare feet left me with a shoe full of blood from a blister. (Blythe Fourie)