Clinging onto a Kayak

Sometimes races go wrong. Unfortunately, it just happens. It’s a natural thing you have to accept, deal with and move on.

Picture this: me in the Royal Docks, holding on to an orange kayak with my right leg stretched out alongside the boat so that my body position much resembles that of a reclining sloth. My foot is in the hands of a very lovely volunteer who is gently trying to stretch it out as pain shoots through my calf. Behind me, all the people I spent the past hour overtaking swim the last 300m to the finish line whereas I can only hope that this cramp goes away as soon as all-hell possible.

Can you spot part of my face?

This is my main prevailing memory of the Great London Swim which I participated in on Saturday morning. I signed up for the 2-mile option long before the Half Iron triathlon came along, and after my swim performance in the tri wanted to give this a decent shot and try and finish in as close to an hour as possible. Of course, I failed to think about the lack of long-distance swim training I had done (3.2km is a lot further than 1.9km!), or to pace myself at farewell drinks for a colleague the night before…

On the whole my race went OK. I started off well and swam with a large pack of people, but then had to stop to adjust my goggles which had filled with water. Once I put them on properly, the pack had swum off and I was mostly alone for the next 2.6km. All was going fine until 2km when I realised just how long this swim was! After that I started getting little cramps in my left leg which I could shake off in a few strokes, but then got hit with the big monster only a few minutes from the end. Eventually I did finish, kicking mostly with only one leg, but came out of the water completely dead and walking like a zombie.

Candid post-race mess.

The event itself was well run: there was a changing area as well as bag drop facilities, we were allowed into the water 30min before the start of the wave to acclimatise to the water, and an overly-enthusiastic lady led a good warmup before we set off. At the finish, volunteers were very helpful with handing out goodie-bags, there were showers to rinse off and even free hot noodles! I definitely needed the food…

The Great London Swim for me was a reminder that yes, I can get through anything, but it’s probably going to be a lot more enjoyable if I actually put in the training beforehand!

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