Yesterday should have been my fourth Olympic distance triathlon of the year. Unfortunately I knew I wouldn’t be able to complete the cycling and running sections with my hip injury. One of the good things about Human Race events is that there are always a variety of different distances and disciplines going on at the same venue. They also had a swim only event taking place as part of the Diamond Triathlon so I was able to switch my entry to the 2km swim. It did mean an 8:10 start time as opposed to being in the 10:15 wave though! An early start towards Dorney Lake…
I feel like I’ve spent so much time at Eton Dorney this summer with all the events myself and Glen have been doing. It was great to be back at the Olympic venue for the final time of the season. It’s a gorgeous place to race and always a buzzing atmosphere.
As soon as I was in my wetsuit, it was time to head over for the briefing. The 4km and 3km swimmers were set off, then it was time for my wave, followed by the 1km swimmers shortly after. My toes were freezing on the cold floor and I hoped the water would be a little warmer! We were told it was 18.5 degrees in the lake, but I’m never sure how accurate these temperatures are as it definitely felt chilly.
As I began my swim, the first thing I noticed was how many weeds were beneath the water. Dorney Lake has really grown thick clumps of weeds since I last swam there in May. Apparently it is a sign of a healthy lake, but it did make it difficult to swim as I kept getting caught, tangled and scratched by the weeds. I could feel them wrapped around my arms and across my face and thought I’d emerge from the lake covered in green slime! I tried to imagine my arm was like a knife slicing through the weeds with each stroke and I wouldn’t let them steal my Garmin off my wrist (I have strange thoughts when I’m swimming)!
I thought of Tess who would be taking on her first novice distance triathlon later that afternoon and hoped the weeds wouldn’t make her panic. I know it can be a bit nerve-wracking to have something under the water when you are new to open-water swimming.
The swim was two 1km laps clearly marked with buoys. There were only around 30 people in my wave so there was plenty of space and not the usual ‘washing-machine’ effect of a mass triathlon start. I didn’t really get knocked or kicked like usual, and just settled into my rhythm. My hip felt fine throughout the swim, I tried to only kick gently and use my arms to pull myself along.
It’s so easy to sight in Dorney Lake- I swam alongside the row of small buoys and rarely needed to look ahead as they kept me straight on course. The sun was strong and reflecting off the water, I’ve still not invested in a pair of polarized goggles so I was a bit blinded at the turning point!
I aimed to complete the swim in 40-45 minutes, so when I received a text telling me I’d finished in 42:51 I was really pleased to be within my target. A good benchmark for my half-ironman next year! Unfortunately, there was no medal but we were given a Diamond Triathlon technical T-shirt.
Luckily I didn’t bring any weeds as souvenirs from the lake!
Glen was racing in the Olympic distance triathlon later that afternoon, so we spent most of the day at Eton Dorney. He had a fantastic race and knocked 3 minutes off his previous time, with a new course PB of 2:36:24. My parents and Glen’s parents joined us to spectate on what turned into a gorgeous sunny afternoon. I was caught off-guard without any suncream, so I have a very red face today!
Thanks to Human Race for the free entry and for another well organised event.
Have you ever raced at Eton Dorney?