Dressed in rubber, writhing around with strangers is how I now spend my Tuesday evenings these days.
The Aquathlon held at Lee Valley White Water Centre was the last in a series of monthly events held over the summer. I’d missed the races in May to August, so I was keen to get involved in the September Aquathlon before the open-water swimming season finishes.
The Centre is only a 20 minute drive from my office so I arrived early for a wander around the Olympic venue.
The 500m swim consisted of two triangular laps of the lake in the White Water Centre. It was a beautiful evening for a swim, the lake was calm and clear with a temperature of 19.5 degrees. The water was fairly shallow- I was able to see the gravelled bottom of the lake throughout my swim- no weeds or green slime in this lake!
There were just over 50 people in my wave, we were given red swimming caps and entered the water to acclimatise for 5 minutes. The swim start was quite crowded with rubber-clad bodies fighting for space in the water as we were given the starting signal. I felt that my swim went fairly well, I received a few kicks and elbows in the ribs, but soon the pack thinned out and I found some space around me.
Climbing out of the lake, I hit my knee on the concrete steps and felt a little unsteady as I got my ‘land legs’ back!
The transition area was filled with grunts and groans, as the athletes struggled out of their wetsuits- they are not easy to get off quickly, no matter how much baby oil you use!
The 5.5km run took us on a loop of the River Lee Country Park- I’ve always loved running alongside the river- a lot of my half-marathon training earlier in the year took place at Lee Valley so I’m quite familiar with the area.
The sun-setting over the canal tow-paths made for a beautiful evening run. I felt good once I had settled into the run, despite squelching wet trainers! My shoes still had sand inside from my triathlon two days before, I could feel it really rubbing my right foot. The 5.5km run did feel incredibly long, without my GPS watch I had no idea of distance or pace, so I just focused on enjoying the scenic route.
The bridge back into the centre came back into sight and I went for a sprint back to the lake. Crossing the finish line, I took off my shoes to examine my foot and found it covered in blood- maybe socks will be needed at my next triathlon!
The Lee Valley Aquathlon was one of my favourite events of the year, it is fantastic being able to race at one of the Olympic venues where Team GB won Gold and Silver in 2012. The race was well organised and ran like clockwork with great marshalling and an efficient race briefing. The centre even hires out wetsuits for the Aquathlon (although non-triathlon specific).
Our finishing times were available as soon as the last person crossed the finishing line- I had come 13th female out of 18 which isn’t too bad! My times were:
500m swim including transition: 12:42
5.5km run: 31:21
I’m looking forward to the next series of Aquathlons in 2015 to hopefully better my time. I’d also like to experience what else the Lee Valley White Water Centre has to offer- the white-water rafting looks amazing!