Sunday, 1 September 2013

Duck N Dash 2013

Today I competed in Freedom Tri's Duck N Dash aquathlon. It was my first ever multi-event race, and I learnt a lot!

Post registration! A good look for Saturday evening

I walked the 2.5 miles from Stotfold to Letchworth as a warm-up, arriving at the outdoor pool at 8am to set up my transition area. Here, I set out my towel, run shorts and race top with number pinned on, my trainers and socks (full of baby powder!), and my drink. I'd registered the day before, so also had my race number written on my arm and leg. My timing chip was attached to my ankle with a strap, to be worn for the whole event.

Here I encountered my first problem. I'd walked to Letchworth in my running gear, which I'd just removed for transition. I should've brought warm clothes to wear while waiting! Fortunately I had my fleece and spare clothes for afterwards, so I wore those. Next time (!) I'll need a tracksuit and some spare socks and shoes. 

My transition area

While waiting for transition to close and the race briefing to start, I wandered around the pool area, trying to find someone I knew. At running events I usually see a lot of people I recognise, here I didn't spot many at all! Finally found my friend Jane, whose son was competing in the Ducklings section, and Ed and Elinor from run club, whose daughter was also taking part. Latched onto them for a while until I spotted my friend Sarah who was doing the event as a relay with her husband. It was good to chat about what we were about to do, made me feel less anxious!

After the race briefing, I got changed out of my warm clothes (kept the fleece on), and then met my family, who'd just arrived to support. We found a spot to watch the Duckling swimming event and enjoyed that, then it was my turn. 

We had another mini briefing, including how to swim the course and about overtaking, then we lined up in number order. I was 145, about in the middle of the group. Swimmers set off every 10 seconds. I dumped my fleece in the "Duck" bucket, then the next thing I knew, I was in the water and swimming. Felt very comfortable (surprisingly!). I think it was the reassuring sight of someone's feet just ahead of me. Felt someone touch my toes, so at the end of the lane I let him pass me. Same again on the next 50m, but after that it was me doing the overtaking. Had a "can't breath" moment about 200m in, slight panic as I inhaled water for three consecutive breaths, but soon recovered. There was a bit of a melee on one 50m stretch, lots of overtaking and slow swimmers, but just stood my ground (water?) and I was fine. 

Before I knew it I was out of the pool and running to my transition area. As usual, I stopped for a chat with my neighbour ("can't believe we just did that!") and struggled putting my shoes on (should've bought those bungee laces). Not a disaster, but not as fast as it could've been. 

Thanks to Freedom Tri for the photo

Initially, the run started OK, was good to see Ed supporting too! I had put a gel in my pocket earlier, so I had that as I started. Legs went to jelly a bit on the first 0.5K but I know the run course really well, so knew it was just a tough path rather than me. Overtook and was overtaken, but mainly didn't lose places. Spotted my family at the end of the first lap, son shouted "boo mummy you're rubbish", he's obviously learnt that from his dad ;-) On the second lap I could sense a lady behind me breathing heavily but getting a lot of support from the marshals. Obviously a club runner. I kept her behind me, every time I heard her get closer I sped up. She helped keep me focused on that second lap. As we approached the finish she began to pass me, and I let her for a few metres, then my sprint finish kicked in. I'm so proud of that finish! I wish more people had seen it (modest?). 

I did thank her at the end for pushing me, and she said I'd kept her going too. Excellent! Overall time was 41:37. Swim and transition took me 11:39 and the run was 29:59. Pleased with the run time (average 8 min/mile pace), swim was probably about 9:30 leaving a good 2 mins in transition. Told you it felt slow!

Big thanks to the Freedom Tri members today, they were really helpful when I had seemingly stupid questions to ask ("do I really wear my timing chip in the pool?!"), were great during the pre-swim briefing, and were obviously enjoying the event. It's a big race to organise, with the two events to marshal and lots of different groups: Ducklings (children's groups), Ducks (400m swim), Drakes (600m swim), and the relay. I think they did a great job. I was impressed at the number of children competing, and how carefully those events were monitored. 

Thanks also to Becca and Jane who gave me lots of advice, and Kieran (my physio) who is the reason I entered. 

I "might" consider possibly doing this again next year. Might. 


  1. Well done. You own a bike dont you? Triathlon next . . . I might even learn to swim too!! Lol

    1. Shush now Damian. There will be no triathlons.