The Duck race consists of a 400 m swim at Letchworth Outdoor Pool (which is a 50 m pool) and a 6 km run around Norton Common. I usually swim 400 m in 10 minutes, in a 25 m indoor pool, with plenty of breaks at each end. So 50 m stretches at a time are daunting. The pool is beautiful though.
Up until Saturday evening I was not racing, for several reasons: lack of training, slight neck injury from a running fall on Friday, sore shoulders from pitching a tent on Friday, need for new swim costume, hormones, weather. Etc. with the exception of the sore shoulders and neck, and scant training, all other factors were resolved by Saturday, so I decided I might as well take part for fun rather than try to beat last year's time.
My son (C) was also taking part this year, as a Duckling: 100 m swim and a 1 km run. He was camping with his dad a few miles up the road (at Dad Camp), so me and my mate drove to collect him and his friend at 7:30am. It was a bit early, and they both looked so tired, but C was ready to go. His first proper race!
We arrived and registered, had our numbers written on our right arm and leg, and were given a chip to strap around our ankle. Then we had half an hour or so to set ourselves up in transition, running shoes, top with number pinned on, towel for drying feet. I showed C where he would be swimming and running. The lovely Simon from Freedom Tri showed us the course so C wasn't worried about where to go.
It was then a matter of hanging around until the start. We listened to the race briefing, then C and his friend were taken off by a Freedom Tri member for another briefing and warm up. My friend Ed's boy F was also swimming, and he set off first and coped well with that honour! C was number 20, and he did brilliantly on the swim. The first length he swam front crawl, then the second was breast stroke. He'd told me before the start that he might change stroke after the first length if he was tired: I was glad he had a plan. :) He looked very strong on his run, unfortunately I couldn't watch that part, but my husband said he looked great, and wasn't out of breath at the end. He needs training to know how to pace himself. Overall time 9:58.
My own swim was OK, I felt tired almost immediately though, my arms were screaming at me. I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish, but then I decided that was silly and told myself to just get on with it and it'd be over soon. I got a mouthful of water towards the end of the first length when I got penned in by a slow swimmer in front and at the side of me, and I had to stand up in the shallow end at the start of length 3 when a woman stopped in front of me and I thought she was in trouble. She said she was OK but I think she was a bit upset at all the people around her. I carried on without any further drama. My mate said I looked confident during my swim, and my husband described it as "consistent: not stylish, but I didn't set off too fast and then flounder". I'll take that as a compliment.
The transition was a bit rubbish again. I couldn't get my top on, or my socks. I could hear my mate's husband heckling me about stopping for a cup of tea. Anyway, the swim and transition were 11:39, exactly the same as last year!
I felt OK on the run this year. I was very wobbly last time but I didn't fly off and took it steady. Thanks to MC Jacko for the amusing heckling as I set off, about how I'd already been beaten by my son, and how much I was enjoying myself: made me laugh. The first lap probably could've been faster, and the second lap definitely could've been. Yet more heckling from Simon, taunting me about Lewis, who was fast approaching me to overtake (I was more surprised he'd not passed me sooner). I also paused briefly to hand my water bottle to a Drake runner who said she needed water. Overall finish time was 42:13, about 30 seconds slower than last year, but the run was much more enjoyable. And Lewis only beat me by a minute or so, not too shameful :)
Not sure I'll do this race again next year. Think twice is enough! EDIT: I was 5th female to finish the Duck event, and since the lady who came 3rd had an equivalent time to mine last year, I'm kicking myself for not trying too hard! So perhaps I will have a third go at this race.