Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Triathlon That Wasn't

I had intended to be able to post today about how I took part in and completed my first standard distance triathlon, in Henley on Thames. I was hoping to have some great insights to share about how a longer distance compared to the sprints I'd done before and to offer some inspirational nuggets. However, I'm able to do none of these things as I must own up to a Did Not Start or DNS as it's known.

So why didn't I take part? A few reasons. I'd come back from a week's relaxing holiday in Yorkshire on Friday so should have been well rested but I came over very dizzy and sleepy on Saturday for no apparent reason. I was horribly under prepared for the event, my training not having gone to plan and not having run much while I was away. There was walking a-plenty but nothing on the scale of what I normally do. I think there was a deal of apprehension too. I told myself that I'd covered each distance (1500m swim, 27.5km cycle, 7km run) individually so was capable, but cycling and swimming had fallen by the wayside for some weeks despite best intentions of getting to some Thames Valley Tri swim sessions, so those achievements were not recent.
A run route that proved hard to follow
Walks in Yorkshire are rewarded with fantastic views
After much discussion with myself and a third party I decided that it was ok to DNS on this occasion. Instead I still travelled to Henley on Sunday but with the purpose of joining my friend Patrick as he swam the 14.1km Bridge to Bridge event. The plan was that I would walk the route on the Thames Path while he swam and then meet at Marlow to travel back on the coach for food in Henley. So at 8:30am on Sunday morning I watched Patrick's wave of swimmers set off and I started a brisk walk along the Thames Path.
I felt like a character out of an Enid Blyton book in my shorts, t-shirt and walking boots, rucksack on my back containing a book, water, a large scone and some fruit. All that was missing was lashings of ginger beer, although I did have a half of ale later in the day. The Thames Path is extraordinarily pretty along this section of the river. There are a couple of places where it veers away from the bank across fields and deer paths but for the most part you are on the river bank. It's very well sign posted and easy to follow, plenty of places to pause, a few locks with facilities and dotted with dog walkers, runners and families on days out.

There were four checkpoints or food stations on the course for the swimmers, some where exit from the river to navigate a lock was necessary. Each looked incredibly well stocked and although I was tempted to stop I wanted the walk to be worthwhile so I didn't dally. I covered the distance in 2 hours 45 minutes and enjoyed a sit down with my book and an ice cream at the event village. A group of elderly ladies on an outing shared my bench and we shared a conversation about what was going on, me pointing out the first swimmers coming through and being very aware of how hot I'd gotten on the walk. Patrick finished his swim in good shape and we enjoyed some more lazing in the sun before wending our way back to Henley to find some food at the Angel on the river.
All in all it was a great day. I don't regret the DNS at all. I know for a fact I'd have hated it and it may well have put me off the discipline which would have been a shame, for the want of better training that I know I'm capable of. Instead I did some decent exercise within my means that was enjoyable and different. It felt like an adventure and certainly boosted my vitamin D levels! These things happen on occasion and the trick is to make the best of the situation.

Have you ever DNS'd? What was the reason and did you regret it?

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