Today I competed in my first aquathlon, in the tiny island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands. I hadn’t done much specific training for it, as it was a 2.5km run along a flat avenue, a 1km swim in the sea and another 2.5km run along the avenue. I had been out for a few quick runs a few weeks before the race to work on my pace and swam twice in the sea. This week I was a bit lazy when it came to training as my Mum and sister were here in La Palma with me on holiday, we went out for meals in the evening and I generally couldn’t be bothered to train too much, preferring to spend time with them.
I collected my number and had a man write my number on my leg and arm (which by the way still hasn’t come off my leg completely) and went to warm up with a couple of my friends who were also taking part. We watched some of the little ones do their race, running along the beach and swimming a little in the sea – they were so cute!
When it was our time to run, I went to put on my two swimming caps as the green one was sure to come off and with the volume of my hair, I needed a proper latex one underneath too. My plan was to run in my swimming caps to save time at the switchover between the run and the swim. But one of the organisers told me that I wasn’t allowed to run in a cap, I asked why and she didn’t give me a proper reason, she just kept repeating that I couldn’t run in them. So I ran in my fast skin from my competitive swimming days and my Aldake tshirt.
In the first running section I took it easy as I thought the whole race would take about an hour and I wanted to save my legs for the second run after the swim. Everybody else seemed to go speeding off to the end of the avenue but I kept a steady pace and my split was 12 minutes. It was funny as the organisers hadn’t cordoned off any of the avenue so there were some grandparents, dog walkers and even a group of tourists on bikes to run around.
I ran into the water for my swim and the first thing that hit me was a huge wave. The water wasn’t cold, but it was hard to see anything except from different shades of blue. We had to swim around three different buoys in the circuit and sometimes when I lifted up my head to see where the next one was I couldn’t see it. I followed the green caps of my racemates and managed to overtake many of the men. Ego boost! When I was getting out of the water to carry on running a big wave took me to the beach, but also managed to throw me on the floor. I landed on my shoulder (ouch!), but got up quickly and carried on to finish the final running section. My split for the swim was 17 minutes which I was not expecting at all!
I wanted to take it easy to avoid getting cramp and I was really happy with the environment between competitors, all of them saying ánimo (come on, keep going) to each other as they ran the four laps of the avenue. On my fourth lap, when I wanted to run faster, I got a stitch and found it hard to carry on, but I was so close to the finish line now I had no desire at all to give up. I arrived to the finishing section, took my English flag from my Mum and ran with it to the finish line where I was met by some of my friends from my training team, with hugs and handshakes.
When I realised that I had finished in first place in the women’s category I was really happy. The race had gone amazingly, I had a really good time and being able to go home with a trophy was just the icing on the cake.