In the picture: the start
Over. I survived my first race of Aquathlon in Dubai.
Till the last available day for registration, I was undecided whether to subscribe to the Lifeguard category (800 meters swimming + 5 km race) or the Sprint one (400 swimming + 2 km race): not having in mind the right parameters of my resistance when swimming, I was thinking about the running distance. Usually when I go out for a run, during my daily training, I run at least 10 km. Although in the end I was cautious and I took part into the sprint race, the first thought after crossing the finish line was … “Never again” and then immediately corrected to “One more maybe, yes, but not very soon”. But I finished, and this is definitely the main thing.
Being a marathon runner who looks at the triathlon, I took the opportunity of this race of Aquathlon in Dubai, to start being confident with transitions from one sport to the other, and to test the tri-suit I bought during a race. Just a training for me, I said from the beginning, but the tension is always there, especially for not knowing exactly what is waiting for you.
A fast start, from the first row, and in line with the first when entering into the water, and after 50 meters, even before getting to the first buoy, I was collapsing. It seemed to be during my first half-marathon, in Milan, when I started just behind the professionals: 3 km in the first group of people, and the remaining 18 km recovering shortness of breath and wooden legs.. I intended to finish in 1h:20′-1h’:30 ‘and instead I finished in 1h: 45’. Lesson learned.
After passing the first buoy, I went to swim breaststroke to recover, and I had to swim in such a style, till the end, often keeping my head out of the water to recover my breath. I was close to give up, but I tried to keep hard. Seeing some people withdrawing, and some other participants behind me gave me a little bit of courage, enough to point to the second buoy (the longest distance of the swim, going parallel to the beach); also there in a couple of moments I was close to give up, and I turned my head to see if I was the last. I was not. Why to check one’s position? Difficult to answer. Pride, probably only pride, but that’s okay: when you have to keep hard and go on, you can appeal to everything needed.
Passing – with fatigue – even the second buoy, still having some of the participants behind me, I started thinking “now it comes the run, my strong point, where I can overcome some participants”. A few more strokes.. and I can feel the sand under my feet, I start walking until out of the water, ready to go for the 2 km. A joke for me: I use to run long distances, 10 km with 40°C at noon…. I get out of the water, throwing the goggles to my partner, who is following me from the beach…
Ready to run fast and overcome positions… but “fast” is a dream, cause my legs seem to be made of stone. Even a 2km run, after 400 meter swim, is more difficult than expected, but now it is only a matter of time to get to the finish line, the hard part passed away. So I start running very slowly, as at the end of a marathon, till the first check point (after 500 meters); two sips of water from a bottle passed by the staff and the rest poured on my legs made me feel better, I started running a little bit fast and actually recovering some positions. But beyond the positions, I found my pace. And I finally heard the “beep” meaning the end of the race: I passed under the finish line.
Finishing (without injuring yourself) is the most important result, especially when you compete not to win but to stay well and when you are used to the endurance races. But in any case to finish in last positions left a bitter taste in my mouth, and it was necessary to analyze what went wrong, to improve performance in the next race.
I have to say, if everything during my last marathon was perfectly calibrated: training, feeding before and during the race, recovery time, etc … here everything went wrong .. breakfast too heavy for a sprint race or too late (and shortly after getting into the water I had to deal with my stomach muttering). The taxi driver not able to find the location of the race, threatening to make me lose the race, drove me mad. Being late I was not able to warm up properly. But the main problem was the swim, as already foresaw: few training. 400 meters into the sea should not be underestimated, especially when swimming against the current. The training of a lifeguard, often involves short distances at the maximum speed, while 400 meters in a row already represents a distance that puts a strain on the resistance in the water. When I passed my exam as lifeguard, I had to swim 750 meters in a row, but in the pool it’s another story. My main target now, in addition to improve my resistance in the water, is finding my swimming “pace”: starting slow and then increasing my speed till a comfortable “cruise-speed”.
Next target-race: 5th Ignite Aquathlon Dubai powered by Kellogg’s, category Lifeguard …