Social activities for people with sight loss, in the Brighton and Hove Area
Argus Charity of the year 2008
THE LONDON TRIATHLON
Saturday 9th August 2008
The day was here and I was both nervous and excited. Juliette and I had completed much training in the pool including an open water swim. I knew that I could swim the distance but to do 1500 meters in open water to be honest scared me. Jim and I had practiced on the tandem and had covered the distance of 40 KM in training. The running element of course was very familiar to Juliette and myself.
Juliette, Jim, Chris and myself arrived at the eXcel Centre a little after 11 am. As soon as we got there it began to rain. Our Race would begin at 1 pm. The first thing we had to do was to register and place the bike in the Transition area. We did this and then went to the VI-PER marquee in order to meet the other team members. As the time got on I felt more nervous but thanks to all the advice I had been given I managed to keep calm.
(It was the swimming that I was most nervous about as it would be in open water. I was thankful that Juliette and myself had taken part in an open water swim the week before with Chris. In that swim I found out that I easily became disorientated when in the water. This was probably due to the fact that there was more movement of the water in the lake then in a swimming pool and I was constantly out of my depth with no side in easy reach. Also, because I am unable to see I could not focus on any point to tell my brain that I was not moving as much as it felt. We found a solution to this. I placed a hand on Juliette's arm which told me that despite the sensation of my spinning around I was actually treading water in pretty much one position. Juliette also gave me reassurance and a description of where we were in relation to other things.)
With the experience of that swim in the lake, I decided that the best solution was just to keep swimming so that I did not become dizzy which seemed to occur when treading water.
We got our wetsuits on and headed for the dock. We slowly entered the water and then had to swim to the start line where we trod water. I constantly stayed in contact with Juliette so that I did not become disorientated. The pistol went and we were off. I got straight into front crawl and was surprised how comfortable it felt. Juliette and I were connected by waist-bands and a length of elastic. This was a well tested way of preventing me from drifting off to who knows where. At times I could feel people around us but I kept on swimming. On two or three occasions I stopped swimming to check with Juliette how things were going. The trouble with swimming is that your ears get full of water and so I was not really able to hear Juliette clearly unless I stopped. The water tasted slightly salty but I did not drink too much of it thankfully. On going around the markers Juliette would indicate the turn to me by pulling on the elastic between us. It worked very well. We passed the finish line for the swim and headed for the side. This is when I had to do a bit of treading water. I became very dizzy and this made it very difficult getting out of the water. It was as if I had drunk far too much beer.
We then ran to the transition area where Jim was waiting for me with the tandem. I got ready and we pushed the bike to the start line. I was so elated with my swim that I was very relaxed now.
Off we went. The conditions outside were grim, rain, wind and plenty of surface water. It would be four laps for us and the first lap we used as a test. The route had some very tight turns so this meant that we had to slow up quite a bit with the tandem. After the first lap we felt that we should pick up the speed a bit. On the way around the course, we saw someone with a puncture and someone who had come off their bike. It was a great feeling when we hit the straighter parts of the course as we really picked up the speed. The support from the spectators was strong and this makes all the difference. After the last lap we headed back into the transition area to meet with Juliette for the run. I quickly had some energy gel and Juliette and I were off. Jim was going to finish at that point but there was a relay going on and he was asked if he would finish it with the run. This was quite handy for us as Jim went ahead and helped to clear the way by calling blind runner coming through. He changed this later to blind triathlete coming through. It took a little time for my legs to stretch out but the part of my body that felt worse was my backside. We will have to do something about those saddles as Jim was suffering in the same way. The run was four laps of 2,5 KM. Juliette had quite a task guiding me around a course which meandered quite a lot with some tight turns. Our pace for the last three laps was consistent. Juliette kept me informed on the distances left until the finish line. When we got to the last 400 meters we picked up the pace. We passed the finish line strongly. As soon as we finished I was interviewed by a television reporter. I believe that Jim and Juliette disappeared out of the view of the camera. I had to face this bit alone but I was so euphoric that I did not mind.
This day was a day that I will never forget. Our overall time was around 3 hours 3 minutes. We were congratulated by Chris and other friends along with members of the VI-PER team. I am so very grateful to Juliette, Jim, Chris and the members of VI-PER. I am also very grateful for all the support that my friends have given me and for their sponsorship. Thank You All.