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Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon

Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon

Wednesday evening found me looking at the BBC weather forecast for Sunday, trying to decide whether to do the Castle Coombe Chilly Duathlon as a season opener. The weather looked cold, dry, and windy, but no rain was forecast in the meantime so that was good. Then I checked the list of entries to date, and there was the name of the guy who beat me by 6 seconds on my first race, and whom I beat by 2 seconds last time. Decision made - I had to race and beat him properly. 

Now I have nothing against the chap - I barely know him - but I needed to get my season off to a good start, and beating a "rival" seemed like a good idea. There were a couple of minor flaws in my plan, including the fact I had not prepared specifically for the race, the bike was still on the turbo trainer, I hadn't practiced transitions since September, on-line entries were closed, the race is four days away and I am not at home for three of them. Minor details. 

Saturday comes and I decided I had better get the bike ready and do a quick run. The bike prep was fairly simple, and I even managed to change the tyre without puncturing the inner tube (a rare success). My run however had felt a bit slow and sluggish recently so off I went to put in a quick couple of miles to prove I still had it. A short while later (and a new mile PB to give me hope) I felt ready - I had even managed to come up with the innovation of using elastic bands to stop the icy cold wind whistling up my non elasticated sleeves. Genius 

Sunday morning comes with a civilised 10:30am registration. Bike racked, multiple pit stops (too much hydration), race briefing, say hello to the rival, and it's off to the start line. Off goes the gun, and unlike last year I set off at my pace - not that of the racing snakes near the front. Halfway through the first lap the girl next to me started beeping and confirmed that we had reached one mile in a respectable 7:10. My rival had dropped back at the 1km mark so I knew all was going well. 

Into T1 at 14:25 and what followed can only be described as a case study in why you should practice your transition - I did not and 1:25 later I finally emerged on my bike, Doh. 

Five laps of Castle Coombe racetrack follow without incident, but I was now frozen due to the 0 deg 13mph wind. Into the final straight heading towards T2 and I managed to get my feet on top of my shoes for a fast exit off the bike - that at least worked and we quickly rack the bike and get the trainers back on. It rapidly became apparent that I need to do more bike-run transitions as "gazelle" was the antithesis of my running style at that point. 

My wife was by the T2 exit and I shouted a query about my rival - "he's right behind you, cane it" she yells - off I went like a startled sloth. My wife's yell started to haunt me and I got my legs going a bit faster. 

I noticed a few runners a couple of hundred yards ahead of me, and having ignored the two runners zipping past, I realised that I was actually catching them. At the 1.5mile mark I caught them, and at a useful hairpin on the run course I looked back to see where my rival was. He was nowhere to be seen and my wife was confirmed as being a lying toe-rag who should not be trusted for race advice. 

The final half mile passed without drama and a quick sprint took me to the finish line. 

Negative split on Run 2 v Run 1, all bike laps within 3 seconds of each other, 87th overall compared to 164th last year, a new PB of 58:25 for the race, and more importantly I beat my rival by 6 minutes (!!!). Happy, happy days. 

My wife pleaded guilty to perverting the course of injustice, and was sentenced to an afternoon of repeated second by second analysis of the race without chance of parole.

 

Andrew Lennox

 

Cold Water Swimming Championships

Cold Water Swimming Championships

As one of the original team from Toting Bec's South London Swimming Club who put the Cold Water Swimming Championship's on the map in 2007, this event is an absolute must for me.  I swam every Sunday through the winters of 2002, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in the Lido and still miss that great comradely and "sensation" when racing there.  Feeling the water's temperature fall slowly from October to February is as much nerve racking as it is exhilarating, but the times when it fell as low as 1 degree Centigrade are few and far between.  Sadly I never got the chance to break the ice to swim at the Lido.

So when I jumped into the 1 degree water for my first race, I was genuinely shocked.....not just because I am not acclimatised like I used to be, but I was also entering unknown cold territory.  I screamed with cold, my body tensed up......then the beeper started and the race (30m freestyle) had begun.  With my arms pumping and legs doing a 6-beat kick, I was on my way.  The water ahead had amazing clarity, I could see no one close to me.  I had won but there was no time for hanging around.  In one fluid motion I touched the wall and leapt out of the pool.  My body felt like a stone standing on the side for 2 seconds before the blood starting returning to my body, and that incredible feeling started.  The buzz is pretty post-coital in nature.

And this is the reason why cold water swimming is so addictive.  Yes, I am a fully paid up member of the Nutter Club (along with lots of you reading this article) but a few of us get our kicks from freezing waters.  The beer tent, hog roast, hot tubs, sauna and comradely all add to the experience.  Oh, and reaching two finals (freestyle and "head-up" breaststroke) also help.  What started in 2011 with five members of the Tri and Swimming Clubs going up to London has turned into 10.  Tim Fraser from the swimming club scooped a gold and silver.  Our two relay teams acquitted themselves well and we all had a superb day.   Next time we might have to break the ice.........here's hoping!

Matt Record

 

"From outside looking in you cant understand it -from the inside looking out you cant explain it."

It is said that with cold water plunges the non-initiated can only stare and ask "why?" Well that's not really true I also was asking myself that in the run up to the Cold water championships. I was looking for any excuse to pull out but as I was not only entered for the freestyle I also had the joy of the relays so there was no way I could let my team mates down. With gritted teeth and grim determination I accepted that it was inevitable and actually started to look forward to it.

Ok that's a lie, the first time I did this event in 2011 I looked forward to it as I did not know what to expect, this time I knew exactly what was coming. The water temperature was somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 degrees depending on where it was measured the distance was a width of the Tooting Bec lido (32-35m) in just speedos goggles and a hat.

The journey there was good fun I travelled with Matt and Jamie (we were also in the same relay team)  we were also accompanied by some of the Marlins. We managed to stay off the hip flasks until nearly all the swimming was over, unfortunately Matt downed my hot mulled wine after one swim final while he was waiting for the next, I say unfortunately as he thought it was hot Ribena until he finished his gulp and then coughing spasam.

The rules state that you have to all drop into the water hold onto the edge with shoulders under the water and wait for the count down this felt like 5 mins but in reality 5 -10 sec's then off. There were some quality swimmers there who I think had the advantage of not spending so long in the water. 600 individual swims so it was quite a large meeting with some of the most eccentric people you will ever meet.

Anyway a great day with some bone chilling painful swims, would I do it again... Of course cant wait until 2014.

Steve Mac

 

This week has been interesting; challenges at work, sleepless nights with children, a house without heating, a sick wife, a couple of trips to the Dentist (what kind of individual would become a Dentist anyway?) a few swim and run sessions that pushed the limits (the heavy meals beforehand were a mistake).  Regardless, life is now thoroughly enjoyable as the National Cold Water Swimming Championships are out of the way.

There is absolutely no justification as to why.  There is no need to jump into freezing (literally) water and swim about like a loon, however 600 of this nations "finest" disagree.  The Eccentric Magnet that is Tooting Bec Lido was to put on a show - they came from everywhere, all taking pride in a bond created over sadomasochistic joy!

I often think that with sport you are given a bottle of pain to deal with as you see fit.  Regardless of the competition, you should have an empty bottle by the end; be it a 400m swim, 10mile TT, Marathon, Ironman, Ultra, etc.  Emptying the bottle in 20 odd seconds can be quite an eye opening experience, while using it up through anxiety before you start inevitably ends in grief.  Having completely emptied the bottle, to find out the body wants to continue with jaw grinding grief is "un-fun"!

Like reaching blindly into your toiletry bag and feeling the sweet sensation of your Mac 3 razor lacerating your fingers, so it was to be, one race after the other until Jagermeister and Whiskey dulled the sensations and nullified the singing of the local hula ladies and their ode to the Lido.  

Seriously though, I can't wait to do it again, it must be like childbirth!

 "Make pain your friend and you will never be alone".

Jamie Goodhead