I eat my two slices of toast and honey (which is a bit of a ritual before a race) and wait for another of my team member to arrive while blearily watching the football. Liverpool are 0-0 with Portsmouth at half-time. (They go on to a thrilling 3-2 victory away from home, so that cheers me up when I watch the second half later.)
When I start to wonder why she hasn’t arrived, I check my cell phone which bleeps jauntily that she will meet me at transition – I must have got my wires crossed, or definitely blurred!
I cram on my helmet and shoes (my feet are swollen from dancing all night in high heeled boots – well, England won the Sevens!) and leap onto my bike to pedal to the start. What a day! The wind barely ruffles the harbour, although it is steadily building, and the sun is out strong already. Today will certainly be a day to slip, slop, slap, and wrap, or whatever other non-alliterative words have been added to the slogan.
My team are there at the start as I rack my bike among the other trusty steeds waiting patiently for the long course – sorry, I get a bit carried away when talking about my bike. I love my bike. We have team photos. There are two of our workplace teams – a girl team (called ‘Don’t Give Up Your Day Job’)
and a boy team (called ‘The Fit, the Fat, and the Frog).
Our fearless swimmer is clad merely in togs. She is nuts. Or maybe, just German. Last night as I partied hard in Courtenay Place with some Morris Dancers and the Cookie Monster, a tiny voice in the back of my mind was telling me to go home and get some rest. A couple of pints of Epic silenced it without too many problems, but I knew our fearless swimmer would be safely tucked up in bed. She was.
Their fearless swimmer is not looking too keen. He too was at the Sevens, and he too thinks this is a ridiculous idea, but at least he is wearing a wetsuit. There is some nervous standing about at the water’s edge, and then they’re off, splashing about in the water and hunting down those orange buoys. The wind is picking up and things start bobbing in the water.
Our fearless swimmer does a great time and she sprints dripping up into the transition where she hands over to me and I set out on my trip around the bays. Their fearless swimmer emerges from the water a short while later so I have to try and maintain the gap between us.
Of course, the wind is strong now – particularly heading past the airport at Lyall Bay – and I know this will be even worse on my return. People come whistling past me and the medium course turn around (at 10km) looks very tempting. I briefly consider whether anyone would notice if I didn’t plough on up the hill and stopped for a coffee instead. But this would be cheating, and even if I feel terrible, I do not cheat.
I start grinding up the hill and my mind wonders off somewhere, only to be startled and alarmed when I find I have fallen into the gutter by the side of the road and can’t get back out. Ouch. I bump to a standstill. Bumping and grinding, but it’s not that much fun and I have knocked the speed and distance counter doodacky out of kilter. I’m embarrassed more than hurt as I dust myself off and try to get going again – uphill into a headwind – and find it’s hard to get enough pressure to clip into my pedals.
I concentrate for the rest of the way round and although people hurtle past on the way down as well (I am such a womble going downhill) and the wind is buffeting me off my bike on the way back, I make it to the transition in one piece. I hand over to our fearless runner and she skips off looking fresh and sprightly and not at all as though she was sinking pints in the pub last night.
Crazy frog is right behind and his fearless runner sets off in hot (and I do mean hot – that wind is doing nothing to reduce the temperature) pursuit. Their team is the fit, the fat and the frog – and as he is French, I’m guessing that he is the latter of the trio. His first words on dismount are, ‘My bottom is sore!’ but he has done a great job.
He hands over to their fearless runner, who (as an ex-army dude) is racing in tracksters. It is so hot that he will come to regret that later. The run is two laps, so we see them both come and go out and back and out and then back again – hurrah! Our team wins so there are even more hurrahs, but we can afford to be gracious in victory.
I realise that our teams combined comprise Team Europe. Of the six people from our workplace who accepted this challenge, not a one is a Kiwi – aren’t they meant to be a healthy sporting nation? There is a coffee queue for miles at the café on the front, and not a single one of our sextet collects a spot prize, but we go back to mine where Him Outdoors has cooked a massive fry-up so we all feel like winners.
The wind is now more than a stiff breeze and the sailboats are zipping across the bay. As we stretch out on the sofas and drink cups of tea we congratulate ourselves on our efforts. We are saying nicer things about the race now than we did this morning, but everyone is still wary about committing to the next one!
If you're interested in things like results, check them out here.