I’m back in my accommodation with the support team after the completion of day one. This involved a 10 km swim and 140 km cycle. This was uncharted territory for me as I had never swam that far before. In fact the most I had ever swam was 8.5 kms in a 25 metre swimming pool in Taupo in training (340 lengths).
Our day started at 0400 hours with the team up with their alarms going off. I slept reasonably well after hitting bed at 2000 hours on direction from Coach Ray, while the team stayed up and ‘took care of business’ (TCB – Elvis). A solid 4 hours followed by a few hours of broken sleep which is pretty good for me. Check in was at 0515 hours for a starting ceremony by an indigenous Aboriginal and a local school singing the Australian Nathan Anthem.
Unbeknown to me, my allocated paddler was unavailable, so the Race Directors were organising a back up at last minute. Ray knew this news last night, but kept it from me to allow me to focus. Worse case scenario at check in he was casting his eye over the Noosa Surf Club Paddle Boards to step in and take over. At about 0530 hours Ray bought Lily over to me and introduced my 12 year old Paddler. I was amused but reliably informed she was up to the task. Indeed she was. Lily was excellent and kept me in order. I looked around and you could see the athletes trying not to dance a jig with nerves whilst waiting to be instructed to swim out for a deep water start.
The swimmers took off and I did my usual start of holding back for a few seconds. I hit my Garmin and swam a few lengths and paused to ensure it was working and the GPS was picking up signal etc, then got underway. Lily was about 20 metres behind with all the paddlers. They had been instructed to wait until the swimmers got 100+ metres ahead, then they had to locate their swimmers by the numbers on their swim caps.
She found me and was calling me Mister. I was calling her Ma’am. She got a kick out of that, so that was our communication. Out to the first turn around was 1.750 km then back to start, around the point and back was another 3 kms.
Somehow in all the acres of water I swam head first into another swimmer who was on her return leg and dislodged her goggles. I don’t know who got the biggest fright – us two swimmers or the two safety paddlers.
Back out to the first turn around again for another 3.5 kms of which I swam off course with Lily yelling at me that the tide was dragging me off course and to stay with her. “Yes ma’am” to which she laughed.
When I turned at the buoy my foot became caught in its anchor rope. Lily rammed her craft into it to push it away and instructed me to swim further away from the buoy so she could feed me again with gels and water, which I was always grateful for.
Once we got to the end she gave me the thumbs up and sent me on my way with a return of thumbs up and thank you waves.
My support crew took care of me until I was off on the bike. They then went back to thank her and retrieve the spare goggles etc I had given Lily. My Garmin told me I had swam 10.455 kms due to going off course and drifting back when stopping to eat and drink etc.
The bike was 140 kms and undulating to say the least. My support crew were excellent feeding me throughout the day with electrolytes, water, honey sandwiches, boiled eggs and bananas.
On board I had gels, electrolytes and water in case I missed them at various parts, but I only used the gels at the start of the bike.
Ray was feeding me messages that were coming through on social media as I rode past and was also writing them on the road in chalk. It was great and kept me smiling, especially when reading them going up the steep hills. Thank you everyone, keep them coming! The recce of the course really paid off as I identified landmarks, which was great.
Once finished and under the finishing chute it was an ice bath. Ray looked at me cringing and told me to just get in lol. A massage was followed by another medical which consisted of a small prick blood test, blood pressure check (which was better than the day before with my pre-race nerves), and a weigh-in on the scales. Although I had lost 2.5 kilos, the paramedic wasn’t worried and sent me on my way.
Back at the apartment I was given dinner and fluids to put the weight back on.
Thank you everyone for your support today, day one down and two days to go.
Regards John Humphries (UltraHumps)!
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