Tag Archives: HOWL aquathlon

HOWL aquathlon 2017

14 Jul Finish of HOWL aquathlon

This evening Stu and I took part in HOWL aquathlon. It’s the second year that the event has taken place and it was my second time taking part. Last year, I was pregnant when I took part, so I was grateful just to be able to do so. This year I was hoping that I would make it through the swim and would put in a good run leg.

Our lovely friend, Jez, has offered to babysit for us several times, so we decided to take his up on his kind offer. We figured that we shouldn’t be away from M for too long and if she was having a bad night then several of our other friends would be around to help out… plus Jez is a sporty guy (and amazing runner), so we thought he might like watching the aquathlon.

Tamsyn and M

We registered at 6:30pm and the event wasn’t due to start until 7:30pm, so there was

Waiting at the start of HOWL aquathlon

As well as the individual competition, there were also team prizes up for grabs. We had assumed that the first two men and two women from each club would count as a team, but were told that we had to pre-register as specific teams. This proved to be a little challenging as no-one was sure of their rank within the club – especially as many people are significantly better at one of the disciplines. In the end, Stu and I were registered in STC’s team 2.

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

STC at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

Most of my clubmates were representing Southampton Tri Club in their club lit, but I only own an STC gilet and I wanted to wear my lovely kit from The Athlete’s Palate.

I set up my stuff in transition and then had some more time to chat with friends. Before long it was time for the race briefing. I should have been fully focused, but I suddenly realised that my swimming hat was missing. Panic! Panic! Jez kindly ran over to registration and picked up another hat for me, so I was able to start thinking about the race. [As an aside, it was great that women were given blue hats and men had the red hats – such a refreshing change!]

After the briefing, we were straight into the lake for a deep water start, so there was a bit of a warm up. To my dismay, wetsuits had been banned. I really feel the cold when swimming (because I am sooooo slow) and I also appreciate the extra buoyancy, but there was nothing I could do about it, so I just got in.

Getting in the water at HOWL aquathlon

Getting in the lake HOWL aquathlon start

I positioned myself towards the back, but was almost in line with the buoy as I didn’t want to swim any further than was necessary.

Start of HOWL aquathlon

I found the swim challenging, although I managed to get into a rhythm. I had forgotten how much I enjoy open water swimming as it’s so peaceful. I didn’t see anything strange out of the corner of my eye – usually, I spy my hand a lake monster and get freaked out, but not today.

I knew I wasn’t going quickly and this was confirmed when I got clopped in the head by one of the leading ladies heading towards the end of their swim.

I acclimatised to the water temperature fairly quickly, but was disarmed by some of the extremely cold patches that we had to traverse. I had thought that the water would get stirred up a bit by all of us swimming, but that didn’t happen.

I didn’t have a very quick transition. I tried not to faff, but I did exchange a few words with spectators.

My running is significantly better than my swimming, so I was pleased to see some other runners up ahead who I was able to hunt down. I haven’t seen the splits yet, but I think my run was quite good.

Running at HOWL aquathlon

© Darryl Marcus-Hanks

On the second lap, there was a lady in a yellow top up ahead. I chased her for a significant portion of the second lap. In the end, she beat me by about 6 seconds and was 3rd V40 lady. Maybe next year, my swimming will be back on track and I’ll be able to chase her down!

Finish of HOWL aquathlon

Last year, I managed:

Swim time: 21:47

Transition time: 1:16

Run time: 30:06

Overall: 53:09

Here are my (provisional) results for this year (based on my Garmin):

Swim time:  21:12

Transition time: 01:05

Run time: 24:30

Overall: 00:46:44.274

So, it was a PB 😀

I was 16/21 senior ladies and 19/35 women.

It was also great to learn that Stuart was first V40 finisher – well done, Stu!

Stuart finishing HOWL aquathlon

HOWL aquathlon

15 Jul

I didn’t enter the HOWL aquathlon until the day before the event as I wanted to be sure that my chest infection had cleared up. I was feeling more confident that my swim would be OK as I survived 1.9k in the sea in Tenby. I was also excited to be able to do the aquathlon as I’m a bit nervous about cycling with others that I don’t know well now I’m pregnant, so triathlons are off-limits.

Allegedly the lake was 22C, but I’m not convinced it was quite that warm. I have happy memories from a couple of years back when the lake got so warm that it felt like getting into a warm bath and no-one was wearing wetsuits. For this race, some people chose not to wear wetsuits, but I thought the speed gains when swimming would outweigh the time it takes to remove my wetsuit.

I’d chosen to wear my 2014 SOAS Ambassador kit. It’s one of my favourite kits and also one of the larger ones that I own, so I thought it might be the best to accommodate my growing belly! I then roped in Jenny and Liz from STC to help zip me into my wetsuit, which just about fits!

I’d asked Steve Cooke from HOWL whether there would be time for a warm up before the event as I need to acclimatise before taking part in any open water race. Steve had said that my best option would be to get in the lake as soon as possible, so I was first in the water! It wasn’t too bad, but a few more minutes might have been helpful.

The swim was 2.5 laps of the lake (750m). I knew I should be able to do the distance, but I’m also acutely aware that I’ve never been a good swimmer and I’m even less aerodynamic than usual, so I glide through the water with the elegance of an elephant. It was a floating start, so I positioned myself near the back, as I didn’t want to get kicked in the stomach.

I had thought I would see Liz from STC during the swim, but she was nowhere to be seen, so I assumed that she had a cracking race. (She later explained that she had only swum 1.5 laps, like some of the others). Liz and I usually swim at a similar pace and her wetsuit has a distinctive flower on its rear, so it makes her easier to spot.

Before the start of the race, I’d had a chat with the man next to me. He’s said that he wasn’t much of a swimmer, but I always take comments like that with a pinch of salt. It turns out that he was being honest. He was probably a slightly better swimmer than me, but my sighting was better than his, so I had a slight edge and was able to exit the water before him.

Swim time: 21:47

I briefly wiped my feet (and silently cursed for having forgotten to bring talcum powder to put in my shoes) and put on my socks.

Transition time: 1:16

I was looking forward to the run. It consists of two laps around Lakeside (5km), which always reminds me of my first parkruns. There were slight changes at the end of the route as there have been some major building works at Lakeside, but it is back to being a more appealing place to run as the trees that were cut down when a development took place next door have now grown up again. The run goes around the edge of the lake before a slight incline and then a run through a shady avenue of trees. There is then a (miniature) railway crossing before the back straight which is on a gravelled path. There is another slight incline to go up onto ‘the bowl’, where the grass is quite long. The next section has a down and an up before heading down again and across some more railway tracks before heading down onto a narrow path. There’s yet another small incline before an immediate descent and the path to the finish/second lap.

It was good to see a few of STC’s faster runners out on course (speeding past on their second lap as I was on my first) and also lovely to catch up with cheery Liz. We had time for a brief chat before I pushed on.

Run time: 30:06

The marshals at Long Course Weekend were some of the best I’ve ever encountered, but the marshals at the HOWL aquathlon were also great – cheery, encouraging and most of them knew me so they were able to call out my name 🙂

I was pleased that my run time was close to 30 minutes. Usually, I would expect to be several minutes quicker, but that’s very close to my current parkrun time and I can’t push as hard as I normally would. Overall, I finished 3rd from last, so it wasn’t a terrible night out. Sadly there were no split times for the swim and the run as I think I may have beaten several people based on run times. My best time last year was 46:37 – Swim: 20:22, Transition: 1:10, Run: 25:04, so my swim and transition times were reasonably close to the best I’ve managed.

There were quite a few entrants from Southampton Tri Club and many of them did well (with Sonia and Jacqui placing first and second in the Vet ladies category). The men’s category was tougher with entrants coming from as far afield as Weymouth (Bustinskins Tri Club!). Southampton Tri Club won the team event.

STC at Howl aquathlon

STC at Howl aquathlon

I loved taking part in this event and wish it were part of a series. I’ll definitely be back next year and aiming for a PB!