Mistakes happen, learn from them and come back stronger!
Dr Helen Godfrey, a working GP, mother and GB age group Aquathlete tells us about her first race of the season......
We all make mistakes!
As we come out of winter training it's excellent to get some kind of baseline of our race fitness without putting pressure on ourselves.
I entered the Glasgow University Aquathlon (swim/run) on a whim as a couple of my GB team mates who I was "room mates" with at the World Aquathlon championships in Spain were doing it and said it was a fun, well run event.
I thought it would be a great way to practice racing, transition, see friends and get a feel for where I was currently at without worrying about the final outcome.
On the train, I worried I had been optimistic with my predicted swim time but one of my coaches messaged me, helping me with a plan and said he believed I could do it. This gave me confidence. Having people believing in you is amazing and something huge that all of us can individually do for someone else so I do this with my friends and family as much as I can.
We agreed my plan would be to get the best swim time I could, do my best for the whole race and emerge injury free (as I’ve had some recent niggles).
I have lots of habits that help keep me focused like eating the same meals before racing. This helps both psychologically and physically as it’s tried and tested. Always remember the phrase “nothing new on race day”. I got comfortable at my hotel and took the obligatory laid out kit, pre-race photo!
The next morning my friend picked me up and we met our other team mate, registered then sorted our transition (where you place your trainers and race number in your allocated spot) and cheered on fellow athletes who had already started their race.
I arrived for briefing for my heat and we got into our lanes. I always feel very calm at the start of races and find it’s quite a surreal feeling when you have a whole race in front of you but it's all quiet and you are listening for the start whistle.
We set off and I usually go off too fast then suffer later so I was pleased I might be paced a bit. I just concentrated on my own swim, my breathing and counting lengths.
I ran out into transition, quickly got my trainers on and exited transition. About 100m into the run, suddenly, horrified, I realized I'd left my running belt/number in transition. You need your number on your front or you get disqualified.
It was a horrible feeling running back against the tide. I'm not a panicky person but the effort, adrenaline and shock of this really tired me out so I was quite out of breath restarting my run.
I’m usually out of breath from the swim anyway but the added drama plus an undulating course meant getting my usual rhythm with breathing and heart rate settling was delayed. However, I enjoyed the last lap and I finished strongly.
I am quite strict with certain habits and one of them is refuelling quickly after a hard effort so I had a FGS recovery drink straight away.
I went to peep at the results through my fingers and to my shock I managed a podium prize of bronze for vet40!
So, despite the slight disaster I achieved what I had set out to – a strong swim, trying my best and most excitingly, no injury flare! I suppose I was frustrated that I missed out on silver (6 seconds) and possibly on gold too (a minute or so) but I’ll certainly never leave my belt in transition again and I didn't expect to podium so I will take it gladly!
Don't be put off trying something new because of it. Keep an open mind, make sure you learn from your mistakes and most importantly enjoy it all! We all make mistakes.
Helen Godfrey (FGS Ambassador) April 22