I am standing in the registration tent and it is 6.30am; ninety minutes before race start and apprehension is riding moderately high. The nervous, sweet-smelling sweat has starting trickling from my armpits, the sort of sweat that cattle might experience in the truck, on the way to the abattoir. I take a deep breath and take control of my breathing and centre myself; I am a man in control. All the other competitors are milling around and staring awkwardly at me, maybe they are admiring a proud man, who is standing tall and determined, centre stage in the tent. As my race kit and number are handed to me, I do wonder why I am the only one wearing my wetsuit, swim cap and goggles, at this point in time. I proudly exit, as the laughter back in the tent increases. Yet the only thing that I hear, is the sound of the tyre levers, spare tubes and bike pump that are rattling in my cycling top, underneath my wetsuit.
It is the start of the swim and it is my first, open-water experience. My club member friends tell me that the one thing that could unnerve me, is the lack of the black line on the bottom of the pool, to guide me. I have come prepared and drawn a vertical line with a black, waterproof, permanent marking texta, on each goggle lens. Halfway through the swim and I start to cramp in the leg, which hampers my kicking. I soon realise though, that it is my bike pump, slipping out of my wetsuit. It makes me wonder how the pro’s manage.
I finish the swim and remove my goggles and swim cap. I pull out my towel from the front of my wetsuit and give myself a damp wipe with it. I put on my helmet and bike shoes, then de rack my bike, almost forgetting to unlock it. I put the heavy chain around my seat post, adjust my rear view mirror, then I am away. Only ten kilometres into the ride and my handlebar radio is playing up. I pull over, put the kick stand down and remove my helmet and shoes so I can easily take off my wetsuit. I rummage around in the Esky on my pack rack and find some spare batteries under the ice, next to the watermelon. I hit the road again and ride the last twenty kilometres, cruising into the transition area, as I am finishing my last rainbow Paddlepop ice-cream.
I lock up the bike and put the wetsuit on its coat hanger to dry. I slip my running shoes on and it is straight into the run leg, after a brief warm up. For the untrained beginner, it is really hard running, straight off the bike; I had so much trouble focussing my video camera, so I gave up and put it in my day pack, with my thermos flask. After eight gruelling kilometres, I round the last corner and enter the finishing straight. I increase my stride, take off my bike helmet and experience a feeling of warmth, as I cross the line.
I had broken my thermos.