Report from Howard:
After the Eccup 10 I had a bit of a cough so went to the Doctor who diagnosed a chest infection and gave me antibiotics. The ones I got turned out not to be quite the solution but sort of stopped it getting worse so I was able to swim bike run in training right up to the day before the competition so I thought I was on the mend. Turned up on race day at one with the world and feeling good. The sun was rising over a beautiful calm lake Geneva (Leman) and lighting up Mont Blanc on the horizon perfect conditions for racing. Into the water (no warm up which is never good for me) and off. I got about 10 strokes and you know when all the air goes out of a rubber dingy, that was me that was. Oh no can’t breathe! This has happened a couple of times in cold water but the lake was a balmy 21 degrees , must be the altitude and thin air. Swim breast stroke a while and it will come good. Tried the crawl, still no good, worse even. Like an elephant sat on my chest. Tight triathlon suit and tight wet suit not really helping. Breast stroke ok so resigned to continue the swim in 2nd gear. Ended up going slower than a guy who was doing the one armed crawl? Had to laugh which didn’t help either. Never actually shook off the difficulty in breathing and as I swam my chest started to wheeze and crackle and cough. This was happening about half way round so as far to go back as finish, which now seemed like a million miles away! The nice guys in the Kayaks asked me if I was OK. Like yeh!..but I said yes as I had not come all that way to have a DNF. Finally exited the water last of my wave and almost exactly twice as long as I would normally have taken. Sort of walk jogged to the bike and caught up with the one armed crawl guy (having a terrible day also).
Obviously a normal person would call it a day but I quite fancied a nice ride round the closed roads of Geneva and a jog round the park by the lake. Don’t race but get a finish. Got to the mount line as I got on my bike there was an almighty BANG and metallic noise. I looked up to see a competitor slithering along the road. Some plonker of a spectator had crossed the road in front of him without bothering to look and they were prostrate on the road. I never found out what happened to either of them so I guess it was not fatal which it could easily have been as the accident was at the bottom of a long hill and I guess the bike was doing around 70K/H. Not a comforting start to the ride and of course I had to get to the top of that hill to get down it. Geneva is in the foothills of the Alps so although the hill was short it was as steep as anything in Austria and it would have been lung searing even if I had been in tip top shape. Even though I was spluttering and wheezing (always best to ignore that sort of thing don’t you think) I was passing people going up the hill!. Nice and relaxing coming down with the marshals slowing the race to clear the incident and a nice flat bit to the turn round. Two laps of the bike so a second time up the hill was a bit like an encounter with the Spanish Inquisition but I would not confess my innocence and foolishly continued to the ‘run’.
For those of you who remember the 6 million dollar man, when he ran fast they showed it in slow motion. Well that was me that was, but like in slow motion! 3 laps of absolute purgatory and by now coughing up blood. Passed an English Guy in my age group (also having a terrible day) so unbelievable did not come last in the age group! Did not really believe the supporters who were kindly encouraging with comments like ‘you’re doing great’ (Really?) Went directly to the hospital tent at the end to see the Psychiatrist, sorry the Physician who marvelled that I and finished and confirmed bleeding lungs was a bit normal with a chest infection and a hard workout so I was actually OK. Went to a French GP who has given me some proper antibiotics and am on the mend preparing for the next ordeal. Had a great few days in France after so all was not wasted.
Report from Howard: