The training has been relentless, trying to get myself fit for 3 different disciplines. This poses a bigger problem. During the event the 3 disciplines will be spaced over a 4 month period and none overlapping. How do you keep fit for each of the stages as they unfold, each so different. I think the biggest challenge is to remain strong enough for each stage while pushing yourself to the limit on a daily basis and somehow find time at the end of the day to train for the next one, sounds mad. The other snag is that 2 of the stages, I am basically a novice at. I started sea kayaking only 3 months ago, and as for kite boarding, I dabbled in it just before leaving for Great wall run years ago and am now starting all over again, but over the months, they have started to feel second nature to me.

Another training day was coming to an end as I slowly glided out to sea in the late afternoon sun towards Clifton, my evening 2 hour paddle with Hamish (my training partner). The suns rays dancing in the wind ripple on the water, casting a mosaic of patterns around the gulls perching in the bobbing swell. The swell was quite big, but rolling in at long intervals, a duck pond compared to some of the other days that we have been out fighting the elements.

I remember commenting how my butt was now beginning to feel part of the kayak, as my rhythm and technique improved. Relaxed and enjoying the moment I slid out into the inky black ocean.

The next thing I knew was I was choking, swallowing large gulps of icy sea water as it forced the breath out of my lungs, disorientated, I hung upside down in my kayak. Desperately I tried to swim to the surface, but could not as my legs were trapped in the splash cover. As I arched my back to swim up I couldn’t, in the panic I forgot to pull the strap to release the cover. My lungs now burning and my body numb with the lack of oxygen. Eventually the panic subsided and I released myself exploding through the surface like a frantic seal trying to escape a shark hunt. Gasping and spluttering vomiting out sea water I held onto the kayak, slowly regaining my strength.

How quickly things can go wrong.

I swam around to the stern of the kayak and lay on it lifting the nose out of the sea to drain the water. I shouted out to Hamish for help, to get me back aboard. Wave after wave seemed to knock me off the slippery surface time and time again. The 10 degree water quickly sapping my energy I dragged the kayak towards him.

The dark ocean began to play havoc with my mind, the thought of what might be attracted to the pair of legs frantically kicking just under the surface seemed to aggravate the panic – the unknown. Managing to get the 2 Kayaks alongside each other. I pulled myself between them, slipping a leg over each and slowly I wriggled back into my cockpit.

Looking over at a bemused Hamish with a little grin he said “ You’re getting the hang of it now, it only took 2 minutes to get back in”.

Yeah If only he knew what had gone on in my mind!

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