When a race doesn't go to plan

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It's a gorgeous sunny bank holiday (it was due to rain but the sun came out). Training has gone really well and am feeling fitter than ever. The first triathlon in Kent that my boyfriend has come to spectate. The first triathlon of the season too "let's start as we mean to go on"  I am SO pumped for this triathlon. First off is the 400m swim in the pool. 16 lengths. I'm waiting in line to be called to my designated lane. Chatter of excitement and nerves between fellow competitors. Watching other swimmers already mid swim,  feeling excited and ready to beat my 6 min 15 sec time from last year. I came 3rd in total out of all the women in the swim. I knew I could beat this as remembered how little I trained in the swim last year. Visualisation visualisation visualisation going round in my head. My strategy for remembering the lengths was chunks of 100m. Just count down each one.

I get called to my dedicated swim lane, jump in, and really go for it. Sprint first 2 lengths then steady to my CSS pace for the rest of it. The two others in my lane are Breastrokers. I overtake both once. Then later on I need to overtake again,  but this time one is already overtaking the other.  So I'm stuck behind two Breastrokers. Luckily we are close to the end of the lane so full steam ahead I overtake both. I get to the end of the 14 lap,  expecting to see the "2 length board" notice. But nothing. I look up confused. I'm on full steam ahead I go for the last two laps. I get to the end,  then see the board "2 laps". I can't believe it,  this couldn't be right? I've been so careful to count my laps! I check my Garmin under the water just after the flags. 5.33. This would mean a PB. So confused I continue with my 17th and 18th length. I feel sick with the confusion,  having trained so hard. "Hopefully I'll catch my bf or parents in the start of the cycle". I transition as fast as possible and as I am jumping on my bike I see my boyfriend. My concern is confirmed,  they definitely added on two lengths. Gutted. Sick. Confused. Angry. Sooooo many emotions runningthrough my body. My boyfriend and parents had been watching from the spectator area and had both discussed how the lap counters at the end of each lane were often in in depth conversations, and raised their concerned whether they were paying attention.

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How do you deal with a situation like this? How can I continue the race with full motivation and power now my motivation as been tarnished. How can I put all my months of training into this race.  I know I'm fitter and faster than last year due to my training schedule. I literally want to cry there and then. I'm cycling through the lanes of Kent, the garden of England. My breathing is short and I can't seem to get a good gasp of air, all I can think of is how utterly disappointed, annoyed, frustrated I am of what's just happened. You put everything into training and preparing for an event and an external factor ruins it. Swimming has been my best sport out of all three. I've competed since I was 8 and it's something I'm really proud of and very competitive at.

We spoke to the head referee and unfortunately there was nothing we could do to dispute this. At the end of the day I know what time I did the swim, in unfortunately I think it effected my cycle and run pace, but you need to go through these things to learn!

Would it be a triathlon I would recommend?yes - but get out if you know you've done the lengths What would I do different? Get out if I've done 16 lengths. Next time I do a tri in an indoor pool, make sure I tell the referrees/counters I'm aiming for a certain time and tell them to count properly

What I learnt from this tri: - I want to improve my running technique/larger stride - Get faster at cycling, being able to go at a faster constant price