A truck load of gear and a 4.30am alarm call can only mean one thing – TRIATHLON RACE!!
A beautiful day dawned over the equally beautiful Whitmore Bay, Barry Island ready for the inaugural SWYD Sprint Triathlon created by Simon Webb and Mathew Pritchard of All or Nothing Events.
After a lot pre race preparation I arrived calm and ready for an awesome race. I like to get there early into Transition, rack my bike, lay out all my things without adding to the stress by rushing. I had a clear plan of a warm up and getting into my wetsuit and spending some time in the sea. This worked really well. Took away the cold water shock and made it far easier when it was time to enter the water at the start of the race. I’ve been working particularly hard on acclimatising and have spent every Sunday for the last few weeks sea swimming and working my way through my fear and feelings of panic.
The organisers throughout the build up to the race worked on creating a fun, welcoming and accessible race. No question or query was left unanswered, they offered organised sea swims and have been so generous with their time and working with the community. I believe through this they created a race with a real ‘heart’ bringing athletes, marshals, family and the public together to celebrate a great morning of sport at the iconic Barry Island. I felt proud to be part of their day. A vast majority of the athletes stayed for the presentations and we all cheered the last athlete in who had valiantly been going for over 3 hours. The race organisers were determined that she finished and got the biggest cheer of the day which she richly deserved. I hope Simon and Mathew develop All or Nothing Events and continue to host amazing races.
A 750m sea swim in Whitmore Bay in a triangle formation.
The Bristol Channel has the 2nd biggest tidal range in the world and goodness me the currents at Whitmore Bay are STRONG! We were advised to head left to the first buoy and keep it to the right of us. As you can see from the photo many were having to turn and cut in to swim around the buoy as the current was pushing us so far right. It took me a while to get to the first bouy but I kept very far left so had no issues getting around. The straight to the next buoy was ok, I am a slow swimmer and had plenty of clear water and I was swimming in a steady rhythm. The trouble started after the right turn around the 2nd bouy and there was a diagonal swim back to shore. The current kept pushing me right. Every time I sighted I wasn’t getting any nearer to the shore, just further across. It was a real struggle and I could feel myself starting to panic, I felt I was never getting back to shore. I made it in the end and I was just relieved. I am not sure how I ended up so far off course. I staggered out of the sea and there was a few hundred metre run off the beach, up a hill and into transition. By this time I’m nearly blowing a gasket and starting to feel really sick. Far too much faffing in transition but I managed to get myself out and on the bike relieved that the hardest part was over.
On to my happy place – the bike. By far my favourite and strongest leg of a tri. I felt strong and managed to make a bit of time after such a poor swim. I averaged 14mph which is a fastest speed for me so far. It was a fairly hilly course but nothing too strenuous. The traffic lights were extremely annoying and it seems that a fair few drivers were determined to show us cyclists who’s the boss on the roads and I seen some ridiculous and unnecessary close passes. I also took on an energy gel in the last 10 minutes of race ready for the run. One last push on a hill to finish and straight into T2.
Transition straight into the run. I had a right faff with elastic laces the night before the race so stuck with my normal laces. I don’t think it added much to my transition time though. Run was straight forward. Very scenic coming around the old harbour. I lost count of the members of public who gave me a cheer and said well done, keep going. That was really lovely. The run took you past the finish line on lap 1 which was quite hard mentally to run past the crowds cheering and then keep going past the finish line and up a hill! By the time I was on the finishing straight I was really psyched to finish. The cheers, the crowd, the organisers high fiving, my name being called by the compere as I finished really was a thrilling moment.
Amazing medal and wicked goodie bag! What a finish!
Overall the race was thrilling and everything I hoped it would be. It’s my home turf and I knew so many competitors it was fantastic. Most of my previous races have been away and I’ve always started on my own. Today was really special to share it with so many friends. I was really rooting for All or Nothing events and I hope they’re proud of their successes. I’m also proud of the network of fellow triathletes I’ve managed to build over the last few months. I love meeting people and getting to know them. I’ve met some top people over the last 6 months including my running club, Rhoose Runners who have so much patience with my slow running. I’ve also a great network of female friends who are into triathlon.
In terms of performance, I’m disappointed. I did not do well on the swim and that just impacts on everything. I’m training for an Olympic distance triathlon which I’ve training for over 5 months. I knew I had the distances in me today based on my training. I’m happy with bike and run and felt I could definitely go longer on both. But ultimately it’s make or break in the swim. I’m struggling with this and I really can’t see a way forward with this now. Why can I swim decently in a pool (not fast though) but not in open water? It’s too late for Cardiff Tri now I just hope that it’s a slightly less tough swim as the currents won’t be as strong but equally it’s double the distance.
‘Comparison is the thief of joy’
I firmly believe in this quote but it’s really hard at races where times are published. You know how hard you’ve worked and how far you’ve come to but compared to my peers I didn’t do well in my opinion.
On a personal note, I’m in pain, lots of….hoping this eases over the next few days. I’m extremely grateful it’s a rest day tomorrow followed by more sodding swimming on Tuesday ha ha!! But I must not forget how truly lucky I am to be able to take part in events like this. I always finish with a smile and looking back at the photos I am clearly loving it. I’m not going to dwell on the negatives but take the positives ready for Cardiff Tri in a few short weeks.
****my uttermost heart felt condolences go to the family of the man who lost his life yesterday. It was very very sad and my thoughts are with the family*******