A bit of a break from tradition for me this time around. This is my 5th triathlon but my first in the rain and heavy rain as well.
It’s been interesting few months since Cardiff Tri. I managed to fall over and really hurt my elbow and back with took a month to recover from. Also I had the school summer holidays so training for this race has been minimal. Please remind me that doing a race in early September is not a good idea.
I did Saundersfoot Sprint Tri last year so I knew the course, I was staying with family in Narberth so all in all, preparation was fairly relaxed. The more races I do the more I’ve got a handle on my nerves. Although the races that mean the most to me and that push me well out of my comfort zone, the worse the nerves BUT the achievement is that much sweeter. The only aspect that was putting me on edge all week was the weather. I was on weather watch every day and it was steadily getting worse. I wasn’t too bothered about the rain but I was worried about the wind. Big wind = big sea!!
To ‘control the controllables’ I like to arrive to a race early, minimal stress, set up transition, warm up, wetsuit on then into a sea warmup. This time around though it was chucking it down and I could not face being in the rain any longer than necessary. I got into Saundersfoot at 7am but had a desperate dash to the toilet which took forever. This quite possibly has to be the WORST part of triathlon races, the bloody queues beforehand. This meant quite a big delay by the time I got into transition to set up, get wetsuit on and I could feel my anxiety rising. No time for a warm up but I did manage to get into sea beforehand. This is so important to get the cold water shock out the way. Trying to keep stuff dry in transition was a pain in the ass. I had plastic bags everywhere. I had no supporters there so I left my dry clothes to get changed afterwards in the car – good choice, everything was drenched by the end of race.
Swim 750m – 24:32
A beach start. The organisers had all 700 of us on the beach for the start rather than a funnelled start down the slip like last year. The tide was not as high so that made it easier. The hooter sounded and off we went. I did my usual trick of hanging back and starting slow in the swim. The difference with this swim though was I felt ready and not too scared. A few dolphin dives to get going and I was off. The first few minutes are always a bit sketchy trying to find a rhythm, not get knocked, check your going right way. Quite quickly I saw a few swimmers stick their hand up and I was a bit concerned by this but then all of sudden….I saw them….the icky things I’d been dreading all summer….the stuff I have genuine nightmares over….JELLYFISH! There were a fair few of the buggers, I’m sure I touched one and kept glimpsing them out the corner of eye. I could feel the panic rising. I swam with my head out of the water for a bit as I couldn’t stand seeing them. As I got to deeper water, I saw them underneath me!! My brother in law also raced and he started nearer to the harbour wall where there was more of them. He says he swam through a batch of them. I think if that was me I’d have to be pulled out. I need to find a way of desensitising myself to them. The fear is real. It’s always disorienting swimming down West Wales compared to Barry Island, the difference being is that you can see everything down West and you can’t see naff all in Barry. I’m not quite sure which I prefer ha ha! Even though I was slow I seemed to be in a crowd which I’ve not experienced before. It was fine but trying to avoid the breast stokers was a bit of a job. I’m not overly confident in these situations. It was a bit if stop/start swim as I couldn’t figure out how to overtake. I didn’t mind too much as I found the swim fairly easy, I think I got a bit of a draft but I could have definitely pushed it a bit harder if I’d had a bit of clear water. Relief to get out of water and not be stung by a jelly fish and off I went into T1.
T1 – 5:18
Honestly this was such a pain of a transition. Everything was a ton more difficult in the rain. I couldn’t get my socks on properly, I put on a jacket which was a complete waste of time and it took me AGES to get my cycling gloves on. I wouldn’t usually put gloves on but the bike was so wet and I was worried about handling the brakes and gears in the wet and they definitely helped. Nothing was laid out how I would usually do it as I needed to keep stuff dry, who wants to put on wet shoes and socks??
Bike 20km – 57:16
As soon as you come out of transition, you’re straight into a climb. I’d forgotten how tough these hills were from last year. I was a bit blasé about it beforehand but they are tough. It’s pretty much climbing for 2/3rds of the course. There was lots of traffic and it was still raining. On the big descents it was so wet and I really had to take my time. I was worried about slipping so took it slow. The conditions were not ideal which was a shame. Finally got into T2.
Run 5k 31:28
Again more faffing in T2, getting my trainers out of the bag, taking my gloves and jacket off!!! AND IT WAS STILL RAINING!! The last 2 events I’ve had issues with a bit of numbness in my feet coming off the bike into the run. Not really sure what that’s about. The run course at Saundersfoot is really nice, flat and scenic. Due to everything being the wet, I developed a nasty bit of chaffing in the bottom area from the tri suit. A lesson for next time…lube up! I did try to push it on the run and I actually over took a few! As I crossed the finish line I couldn’t speak but it was awesome to come down the red carpet and hear your name called out. All smiles when it was all over.
Completed the race in 2:00:34, I knocked 8 minutes off last year and if the conditions had been better, I think I could’ve knocked off a bit more. However I really don’t seem to get any faster in these sprints, I know I’ve had a few mishaps over the summer, training has been very hit and miss but I think I’ll give the sprint distances a break for a bit (unless the race is more for personal reasons). I really enjoyed Cardiff Tri Olympic distance and it’s a distance I want to focus on again next year. I do have my eye on half Ironman 70.3 as well. I may not be able to go faster but I may be able to go longer. A few of my tri friends are taking it on next year and part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and go for it but I also know how much work I need to do. Family life is also a factor to consider. I’m not sure my children are old enough yet to cope with more of my hours thrown at training. I’ve only a small window to play with as well as the ideal time for races is May, June and early part of July, anything later is too stressful with the kids summer holidays.
As the same as last year, the organisation of Saundersfoot tri is spot on, marshall’s are great, local support is fab and I think it’s great value for money. Saundersfoot is a great location and despite my fears of 10ft waves due to increasing wind, the bay was beautifully calm. I’d highly recommend.
That was my last tri of the season, got a couple of bike sportives in the next month and then it’s all over for the winter. Not sure if I am relieved or disappointed!!