After the excitement of last weekends first triathlon I was immediately looking for more triathlons to enter. With all quiet on the baby front and with a relatively local standard/olympic distance event in Porthcawl the organiser from the Aim2Tri very kindly put my name down, but let me pay on the day – just in case the baby were to come a few days early.
Around an hour from home and on a course with laps and a Mum on hand to call me in just in case we had a phone call I decided it would be worth it. The fact that it was an open water sea swim really appealed to me as I really need the experience before Celtman.
A 4:45am wake up call was not pleasant, the early starts are not something I relish, with a 7:30am race start to try and give clearer roads for the bike section. Unlike last week I was one of the first to register and rack my bike, so had a good choice of rack space. We were gathered together close to the sea at 7:20, given a briefing and then allowed into the water for 5 minutes to acclimatise, which I was really glad of as the temperature was just 12.8 degrees and I think everyone else had the same “uh oh, this is baltic!” reaction. This was my first real sea swim in the UK, having done a short swim in Australia a few years before that didn’t really compare. I did try a swim a few weeks ago, but that ended in disaster and I was out of the water in just a few minutes. 1500m for my first cold water sea swim, what could go wrong…
After acclimatising (warming up would be an incorrect term!) we then gathered on the beach ready for the Aussie style run into the water. With 140 starters it was remarkably calm and there seemed to be plenty of space all around me. I was in the first 1/3 to start, but the first leg out to the buoy I wasn’t sure how it was all going to go. A few times I took on a little water as it was a bit choppy, but managed to stay calm and keep swimming and swam in a pretty straight line. The swim was 2 loops, with a short out of the water run and back in. As I came out the first time I was able to glance across and see how far ahead the leaders were. I was initially surprised as I was pretty high up – but the top few were miles away, almost 1/3 the way round lap 2!
The second lap was easier, with the exception of getting through the breakers and I was able to breathe properly and think about my stroke and ended up passing quite a few people. Coming out of the water in 24min I smashed my goal time of 28min and had the 21st fastest swim.
T1 again was a bit of a nightmare. I came in, knocked my helmet off the bars, fumbled with my wetsuit and spent far too long faffing. I had some new triathlon specific shoes and had them setup with elastics bands – as you do. NEVER AGAIN! Although I had a quick practice the day before and felt confident it went all to pot and I spent the first few minutes trying to get my shoes in. Next time I do a sprint/standard I will use the shoes, but put them on before getting on the bike and for Celtman I will be using my usual cycling shoes.
My bike was decent, but not exceptional. I had a battle with a guy on a road bike who I correctly guessed was part of a relay team. We were passing each other constantly, obviously not drafting but I would pass him on flatter, faster sections and he would pass me on climbs, perhaps more willing to give it the beans without the fear of a run to follow. The course was rolling, with one significant climb and lots of false flat draggy climbs that really suck when your small and light. I finished the 40km bike in 1:06, 4th fastest individual but to be honest I was disapointed and without the shoe drama would have been 2nd fastest (the fastest biker was rather speedy!). It was only right at the end of the run that someone shouted that I was in 10th – awesome!
T2 was far, far better. Another new pair of shoes, this time some road/tri specific Inov-8 Tri X-Treme runners with elastic laces they were on in a jiffy and I was out running in no time. I felt pretty good, except that my feet were so cold still from the swim/bike that I couldn’t really feel them. The first km split was a bit too quick for me, 3:36. Calm down tiger.
The course was pretty flat, but lots of twists and turns as it made its way along the sea front where the support from the locals was fantastic, with lots of cheering. My pace eased to a more manageable speed and I ticked along pretty nicely. As a double out-n-back it was easy to see how many were ahead, by how far and if I was being caught. Everyone ahead of me looked to be running really strongly so I guessed there was no chance of improving. My run splits were all really steady and I was pleased to see that on lap 2 the leaders were passing me only a little sooner than before. I held onto my position to finish in 10th, which a decent run of 40:50. I felt like I could have kept going, which is great for Celtman as I will need to do 4 times the distance… off-road… with 2 HUGE mountains to climb.
Triathlon has certainly taken hold of me. I am loving the variety of the training, even if it does take it out of you physically and mentally at times. I am starting to think that even after Celtman that I will keep training and entering triathlons. With 5 weeks to go, I have 3 weeks to train and then a 2 week taper planned. Somewhere in there we will also be having a baby!