Everyone loves a race a report and I’m keen to stick to my winning ways and get mine in there before my other Swansea friends so grab yourselves a cuppa and settle in. Things didn’t start well. It was a gorgeous morning in Swansea and I was happily standing in the portaloo queue when it hit me: bike computer!!! A couple of frantic phone calls to my parents later and my Dad was running back to the hotel to get it out of my other rucksack. Doh!
After 20 minutes of sorting out a plan B, just in case, my Dad arrived back at transition clutching my bike computer. What a hero Bike computer now on the bike, we headed off to the swim start. I had been determined to go near the front, but now wasn’t so sure. Off went the pro men, then the pro women, then…it was us. It was a bit manic, but suddenly I found myself faceplanting the water with goggles askew. Double doh! I’ll swim with sea water in my eye, I thought. It’s not far, I thought. I was then swum over and decided that I should actually sort them out. I hated the swim. It was a washing machine panic fest where I wondered multiple times about doggy paddling to the kayakers and pulling out. But, I ploughed on, and dragged myself round and up the ramp. I was grateful not to know my time and to still be alive. The run to transition was tough on the feet, but I ran as fast as I could to make up some time. It was wonderful to see Neil in T1. Helmet on, shoes on, belt on and I was off to my bike and sprinting out of transition. Over the line and GO! Neil’s Oxford tri kit was in sight and it wasn’t long before I went zooming past. This was my happy place. Until, that is, I went over a pothole and some uneven road and lost my water bottle. I was cursing. Luckily it was only water, and I knew I could stop at an aid station if I needed to. Plus, I consoled myself, I was now 750g lighter going up the hills. The bike course was apparently beautiful. I’m afraid I didn’t see much of it, I was too busy focusing nutrition, the road, not hitting wild sheep, whether I needed a wee etc. I felt fairly flat for the first 25k, but I was boosted by the excellent support on course (think Tenby!) and found my mojo. I descended, I climbed, I tucked, I pushed my way around South Wales and then descended back on to the main road to transition. I was confused. I’d only been riding for 2 hours and 30 minutes; I had thought I’d be out for about 2:45. It was clearly a fast day! Bike time: 2:33:16.I impressed myself with a flying dismount (my first ever in a race, thank heavens I didn’t mess it up in front of the commentators) and ran into transition, again wincing at the stones underfoot. Into the tent, helmet off, hat on, socks on, trainers on and GO! I hadn’t had time for my watch, which I was holding in my teeth, and was trying desperately to start it while chasing down my nearest rival from Lanzarote 70.3, Kate. Time to dig deep. I refused to be out run again. I could see the purple tri suit getting further away and for a moment wondered if I’d left it too late to push on. I put in a surge and caught Kate up, along with another leading age grouper Steph. I was buoyed by this little victory and pushed on, thinking that I could take them with me and we’d work together. They didn’t come with me. So, here came the solo effort. My parents had positioned themselves perfectly on the run course, it’s always so motivating to see familiar faces on course. They were having a blast.
The run was harder than it looked on paper, far more undulating heading out of the city. Kat Matthews and Ruth Astle came the other way and shouted encouragement in response to my cheers and I pushed a bit more. Dan reminded me that every second counts as we crossed and I pushed a bit more. The volunteers cheered and I pushed a bit more. I saw my parents at the mile 7 turn around and heard I was 2 minutes 11 seconds ahead. At mile 8, I hit a wall. My legs felt like lead. Suck it up, I panted. You CAN do this. I kept the pace pretty well the until mile 10, where I hit another wall. Suck it up roared in my ears and I started breaking it down: get to the traffic lights, then get to the bridge, then get the aid station. At the aid station, a volunteer asked if I wanted water. I raised a hand in the affirmative and found myself completely deluged with, not a cup, but a jug of icy water! Hey, it did the job!! At the 20k sign, I kicked. My final surge of energy. After 5 minutes of this and still finding that the finish was nowhere in sight, I was starting to tire. I really had nothing left to give. Thankfully, I could hear the finish line and managed to urge my legs on. I rounded a corner, and the noise was deafening. There were so many people! I gritted my teeth and gave it one final effort down the red carpet. My parents were there to high 5 me and I couldn’t help but grin as I crossed the line, and promptly sat down in a time of 1:21:14. ‘I think she might have raced that ladies and gentleman’ shouted Jo Murphy down the mic. Yep, I well and truly had!
Final time, 4:33:28. What a day!