So this weekend we had a fairly major calendar clash and without realising it (or rather before we became organised back in January) we had entered an Olympic distance triathlon, and a half marathon. In the same weekend. One in Wales and one in Windsor. Good work team!
Anyway, on Friday evening, we packed up the car, bundled in bikes, tri kit and the dog and set off for South Wales. After 3 and a bit hours in the car we made it and collapsed into bed around 11:15.
After a night disrupted by a whiney, restless puppy, not very many hours later the alarm went off at 5:15am… The snooze button was pushed a few times too many and we rolled out of bed at about 6am, bearing in mind we were supposed to have left the house at 6!!!!
We dashed around filling up water bottles, grabbing some snacks to have for breakfast and ensuring all our stuff was packed up (we were heading straight home after the triathlon), we set off for Port Eynon around 6:15.
The drive across from Carmarthen to the Gower was absolutely stunning, really lush scenery with some gentle rolling hills (and some not so gentle, not so rolling mountainous looking hills)!
After an hour (it was now 7:15), we drove down a long steep hill into Port Eynon, my heart sunk a little when I spotted some all too familiar yellow signs with arrows on (you know, the ones that show you which way to go on the bike), which indicated we would be cycling up that beast as soon as we came out of transition… Brilliant.
So we found somewhere to park, hurried over to registration to pick up our numbers. Grabbed the bikes and bags from the car and cycled over to transition where we were told to ‘HURRY UP!’ as transition was closing at 7:30… PANIC ensued!!!!
We quickly racked our bikes, it was a free for all in transition- rack where you can find a spot, stripped off and wetsuits on, grabbed goggles and hats and sprinted out of transition to the start area where we were held for a few minutes during the race briefing.
Suddenly I had a major panic… In my haste the previous evening to get bikes into the car, I’d had to take my bike off the turbo, and change the axel in the process… I’d not really tightened it that much, thinking ‘Oh, Simon will be able to check that for me in the morning’, but I’d COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN to ask him… And to top it off, when I’d got to my bike the night before, the front tyre had been completely flat. I’d pumped it up, and it had held overnight… Major fingers crossed moment!
Once I’d calmed down a bit, and Simon had said it would all be OK (so obviously it would, right?!) we were told to walk down to the swim start. It was a sea swim, so we had a little wander down the beach to the sea. There were SO MANY ROCKS… People started to walk into the sea, and there were full grown men yelping with pain as their feet were torn apart by the huge rocks!
After a few minutes acclimatizing, there was a bit of a kaffufle as the kayakers tried to get everyone into position to start. There was a faint sound like a horn going off, then someone on the beach yelled ‘YOU’RE MEANT TO START SWIMMING NOW!’… The most disorganized swim start I’d ever experienced!!!
Anyway, we were off, after about 100m of swimming up a wave then crashing down into the trough, being battered by other swimmers arms and swallowing gallons of sea water, I sighted and realised I was massively off course… So corrected myself and headed for the buoys. At the first buoy we turned left, and swam along the crest of the waves to the second buoy where another left turn and then back towards the beach. It’s weird swimming with the waves, you feel like you should be swimming so much faster, but then you forget about the waves coming back off the beach. Anyway, I finally got into a rhythm and a few minutes later made it back to the shore.
We had to get out, run along the beach, and get back in… Just as I was getting back into the sea I felt a tap on my arm… SIMON. So I’d beaten him out of the first lap, just the second lap to go 😉
The second lap felt a little smoother, I was able to get into more of a rhythm and find my pace more quickly and before I knew it I was ripping off my wetsuit running back up the beach to T1. As I came off the beach, a man shouted at me ‘You’re the third lady!’
This made me smile. A lot.
Anyway, back into transition, running past Simon’s Dad, sister and her husband and peeled off the wetsuit, socks and shoes on, helmet and sunglasses on… Simon trotted into T1 after me, he was relaxed and even sat down to put on his socks and shoes! ‘S’laters Elsbury!’, grabbed my bike and out I ran… Struggled slightly with clipping my right foot in, that cleat is a little tighter for some reason.
I was off. Pedaling as hard as I could, I got round the first corner and was faced with the long, steep climb out of Port Eynon. Puffing and panting I made it to the top, it seemed like the first mile or so was all up hill. Once I got to the top, I realized I’d forgotten to press lap on my Garmin. Damn!
The first few miles was standard triathlon experience for me, cycle as hard as you can and still get overtaken by countless athletes… fat old men, average build average age men, young guys, girls… You name it, the world passes me on the bike. I am SHOCKING!
1:27 later I was gripping the brakes hard as I rolled down the hill back into Port Eynon to T2… Pootled back into transition, helmet off, shoes off, trainers on, visor on and GO!
Off I went for the 10k run… I didn’t really know where I was in terms of the ladies, I thought about 4 or 5 girls had passed me on the bike, so they were probably miles ahead of me by now.
Out of transition, the run went along a little boardwalk and then ONTO THE SAND… I was totally unprepared for this!!! Anyway the first km or so was along the beach, which was actually quite nice, there was a good breeze and the sand was firm. Simon’s family were on the beach which was lovely, with the dog which provided some encouragement 🙂
Coming off the beach there was a little run along a boardwalk and then it was back onto tarmac. Phew. Although just around the corner was the steepest, longest hill I’ve ever run up… Genuinely. Never experienced anything quite like it!!!!! It just kept going on and on and on and when you thought you’d reached the top, it hooked round to the left to go up a little bit more, before flattening out for a couple of hundred metres! Then it was another long drag to the turnaround point, before coming all the way back down it and back along the beach, past the finish line and back the way we had just been.
On the run I past a couple of girls, and saw Simon a couple of times, he shouted ‘You’re definitely top 10!’ which was encouraging 🙂 I scanned the athletes coming back towards me as I was heading out, and there were 3 girls that were pretty far ahead, I thought ‘I’m never going to catch you’, but kept plodding on… There was a battle over the first one and a half laps between me and the girl in front for 4th place, but she held me off to take it, and I trotted home in 5th… Not too shabby!
All in all, after a slightly rocky (!) start, it was a great race. Perfect conditions, really beautiful scenery and great support. It’s definitely one I’d do again 🙂
After a quick bite to eat with Simon’s family, we hopped in the car and set off back to Berkshire to get some rest in before the next day’s adventures.
Almost 12 hours of sleep later, Sunday morning was upon us. I woke up to the smell of fresh coffee and the sound of a tall blonde boy bashing around the kitchen, which could only mean one thing… PANCAKES!!!!
Thankfully, it was a 1pm race start, blissful! We had a leisurely breakfast, Simon went and got a haircut and I even had time for a quick supermarket dash before we set off for Windsor. This time with plenty of time to spare!
We got there with over an hour to go until the race, parked, wandered to the event site, joined the toilet queue, sat down and chilled out then it was time to join the loo queue again for one last panic wee. Simon went off to warm up, I stayed in the queue… It was literally the longest I have ever seen! And managed to do my thing and get to the start with less than a minute to spare… Cutting it fine?!
The gun went off at 1pm and after a few seconds we were off across the line… I had no idea what my legs would feel like, or what they would be capable of, I just wanted to run and enjoy it.
The first mile was basically up a long hill, running away from the castle towards the Copper Horse. It was lined with spectators, but it was still hard work! At the top of the hill we turned left, up a little more before it flattened out a bit. There was a nice mixture of sunny and shady parts, with enough water stations and an undulating course.
The course was two laps, the first lap was about 5 miles and the second around 8 miles. It is a beautiful course and it felt like I was ticking the miles off relatively painlessly.
I was aware that I was pushing quite hard, glancing at my watch I saw my heart rate was between 155 and 170 consistently, it was hot so I was careful to keep taking sips of water at each aid station, but most of the water was going over my head to keep me cool!
As I got close to the 11 mile mark, I was aware that I was on for a pretty decent time (for me anyway), most of the miles were sub 8 minutes, awesome by my standards! Mile 12 came and went, and soon enough it was time to turn left to head back down the Long Walk, towards the castle and the finish line.
The last mile of any half marathon feels long… But this one felt especially long, as it was a straight mile. The finish line seemed to be getting further away rather than closer!!!! I kept pushing and plodding on and was ecstatic to cross the finish line in 1:41:58… My fastest half marathon time in almost 2 years!!!!!
As soon as I crossed the finish line I saw Simon waiting by the side, I went over to him and said hello, then suddenly started to feel incredibly nauseous (nothing to do with him honestly!!!) I collected my medal and grabbed some water and then he wanted to get some food, so we went over to the food vendors and he got a burger… I couldn’t stomach anything, I just wanted to sit down.
Once he’d finished, we headed back to the car, I still wasn’t feeling great. Nauseous, dizzy, then really cold. Never felt anything like it before.
We got home and I had a bath, then settled down on the sofa and didn’t move for a few hours. Forced down some dinner and went to bed at about 9:30! Monday morning came and I still wasn’t feeling right, I ended up coming home sick from work and spent the rest of the day on the sofa feeling a little sorry for myself.
It’s very strange, it’s now Tuesday and I still don’t feel quite right… Lost my apetite, feeling bloated, slightly nauseous and something like heartburn… oh and I’m completely exhausted still! I don’t know whether it was a combination of dehydration and pushing myself a little harder than I have in a while, but it’s horrible 😦
Fingers crossed I can shift this feeling before Bournemouth marathon on Sunday!!!
Anyway, enough for now, thanks for reading!
A slightly nauseous triathlete x