1st place - 5 hrs 20.26
I had ventured off to France for a last training block before the European 70.3 championships but as you may have read in my previous blog, I came rather unstuck, and was out-of-action for almost 2 weeks. I ticked over, but that was all I was capable of until the hormone explosion dissipated and I returned to my chilled-out and fully-functioning self. Valuable life-lessons learned.
So, what to do now? Twas but a blip, but I was not willing to go into a championship race with sub-par preparation. I know I can be good, but equally I can be very average. I don’t have the talent to ‘blag’ big races! A bit pessimistic one may say, but I know me by now. Had I entered a smaller M-Dot 70.3 I may have gone ‘for the crack’, but I had not made this contingency plan.
I quickly got back on track and banked a solid training week, during which I googled UK races. I wanted to do something, get back on the horse as it were, and get a specific training session in too; something that would be near-impossible to replicate on my own. The Brecon Triathlon stuck out like a 'beacon' of light and it was still open for entries. A quick email and entry secured, we set of for the Welsh mountains. An adventure!
The Brecon Beacons are rather lovely. It was like being in a far-off land; not a mere 2.5 hours drive away. Must go more often.
The race itself started with a 1.9km swim in Pach Bryn Bach. Clean and weedy! Non-eventful: I found some good feet and stuck to them… keeping very aerobic. I tried to go past and help push the pace but it was then too hard, so I slotted back in and enjoyed the ride! An Australian exit (where you get out the water at halfway, run around a barrier and get back in) made it great for spectators and gave us the opportunity to have a quick look at our placing. I had a gap on the next woman and extended that on the second lap. £100 for fastest female swim banked. Hurray!
Onto the bike and I prepared myself for a long one. 60.7 miles, some challenging climbs, some fast bits too, but it still took well over 3 hours. I did not want to kill myself as I now need some consistency in training, and can't afford to lose days in recovery mode, so I tempo’d the bike, holding a pace faster than steady training but some way off balls-out 70.3 pace. That seemed to work and whilst I lost a few places to some of the men, there appeared to be no female species in my personal space.
It was hot, and whilst the roads were pretty much immaculate, I lost a bottle over some bumpy stuff. This could well have proved costly, as I was about to find out.
Starting the run I felt rancid. Uh – ohhhhh! Now, when one is hot and dehydrated, the digestive system can suffer. Either that or I’d inadvertently swallowed a duck dropping in the swim. Sh*t happens. But the half marathon started off as a death march cum portaloo interval session. Fun times. Thank GOD I was not in Elsinore, thought I. I was extremely sluggish and felt very unfit.
In fact, after 6 portaloo stops, I made a deal that 2 more stops and I would stop, full stop. It was getting a bit much! And that’s a point that everyone should bear in mind. Just because the winner is winning, it does not mean for a second that they will cross the line first. Despite leading, I was not sure for a while that I would make it to the end. Never give up: you have no idea what is going on ahead!
Another great point to take away: despite feeling disgusting, I employed a strict emergency action plan. Every aid station, (12 in total), I took 2 cups of water and 1 cup of coke, and walked/shuffled until they were gone. Did my stomach want them? Of course not, but I needed to force it down if I had any hope of salvation. And guess what? After 10k, everything slotted into place. My tummy settled, my energy returned, and I became a strong runner again. That’s great for my confidence as before when the wheels have come off I’ve never been able to get back. But this proves I can. Never give up.
Having consolidated the lead, I was able to enjoy the last 7k run lap, even the hills, and I finished feeling strong; as if I’d got fitter during the race! An extra £300 for the race win was a welcome motivator in the dark patches. It wasn’t particularly pretty but I don’t doubt for a second that it has done me good, and I now plan to race Edinburgh 70.3 in 2 weeks’ time. For me, racing the Titan was the best decision I could have made.
A special mention to the organisers DB MAX. I couldn’t fault the event. They had thought of it all, from live streaming to excellent customer service to lost bag retrieval (thank you!!!) and super signage. The logistics, atmosphere and event memorabilia were all fantastic. We left extremely impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their events, which also happen to be very affordable. Thank you for having me!
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