Monday 11th July 2016 (7.56pm)
**Last years Tenby Long Course weekend**
Ok, lets see how different things were this time last year?
A really demanding few days both physically and mentally and only now am I able to sit and write about it.
I arrived in Tenby late morning then headed into town to collect my race packs. I mentally wasn’t feeling good but knew I had to be as normal as possible. If there is such a thing? I am not sure if this was being out and around people after having my own space and time or what. Had a good look around the expo and came away with some goodies then watched the tennis in the afternoon before getting ready for not only my first event but my first proper sea swim.
The swim started at 7pm, so after taking my sea sick tablet an hour before we headed to the North beach. After the compulsory pre dip and race briefing I batted with my ear plugs whilst waiting in the pen with 2000 others. I did not feel nervous, probably because I had not really given much thought to what I was taking on. The sea looked calm and I knew that if I did not get sick then I should be able to finish. The 2 lap course, each 1.2 miles in distance gave me the option of dropping out half way around if things were not going to plan. I had no race strategy apart from to stay alive and get back to the beach.
When the gun went off I walked with the crowd to the water, which felt colder than what it did in the pre dip. It took me a while to settle into it and get used to the conditions, tide and sheer volume of people swimming around and on top of me. I struggled to breath for the first 5 minutes and so did breaststroke to establish a breathing pattern. I knew there were lots of people behind me as I did not want to be last. I got bumped around, smacked in the head but nothing was going to get in my way once I realised that I was not going to suffer from sickness. My thoughts often drifted between ‘A’, survival, a jellyfish attack and at times I felt lonely in my head.
I completed the first lap in 45 minutes. To start lap 2, we had to get out of the sea, and run back around to the start. Though I was wobbly, I did not feel too disorientated. There were hundreds of spectators who encouraged and motivated me. Lap 2 was not as crowded but at times I felt like I was swimming backwards against the tide, but my head just pushed me through to finish 2.4 miles in a respectable 1hr 35. Medal one of the weekend collected. I wanted to do well in the swim as for me it was unknown territory. For some reason I still felt subdued even after what I had just achieved, with a mood score of 5/10.
I finished the swim with a wetsuit injury which resulted in a nasty rub/burn on my neck. Unfortunately this gave me a painful restless night. Not ideal preparation to tackle 112 miles on the bike.
When I woke up early Saturday morning, I knew it was going to be a tough day. I was not in the game mentally, my neck was painful and I was tired before I started. To make things worse, the wether was wet, windy and foggy and I reluctantly made my way to the start line. I knew in the first few miles that it would take everything I had to both mentally and physically to complete the course. I was hating it, I was on on my own and at times I felt lonely and sad. I usually love cycling. This did not feel right. I felt like I was in a constant battle with my head not to give up, not to fail. The hills were fishing me off and I had nothing in my tank. At about 20 miles I made the decision in my head to do the shorter 66 mile loop. I actually lost the mental battle. I was done. I was wet, cold and grumpy. In the circumstances completing 66 miles was some achievement but I was gutted that I did not not complete the 112. I have cycled over 100 miles before, so did I have anything to prove? I reasoned with myself that it wasn’t meant to be on this occasion, as hard as it was. I collected my medal for 66 miles. Maybe I will try again next year. Mood not great, tough day 4/10.
Thankfully I woke up refreshed and looking forward to the half marathon. I took the pre arranged bus to Pembroke and waited with the others at Pembroke Castle. There was a good atmosphere with the other runners and the course was amazing. People were shouting out my name who I had not seen in many years and once again it was great to finish off in Tenby. My mum and dad were at the finish line where I collected medal number 3. My finish time was 2 hrs 15 on a very hilly course.I really enjoyed the run, though I would say the swim was my best achievement. Overall, not a bad weekend of activity and next year I will know what to expect.
My concern now is that apart from Cardiff half marathon I have no other events in the calendar. I like to have a goal as it gives me motivation to train. There is a sprint triathlon in September in Saundersfoot the day before ironman so I may do that. I really want to keep up the training at the same intensity. Not only is it good for my mental wellbeing but I am probably in the best shape physically which I have ever been in.
Though I had a lovely weekend and it was great to be back at home, my low mood concerns me and I am not quite sure the reason for this. 5/10.