Ironman 70.3 Weymouth is the only race in 2018 I also raced in 2017. I was hoping to have a few more races where I could compare my performance year on year but illness meant I missed Grafman and I didn’t fancy the revised bike course up a mountain in Dublin. Repeating it was the only way to really show how much I’ve improved this year. I feel like a better, stronger athlete but I wanted to have physical proof of this, to demonstrate that this year has been worth it.
Two weeks before the race, the weather forecast was almost perfect for racing; light winds, partially cloudy and mild temperatures. This would have given me a great opportunity to race hard and set the kind of times I was hoping to do. However, Weymouth had other ideas. Race morning started ok as it wasn’t too wet or windy although it was very dark. This became a problem when it was still dark at the proposed start time. I don’t know if that was an oversight from the organisers as the event was a week later than last year, or it was just the miserable weather that morning, but it meant that the start had to be moved back by 20 minutes.
Swim/ washing machine
The swim was shortened to 950m because the current and swell was so strong. The water temperature also dropped to 16°C overnight but at least it was still warmer than outside. Swim start involved a quick dash down the pebble beach into the oncoming waves. I was with another girl for a short period but then quickly lost her, meaning another lonely swim was in store. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I got completely disorientated at one of the turn buoys and ended up doing a 360 degree turn, heading back to where I’d just come from, rather than towards the shore. Doh! I had to be stopped by a kayak and told to turn around. This probably cost me around 30-60 seconds, time I couldn‘t really afford to lose.
With great relief I finally exited the water and ran into transition. It was due to be bitterly cold, so I decided to put on a lot of layers; arm warmers, gloves and a light gillet. I’ve never put so many clothes on whilst racing! My bike was the only one left on the rack when I got there. I guess the silver lining for this was at least it was easy to find…
I always look forward to getting on my bike because I see it as a chance to catch plenty of people up, even in a pro field. There was quite a nice head wind to start with, but not long after, the rain came. Very quickly, the roads became flooded. Weymouth has a constantly undulating bike course which was a relief to a certain extent because it meant that working hard to get up all the climbs would warm me up a bit. At one point I was rather worried I was losing the ability to break or change gears with my hands as they were so cold, so I had to concentrate on warming them up. After an hour, I managed to catch and pass Suzie Richards. It’s always nice to overtake people on the bike as it gives you a real boost to keep cracking on. Annoyingly, she soon went past me and I couldn’t keep up with her as he disappeared into the distance as we climbed up a hill. I then saw a Pro bike parked by an ambulance a short while later which is never a good sign (I later found out that they were just too cold to carry on which was a relief to know they were ok).
On one of the descents my hands were too cold to grip the handle bars so I decided it would be safer to stay on the aero bars and hope the cross wind wasn’t too bad. This ended up with me hitting a top speed of 80km/h!
Coming towards transition, I decided I’d leave my shoes on as my feet were so cold and the run out really hurt. I needed to stop and get off so I moved over to the side to let others through. It can be quite dangerous when you’ve got people dismounting in different ways, especially when they’re doing flying dismounts. The problem was that moving over meant going through a puddle which was hiding a rather deep pothole… Next thing I knew I’d been thrown off my bike as my hands were too cold to keep holding the handlebars. That wasn’t quite the flying dismount I was talking about… Fuelled by frustration that Ironman could allow such a large pothole not to be covered in such a dangerous area, I picked myself up and hobbled into transition.
T2 was not fun. I had blood dripping down my knee, my thigh really hurt where I had landed on it, and I even had managed to rip my new trisuit. My hands were too cold and sore to put my socks on or take any of my cycling gear off. Eventually I managed to get my trainers on and decided I would walk/ hobble onto the run course and see what happened. I hoped that when I started to jog, my legs would loosen up and the pain would go away. I realised after about 30mins that my hand was quite badly damaged, and my glove was torn to shreds and there was blood everywhere.
The run course is 3.5 laps and you run shoulder to shoulder most of the way so you can almost see the whole field and where everyone is. I decided I’d count and see where I was. I knew there would be Pro drop outs due to the horrific conditions but had no idea how many but I was determined not to have a DNF on my record. My ideal scenario was that there would be 6, as 11 started and prize money went down to 5th… To my amazement I could only see 4 other pros in front of me. This lifted my spirit somewhat as even if I crawled to the finishing line, at least I’d still be in the top 5. I carried on counting and time after time, I saw only 4 people ahead. Also, much to my excitement, I could see Chantal (also in the squad) move into 3rd, fantastic!
I finally crossed the finishing line to see Chantal, who had very kindly waited for me in a foil blanket. When I congratulated her, she said she had finished 4th which meant I must have missed someone when I was counting. Counting never has been my strong point… annoying!
I decided that it was important I got my hand checked out, so I swiftly moved onto the medical tent, somewhere I have never been at a race and somewhere I hope not to have to go to again. My scrapes were cleaned up and I was told I’d need x-rays on my hand. I also wasn’t allowed to go until my core temperature had warmed up. Chantal very kindly stayed with me the whole time which I’m incredibly grateful for.
So in summary, not the race I was hoping for. The swim would not have been a very good time if it hadn’t have been shortened, and the bike time wasn’t what I was hoping for, although it would probably have been faster than last year if not for the horrific weather conditions and my fall. Despite all this, it is probably one of the races I’m most proud of finishing; overcoming adversity and getting that finishers medal. It’s also the only race I’ve ever come last in my field at. But a lot was learnt from this race, mainly don’t cycle through puddles!
We’ve decided not to do IM Barcelona on the 7th October as I haven’t been able to swim properly or cycle outside due to my hand. Instead it is the end of the season for me. Time to do anything but triathlon related activities for a couple of weeks to refresh my mind and body and get ready to dive back in again.
I must say a big thank you to Lorna, Ed and Scott for putting me back together again after the crash. If my hand hadn’t been so sore, the rest of my body would have just about been ok to race again this weekend.
Thank you to everyone who makes this possible including my husband, Alastair and coach, Perry Agass, ETE Racing Team, Hireco Ltd, Everyone Active Sporting Champions, Funkita, Ed Kirby Physiotherapy, I am Body Wise, Takeley Chiropractic, TrueStartCoffee, GoFaster Food, Fenland Runner, Akasha Wellness, Yonda Sports and Paddock Cycles