I’ve been AWOL, posting mainly over on Instagram.
Some time ago, I wrote (here) that I had signed up for the first Long Course Weekend race to be held outside of Wales. Well, I raced it this weekend but in a slightly different format to what I originally signed up for.
The beauty of this race format was that you could mix and match your distances and events. You could do a short swim, no ride, long run or medium distances for all, or just one event.
All the swims were on Friday, the rides on Saturday and the runs on Sunday.
Of the 89 starters who had entered the actual “Long Course Weekend” event (3.8km swim, 180km ride, 42km run) there were 60 finishers who received the spectacular fourth medal.
After changing my mind repeatedly over several months, I eventually swapped the 180km ride for a 20km one. There were a number of contributing factors. I didn’t earn the fourth medal but I still completed my longest ever open water swim and my first (and at this stage probably last) marathon.
I really wanted to do a clever race report like this one written by a lady I know but I can’t think of a way to do it without blatantly copying, so we’re all stuck with my wordy style. For now.
Friday 27th October 2017: 3.8km swim
The swim was a four lap triangular course with a short run walk at the shore between each lap. They even had water there in case we wanted a quick drink – how considerate.
I find it difficult to explain but I often enjoy the sense of accomplishment after a race more than I enjoy the experience of the race. It took 7 hours for that sense of accomplishment to hit after this particular swim. It must have taken a lot out of me! Until then, I was thinking I should have done the 750m distance because I would have got the same medal. It wasn’t even a bad swim. It was just long. I think in running and cycling, I am one of those possibly annoying people who makes a random comment as I go past (or am passed). It breaks up the monotony. You can’t do that in a swim though. This was 4000m of swimming and no talking, smiling, or joking.
100m of stair climbing to get to the finish line from the shore. You know the ones… too big to take one step at a time but not quite big enough for two steps on each. And too high for short legs like mine.
Not pulling the goggles off as I exited the water each time!
There were dolphins swimming in the bay just before we started!
My pace was fairly consistent over all four laps – nailed my first 3.8m open water swim.
Saturday 28th October 2017: 20km ride
I chose the 20km bike option because it was the only one that didn’t go down and up a long, steep, windy section of road. It was still far from flat.
I almost managed to hit a 23km/h average speed despite having ridden only once in the two months before race day.
I spent a lot of money on a new bike, new gadgets and new kit trying to gain every advantage to meet the 180km 8 hour cut-off, then opted for a 20km race instead (and they also changed the cut-off to 9 hours). Oh well, it was a good excuse to upgrade and I’ll still get a lot of use from them so no harm done.
Riding OVER the finish line instead of dismounting before the line to avoid a penalty!
Second in age category! But no prizes for that in this race. =(
Sunday 29th October 2017: 42km run
I’m awfully glad I didn’t ride 180km the day before. I don’t know how the amazing LCW athletes did it. It was a hot day, getting up to about 30°C I’ve been told.
My goal finish time was 5 hours, 30 minutes. I felt like it was doable for about the first 10km. After that things went a little pear-shaped but the 6 hour cut-off was still in reach.
The course was four laps again. And I was left behind by the pack and only ahead of a walker by the end of the 1st kilometre. I was glad I had done most of my run training on my own or this run could have been torturous. I barely saw another person other than the wonderful aid station volunteers until the lead runners came back towards me after the first turn around.
In the first km – already no other runners in sight. Beautiful scenery though!
In the end, they extended the cut-off and allowed me to finish in 6:05.
In the days leading up to the race, I had debated whether I should drop to a smaller distance and do my first marathon at a bigger event. Part of me wishes I had. If I’d run this time at Sydney, Gold Coast or Melbourne, I would have been ahead of 100s or even 1000s of other runners looking at this year’s results rather than being accompanied by the tail bike rider for the final 7km.
However, at those bigger races, it would have been harder for my friends and husband to see and encourage me along the way, so that was a pretty good trade-off for it being a smaller race (114 finishers). I wouldn’t have had as many photos to break up this essay either and the multiple out and back laps meant I could high five and greet the other runners I knew.
Feeling the heat but plodding away
Looking at my pace throughout the race reinforces what they say. My need to walk was all mostly in my head. I had walked A LOT in the few kilometres prior to dropping into last place. However, once the cyclist was alongside me and chatting (and radioing updates back to base about where I was at… passed final turn around, passed last aid station, second aid station, first aid station, in the final km…) I barely walked at all except to grab drinks!
Everyone who completed a swim, ride or run, regardless of the distance, was presented with the same medal so I could have swum 750m and run 5km and ended up with the same collection. However, I wouldn’t have had a race bib with my name and the word marathon on it. And I do know it’s not really about the medals.
My garmin registered 41.97km so neither garmin nor strava have recorded a marathon against my profile. Boohoo.
I’m almost tempted to do another just so I can get a medal that actually says Marathon.
Running through the main turn around point near the finish line just behind the lead male runner. I’m sure many of the spectators thought I was the lead female. Little did they know I’d just completed my first lap and he’d done two! Oh well, I soaked it up for a little while.
It was pretty awesome being the final marathon finisher of the first LCW held outside of Wales. There was a lot of crowd support because they’d been announcing my progress over the loudspeaker to fill in time waiting for the remaining few finishers before they started the presentations.
I’m a marathoner! I can still hardly believe it.
The race bling was worth it!
And yet there is still a tiny part of me that wants to have a crack at the whole thing next year.
On another note, I need to find something better to do with my hair when I’m on a long run. Any suggestions? I had it in a plait from a pony tail but I wasted too much energy trying to get those straggly non-fringe front bits at the front off my forehead and back up under the cap. Not to mention swatting flies!
With the 113th finisher – we played a bit of leapfrog early on but she won the head game first
on the day. It was Jane’s 15th marathon but she was injured.