Conquering my Open Water Swimming Demons
Tenby is a truly beautiful place and the whole weekend is fantastic. The whole town really buys into the event and support is incredible, especially coming in to Tenby to finish the bike & run. Pembrokshire is stunning and we are already talking about going back next year (my girlfriend came with me and really enjoyed the atmosphere as a supporter – she also did the 10K on Sunday.)
I did the half distances (1.2 mile sea swim, 66 mile bike (odd distance) and half marathon but the beauty of the weekend is that you can mix and match and there are shorter options again on the bike and run. You can also just sign up to one event like the run and there are kids events. Of course, the weekend gets its name from the fact that many are there to complete the iron distance swim/bike/run and they also get a fantastic fourth golden medal – I’m thinking of trying to go back next year to attempt that. It’s a fantastic family weekend and we turned it into a mini holiday. We arrived mid afternoon on the Thursday so had a very relaxed registration and non stress start to things. On the Friday, we went back to the expo and managed to have a chat with Marcus Hultgren (winner this year and last year) and Lucy Gossage (6 time Ironman winner) which was fantastic.
My training for the sea swim had been pretty awful – every OW swim I did in training I bottled it and stopped much earlier than planned. I actually bottled it completely and decided not to swim a week before the event as I just wasn’t ready (the longest non stop OW swim I had done in training pre race was only 750m.) Anyway, eventually I decided I had to try and was very lucky with perfect conditions. The fireworks and very loud, dramatic music pre swim terrified me and it was so crowded that I was pretty intimidated by it all. Somehow I got into a rhythm and after what seemed like an eternity I reached the first buoy. It was like a car park with hundreds of people blocking the way so I had to take a really wide arc to avoid them. At this point I knew I could do this now and started to actually enjoy it! I’ve finally got the OW monkey off my back so hopefully things will get better from here.
The bike was a hilly 4000 ft of climbing (undulating as opposed to any proper hills.) Kudos for those that did the 112 as they had another part lap of that course with most of the climbing to do so it’s a very tough 112 course. Scenery was stunning and although not on closed roads, traffic was light and very well behaved. There is even a King of the Mountains climb in Saundersfoot with entry and finish inflatable gates and your name read out as you come through which makes you feel like you are on Le Tour!
The run was my first ever proper Half Marathon and what a race to start with. It had nearly 1000 ft of elevation and those hills killed me after the bike the previous day – the marathon must be a killer after 112 mile bike! Did pretty much the whole run with two guys dressed as He-Man and Skelator so reckon I will be in quite a few photos! The finish in Tenby was incredible with huge crowds and people finishing the run with their kids.
I absolutely loved this weekend, I can see why so many people come back every year. It really is a festival of Triathlon, really buzzing in the evenings too and lots of great places to eat (we pre booked several restaurants in advance.) I was very sad to leave yesterday and can’t wait to go back again.