Yesterday was the last triathlon of the season for me, I'd entered it knowing that post Ironman I'd need something to keep me focussed and prevent me 1) going off the boil on a wild drinking frenzy and 2) stop me sinking into a state of depression having nothing to aim for.
It didn't really stop either of these things fully because the 2 weeks post Ironman, I pissed up the wall like an 18 year old fresher having left home for the first time. Chain smoked, binge drank and ate shit. Then drew a line in the sand and got back to business. Well I tried. My body didn't want to know, it was still fried from the Ironman, compounded then with 2 weeks of not being very kind to it.
A further two weeks, saw me feeling much more like AnnaB, back to my bouncy self which looking back I've not seen since the beginning of the year. Gone was tired, unmotivated, snappy troll girl that appeared about 4 weeks before the big dog. Which tells me I was quite possibly overtrained, overtired and in need of a break.
I had made a plan to try to achieve at Bala, this plan was get to as close to 2:30 as possible - it was always going to be a tall order, and withmy running having taken a big knock I decided there would be a good place to start making improvements, so I called in the brains of a couple of friends and set about working on speed work, nothing but speed work. 6 weeks of speed work. Trouble was 3 of these weeks were when my body was telling me to fuck off. So I only managed about one session a week and the rest of my "training time" fucking about on (and falling off) my new fricking beautiful and oh so fun mountain bike. The speed work I didwasnt too shabby, I was managing 6:30 miles the odd sub 3 min 800 (most of them 3 - 3:15s though) and was begining to show some consistency.
Then last week my speed session was a 5k run leg of a relay which I pulled a really shit time out of my ass and there and then said "hmmf, next weeks not gonna happen" I then had a terrible run at running club on wednesday (worse than i've ever remembered and even the guys at club commented)
Against my better judgement and advice from others, I took total rest friday and saturday and just commuted to work on thursday as i felt totally battered.
Anyhow, my target times i'd given myself some weeks ago to achieve this time of 2:30 were
Swim - 32 (my PB time on an olympic - though it wa smeasured short I'm sure)
T1 - 3 mins
Bike - 1hr 10
T2 - 2 mins
Run - 43
But this wasn;t going to happen - I'd swam twice in 2 months, not been in the lake since that awful time in switzerland, wasnt running well.
So back to Bala.
I'd left it too late to book anywhere to camp as planned as it was out inthe sticks of beautiful north wales so my dad insisted on driving me, or at least sharing the drive.
This meant leaving at 3:45 am. ouch.
So me and dad bickering about me driving too fast, revving too much, wasting his fuel, we stopped about 60 miles away and got coffee and i ate a couple of bagels and he finished the drive whilst i have dozed/dreamt.
We arrived just before 8am, after me having to get dad to stop so I could take a call of nature in some farmers field. The temperature had dropped considerably from recent days and the grass was heavy with dew when we got to the car park.
I went to register in a long queue to pick up my freebies, get my number marked on, chip etc and looked out at the lake, it was vast! and there were waves!! big waves! i've never swam in water with current before unless you count rapids at the swimming pool or the wave machine at the oasis!?
I headed back to the car and started getting my stuff ready.
I took my bike out and put the front wheel back in, I had borrowed Big Jan's (aka Gary from Paris trip) wheels as mine aren't very good and I'm saving up for some go fast wheels of my very own, but when I'd used them before the screw from the skewer was missing so for this I'd brought one of mine to use instead. I had trouble getting the wheel to go in, I eventually got it in and it seemed a bit tight. I tried to spin the wheel but it would just grind to a halt. I figured it was the brake, so loosed it off and it seemed better.
I got the rest of my things ready to take to transition and me and dad went on down and joined another queue to get into transition where they were checking everyones helmets and numbers, the queue took ages because people hadnt got their helmets tight enough.
I found where I was to rack my bike and chatted with the girls there for a while whilst getting ready, the girl next to me, in my age group was from Salisbury and hadnt booked anywhere either so ended up sleeping in her car in a layby over night, she'd recently done Roth ironman distance so wasnt sure what to expect either.
I set out my things, and squeezed my lardy ass into my wetsuit - not a nice look on someone carrying way too much fat right now! Happy that everything was in order I went to the lakeside where the first wave was getting started (the young men and old men). Off they went and in the ladies got to warm up.
The lake was stony and very cold. The cold didn't last as the wetsuit warmed up the water, it was certainly more comfortable than the warm water in lake Zurich. There had been health warnings about Blue Algae in the lake but we'd been reassured that the recent wind and rain had dispersed it.
We swam to the first buoy and waited to be started. I got close to the buoy so as to avoid swimming too much further than required as i've a nasty habit of going way off course.
I started my watch as the klaxon went and we were off, I started off hard, harder than I ever had in the lake, I'd already decided to make an effort similar to that I make in the pool on sprints. There were feet and hands everywhere, I polo swam the first 20meters or so to avoid getting foot in mouth or a broken nose and was feeling really strong and like I might be doing ok. I started to swim "properly" as in with my head under the water and was making progress, until I started to get big waves washing over me, it suddenly became really choppy, and I didnt know what to do, so breaststroked a little, got mself some space and tried to get back into a rhythm and stop panicking.
I eventually got into a rhythm and looking down I could see bits in the water, whooshing past underneath me, and I felt as if i was going so fast, it was a weird site, and i felt a bit surreal but I liked it, it was a bit trippy and difficult to describe. I looked up thinking I must be half way along now, but i was still miles fromthe first buoy! I didnt understand. There were still ots of people around me, and i kept overtaking one girl and then she'd overtake me, and thewater bitswere still whooshing past beneath me. I was sticking nice and close to the buoys as they passed. The waves were still knocking me about but i was enjoying the world underneath flying past. I rounded the firs buoy at the top end nice and close, not having to break my stroke, the second of the turn around I had to take breast stroke for a bit, I took the opportunity to check my watch - only to find I'd not started it!
The time said 10:16 and I know i'd started it at 9:59 meaning i'd taken 17 mins to do over halfway! Brilliant!
I begun making my way back trying to keep the rhythm I had, I'd lost the attack I'd started off with in the panic stricken section of choppy water.
Once more, the water was flying past under neath me, like sparkly cosmic rays. I got carried away in this psychadelic place and when I came up to spot, i found myself in the middle of the swim course - fuck! I started going back out to the right side of the buoys and could see a few yellow hats still (not many mind)
I was getting bored now, I wasnt' making any progress, I just kept losing my course, the sparkly water was distracting me and I kept forgetting to spot and kept zig zagging. Before long I was overtaken by fast men from the wave behind.
I then hit the choppy section of water once more, again knocking me about, slowing my progress. I really needed a wee, i'd already been for one during the swim but I knew if I ddint go now i'd need to go on the bike or run and that would be a total pain in the arse. But I couldnt go, no matter how i tried.
My right hand hit stones and I realise i was near the jetty. i got up and tried to walk, but couldn;t, the stones were sharp and making me unstable so i got back down and sort of tried to crawl the last 15 meters to the jetty, i once more tried to stand again fell, i felt like a cock, but the girl next to me had the same problems. I finally got to the jettty and was helped out by a marshall, trotted upt he jetty undoing my wetsuit, puling off my hat and goggles and shaking down my plaits like repunzle! (yet ever so slighlty less glamorous.)
I had no idea of time now, and didn't care, I was just glad that was over with.
I ran into transition and looked for where my bike was, the numbering wasnt very clear, and i ran around aimlessly for a bit, i'd lost my bearings and i'd lost my bike. I finally found it. I still needed a wee, i had two choices, go now, before i take my wetsuit off fully or risk having to go later somehow (and its' fucking hard wearing a one piece tri suit) so I did what any other scumbag would do, and just did it in my wetsuit whilst I got my hat and gloves on, can't say I can't multitask!
So wetsuit now off and full of piss, socks and shoes on, downed a Jiz gel, glasses on, and bike off the rack and restarted my computer.
Pushed it out of transition and it felt weird. I assumed it was the surface I was pushing it on. I got past hte mounting line and threw my leg over I clipped my right foot in and went to push off, but nothing. the front wheel turned round half a revolution and stopped. I jumped back off and could see my dad filming me ahead, i spunthe back wheel - fine. spun the front wheel. "pfft" it wouldnt turn.
I gave the brakes a poke, the left hand side was rubbing and stopping the wheel from turning. I tried to loosen it by hand, got back on, got round the corner, still rubbing. I got off again, and tried to pry the brake ioff the wheel, nope. I pushed the wheel to the side. I was cursing now and on the brink of tears, and pulling out of the race. I manged to get the bike moving by keeping my weight to the right and the brake off the wheel some of the time. I went for 8 miles pushing my lovely bike through treacle. Swearing at it every revolution, a man came passed me, asking if i was ok, i was clearly struggling. I hated my bike. But i felt guilty because I love it dearly.
I passed a man who'd sprayed across the floor being picked up by a pedestrian (later on i saw him covered from head to toe in road rash)
A man came passed me with a number the mark of the devil 666 - "Cunt" I wanted to shout. At him, at me, at my fucking brake!
About 8 miles in, and I was starting to descend, but still having to pedal, my legs were burning, and my rage was burning equally. I spotted a group of people watching, one of them a guy on a bike, i spotted he had a bike bag no doubt with tools in (yes, its something i normaylly carry but for some unknown reason i didnt bother today) I stoped and asked if I could borrow an allen key and he quickly got his tool out for me ;) oo er!
I took the brake right off, gave him back his tool, said thank you about 10 times, and got back on, immediately i accelerated! yay! however, i'd taken 30 minutes to cover 8 fucking miles!
I raced on, taking some risks going down the hill, particularly only with a rear brake. I could see people lots of people coming back the other way (the course was out and back)
I was now overtaking people, not hard as there were so many people in front of me! I reached he turn around at 40 mins by my computer, took it dead steady round cos it was wet and it was tight and i only had one brake.
I set back off up the hill, fighting off girls coming from bheind me, making a big effort to get past the oes in front.
I totaly flew the way back, not really thinking or feeling anything, just that I had a lot of ground to make up and having to take lots of risks on corners and any descents.
I reached the final 3 miles which was the run route and could see loads of [eople out there, how gutting. the leaders will have finished before i even get on the run!
I checked my computer as i got back into transtion and it siad 1hr 13, (it stops when i stop so wont have recored my exact time, but my last 12 miles was 33 minutes! that's the fastest i've done that distance. I'm sure it was sheer rage and adrenaline.
I ran back into transition and once more had no idea where my bike was racked. I was in the wrong row and had to run round, i still couldnt find it, and just dumped it where i could see a space and ran to find my stuff.
i whipped off my hat, and shoes, guzzled anohter jizz gel, trainers on, gloves off, grabbed a chewing gum, and my mates garmin i'd borrowed, also the bottle of coke i'd decanted into a little bottle downed that on my way out of transition and ran on.
I actually felt pretty good, i was thankful i'd taken total rest the days before, a lady yelled that i looked strong which gave me added motivation.
6.5 miles seemed a long way to go, i contemplated sacking it off, i'd not ran longer than 4 miles at a decent pace lately, in fact i'dnot run that fast for that long in months. But i felt surprisinly good. I checked the garmin but it didnt have a signal yet. I got on with overtaking everyone I came up to.
After about half a mile the garmin kicked in and i was doing between 7:15 and 7:45 min miles, it was quite a hilly route, but obvioulsy the payback for going up hill means you get to go down, so where i slowed to 8:30'si got it back doing 6 - 6:30s i liked this garmin thing! My gyppy S was shit and rarely worked for more more than a mile at a time, and i'd never raced with one.
A girl overtook me, running really well, so I told her "great running" she stuck a thumb up and ran on.
I hit the turn around still feeling strng but slowing slightly, i dug in, and had to climb the long drag i'd previously flown down. bottoming out at a 9min mile pace i started striding out. I could see women ahead and tried to catch them, half a mile to go, I wasn't going to do a 43 or eeven a 45 minrun, but I pushed on and dug deep, I rounded the corner and pushed past the lady in front, then got into where i thoughg the finish was and found it took you a furher 150 m round transition through a big muddy puddle, but i could see two more girls in front so i made it my ission to catch them too. My eyes went all funny like i might pasts out, and i thought i was going to piss my pants in my effort. I got passed and through the finihs line. A marshall asked if i was ok "yes fine" "are you sure"? i must hve looked like i felt.
Well despite the shit first half, i ended up feeling really good in the end, and with better preparation and some swimming lessons (or100) i might do better if i return next year.
My official times in the end were
1500m swim - 36
24 mile Bike - 1hr 17
6.5 mile run - 47
after the race taking my wheel back off i realised the problem, the fork was jammed round the spring of the skewer restricting movement. In addition, when i got home and did my washing, i found that my tool was in my back pocket all along - id put it there in case i needed it! :D
Time now for a diet, shift a stone before next season and enjoy a winter of running and mountain biking :)