Eastbourne and the sea.

My husband and I, somewhat to our surprise, liked Eastbourne. Haven’t been to the seaside for ages – friendly people, good service, nice food, ice cream. Didn’t like the ten hours driving time it took to get there with broken air conditioning!

The race was Ironbourne, a full distance triathlon running for the first time.
A beautiful, traditional pier was the start, jumping from about 6ft up into the sea. It was a flat calm beautiful morning. The start of hot, hot, hot and 31 degrees forecast. Loved the swim, enjoyed adjusting for the current. Hard work up the beach against it, fun flying down again being pushed and interesting ferry gliding to make the buoys when swimming across it. No chance to get bored in the hour and a quarter it took me to cover 3.8km.  I do sometimes get bored on the swim, attention span of a gnat.

Then onto the bike, almost flat, almost empty, dual carriageway which should have felt easy but felt quite hard. It took my legs about an hour and a half to really get going. We then went on to little roads. When we drove them it felt like they would be hard and slow but they rode really well. And hats off to the marshals on the food stations, they were amazing all day. I lost my tool bag on a bump despite new Velcro and a strap and spent the second half of the race anxious about puncturing. I was also worried how my neck and shoulders would survive that long on the tt bike but they did ok, had a lot of trouble earlier this year with that. Heat management was definitely part of the game, white helmet, white top to suit and uv protection  arm sleeves. I tipped 14 bottles of water over my head and drank seven, six of solution and one water. Just for the record I drank 310g of carb and ate 4 gels, 4 boiled new potatoes, 1.5 bananas and one muesli bar. So roughly 480g carb, about 70g of carb an hour. I rode slower than I think I would normally aim to, partly due to my power meter breaking the second I put my bike in transition (despite new batteries that week), and partly because of the heat. There were two main hills right at the end, after 110 miles I was dreading them a bit. But I loved the Beachy Head climb, a bit like Dunmail, nice and steady and nearly 4km long. Also like France with poppies and butterflies.
Came into T2 feeling amazing, never managed that before on full distance. Changed into shorts and white t shirt as my tri suit feels hot to run in. Poured a 2 litre bottle of water over my head and stuck on a white run cap, kept the mirrored sun glasses and arm sleeves.  Set off, carrying water…..slow for the first two miles said my race plan. I’m not sure what happened but it sure wasn’t slow enough. Over ambitious? Over optimistic? Optimism is one of my life characteristics. Lacking respect for the race and the conditions? Arrogant? Or all of the above. Or perhaps just the heat was starting to affect my judgement. Went through first 7 miles way too quick, about a minute a mile faster than race pace.  Again the marshals were brilliant, and many of the stations had hoses. My feet were really sore for a lot of the way so I was getting them hosed to cool them off. The course was 4 laps and three laps, minimal shade, along the prom. Lots to look at – jet skis and roller blades, reggae parties and families, sailing boats, dogs. It was really pretty coastal scenery which was fairly rapidly wasted on me. One of my worst moments came when I realised that a marathon was 26 miles and not the 24 that I had in my head!  Despite to my mind totally blowing my run I was 9th female in the run, highest position out of the disciplines, so if I made a mess others made a bigger mess. Maybe running a marathon in 31 degrees is just hard!

What do you do when finishing an Ironman isn’t enough? If it’s me you get really cross with yourself that you can be so stupid and vow to finally learn a very painful lesson about pacing for next time. You forget all the things you did right which got you successfully to the end of an ironman in 13 hours 21 minutes, 18 seconds, 9th out of 26 women. I am lucky enough to  move in a world where amazing people do amazing things all the time and forget that at 57 years old that’s not so bad. Then I gradually recalibrate and celebrate a great adventure and a great few days which has left me with some blisters, probably four toe nails less than I had, a nice plaque for coming second in age group….. and a bizarre urge to do it all again.

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