I’ve just completed my fifth triathlon! This one was different to the last four as it was my first FULL one, which means I had to undertake a 1000m lake swim, a 51k hilly cycle ride and a 11km hill run. But I was so excited as this time the event was held where I now live: the Snowdonia National Park.
Hills are my ‘thing’ and now that I live in Snowdonia I can get out into the mountains any time I want. My favourite place to bike train is the Pen y Pass.
So, as you can imagine, I was really excited, especially because I’ve been training on the cycle route three times a week in the lead up to the competition.
So, how did it go?
Well, it was quite hard for me at first just because I’d worked at the BodyPower Expo exhibition at Birmingham over that same weekend, so I was tired from driving to Brum on Thursday night, then working two days at exhibition and then driving back to North Wales on theSaturday night.
My race started at 10am and, with only 6 hours sleep, I didn’t really feel like I could actually go through with it, but I was so excited that I just decided to just ‘go for it’ anyway.
On the Sunday morning when I arrived at the registration point in Llanberis there was an amazing atmosphere. So many fit triathletes running around me and very nice and friendly staff at reception. Finally I got my race number - 928 and my orange cap. Everybody was smiling and so helpful that I forgot to think about how tired I was and started to really concentrate on the race ahead.
There were four groups of different colours. Blue started first, then the yellows and then my orange group and finally the greens.
It was then that I noticed I was the only female in my group! I then realised that this was because I was racing instead of my friend, who is a man. But I like a challenge so I was happy to be surrounded by ‘manpower!’
Then it was time for the swimming section. Many other people just stood there by the water, but I knew what to do from my training experience: I splashed my face and warmed up with a few strokes before I started. It’s harder to swim in a lake because the type of water makes a big difference when you are a pool swimmer. I’d practiced lake swimming three weeks before this race so that I would be ready, and now we had just 5 seconds to go and ‘boom!’ the swim started!
I put my head down in the water to stay focused on breathing and keeping up a nice strong stroke, but it was hard because there were around 300 competitors and so some of them got in my way and were kicking me. So, after 200 metres, I changed to breaststroke just to stay focused tried to relax as my body was getting cold.
The swim went more easily then and I realised I was at the finish and could run to my bike. There was a really great atmosphere with spectators all around supporting everyone.
I ran to the transition and tried to get my wet suit off. Finally I got to my bike, took off the wet suit, put the helmet and boots on and ran to the road. I jumped on the bike and pedalled to the Pen y Pass hill. It’s three miles of nice steep hill, so I was really excited. Many people were struggling as they hadn’t had the opportunity to train in the hills, so I had the advantage.
The cycling was fast as I was in the men’s group and they had really strong riders, so I tried my best to keep up with them. We were going so fast that I didn’t even realise we had reached the Ogwen Valley. This valley is pretty tricky for the cyclist as it gets very windy there and so you can feel like you’re pedaling like fury yet getting nowhere. But it was my lucky day as the wind wasn’t as strong as it can be.
I started to feel tiredness from lack of sleep, but I just wanted to keep up with my strong group of riders. We passed a lot of yellow competitors and that made me push even harder. And, at last, I reached the finish line. My legs felt like they were stuck to the bike and when I first dismounted I could hardly feel them, as they were so stiff. But I still wanted to keep going. I was warm enough and ready for 11km of hill-running around the Slates.