Cath vs Bala Middle Distance Triathlon

Triathlete beginner and RW Pirate Cath, takes on her biggest challenge yet at the Bala Triathlon


Posted: 5 June 2007
by Cath


Calm before the storm: Cath and co at the start
First to say it was great to meet so many Pirates and everyone was really friendly and supportive. Pirate humour and camaraderie is really something which is in a league of it's own, but to be included in it as a newbie-triathlete was really fantastic! I couldn't have asked for better support!

The weather conditions for the race were ideal - the predicted downpour never came at all and it wasn't too hot. I had a moment early morning when I was so nervous about it all, I burst into tears. I'd been having major crises of confidence all week and really felt I shouldn't be trying to do this. How can a novice do this kind of thing...? But then, that's the piratey way apparently! That's not to say that just anyone can do this race because it's very challenging from a novice point of view, especially if you haven't done much hill training, if any at all.

This race is listed in the Top 10 toughest triathlons competition this year. It was also really nice to hear some of the more experienced pirates complaining about the hills, so that made me feel better. That said, anyone who is confident enough with their endurance (and I was) can do this kind of thing. I knew if I finished the swim, I would finish the race, albeit slowly.

I had a great race overall - it wasn't a great time but the way I see it, I can only improve from here. I had a realistic idea of my capabilities on the hills before I entered, so in my head I had set myself a target time of between 7-7.30 hours - so to complete in 7:08:08 really made my day. It was my first time at this distance and I'm really pleased I finished. For future triathlons, I think I need to do more hill training.

Swim: 1:13:55

This is my worst discipline and it was a particularly bad swim for me. I was nervous about the cold water because I can't get my breath properly doing front crawl in really cold water. I'm slow anyhow (56 mins in training for this distance) but was almost 20 mins slower. The mass swim start was a bit unnerving for the first time of experiencing it, consequently I stayed right at the back because I didn't want to get in anyone's way. My aim was to finish the swim without drowning.

At 8am the lake was like glass - a sheet of clear water in which you could see the distant hills. By 9am the wind had got up and the lake was choppy. This didn't help me as I've never had to swim in choppy water before. So, due to the choppiness of the water I think I drank half the lake before getting out. Also I had cramp from around the last half kilometer. I think I was last out of the water.

Transition 1

Came out of the lake with cramp and was feeling dizzy. So ambled back to the bike and was really wondering whether I should go on, considering I had a 48 mile bike ride and a half marathon to do! Pulled off the wetsuit without too much trouble (had worried about that) and slapped on factor 50 sun cream (optimism), my helmet, shoes and gloves and was off. Decided it wasn't over until it was over - and I was still standing. No need to give up until I had to stop or sit down.


In full flight: Cath sets of on the hilly bike section

Bike: 03:18:15

This is usually my best discipline. Bike chain came off at the mount line so I had to sort that out before even starting! Not a happy camper and didn't bode well. Thankfully that was my only mishap. Was waved off by huge cheers from the pirate supporters and (I hope) I gave them all a big smile as I knew I was beginning to enjoy things. Going through Bala so many people were cheering "Go Pirate!" it brought a huge grin to my face and it felt nice to be included in it all.

Considering I haven't done very much hill training, I thought the time for the bike split was a fairly good time for me. In addition to that, I couldn't get the gears to drop onto the little ring - so consequently did all the hills on the middle ring. It was hard work and for the first time ever, I was out of the saddle a lot.

My best time in training for this distance was 3:15 and so considering the hills, I was pleased to only be 3 mins outside that. The down hills were fantastic! Hadn't been able to eat much on the bike due to drinking half the lake, so that was worrying me for the run.

Transition 2

Faffed around a bit with getting helmet and bike shoes off. Put running shoes, GPS and baseball hat on and was off.

Run: 02:35:58

This part of the course was pretty hard. I'd done 8 mile runs in brick training. As usual I set off too quickly at 9.30-10 min miles. So consequently got to 8 miles and the legs thought "I can stop now" and had to coerce them to carry on. Seeing the pirates coming back on the return leg of the course was brilliant and I was really enjoying myself... huge smiles along the way. Everyone gave a cheer, or a hug. Even non-pirate competitors cheered "Go Pirate!" and that was really great!

The course was really hilly and again, I hadn't done much hill training and it showed. At mile six (ish) I was convinced I was last as it was getting pretty lonely. Until down the hill on their bikes come Iron Rose (fastest Pirate Ironman) and his lady. What a brilliant thing to have happen. IR says a few words of encouragement and I ask him "am I last..?" he says "doesn't matter if you are, you're doing it". That alone was a real boost of encouragement - for a really experienced pirate to give encouragement to a total newbie - really cheered me on! So I give a big smile and carried on running.

Next thing a few minutes later, he comes back and says "you're not last, there's someone behind you, keep going". That really cheered me up even more! I was to find out later on the return leg, there were actually two other ladies behind me. Managed to run all the way to mile 8-ish and then started to get cramp. The lack of nutrition on the bike was beginning to tell. I ended up walking up the hills (and there were lots of them) and then running when the cramp subsided.

Finally, came when I into the finish, the announcer stopped the prize giving to allow everyone to cheer me in. It was a really huge cheer for the last pirate home and I had to struggle not to burst into tears because I was so happy… and the best thing was, I wasn't last as I had thought!

Overall, I really enjoyed my day. It was great to meet so many forumites, RW supporters and so many Pirates! Thanks also to Wrecsam Triathlon Club for organising such a brilliant event. The marshalling, aid stations, policing and support on the course was fantastic and they should be congratulated on a great event. Nice race memento of a fluffy black towel - very useful for transition! Thanks to everyone for a brilliant day, this counts as one of my best races ever!

NamePosition Swim Bike Run Time
Mr M
51
00:34:19
02:19:05
01:36:22
04:29:46
Team Snorks
87
00:37:32
02:25:37
01:40:03
04:43:12
Hollywood
103
00:42:46
02:16:57
01:46:34
04:46:17
Mellifera
149
00:46:43
02:27:51
01:43:20
04:57:54
Crashie
171
00:42:15
02:33:36
01:49:40
05:05:31
Cougie
189
00:56:35
02:29:14
01:45:36
05:11:25
Daniel
223
00:45:14
02:31:39
02:04:39
05:21:32
Avalaf
228
00:41:56
02:34:15
02:06:37
05:22:48
GOM
249
00:46:39
02:49:18
01:54:49
05:30:46
Melissa
257
00:46:50
02:41:51
02:04:53
05:33:34
James
261
00:51:22
02:41:04
02:02:23
05:34:49
Nicola
264
00:44:12
02:46:14
02:05:29
05:35:55
C1 POL
271
00:51:05
02:38:13
02:10:33
05:39:51
ATO
283
00:48:53
02:43:02
02:09:51
05:41:46
Mark
284
00:58:19
02:45:26
01:58:22
05:42:07
Kanga
290
00:48:05
02:38:40
02:18:44
05:45:29
Ergo-phobic
297
00:48:24
02:47:13
02:13:18
05:48:55
Iron wifey
302
00:48:03
02:48:30
02:15:37
05:52:10
Flying Ant
317
00:55:36
03:01:21
02:06:09
06:03:06
Gonna Make It
322
01:00:16
02:52:46
02:15:00
06:08:02
DT
326
00:52:52
03:10:39
02:05:50
06:09:21
JD
331
00:53:32
03:01:27
02:18:23
06:13:22
Meldy
337
01:04:38
03:09:15
02:26:39
06:40:32
Squishy
338
00:57:27
03:09:39
02:33:26
06:40:32
Kitana
340
01:01:42
03:32:13
02:17:27
06:51:22
Cath
341
01:13:55
03:18:15
02:35:58
07:08:08
Symes
344
02:35:42
03:36:03
02:07:47
08:19:32
Bryan the Snail
345
02:16:04
03:21:34
02:41:55
08:19:33
AnnaSpanna
---
00:47:05
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DNF

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