Race Report: ROC Triathlon Abersoch: Going for Green

This was the first time for the ROC and there were 70 starters of which four were women. Looking at the forecast the weather was going to be hot, but that’s the same for all competitors.
The format of the race was:
1.2k sea swim
30 mile road bike to the bottom of Snowdon
12k run up and down Snowdon via the summit on the Watkins trail
30 mile road bike back to Abersoch
1k beach run
On race morning there was a warm breeze, full sun and no cloud cover. I felt relaxed and a bit nervous. There was a cut off time at 12 noon 4k up Snowdon. If we missed it we would be turned around to head back on the return leg, missing out the last 2k and the summit. At the briefing they tried to reassure us by saying that making it up to the 4k point was still a fantastic achievement and we would get the ROC medal, but it would be with a grey rather than a green ribbon. I wanted to get to the summit and achieve the green ribbon, so it was game on. I had done my calculations and gave myself plenty of time, I expected to do the swim and T1 in around 30min, my bike would be about I hour 45 which would give me 1 hour 45 to get up to the cut off, which should be fine. I would not run much of the Snowdon ascent as the height gain is 1,000 meters in four miles and I am not a strong hill runner.
Accompanied by Phil (aka Dobbie), I went to transition, racked my bike, and headed down to the beach to check out the swim start. The waves were big, and it was hard to see the swim buoys, they seemed to be having difficulty putting buoys out and the last one was put in place with one minute to the start! This was not great as we began the swim not really knowing where the route was. This confusion only increased as the swim progressed!
The swim was hard due to the conditions – we couldn’t see the buoys or other competitors, so I focused on relaxing, trying not to take on too much water and sighting when I could. It felt a long swim and hard work although I found a small group of swimmers and settled in to the race. I exited the water after 40mins, so I was already behind my schedule.
I headed out of T1 on to the bike course which was on the main A road along the coast to Porthmadog then inland though Beddelert and on a few miles to a farm where T2 was situated. The route was fast and undulating, I had been concerned about the traffic, but it didn’t seem to be an issue. I spent the early part of the bike checking out how I was feeling after the swim and wondering if I may get a second sight of my breakfast. Surprisingly I felt fine and settled down to riding. I had chosen my TT bike as I wanted to ride it in preparation for another race. Most other competitors were on road bikes. We cycled into a headwind for the first 20 miles, although this helped keep us cool. The final 10 miles were hot with a few welcome shady areas. I enjoyed the bike.
As we approached T2 I started to think about the next stage, a quick look at my watch reassured me as I was a few minutes quicker on the bike than expected. I was hoping that my running bag had been successfully transported to T2 by the organisers. I didn’t need to worry, the friendly marshals sorted us out and told me that I was the first lady through. That was great, although I was sure that I would be overtaken on the ascent at some point.
I quickly changed into my trainers and set out on the track. I had 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the cut off, that should be enough. I had decided to carry 1 litre of water as the briefing had said there was water at the summit and emergency water at the cut-off point. We also had to carry emergency equipment that included full waterproofs and foil blanket! We had more chance of getting heat stoke than hypothermia! I felt hot and as expected stopped running and settled into to walking as quickly as I could. Part way up the track I saw my friend and her daughter, they really lifted my spirits. I stopped for a few moments, gave them a sweaty hug, and then headed off. About 10 minutes later two of the other female competitors caught up with me, we chatted about the race before they pulled ahead.
I was starting to feel the heat and, although I was drinking plenty of water I was probably not eating enough. Then suddenly the track turned, and above me was the 4k cut off. I looked at my watch 11.40am, phew I was going to be fine, the summit was on. I would have the green ribbon on my medal. I checked my water and decided not to take water at 4k as it was for emergencies, I would get some from the summit check point feed.
The last 1k of the climb is more like scrambling and it was busy with other people, so progress was hot and slow. I finally made it to the top ridge and felt a welcome breeze. As I went through the check point I asked for some water, but they didn’t have any. I was disappointed but not worried as I can descend well and would soon be back at the 4k cut off and pick some up there. It took me a bit longer than expected to get down as lots of people were coming up. Also I had sprained my ankle four weeks earlier had it still hurt on the uneven descent. I reached the 4k cut off only to find they had run out of emergency water! I knew I was towards the back of the field by now, but I was going to finish. I continued to descend and sped up as the path became easier.
By the time I reached T3 I was thirsty and feeling a little sick. There was plenty of water, so I stocked up and quickly headed back out on my bike. It was so hot, but we had a good tail wind. However, I couldn’t use the tri bars or push hard as I felt sick. I calculated that stopping to be sick would take longer and make me more dehydrated, so I cycled at an easy pace and tried to keep taking on food and water. After about 15 miles I started to feel better, but the damage was done, I didn’t have the energy to up the pace again. My time for my second bike leg was the same as my first but it could have been faster.
Still I didn’t care I was happy, I had expected to take seven and a half hours and I was going to be under eight hours so that was a great result for me in these conditions. Back into transition and then 1k run on the beach past the finish line out to a break water and back.
Over the finish line, Green medal and third woman. Happy and, yes, my mojo is back, I am going to sign up for next year hopefully with a few more members of Kendal Tri Club.