Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flying the Mendip Triathlon colours at Weymouth at Bustinskin Middle distance

This was to be the last triathlon of the season and I had worked myself into a tizzy because I knew it was hilly and I felt I hadn't prepared myself like I did for the hills at Ironman 70.3.  So waking up at 3.15 am and travelling down to Weymouth was an anxious journey.  The weather forecast wasn't good so I packed a  waterproof coat and gloves.  I had been pretty anxious about the swim to but once I realised that it would take place within the protection of the harbor wall, I felt a little better.

Bike all racked up and blowing around like a flag but wet suit on and ready for the off.  There was a slight delay in the start due to the buoys being blown right off their markers......mmmmm that made me feel a little uneasy. The water seemed quite calm when we started but as we got further out the waves appeared, I guess as we left the comfort of the harbor wall nothing was there to protect us.  Then a really strange thing happened... I took a breather to try and sight as the waves were getting larger and I couldn't see anything, imagine my surprise when I realised I was touching the sea bed with my feet. As I looked around there were other swimmers with the same bemused look on their faces.  So what can I say, I was faced with waves crashing into my face and I could have swam through taking on lots sea water and air but instead I walked a little bit.  This gave me some recovery time and the whole situation seemed a little surreal. As I we got closer to the exit point, protection from the harbour wall was restored and it was a lot easier to swim again. My chip kept coming off in the water so I rolled it up and put it up my wetsuit sleeve so as I came out of the water I had to spend time putting it back on my ankle.  I didn't fancy paying the £50 to replace it.

As I got into T1, I had covered my stuff with my high vise waterproof jacket but it had blow away and everything was soaked. I put my gillet on and the coat because the wind and the rain was awful.  i stared out on the bike and that long Portland stretch was dangerous.  The wind was so extreme I was being pushed into the kerb and I had white knuckles from holding onto the handle bars so hard.  In hindsight I would have put my training wheels on and not the deep rim carbon wheels!!! After escaping that windy stretch it was straight up a really sharp hill which when cold on a bike made my lungs catch on fire. The hill had a sharp right hand bend which the wind was blasting down at an incredible speed so as I turned I got off my bike rather than be blown off it.  The route took us down to the lighthouse and again the wind here was lethal.  I heard quite a few riders got blown off here and at this point I was ready to throw in the towel.  Clive kept going past in the trusty support van and on many occasions, I was ready to chuck my bike in the back and give up.  I know I'm pretty hardcore but I had NEVER EVER ridden in such extreme conditions. If Clive hadn't of kept popping up and urging me on it could have been a very different story.

Somehow I kept going the wind and the rain was persistent throughout the whole course.  The course had been compared to Wimbleball but I can safely say that although it is tough, there are a lot more downhills on the Weymouth course giving you some recovery whereas wimbleball is a constant up (or so it seems).
After a particularly long climb with the wind in your face many of us had to stop.  A rider has lost control of his front wheel and then headbutted  a passing car so we were delayed by about 20 minutes whilst they scraped him and his bike off the road. This isn't what you want to see, I had many issues with my safety with the wind as it was.  Standing around meant that we were all freezing to death as well.  Finally we were off again.

It was a long bike ride..... 59 miles in total on a hilly course with extreme weather with a headwind that stripped your skin from your face and the rain felt like it was leaving bruises all over your face.  I don't know why I had any fitness anxiety issues because considering the conditions  I was doing pretty well.  The ride was coming to an end and the last bit was that windy Portland stretch.  The wind was pushing me into the road and the cars passing didn't even seem to register.  I screamed abuse along that stretch, half expecting to find myself on  a car bonnet.  I have never ever been so happy to enter T2.  As I got there I was told the run was cancelled.  I cant say I blame them, half marathon on a coastal path, many of us would have landed up being blown off a cliff. I was ready for the run, I felt that I could have coped with it but was also happy that my fight with mother nature had come to a close. So in total 5.23. 

Although the weather was bad, I thought this race had the potential to be one of the best races that I could do.  The views were stunning and on a better day could be truly appreciated. I can't comment on the run but apparently its a killer, but that's just how I like it. Great organisation, Bustinskin hold some fantastic races and I will be back next year with a score to settle.  Big shout out to Clive I couldn't ask for a better support crew.

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