Ironman Wales 2022

Ironman Wales 2022 Race Day 

My first Triathlon, My first Ironman and I pick one of the hardest courses available 😅👍 

Just so you get an idea of how much of a beginner I am in this sport here are some of my stats leading into this race:

Longest sea swim: 300 yards in sunny warm Greece 

Longest ride: 63 miles 

My run mileage hasn’t gone over 20 miles per week all year. 

Hopefully, this gives you an understanding of how little I prepared for this. I was originally meant to do ironman UK but my wife and I had our second child around that time so I had to change. My wife told me to postpone it until next year but when Ironman Wales opened up some more slots for this year I couldn’t resist! 

Can you complete an Ironman with minimal training: YES 

Should you: Probably not if you want an easier day! 

The reason for the lack of training is a mix of work and having children. It’s our second child and I’d clearly forgotten how hard these early stages are. My wife is a godsend and does 90% of the work but I still need to be there and help where I can. 

Anyway, background info is out of the way, let’s get into race day. 

I was staying around 15 minutes out of the town centre so I was up at 2:30 am to allow plenty of time for me to chill out and get ready. Once in transition, I gave my front tyre a little air put my nutrition on the bike and set off down towards the beach. 

6 am and already the long transition is rammed with spectators! As I’m walking down the infamous zig zags a lady next to me says it’s the roughest she’s seen it in 10 years of Ironman. Great. It looked very choppy but as it was my first event I wasn’t to know any different so I didn’t let it bother me. There is nothing better than a large crowd of welsh people singing the welsh national anthem! Nothing! 

The sun was rising and the pros were off! Thunderstruck starts blearing out of the speakers and we start making our way into the sea. I read somewhere before that if the tide is strong aim to the right of the buoys to allow yourself some extra room for when you eventually get dragged back towards shore. I set off and was going like the clappers to get out past the waves. Straight away my right shoulder started to hurt but there was nothing I could do about that now so just carried on. The trip out to buoy 1 was the toughest part. The 2nd buoy was rammed by the time I got there and I felt like was going to drown while trying to get around it. I literally had to stop and shimmy my way around the buoy. I got going again and relaxed into the swim. I had no idea how fast I was going but my aim was to hit the beach for the Aussie exit around the 40-minute mark. As you turn buoy 3 and head back to shore you’re pretty much dragged there it’s a nice fast section. I get out and check my watch and it’s on 33-minutes. Beaming! 

I must of run past 20 people during the short run around the rock before getting back in the sea. They all quickly came back passed me when I had to stop for a wee though. 2nd lap was much tougher and I nearly swam to the second buoy first because sighting was so difficult. I only lost a couple of minutes to the first lap so was out of the sea in 1:08. I could not believe it. I was hoping for 1:20 – 1:30 so was over the moon. 

T1 is up the zig zags to the pink bags and a 1k ish run to were the bikes are. I talced my feet up chucked my shoes on and ran through the roaring crowds to the transition tent. I allowed myself 20 minutes for this transition so I didn’t have to rush. I made a last minute decision to put a gilet on over my tri suit before heading out on the bike. The forecast seemed to change every hour in the week leading up to the race so I put it on just in case it decided to rain. Out of T1 in 14:11 

On the bike and I was hoping for 7 hours. What was this based off you ask? An avg speed of 15mph is 7 hours and I done that in my longest ride. Only just over the half the distance but still…must be doable, surely 😅. Strong tailwinds out to angle meant for some light pedalling to maintain a high speed. I don’t have any bike computers or power meters. I set my watch to alert me every 5 miles. If that time was under 20 minutes I knew i was on target. Keep it simple stupid. The bike was tough but no overall issues and I was sure I was on target pace. Then the rain hit! Around 75-80 miles the heavens opened and I congratulated myself on putting on the gilet. Once the rain started pouring the ride got a lot harder. I had to remove my sunglasses because I just couldn’t see anything out of them anymore. That made descending a lot slower because the driving rain into my eyes meant I couldn’t see. Without being able to descend at full speed I lost a lot of time. My 5 mile notifications starting creeping up. 21minutes, 23minutes. The final climb was soul sapping although the crowds were still there cheering you on in the pouring rain. One final descent back into town. The course takes you down alongside the run course and it was quite demoralising seeing soo many runners already out there. I put that thought a side though as realistically what did I expect on my first Ironman? It’s just a case of finishing so I crack on back through town to T2 bike leg complete in 7:33

T2 and the dismount line made me realise just how tough those 7 and half hours were on my legs. I hobbled over to the place where I needed to rack my bike then tried to jog to the transition tent but my feet were to sore so I resigned to a walk. Soaked to the bone and very thankful for a fresh pair of socks I got changed and had some water and a scotch pancake. Both transitions i really took time just to make sure I had everything squared away before setting off. I planned for 10 minutes in here and was out in 9:56 so bang on. Easy to knock at least 6 minutes off this time in future. 

At this point I knew I was going to complete the course and become an Ironman. I banked enough time and was confident enough in my legs that I could make it to the end. I had a good 8 hours to complete this marathon. It is a tough course with little to no flat sections. It’s also mentally gruelling as it a 4 lap course. It really does test your mental fortitude. At this point in my head I worked out that I was going to finish mid 15 hours so I didn’t push at all. The first 10k lap I was just over 10 minute miles. Then the wheels come off and my pace dropped to 11 minute miles then 12 then 13. I was walking majority of all the hills and shuffling on the downhills. I was hecking every time I tried to put food into me. Crisps were like cardboard. The Gatorade like acid. I didn’t risk any coke or redbull until the last lap. As it got dark the rain returned with a vengeance. I heard people violently vomiting in portaloos. The crowds were still out in force even as night fell and the rain poured. Every time you went through the town it got livelier! 

Collecting the last lap band was such a relief. A few miles left and I’d be finished. I looked at my watch checked the time..then had to walk while I’d run some maths in my head. I was completely wrong earlier. It wasn’t 15 hours I was going to finish in it was 14. I had about an hour left to go and calculated that if I ran 11 minute miles I could sneak under the 14 hour mark. Problem was I was running 13.5 minute miles now and I’d left it to late for my body to be able to respond. I attempted to pick it up but couldn’t quite get there and finished in 14:12. 

14:12 for my first triathlon, first Ironman on a tough course! I’m more than happy with that considering the training I had. A cold slice of dominos pizza was waiting for me which had to be washed down with some water 📦. Then it was a case of hobbling around getting changed, collecting my kit and making my way back to my car. 

What a weekend, what a race, what a crowd 👏 

By far the best crowds I’d seen at any event I’ve been to. Everyone soo supportive and the volunteers couldn’t do enough for you. 

I’ll definitely be back in Tenby. There’s plenty more time I can knock off. May be I’ll wait until the kids are bit older though so I can actually train. 

See you on the beach… 

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