Race Update – IM Wales, 9th Sept 2018, Claire Coey-Niebel

Writing this race report sitting in the back seat of my VERY packed car on a VERY long journey back from Wales.
I was probably more stressed about the logistics about remembering everything and getting me, Marc, Mum and Dad and bike down to Tenby than anything else, once we were there I was remarkably calm.

We left Glasgow 8am Thursday and were in Tenby for 5pm so long travel day but it was ok (better than the journey home!) I registered the Thursday night we arrived to get that box ticked then had a chilled day with just the race brief Friday late on, half a chilled day and bike racking Saturday, early dinner and early to bed for 3.50am alarm call! I did manage to sleep a good few hours too!
We were staying about half an hour out of Tenby due to lateness registering which was absolutely fine. Tenby is a beautiful seaside town but when Ironman is in town it is just crazy, all the locals have their flags out and everyone is so supportive and friendly in the days leading up; I was quite glad though to be out of the hustle and bustle Friday and Saturday as it can be quite draining and also hilarious the blatantness that fellow triathletes look you up and down!!
I’d racked the bike later on the Saturday due to it be raining all day but had managed to bin bag all essential mechanical parts to protect them best I could (especially as it wasn’t my bike!) and also pumped the tyres (a few psi higher than I wanted) as I’m totally paranoid about messing it up on race morning, that way I know it’s done.
3.50 alarm out the door by 4.30, in Tenby for 5 as we had to be lined up at appropriate swim pen at top of the beach for 6.30. That 1.5hr just disappeared but it was very eery walking around Tenby in the pitch blackness with over 2800 fellow athletes, that’s something that will stay in the memory bank.
At 6.30 we were led down to the beach along the now famous Tenby zig zag, I chatted to a nice girl beforehand, we listened to Phil sing the National anthem and then it was go! I thought I would have a pre race “moment” before getting in the water like in Edinburgh last year but I didn’t.
Swim was great, I’d put myself in 60-65 min pen realistically looking at in around 65min mark, first lap was pretty busy and had to rely on the masses for direction and sighting, got a couple clonks across the head but nothing new there! Totally delighted to get out after lap 1 at 30min (half IM swim PB, thank you!) had to take a double take at my watch. Little run out on the beach smiled and enjoyed all the crazy support and back in for lap 2. Had to stop in the water and fix my timing chip as felt loose at one point but for the first time ever found myself in a nice little pack for bits of lap 2, tried to not freak out at the jellyfish below me and out in 1hr 2 apparently!
The run to T1 was insane! We had to run up the zig zag path and then 1km run around the entire town to get to T1 but again the support was crazy so you just soak it all up and I used it as opportunity to take a gel on board and get the nutrition going. The only thing I’d change about my set up for Wales in the future would be my bike shoes, I’d left them on the bike rather than in my blue bag and therefore had a very painful run to the bike in bare feet as transition hadn’t been carpeted and same on way back after the bike, it was so sore and therefore slow.
The bike was ok, it stayed mostly dry but was very windy but time actually passes pretty quickly when you are thinking about eating every half hour; I went in with caution as I knew I’d struggle later on, chatted to folk (tried to note any females who went past to check age group) but there’s not much you can do but ride your own race. I knew the marathon was going to be a blooming hard hilly endeavour and I didn’t want it to be horrific so I really gave the bike course some respect, and I was glad I did, cause the last 20/30km were tough, not awful, I knew I was ok but I was glad I hadn’t gone chasing! Power was used more to make sure I wasn’t riding too hard uphill cause it was pointless trying to “average” power cause you lost it all on the descents. The bike course I can only describe as relentless, the main climbs are well supported with Tour de France style riding and support but the entire course is a hill or descent in one shape, form or another with over 2500m climbing. My support crew were in the middle of one the climbs with Marc running alongside the second lap when it was starting to hurt, it was so cool!!The climbs I could handle they didn’t bother me, it was the crazy technical descents with guys going past me at a zillion miles an hour, I’ll admit I’ve lost my bottle a bit as I was generally pretty good at descending but my aim yesterday was to finish and in one piece so I was a complete pansy on the descents.
Needless to say I was very glad to get off the bike and after the first lap knew I was going to be ok! The run is four laps with pretty much a 4.5km climb out of tenby (and I don’t mean an incline, I mean a hill!) and then 4.5km back down and 1km round the town. Legs felt ok, I just kept them moving (very slowly) up hill and then thankfully the quads were in decent enough nick (prob cause I hadn’t gone too hard on the bike!) to let me run quite free downhill. The bit of the run around town didn’t count as it was ten times the crazy of the bike course, it was five people deep in parts, there was some very drunk people, very loud people, some barely dressed people, some fancy dress people and a million supportive kids all wanting high fives and I tried to give them to as many as I could. I’d had a bit of a too and fro with a girl on the bike but she’d finally gone past me in the later stages but I passed her I think on lap 2 and Marc had told me I was third so I knew I just had to keep going and each lap I was pretty sure she was dropping further behind at crossing points. I had stuck to my nutrition plan to the letter and all was good but at the half marathon point I eased off on the gels a bit as I had the odd stomach twinge and ultimately knew I was going be ok with what I had on board. I only stopped for a few secs on each lap to fill up the water bottle I was carrying rather than having to stop at each station and once to check I didn’t have a stone in my shoe (I didn’t the ball of my foot was just on fire!)
The toughest part of the run for me was actually the last bit around town on the last lap, it seemed to go on forever, my watch was reading 42km and I was starting to cramp up but finally I rounded the last corner and got to the finishing chute, blew Marc a big kiss and enjoyed the run down the red carpet! Again I thought I’d be emotional, I was, but in an ecstatic relief way, not a crying way, the poor mayor giving out the medals got the biggest sweatiest hug ever!!!
Yesterday was epic, a race I will never forget, to finish made me ecstatic, to finish sub 12 hrs even happier and podium finish a bonus!! I am an Ironman!!! All I can say to anyone contemplating Wales….do it!!!!


posted by Claire Coey-Niebel on