Before I did the Sting in Stirling I decided to enter the Anglesey Sandman. It is part of a series of three which included the Slateman. Because I did so well in that race I thought I’d take the chance on being recovered enough to do this one and get a decent time for the series.
Three weeks after the Sting, I wasn’t really sure I was ready! I’d done what I could to recover, which meant generally eating and sleeping a lot. I’d also done a few gentle rides and short runs to get the legs moving again. I’d had a slight niggle at the back of my knee which I ignored as it seemed like something just settling down.
On the morning of the race the wind was up and it was raining. Usually I relish bad race day conditions, but today I wasn’t so certain! The swim was moved to be more sheltered but still, it was very big and bouncy. I had so much fun, I’d happily have just done the swim leg three times (despite an annoying leaky goggle). Unfortunately for me, the swim move meant an extra 1km run leg back to transition! I jogged through it and got my bike. I dithered about what to wear and in the end put on my long sleeve jersey.
Out on the bike and I was really enjoying it … for a while! I caught one or two girls, including Jen who had won this event last year. But then it started to hurt. Jen (who went on to finish 3rd) came back past me looking strong and jumped across to a group in front. I was left feeling the burn as we went up another short climb. I was still well in the mix, as I had just come past the girl who eventually came first with a storming run. I was hoping that it was only feeling tough because the conditions and course were tough – maybe everyone felt the same!
Then disaster struck. About 7km from the end of a 60km ride, I got a puncture. This has never happened to me on my road bike in a race before and I was momentarily stunned. I thought about riding back on the rim but that would have been nuts! So I stopped and set about fixing it. I was in driving rain and a strong crosswind on a nice exposed section at the time – of course! I’d never heard of magic hole sealing foam, and don’t carry CO2 canisters, so it was manual job. Wheel off, tyre out, found source of puncture (a small metal staple), new tube in and start pumping! I now know that the shiny mini pump that Andy got me as a present works a treat, but takes some effort. By this time I was starting to get cold – thank goodness I made the choice to put on a jersey.
Apart from the time lost fixing the puncture, I lost a bit more as I set off with cold muscles and a little less motivation. I rolled into transition and started the run rather unenthusiastically. Luckily for me, partway round a girl from Chester Tri came past and she was just the right speed for me to sit in behind. I tried not to think about how much this was hurting. Eventually a marshal said ‘1km to go!’ (though I think this could have been a ‘marshals 1km’ 😉 ) and I put an extra effort in. But when we hit the choice of sand or stones on the beach my legs nearly packed up and I was in a sorry state at the end.
Those little niggles turned into enough pain that by the evening I couldn’t bend my knee and ice wasn’t helping. Although it got a lot better very quickly over the following week, I still felt quite down and very tired for several days. I think the effects of the Sting hadn’t quite worked themselves through!
If I hadn’t had to stop, who knows how the race would have gone for me. A good result and a positive mind can make you feel so very different (physically as well as mentally). But bad luck can happen to anyone and it was out of my control, so I have moved on quickly. The series isn’t realistic for me any more – though my dad keeps suggesting that you never know who might get attacked by a peacock on the bike course at the next race. Any potential Snowman competitors out there – you have been warned! 😀