Slateman - Take Two

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Before I start I just wanted to thank Suzie Richards for her amazing blog.... Not only because she said such nice things about me, but also because it has kicked me into gear and got me writing my own report on 'Slaying the 'Slateman'!! Not only does she beat me across the finish line, but she also beats me to the blog post!! Anyways, now I have finished writing the thesis, I feel much more inspired to write a race report!

For those who don't want to read until the end, I will start with a handy Summary.....

Freezing lake, big Welsh mountain, head winds and a steep steep hill to run up. Swam as fast as I could just to get out quicker. Cold hands made for a less than average transition. Biked like a nutter, dug deep on the run and finished 2nd Female. Loved it!

For those who are more interested in the details...

I raced the Slateman last year and loved the race. It is fantastically well organised by Always Aim High events and set in beautiful (if a little hilly) Snowdonia. We arrived on the Friday and had a good final few days leading into the race. My taper went well and I felt relaxed and ready going into race day. I have had a really good winters training and was excited to try and put it to good use. The race is part of a series of three and there is a big incentive to do them all... Not just because they are set in beautiful scenery and are all challenging in different ways, but because the grand prize is well worth the effort!

I always arrive early and was feeling pretty nervous on race morning. It felt like it had been a long time since I had done a race with open water, probably because it had! I set about sorting transition and ran through transition so I could get an idea of where my bike was and what it felt like running from swim in, to bike out, to bike in and to run out! This is my normal pre-race routine... What wasn't so much was a quick interview with Dream team TV :) . It was nice to be asked and helpful for me to reflect on the race last year, my preparation and the race ahead. It also helped being more nervous in front of the camera than about the race, because it took my mind off it!

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The time before the race went really quickly and next thing I knew our wave was being called into the lake.... "It is not cold, it is not cold, it is NOT COLD!!" We were off and I relaxed into a rhythm pretty quickly. For some reason, I couldn't find any feet and ended up doing much of the swim on my own. When I got to transition it was the first time I realised the swim had gone ok... As all the bikes near mine were still there! This is where the good news ended as I then spent the next minute and a half 'faffing' with my wetsuit, not getting my helmet done up and then jumping on my back wheel as I tried to mount my bike (if I knew how I managed that, it would be more impressive)! One of my worst transitions ever and having numb hands and feet does not work well for me!

Fuelled with the fact I had been bypassed by Suzie in transition (whose transition was impressively textbook) I knew the chase was on. I got my head down and rode as hard as I could the whole way round. I felt strong on the TT bike and stayed on the bars as much as I could. It was windy, very windy... But the course is fast and you can get into a great rhythm. I even had a moment of appreciating the Ogwen Valley and being reminded of how amazing it is to get to race in Snowdonia! Coming into T2 I knew I had rode well, but still had no idea where I was in the race. I managed to safely dismount my bike and decided to swing my arm around in a mad attempt to get some blood circulating to my numb hands. Helmet off, shoes on... Shoes on, can't get foot in, shoe's on finally and out I go onto the run.

I went off hard and whilst I was a little put out by the new 'extra hill' at the start of the run (thanks for that, but feel free to take out next year!), l soon had sight of Suzie. This made me continue to run hard and focus on staying tall. I made up some time and was soon within about 20 seconds... But then the zig-zags arrived! Whilst I managed to do them quicker than I did last year, so did Suzie. She was incredible up them and whilst I tried to chase, my early running was taking its toll and I was hurting! I wanted to make a race of it and kept running hard and attacking the descents for as long as I could, but as I neared the end of the run I realised I would have to settle for second again.

Was I disappointed? Yes.... But was I also delighted? Yes. I gave everything and made it into a race. Suzie was amazing and we were both faster than last year, which is all you can ask for. I know that Suzie has big plans this year, and onwards, and is clearly training hard and getting the results she deserves! It is fantastic to race against good athletes because it pushes me to be better! Most importantly it is great to catch up with Suzie, chat all things training and triathlon, and see someone who races with a smile on her face!

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I left the beautiful Llanberis with a smile on my face and one thought 'I will be back!' Thank you to Always Aim High for the amazing event, the hospitality and the coverage of the races. I am also so fortunate to have an unbelievable amount of day to day support from Pete, his family watching on the day, and my family always! Thanks to Andy, I-Ride UK Powerbar, Huub, Thames Turbo and Everything but the Cow for believing in me and helping me achieve my goals. So excited for the rest of 2015!!