Long Course Weekend 2018 – the good, the bad and the ugly

Tamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend run

Two years ago, I took part in Long Course Weekend. I’d originally entered the full distance, but when I got pregnant, I realised that I wouldn’t be able to do the full event. I loved the experience, so we agreed that we would come back when M was a bit older so that I could do the full distances.

M is not a good sleeper, so my training has taken a nosedive this year. It’s been very frustrating for me as I spend most evenings getting M to sleep and therefore do not go out. As a consequence, I decided to downgrade my distances to the half swim, bike and run.

The good: the swim

I’ve swum less than 10 times this year, so I was quite nervous about whether I would actually be able to swim 1900m. Stu and I did a test swim on Wednesday, which was OK. The water felt a little cold, but not too bad. However, neither of us swam very far – just enough to check that our wetsuits fitted!

On the evening of the event, I felt really nervous. When I got into the water, it felt quite warm, which was a relief. I had positioned myself near the back as I knew I would be one of the slowest swimmers.

I started at a steady pace and just kept going.

The swim course is essentially a triangle. It felt like it took me a long time to reach the first turn buoy. I looked around and was surprised to see that there were a lot of other swimmers around me and quite a few behind me. My main concern was that I had used too much of my energy too soon and that I would get progressively slower as I swam further.

The second half of the swim

The swim leg across the bay was quite challenging as there were a lot of boats. At one point, I felt like I was on my own and worried that I had gone off course, but when I looked around, I realised that there were swimmers a few metres to my left and some more a few metres to my right, so I assumed that I was doing OK.

Finally, I reached the turn buoy on the far side of the bay, near to the lifeboat station. The water was much more choppy and it was getting harder to swim.

As I turned back to the beach, the sun was in my eyes and I realised that I couldn’t see well enough to sight accurately. I just kept swimming. As I got towards the beach, I noticed some of the fastest swimmers doing the 3.8k swim going past me. I had expected to see them much earlier, so that was a surprise.

At one point, I realised a safety kayaker was speaking to me – the current was dragging swimmers across the bay, so if I didn’t swim to my left, I would end up swimming into Goskar rock!

Finally, I was out of the water, I didn’t have enough energy left to high five children who were clapping and I only managed a feeble jog.

Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018 Tamsyn finishing the Long Course Weekend Swim 2018

When I saw my finish time, I couldn’t believe it:

Tamsyn's result for the Wales Swim

My previous best for a 1.9km swim was about 55 minutes, so to knock 5 minutes off that with very little training was such a lovely surprise.

The bad: the bike

Probably the less said about this part of the weekend, the better.

I asked Stu before we left Southampton whether we needed to charge up our bikes as they have electronic shifters, but he said they’d be fine. I thought no more of it until we were heading out of the chalet on Saturday morning. It was a short ride from where we were staying to the start of the Wales Cycle. On the way there, Stu said that there was a problem and that he wasn’t able to change gear. I was concerned, but he said he’d be fine.

We got in the pen with others and had a little while to chat. At about 10:40, it was time for us to start.

We crossed the line and headed away from town. Just a couple of kilometres in, we got to a hill. It wasn’t a big hill, but it was enough for me to want to change gear… but I couldn’t. Unfortunately, my bike also needed to be charged up 🙁

We turned around and rolled back to the campsite. That was the end of our sportive.

Tamsyn's result in the Wales Sportive

The ugly: the run

We got up early to head to Five Arches to get on a coach to Pembroke. Unfortunately, when we had transferred our places from the marathon, we were not told that we needed to buy coach tickets and when a friend checked for us later, she was told that it wasn’t necessary.

The coach drivers had checklists and we were not on them. There were a lot of people in a similar predicament. After a lot of nervous waiting, we were allowed to get on a coach.

Stu and I were joined by several other members of STC including Dean, Martin, Angela and Becca.

Angela said that she would run with me, so we started together.

Tamsyn and Angela running at Long Course Weekend 2018 Tamsyn and Angela running at Long Course Weekend 2018 Tamsyn and Angela running at Long Course Weekend 2018

It was a hot and sunny day and my lack of training quickly became apparent, so I encouraged Angela to run on without me.

I knew the second half of my run because I had done the 10k two years earlier. I was a lot fitter then and felt frustrated that I was running more slowly than when I was pregnant.

Towards the end, I started walking, but I saw Becky Tovey (former STC member and Romsey Road Runner). She shouted encouragement and I started running again.

Towards the finish, I saw my mum and M and then I passed my friends from STC.

It was great to reach the red carpet.

Tamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend runTamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend run

Tamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend runTamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend runTamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend run Tamsyn finishing Long Course Weekend run

I finished. It was of my slowest ever half marathons – I think I finished Weymouth Half only a minute or two slower and that was at the end of a half ironman.

Tamsyn's result in the Wales Half Marathon

I’ve definitely got unfinished business in Tenby and hope that I can come back and complete the full Long Course Weekend one day.

Have you taken part in the Long Course Weekend? Do you have any tips (apart from charging my bike)?

I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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