Long Course Weekend, Tenby, Wales-Tracy Markham

A race report, for a race like no other.
It has now been four days since the end of the Long Course Weekend and I think the fact that I won has actually landed. I had hoped to do well at the event, but winning it was really only a bit of a dream. Crossing the finish line and being able to lift the winners tape was a surreal moment and the culmination of months and months of many training hours.
Thanks, at the very beginning to Dinamic Coaching for the brilliant coaching, and to my wonderful other half, Gareth, for the patience, support and love needed to commit to such an event.
For those that don’t know about the event, it is a long distance triathlon (140.6 miles) over 3 days set in the beautiful town of Tenby. You can either enter each event individually, or you can enter as a Long Course Weekend athlete, where you aim to finish all three events and get the sought after “4th medal”. This was my race experience:
The swim
When I arrive in Tenby on Friday afternoon and looked at the beach I wondered where we were going to swim! There was a whole lot of beach and not a lot of water! However, the tide quickly came in and at 7pm we were ready to go. The vibe was incredible, with the beach absolutely packed with swimmers and supporters.
The gun went off, the fireworks were fired and we were OFF! I managed to find some quick feet for the first lap but the second lap saw me go a bit off course (blunder!!). I struggled against the tide which was still coming in so found myself constantly fighting to swim towards the buoys and not land back on the beach! There was also the odd jelly fish to be dodged but all in all a good swim in good conditions.
Out the water in 1h2min was a bit disappointing as I was hoping for a sub-hour but it was my own fault for not swimming in a straight line!! After the swim we waited around to find out if I had managed a top-10 position (as this meant I could go off on the bike at an earlier time the next morning, instead of the allocated 9h45).
Whilst waiting I scoffed down a burger and fries (sorry coach!) and after hearing I had managed a top 10 we headed off home to get some sleep before the big bike ride that lay ahead.
The bike Waking up on Saturday morning to a very wet and blustery day was a bit disappointing, as I had hoped for some good weather, but I parked those negative thoughts and prepared to ride my socks off!
Getting to ride down a ramp with fireworks was EPIC!! What a way to start a ride. It gave me goose bumps and made me even more committed to riding the best race possible, I had a plan to execute and nothing was going to stop me from doing it. The bike consisted of 1 “small” loop and 2 big loops, with a Queen of the Hill Sprint at the end of each big loop. The climb was a short and sharp one up Saunders Foot and man did it hurt! On that, when I got to the bottom of the hill and saw the red start banner I wasn’t sure whether I should go for the QOH but then I saw Gareth and he shouted at me (GO FATTY GO, to be precise) and I launched myself at full speed up the hill.
I had no idea how fast I went or whether I was even close to being in the running for the competition but I had given it everything and would have to wait for the finish to find out! When the second sprint came round I decided to do it again, just for fun, although with 100 miles already in the legs I knew it was unlikely to be enough.
The ride took me 6h23 and I loved it all. It was tough but I had such a feeling of accomplishment at the end it was all worth it. Also, finding out I had the 2 fastest sprints up Saundersfoot and had indeed won the QOH competition was amazing!!
The afternoon was spent with my compression socks on, my feet in the air and eating all the right recovery foods…I had a marathon to run the next day!!!
The run
I woke up with a buzz of excitement in my stomach…I had never run a marathon before and today was going to be a real test of the body for me. Thankfully, the legs felt surprisingly good, considering I had put them through their paces the day before, and I was mentally ready to run as best as I could. There was such a buzz at the start and it made me even more amped to run my socks off!
I started the run at a conservative pace and set myself into a rhythm. I got such a shock to see the 3 mile sign, I was so much in the zone that I didn’t even know how I got there! No worries, the MONSTER climb that was in front of me quickly brought me back to reality. Oh my goodness it was a shock to the system.
When I got to the half way mark in Pembrokeshire I was still feeling great. I had run with a guy called Daniel Farmer and he was a brilliant running buddy, keeping me at a solid pace and motivating me to keep going. What a champ. The next 7 miles were also ok, the views were beautiful and the support was amazing. The last 6 miles, however, were HARD!! Wow, that is where the rubber really hit the road. Thanks goodness for Gareth’s support along the way and the cheering from the crowds, otherwise I think I may have stopped and shed a little tear!!
There was a little climb up into Tenby and then downhill to the finish..and that’s when I heard the loudspeaker, the music and saw there was a chance that I would come in under 3h30!!!! Wow, I had NOT expected that! I pushed as hard as I could and then, when I got onto the red carpet I saw them hold up the winner’s banner… what…I had won!?!?
OH MY GOODNESS!!! What an amazing feeling!!
The time between finishing and the awards ceremony was a bit of a blur…I was on a complete winners high.
The award’s ceremony at the end was something really special. The event organisers made it amazing, and having all the Long Course Weekend athletes walk down the red carpet to get their 4th medal, in recognition of what they have achieved is spectacular.
This was the race of my life, and by far my biggest achievement to date. I can’t say thank you enough to Diana at Dinamic-Coaching, without her coaching, motivation and support I could not have done it. Also, to Gareth, you are the love of my life and I know, that without all that you do for me, I would not be able to train and race the way that I do.
Thanks to Activity Wales Events for a truly mind-blowing event. The LCW is so well organised, supported and executed, it is by far the best event I have ever participated in. I really cannot wait to come back next year to give it another go! http://www.activitywalesevents.com/ http://www.dinamic-coaching.com/contact-dinamic/ http://www.tracymarkham.com/