Edinburgh 70.3, 2017
It was the morning of the event. The sea was grey, waves angry and swollen. All waiting anxiously it was announced the swim was to be shortened by half to 950m. I remember standing chatting to Shona Stewart before the start then we wished each other good luck. We’re off. I entered the water, began trying to swim out towards the first buoy, I emphasise the word ‘try’. The swell and current made it difficult to sight. My goggles steamed up. Stopped. Treaded water so I could clear them and from what seemed from nowhere a kayaker asked if I was all right. “Yes” I replied, “I’m fine”. Bobbed about and tried to get into my stroke. No. Not happening. Heard screaming and shouts of distress from fellow competitors. Bloody hell what have I got myself into? More treading water. Clung to another passing kayak. Eventually reached the first buoy. I think I drifted to it, because I sure did not swim to it! Time was ticking on and looking out I saw 3 buoys I still had to swim to. Not a hope in hell. A speed boat approached me and asked if I was OK? My reply was “If I get out, is that my race finished?” “Yes, I’m afraid so” was the reply. Tried to compose myself, bobbed about for a bit longer and tried to continue but all I could do was tread water. My breathing was becoming more rapid and I felt an overwhelming feeling of panic. “Please get me out, I’m finished!” Clambered aboard, unceremoniously flumped in a heap with another 4 or 5 rescued triathletes, all in the same boat (sorry I couldn’t resist that one). Found myself in the boat house handed a new nylon track suit and flip flops, one size fits all! I couldn’t remember feeling this flat…ever. Anyway, had enough of sitting about, got up, waited to get into transition to retrieve my bike and T1 bag. Drove to Holyrood to collect my other bags, watched the other triathletes finish their races and I said to Dave, my very tolerant and patient husband “Unfinished business…I’m finishing Edinburgh 70.3 next year.”
Fast forward to January 2018…
As soon as I could I signed up for Edinburgh 70.3 and I also had a notion to do a marathon, and in January promptly signed up for the Edinburgh Marathon. I then thought about what the hell had I done! I was under no illusion, I couldn’t do this on my own. Training, I didn’t know where to start so I contacted Karl Zeiner. I asked if he could take me on and help coach me through my ambitious season for 2018. First, complete Edinburgh Marathon in May, preparation for Edinburgh 70.3 in July. My reason behind completing a marathon is that I’m not a fan of running so I thought if I train and finish a marathon I might grow to enjoy running.
I completed Edinburgh Marathon in a time of 4:49:25. It was a cold and damp morning, in contrast to the day before which was hot and sunny. Then I noticed my Garmin had lost all its charge. I stupidly didn’t have it sitting in the cradle properly when charging it up the night before. Idiot! Anyway, excuses aside I completed my first Marathon and the whole experience was a massive learning curve for me. To be honest I’m not going to rush to do Edinburgh again. I’m not a fan of out and back courses! Next time I’ll look for a course with loops…any suggestions? I’ve not been put off at all…and now I do enjoy running, I’m converted!
Edinburgh 70.3, 2018
It was the morning of the event and the sun was out and the sea was blue and calm with a complementary blue sky. No wind to speak of and it was hot! Yes, hot! One loop of 1.2 mile course, just keep to the left of the big yellow buoys. Waiting in our holding pen I was with Myrah Robb, Norman Dixon and Norman’s brother all chattering excitedly wishing each other good luck, our anticipation growing and excitement rising of what we were all about to achieve later on that day.
Entering the water was no easy feat. The beach is covered with big stones to negotiate over. Anyway, got in the water, slipped and face planted straight into the water. My swim is now underway and I can honestly say it was just the best! For me, my sighting was perfect apart from being blinded when the sun reflected off the sea on the return leg. This was one of my best swims and it was in the sea! Finished the swim, unceremoniously clambered out then promptly fell to my knees, got up and made my way to T1. My swim time was 49:28.
Got changed in the transition on tent. Unracked and got on my bike and head off down the coast road and do what I love most…race my bike like a demented Pentland Triathlete! Despite it being so early in the morning the cheering crowds were just amazing.
The bike route was 56 miles, one loop of the Lothians with 933m of climbing and 899m of descending. I loved every single pedal stroke of bike route. The sun beat down and there was no head wind…yes NO head wind. The feed stations on the bike route were amazing. Going through Gifford meant the more technical part of the route was coming up soon. Heading out towards the Lammermuirs with short sharp hill climbs, hair pin bends and descents…all of which I love. The most memorable feed station was when cycling through Cousland you were piped into the village…amazing! I used the 10 mile markers as a guide, which was my main motivator, so by the time I saw the 50 miles marker I knew I only had 6 miles left. It was awesome to see Arthurs Seat emerge from what seemed like nowhere and I’m now thinking I’ve nearly completed the bike course. Exciting! All I had to do was cycle round the back of Arthur’s Seat then descend into T2. Wow! That final climb was brutal. Short, sharp and nippy on the tired legs and the temperature was rising. Reached T2, racked my bike and now ready to run. My bike time was 3:24:11.
The run was 13.1 miles with 191m of climbing and 194m of descending. Running with all the other triathletes was amazing and the support from the crowds was just fantastic. The volunteers who manned the feed stations were just out of this world! The support and encouragement they gave to every single passing triathlete was amazing. A big special thank you to Harmeny and Pentland Feed Station. Their support was overwhelming and phenomenal! Three laps of Arthurs Seat in the searing heat are conditions that competitiors of Edinburgh 70.3 will not encounter very often. All in all, a tough run so when I started the third and final lap I knew I was going to finish this race. On my final run up and then down the Innocent Railway, followed by my final visit through Harmeny and Pentland Feed Station. As I ran down the final descent towards the finish my emotions felt magical, turning into the final turn onto the red carpet and I saw Julia Mason shouting me on as I made my way over the finish line. I have done it! My run time was 2:33:11.
Finished business. Overall Time 07:01:11. I have IM Edinburgh 70.3 medal!
IM Edinburgh 70.3 is a tough course but don’t be put off I would recommend it to anyone, but my top tip is when training incorporate ow sea swims and if you’re lucky you will be able to train in choppy waters before the event, because you never know what the Firth of Forth will be like on the day! Having Karl as my coach was invaluable for all my training, particularly with the marathon training. I would receive my weekly training schedules which in the early days was a steep learning curve for me and training within specific zones I found rather challenging. Having a specific and clear structure to my training has kept me maintain focus throughout this season and Karl providing me with important pre-event advice to enable me to complete my events to the best of my ability. Structure in training I think has improved my training. I’m still not that great at analyzing my stats! My thanks to Karl, my coach and all the Pentland Athletes who I’ve trained with this season providing me encouragement and enjoyment when training and to my long suffering husband Dave who is so patient and supportive!
I’m now thinking what events can I do next year…a full IM? But which one? Suggestions welcome!!