Sand castles, Splashing and Suffering.

I’ve just got back from a much needed break with my two girls, Charlotte and Emma. We chose to head to the South Wales coastal town of Tenby, yes that Tenby, the home of Ironman Wales. Not that that particular fact was a reason for visiting but it certainly made out stay interesting as I saw parts of the course. It certainly isn’t for the faint hearted, you need fell running shoes just to make it from the beach to T1.

Ironman Wales was never a race that I considered, it just didn’t appeal to me – hills, british sea swim, it was Wales etc… Now I’ve actually been to Tenby, I’ve fallen in love with the place and plan on going back. I’ve been lucky enough to see some amazing coastlines in South Africa, Australia and North America and I can tell you that the beaches in that part of Wales are up there with the best of them. I really wish that I had taken my wetsuit as the sea looked so inviting, that was until I started to paddle with Charlotte. It was cold, very cold, unbelievably cold, so cold that….anyway you get what I’m saying! If I wasn’t retired I’d be doing Ironman Wales in 2014, no doubt at all. Luckily I’m retired 😉

Tenby harbour - home of Ironman Wales and the national jellyfish appreciation society.

Tenby harbour – home of Ironman Wales and the national jellyfish appreciation society.

I was lucky enough to meet up with a couple of local lads, Billy and Scott who are both racing their local Ironman this September. Billy successfully finished it last year and Scott is taking on the challenge. We had a great few hours in the pub talking about strategy, war stories, the merits of sheep ( it is wales ) and how you get used to being stung by jellyfish if you swim in Tenby harbour. Hmm I wasn’t convinced on that last point. It was great to meet two such great blokes and I wish them all the best for September, I have no doubt they’ll smash it.

So apart from eating ice cream, visiting the zoo ( they let me out again ), building sand castles, talking ironman, looking at castles and huge lillyponds and paddling with Charlotte I did a little bit of training.Getting ready to paddle with Charlotte - that water behind us was COLD

Getting ready to paddle with Charlotte – that water behind us was COLD

A couple of days before we went my new toy arrived, a Garmin Swim, a fancy watch type thing that tells you how crap you are at swimming and gives you lots of data to accompany the fact that you are crap. I figured any device that makes me want to swim has to be a good thing and my initial impression is that it is the best thing I’ve bought in years. I love it, I no longer have to worry about counting laps, which when as I was on holiday, swimming 4km in a 15m pool is a lot of laps ( 267 ). I’ll do a full review at some point. I also tried a bit of aqua running to help my injured knee and although you look and feel a prat it was actually a surprisingly good workout.

So that’s the Sand castles and Splashing covered, so what about the Suffering? Well unfortunately when I was in Tenby my knee gave way and I jolted forward causing immense pain ( the worst I’ve felt in months ). It was so bad that I couldn’t bend my knee at all and I had to physically lift my left leg with my hands onto the clutch in the car so that I could change gear. Last Wednesday I almost drove to the nearest car dealership and said “Sell me an automatic, I don’t care what make or cost.” Luckily the pain eased off and I could drive the 200 miles home. Then on Sunday I had another setback when my knee locked as I was at the top of a flight of stairs, I fell with my considerable weight trapping my leg under me. I was actually in a crumpled tearful mess after that and it is still sore now, meaning that I haven’t been able to ride my bike. I have physio tonight so although that will hurt I’m also looking forward to it as I know it will help.

But I can’t end a blog on a downer so I’ll leave you with the fact that I did an organised 2.4 mile swim on Monday night, I couldn’t use my left leg at all, and I was convinced whilst swimming that I was last, when in reality I finished 23rd out of 38 in a time of 1.23:50 – given my pb is 1.19 I’ll take that 🙂


10 responses to “Sand castles, Splashing and Suffering.

  1. Can’t keep a good man down! I was in Wales on the day of last year’s IM and that was enough to put me off. Fog, rain and driving winds – I wouldn’t have got out of my car let alone on a bike! Sorry to hear the knee is giving you so much trouble. Fingers crossed for better times (and even better swim times) ahead! 🙂

  2. Hi Andy the family and I are going to Cardigan bay on sat for a week. I was taking my wetsuit anyway but may now pack the hot water bottle as well!
    Hope your knee recovers soon and sorry to say but i moved to an automatic(reluctantly) years ago and it is better!
    Keep your chin up 🙂

    • Thanks Janey, have a lovely break with the family. Hopefully it might have warmed up for you 🙂
      Hopefully see you soon at the Lake.
      Chin is up 😉

  3. I hadn’t heard of the Garmin Swim, but assuming it’s like the swim part of the Garmin 910, it is pretty sweet! It is so nice to no longer have to count laps. Sounds like a great trip with the family aside from the knee which sounds downright scary. Keep up with the therapy and all you need to be doing for that!! Oh and congrats on the swim!!

    • yep it’s the swim part of the 910 without the OW gps function – love the data it gives.
      Ta, was a great trip.
      Knee is a mess but no point dwelling on it, positive is the only way forward 🙂

  4. Holgs – I’m about half-way through your book so far and am enjoying it! I will be running my first 5k tomorrow. It took a lot of training for me to be fit enough to run the 5k, and I am still pacing slow at about 12.5 min/mile (alternating jogging and walking). One thing that wasn’t clear to me so far in the book (unless I missed it): what was your initial distances and paces starting out, even before the first triathlon listed on your race records page? Did you start with 5k races, or were you already way past that point when you started? I am encouraged by your book and am wondering whether it is also possible for me to do an Ironman, with enough training!

    • Glad that you are enjoying the book, always very cool to hear that.
      How did the 5k go? Hope you had a good run.

      Before I got into triathlon I had been a runner of sorts, slowly doing 10ks and half marathons. Then I had an injury and a lifestyle change that saw me pile on the pounds, so that when I started again I literally could run less than 400m without having to stop and walk. My brain thought I was a runner from past experience but my body thought differently. I built up my running stamina, aiming for “One more lamppost” each run and by the time I did my first triathlon I was able to run 10k again in under an hour.

      I think given what you’ve said you are going in the right direction and are running quicker than what I was a few months before my first triathlon. I am of the opinion that ANYONE can do an Ironman provided they train and they want it bad enough. Good luck with your training, if you ever have any more questions feel free to send me an email or a message, I will reply.

      Enjoy the rest of the book. Hope that helped?

  5. Hi. A few weeks ago I decided to get into triathlon. I can’t swim, bike or run. I actually started my own blog to keep myself motivated I discovered your blog and book yesterday. I’ve only read the first few chapters so far, but I love it. Hopefully it will motivate me to keep training and that I also will be able to do a scary open water swim!

  6. Hi Andy, glad you enjoyed tenby (my home town!) Just as an update Scott and Billy both completed Ironman Wales 2013, think scott just scraped in under 15 hours. The weather didnt let us down, it chucked it down and people were wet and cold and running well into the night. As a local I have decided to take the plunge and eneter for Ironman Wales 2014, would be a shame not to as it is right on my doorstep. Also reading your first book really did encourage me to have faith in myself and take the plunge and enter, you truly are an inspiration! I am hoping from my experience with ultra marathons that my body will be used to this sort of punishment, either way I shall be hammering that course next year. Thank you again for two wonderful books!!

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