Visiting Weymouth mid September is fast becoming one of our favourite things to do as a family. With lots of options for accommodation, we opt for a caravan holiday at Haven. We didn’t use the facilities this time, but it’s just a good place to stay with so much more to do in Weymouth. Oh, and it just so happens that there is an Ironman event taking place also. I first took part in Ironman Weymouth in 2016, this was my first Ironman, and actually the first multiple sport (or event other than a run) that I booked. Since that time I have taken part in 5 full distance Ironman events and 2 70.3 (Half Ironman). We traveled as a family for Weymouth 70.3 2020, but the event was cancelled because of Covid, we still had a fantastic time in Weymouth so we were naturally going back for 2021. After last years Ironman Weymouth 70.3 (see blog HERE), we had such a lovely time that we decided to do it all over again.
We had a lovely long weekend, heading to Weymouth after picking our kids up from school on Friday and coming back Monday morning in time to watch the Queens funeral. We were originally returning on the Sunday evening, but did not have to rush owing to the unexpected bank holiday. I love Ironman events, and everything that goes with them, but I make an active effort to make sure that this becomes a small part of the weekend, so that we enjoy the holiday together.
We arrived on Friday in time for our evening meal in the pub walking distance away from Haven. It was nice not to be rushing around and just relax for the evening, followed by a film and some drinks back at the caravan.
Saturday had to be a little bit more focused and we had to get into Ironman mode. I wasn’t looking forward to registration as I arrived at 10:00 am which is peak registration time, and I would usually try to register earlier. However, I was pleasantly surprised and it was nice and quick to register. I usually buy a day pass for insurance when I arrive, but we were supposed to do so beforehand (it was in the instructions), but this processed very quickly and I picked up my brand new bag, with swim cap and numbers inside. This year there was a reusable cup to use during the run which was a great momento, unfortunately mine fell out on the run on the last lap, never to be seen again.
You walk through merchandise to get to registration, and back out again to tempt you. Although I don’t need any more tempting. I buy a race tee every year as a souvenir and at about 25 pounds it’s reasonable. The family all got an updated tee this year too as there was a nice selection. Last year there wasn’t a great selection left when we arrived, so it’s been a couple of years since they got a new ironman top. That was all for my purchases this year, as it would be easy to get carried away but I really don’t need more gear. The only thing I would have got would be another visor, but once again there was no event branded visor, only generic Ironman visors.
We didn’t spend much time at the expo, just long enough for me to pick up some Maurten gels and drink mix for the event. We then made our way to the arcades and spent far too much in the 2p machines, but we did get enough tickets for a couple of 10p sweets so I guess that is a win. We also stopped for some food in Weymouth before coming back to the caravan so I could rack my bike.
Everyone was feeling pretty knackered by the time we got back. My daughter helped me stick all my stickers on my race bags, and I got my kit together ready, explaining to her what all the bags were for. We were only staying about 2 miles away from racking so I cycled there whilst my family rested. They were going to the park, but I actually made it back before they left so I joined them.
I was a bit later this year, so the bike rack was pretty full. Again, it was very straightforward putting up my bike and run bags, then racking my bike. Once I had my timing tracker I ran the 2 miles home to join my family for some more holiday fun. We finished the night with a few ciders and a domino’s. I set my alarm for 05:00 as transition closed at 07:00. I didn’t aim to get there early this year, in fact I arrived at about 06:40, in time for the toilet, to check my bike, put my bottles in, and hand in my street wear (white bag). I got my wetsuit on, and lined up in between the 50min and 40 min signs.
Swim – 44:54
I had forgot how hard the pebble beach feels at 07:00 in the morning and as I hobbled in the start I looked with envy at those who were prepared with flip-flops. I loved the atmosphere at the start, it’s always so intense. I love the challenge of the triathlon, and I wish I was more prepared. This year I am the least prepared I’ve ever been, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. We paid our respects the the Queen with a minutes silence, followed by the national anthem. Then, as Thunderstruck came on I new it was time. I get chills every time I hear it.
Ironman seem to have moved away from the mass start, and I think this is a great move. They send people off 6 at a time every few seconds. It spaces people out just enough to create some room in the swim, whilst keeping the intensity of the mass start. But I seeded myself back at about 80% of the field, as I’m not the strongest swimmer. The start meant we got a couple of extra songs, and as I’m currently watching stranger things my favourite, and fitting song was Runing up that Hill, it really got me ready.
I started on the outside of the swim, choosing to stay away from all the hustle. I actually felt great running into the water. I swallowed far more than I would like, but got into the swing of things pretty quickly. I have to say there was a lot of poor sighting. I’m not the best, but I am always considerate. I know I will probably get in the way of others, but I try to stay wide and when I try to overtake people I try to go around them.
I had a number of people swim into me and across me, which really isn’t necessary, but I had two bad dealings with people swimming breast stroke. First on the out at about 500 metres I got kicked hard in the chest. As I turned for air I got kicked hard, again, not very considerate. But at about 1,200 metres I got kicked in the face really hard, to the point I had to stop because I was dazed. I started again, but had to stop as my goggles were taking in water. It frustrates me because there isn’t any need. I understand some people will feel more comfortable with breast stroke, that’s fine, but please be careful of people around you, as noone wants to be kicked in the face.
Despite being kicked a couple of times and swam into and in front of, I felt pretty confident in the swim, which surprised me. I wanted to try and match last year’s time of 49:01, and ideally get closer to 45 mins. So coming out of the water with a wobble and achieving 44:54 was a real boost.
T1 – 7:45
T1 is fairly long, so it’s never going to be the quickest transition. I took longer than I wanted taking my wetsuit off, but I felt I did OK. I didn’t realised until writing this blog that I am 3 seconds slower than last year, so pretty consistent.
Bike – 3:20:51
I didn’t have much ambition for the bike this year. When I left transition someone behind me hit into the cone and came off their bike at the first turn which sucks. He got up so think he carried on ok, but not the best start. I started off slow as the first 5 miles has a steady incline, but we go past Haven where my family were there cheering me on.
After the first 5 miles the course is rolling for the next 30 miles and it is such beautiful scenery. I managed to hold a strong pace (for me) and was feeling great. I definitely felt faster than last time and most of all consistent.
For the experienced cyclist it probably isn’t considered the hardest course, I thought it was more rolling than I have considered before, which I see as progress. There is that one hill though that is particularly tough, and I passed a number of people walking up the hill.
The aid stations were seamless as always with Ironman events, and I replaced a couple of old bottles with new Ironman branded bottles. The thing is, I usually feel like I’m just hanging on, and being passed by people. Usually when I come off the bike it’s hard to rack my bike as I’m one of the last back, but this time it didn’t feel this way. I passed hundreds of people on the bike, and my bike time of 3:20:51 is a second shy of 7 minutes faster than last time. I’m really happy with this improvement, and the reality is there is so much room for more improvement.
As we came in to T2 we have to dismount before the line. The person next to me clearly struggled to unclip and fell off still attached. I felt for him, and I’ve been there before.
T2 – 4:09
Honestly, T2 took far longer than it should have. When I racked my bike the day before the volunteers commented that I actually put my bike the right way, I thought surely people would work it out. Especially after starting with bikes the right way it should have been easy enough. However when I came in there were already 4 bikes facing my way on my section, 2 were facing the wrong way, and one was on my spot, completely in the wrong place. I didn’t want to touch other people’s bikes, but moved them along to make space to put my bike where it should go. I could have just thrown it in any way, but I didn’t want to damage anyone’s bike, so this delayed me a couple of minutes.
The rest of transition was nice and easy, and I felt good going into the run.
Run – 1:45:54
I immediately got into an 8 min mile pace that felt comfortable. So I decided I wouldn’t push too hard, and instead hold for a nice steady 1:45. I knew that I would be on for a PB, and this was enough. I knew I would have needed around 1:42 for a sub 6, but I didn’t want to risk blowing up, so paced myself.
The 2.5 laps are flat and full of spectators. It is a lovely route, and the aid stations were great. There was a cup less station which I used on the first lap, but on the second my cup must have fallen out. This was a good idea, next time I need a clip to attach rather than putting in my pocket.
My family were at the amusements in the morning and were planning to come and see me for the run, but they didn’t see me until the final lap, as I was heading out before the turn. It made me giggle as my wife shouted she would see me at the finish, but I returned not to bother as there was no way they would make it on time. So I passed them on my way back, and I’m pleased they found somewhere to eat whilst I made my way back after the finish.
My pacing was spot on, and in line with the mile markers until mile 11, where my pace was out with the marker. Then mile 12 my watch recorded a very quick mile and distorted everything. Not really sure what happened, but I felt I had ran a comfortable 1:45, and my finish was 1:45:54. Not that it mattered and it was a slight improvement on last year.
I would take the weekend as a big success. I improved on my swim, bike and run time, although my transitions were slightly slower. I finished with a PB of over 10 minutes, and most importantly I felt good throughout with more to give. My family had a wonderful time, and after the event we made our way back to enjoy our final evening before returning home. I can’t fault any element of the event organisation or experience. A great race, and one I enjoyed. And who doesn’t love a tee and medal with a dinosaur on it.