It's a baldy bald life!

By DrK

The Slateman

The day was here. The Slateman Triathlon, my focus for the year. It was also a big target for Rosemary. It was a functional breakfast time without too much chat. I was really nervous but managed not to get too grumpy. Would my knee hold out?

We all headed down to Llanberis, and then set about doing our own thing. Toilet stop took ages as some people were hogging the bogs. Grrr, with 1000 competitors and friends, it should be an in and out matter, not a 10 minute stop to read the Sunday Mail on the pan. Selfishness personified.

I got my transition area set up and then headed over to find Rosemary. There's not much to be said on race day. She was in the 1st heat and I was off 20 mins later. The water was really cold but I was happy. My specific 'man up' sessions earlier in the week had worked, despite my old Ph.D supervisor questioning the validity of such things. I was surprised by the amount of blouses making a fuss...."ooooooo, it's bloody freezing" I heard more than once. They need 'man up' sessions. Not much I can say of interest about swimming in a lake though; murky water, no fish and no kicks in the head. I felt strong but suspect I went off line at the final buoy, losing time. I should know better than to follow those in front!

The bike was fun, even though it started with the 5km Pen-y-Pass climb out of Llanberis. I'm a big chap so was happy to be passing more people than were passing me. The scenery was brilliant, the sun was getting warm and the roads were brilliantly surfaced. The only downside was the usual cheating gits who were blatantly drafting. I make my feelings clear with profanity, suggesting that one group needed road racing licences rather than triathlon memberships thinking that i might see them next Tuesday.

50km later it was into the run....I was passing people on the flat and thought I was on for a good time. The slate quarries put paid to that....a steep, zig zaggy climb that goes on for about 3km. I've run the trail before but the bike leg had sapped my strength and I was walking for 10 and then running for 10. Most seemed to be just walking.

The descent down to Rosemary's Dad's house in Dinorwig was great but then came the more steep technical section into the woods. Loads of people started passing me but I expected that. Tight quads and poor footedness always slows me down. It was great to hit the flat again but my legs had had it.... I dug deep and crossed the line in 271st place....the top 1/3rd of the field. I was exhausted but my knee hadn't even twinged. My ego would have liked a higher placing but after 12 years out, I'm proud of finishing such a tough race.

Rather than collapse, I rushed to see how Rosemary was. She was sad as she'd been passed by another girl in the finishing straight. There was only about 7 seconds between 2nd and 4th but Rosemary was the one who just missed the podium. I've never been there so don't know how it feels. Much better being a mile off like me. The best triathlon I've done, beating Ironman Switzerland and an Olympic one on Lanzarote.

I was ravenous afterwards and we headed off to Caban a wee place not far from Llanberis. for lunch. Rosemary's dad predictably got the roast lamb, a portion that was exceedingly generous especially with all the trimmings. I enjoyed my pie and custard accompanied by a fine Snowdonia pale ale.

I was definitely ready for a chilled evening but happily agreed to go for a wee walk to see the bluebells in the wood. Dinorwig woods are really beautiful ancient ones. The branches are all tangley, weird and wonderful shapes and most of the rocks are covered in deep green moss. Very different to the Etherow Valley woods at home. The bluebells were 5 weeks later than normal, more a threadbare rug rather than a shag-pile carpet of colour. The light was poor too so they didn't have the translucent hue they often have. Beautiful all the same. The walk home was a challenge, with me struggling to keep up with Rosemary's dad, despite being over 30 years his junior. I was certainly grateful when it hit bedtime.

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