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IRONMAN SWANSEA 70.3 – to be the best version of me

When this event was announced on the calendar, I jumped straight in without a second thought. The Wales double had to be done and to be part of the inaugural event was something I wanted to do. No one knew what was ahead of them, no one to talk me out of it, share the do’s and don’ts because there wasn’t any of that… well until I joined a Facebook group, my advice from this is take everything with a pinch of salt. I contemplated doing a reccy during a recent trip to Tenby, but decided against it - I’m one of those people who can just crack on and deal with whatever is round the corner.


My pre-race prep was spot on. Controlled everything I could and arrived in Swansea, cool, calm and collected. Got registration out of the way and spent a fortune on merch (first timer!)

I don’t dream very often, but I managed to complete the full event in my sleep on the Friday night, although relay styleee with hubby taking on the bike leg followed by a tv crew in his shorts and tv shirt, we were live on the big screen!! That got me proper pumped up for race day.


RACE DAY


It had arrived, my first ever Ironman event. I’m not going to lie, I could’ve just cried, the emotion had started to overwhelm me. I decided to just keep myself to myself (sorry squad) took myself off to transition ‘’faffed’’ for an hour, pretty much talked to no one and got myself into my wetsuit and on the start line. I clocked coach jumping the barrier to his swim start zone, tapped him on the shoulder had quick fist pump and left him to it. Not quite sure what made me this way, but didn’t want anything to distract my focus… I’d proper got myself zoned. Nothing was getting in my way. I was on one. The start was delayed, Drew seems to think they forgot to download the Welsh national anthem.. but finally Thunderstruck by AC DC hit the walls of Swansea and the race was alive. Let’s have it….





The dock was covered in jelly fish and for a swimmer who has mentally worked hard to overcome my open water anxiety (too comfy in the pool!!) it was time to suck it up and just get on with it. I did just that apart nearly getting proper dunked after someone swam over me, seriously I didn’t want to get any closer to those jelly fish, but I actually loved the swim… embraced it and nailed it. Transition… jesus, who makes you run 0.5 mile from the swim to transition on concrete!! That was interesting to say the least.


The start of the bike leg did not go to plan at all.. if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen my husband’s commentary about me ‘’faffing’’ in transition prerace, well I was in ‘’queen of faff’’ mode sorting out my shoes, but when it came to mounting my bike one of them wasn’t clipped in, causing me to stop go back and pick up my shoe and get back on the bike.



Anyway, time to move the head away from that mistake and crack on… the first 5 miles of the bike were fast and beautiful then I hit the first hill – cue my next stuff up, my chain fell off at the start of the ascent. Luckily it happened near a cul-de-sac, so although the roads were closed, it meant I would use it to get back on the bike and make my way up the hill. What was going on… I had a serious word with myself, tried not to lose my shit, got my head back in the zone and cracked on.


The bike course is technical, tight corners, fast descents, fast corners, gorgeous climbs if you love a hill or 8 - the views were out of this world. The route actually gave quite a few opportunities to take it all in. We were blessed with wall-to-wall blue sky, sunshine and very little wind.


There was one section on the bike where my eyes were so wide and excited for what was ahead of me, the course had two sections where you shared the road with other competitors which meant seeing the pro’s fly past which was such a special moment, I was buzzing… Alastair Brownlee, Kat Mathews then along came the NORFOLK TRAIN….ADAM, we managed a quick shout out to each other. Still buzzing on what I had just witnessed, I was excited to get the next section ticked off. It DID NOT disappoint. Took me back to being in Lanza, very smooth and very fast!


I loved the bike course; it certainly had my name written all over it. Coming into transition was a very fast section, I got a P3 shout from Drew before I managed to nail my dismount… soph, watch out, I’m coming for ya – my transition was pretty slick and calm.


The run was flat as a pancake, hot but lined with supporters all of the way. It hugged Swansea bay with a few loops before making its way back. Knowing I was p3, I thought I need to hold my pace, HR was pretty much perfect, I’d almost nailed my fueling strategy right, it was time to execute my plan and just do the very best I can. I clocked coach on my way to the first loop, then passed him again and with a strong high five, also managed to see Carl for the first time in the distance and manage to acknowledge each pther.



My pace started to drop off the pace on my last 5k, but it was 5k and I knew I could take it home but just couldn’t get back up to where I wanted. I needed to stop thinking about it, I tried to get myself back in my own zone, I then got a shout from Steve in the crowd ‘’ALI SCHOFIELD YOU ARE IN P3, you need to crack on, p4 is right on your shoulder’’ I couldn’t see him, I wasn’t looking back for her either – the switch went and one eye on the target and the finish line.


Jesus wept… another shout from coach!! (he was fired up!!), still couldn’t see him ‘’ Come on ALI SCHOFIELD, just beyond that yellow bridge, turn that corner and you are nearly there, work work work….’’


I worked my arse off down to the finish line, it was so loud but I was far too much in the zone I saw no one. I had a vision of high fives and making sure I got the ‘’it’s all about the gram’’ finish picture, I got the you are in the zone and hurt locker picture to perfection.


But I’d done it…. I’d fricking done it.




I was greeted by my husband for a sweaty hug and kiss, followed by a recovery tent full of food and drink, including dominos pizzas and alcohol-free beer, inhaled two slices, downed an IPA and was greeted by Steve – both pumped with adrenaline and buzzing with what had just happened I was in shock. Adam had also got himself on the podium finishing 2nd in his age group.


What a result for OTCF and for Steve.


Huge well done to Adam, Steve, Carl, Jane, Phil and Nic on the inaugural Ironman Swansea 70.3 – what a truly amazing event we were part of and for the club to finish 4th with 6 athletes competing is EPIC.


The presentation was a bit special; it was in an amphitheater to the rear of where the event had taken place. What a location and to be sat amongst the pros was an amazing feeling. It suddenly dawned in me that Adam and I were in the same ‘’young’’ age group so we would share the podium together. Sorry Adam if I stole your thunder, but team work makes the dream work. You bossed that event and thoroughly deserved it.


Acknowledgements

To the support crew, Harriet, her chariot, Emily and Drew… you guys rocked from start to finish, from glitter tattoos, the wine envy and lots laughs, the weekend was an absolute blast.

To all of my friends and family who put up with me and supported me, trained with me, thank you… we’ve got a few more weeks to go until I can enjoy a proper relax.


To my coach – for forever believing in me more than I believe in myself and being a huge role in my mission on being the best version of me.


To my personal sponsors – for taking the time to recognise and invest in me, thank you to Diamond Fertilisers, GP Shipping, Kersey Freight Ltd and Jemsar without your support none of this would’ve been possible.


To my husband, my team manager, social media manager, chief bag carrier, housewife, carer, driver, and best friend - I’m forever earning brownie points but thank you so much. We got this babe, no matter what, you are the best


5 weeks to Ironman Wales, then onto Bilbao in Sept for TEAM GB Middle Distance event. Bring it on!!






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