Races

Ironman Copenhagen

I finally got around to writing up my Ironman Copenhagen race – only two months late. It’s posted on the GreenlightPT squad website which you can access from the link below:

IM Copenhagen – 2017

As for what’s next – I’ve no idea! I’ve now ticked the IM box so to speak so in theory I don’t need to do another do I? (Although it would be nice to get some decent finish line pictures!)

 

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The reward!

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Categories: IM Copenhagen, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Swings and roundabouts 

It was all going so well, got rid of the lurgy, knee was starting to feel good, was only 1 second off my 400m PB in our squad TT and had a solid race at the Southern XC Champs at Parliament Hill. Buoyed by this I booked my London marathon travel, a warm up half marathon and a post London 5km. It all looked like it was finally starting to come together. Midweek miles were stacking up and the weekend mileage about to start. I had a great 70 minute run on Wednesday followed by squad swim, then boom, penultimate rep, last length and cramp in my calf. Tried to kick it off but ended up hanging off a lane rope trying to avoid getting mown down by the boys behind me.

It’s not the first time I’ve had cramp swimming and normally by the time I’ve got out the pool it’s subsided except this time it didn’t. Next morning I struggled to walk and my swim on Friday was mostly completed with a pull buoy. So off to the physio I hobbled and it turns out I have managed to tear my calf swimming. That’s me with no running for two weeks, will miss the final Chiltern XC League match for my club and may well put my London place in jeopardy.

But foregoing London would not be the end of the world. In all honesty it’s not my A race.  It is a ‘nice to have’ and I would really  like to go sub 3:30. It would be a great confidence boost going into Copenhagen but at what cost? The time I need to spend running costs me time on the bike and to be honest this year I think I’ve only ridden outside once and when you’re supposed to concentrate on your weakest element of the race it just doesn’t add up. So as annoying as it would be missing London, it would mean I get more time to get some miles in on the bike and might even pass a few people come Copenhagen!

So, the next few weeks will dictate what happens over the next few months – I’m still gunning for London but it wont be the end of the world if it doesn’t happen as there are benefits to be gained by not doing it – as they say, ‘swings and roundabouts’…

Categories: IM Copenhagen, Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2017 – time for the big one!

A few years ago I heard someone say if you publish your goals for the year you’ve a greater chance of achieving them. I suppose it’s the fear of failing in front of a wider group of people which motivates you to succeed. So this post is to set out my goals for the year – to make them public so I have to go through with them. We’ll gloss over the fact that when I researched this quote all I could find was reasons not to tell anyone your goals!20160424_152810

To kick off the season I am lucky enough to have a London Marathon place by virtue of my time last year (pays to get a bit older!). Swiftly followed by the Outlaw Half. Hopefully my legs will have recovered from the marathon for this. I’ve finished fourth in my age group for the last two years having come in second off the bike – I need to rectify this and stop my head falling apart on the second half of the run!

GreenlightPT are then doing the Jubilee River Swim again in June. We were first ladies team last year so it would be good to give that a go again although I was thinking of possibly doing a two person relay (if I can find a partner) as it would be good training for LoveSwimRun Llanberis at the end of the month (except I was late with my entry and it’s full so I’m now on the waiting list – doh!) so that might not happen! After that I’ve nothing until The Owler Half in July. It looks like a nice event and also happens to be the National Half Champs so will be a good test four weeks out from the big one…

captureFinally, after years of procrastination and deliberation I finally took the plunge and entered my first long distance triathlon. On 20th August 2017 I will attempt to become an Ironman at IM Copenhagen. I’ve been thinking about doing one for years but have always managed to come up with an excuse as to why it couldn’t be that particular year – World Champs, injury, not experienced enough…you name it, I’ve used it. But finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am ready to do this. It’s not going to be easy – I already live in a time starved world of family, work and training but with Adam from GreenlightPT looking after my coaching I know he’ll get me there in the best shape possible. We’ve even got the inaugural GreenlightPT training camp in March to kick things off. It will be great to get out there with the gang and get a good solid week of training in even if the biking side is scaring me stupid! I’d be lying if I said I really enjoyerd cycling and I’m not the best cyclist in the world so the climbs on Lanzarote will be a definite test – but if I’m going to become an Ironman I need to learn to love my bike…

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One slight fly in the ointment though is that I am currently injured – well it wouldn’t be January if I didn’t start the year with an injury – every year without fail…2012 it was plantar faciitis, 2013 it was achilles tendonitis, 2014 it was patella tendonitis, 2015 it was calf trouble and 2016 calf trouble again! At least for 2017 it’s something a bit different – knee pain caused by tight hips. Despite a few weeks off over Christmas and various stretches and exercises it’s still there so I was back to the physio this week for a new set of strengthening exercises to get me back on top again. I’m hopeful it’s just a brief annoyance and will soon be on the mend. Everyone is so excited at the start of the year and is churning out long rides, long runs and fast track sessions it’s a bit worrying when you’re sat on the sofa knowing this week I’ve managed one short ride and a short run before sucumming to the New Year lurgy that is doing the rounds as well as a dodgy knee. But hey, things can only get better…

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Outlaw, Races | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

ITU World Triathlon Championships, Cozumel, Mexico – Standard Triathlon

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GB Ladies Standard AG Team

The day before race day was mad. This is my third world champs and they always seem to be the same. The one day you really need to rest and put your feet up but instead you spend most of it rushing around. It was an early start getting a short bike and run in with Alex (one of my GreenlightPT team mates) before it got too hot. By 7:30am – we were a sweaty mess despite only half an hour of easy activity – this does not bode well for the following day! It was then time for a bit of a chill out before meeting the guys to go to the GB team briefing. These meetings are where it always hits home, where you are and what you’re doing – we’re talked though everything we need to know in order to race from where to put your race tattoos to what is checked when you rack later this afternoon to a reminder of the rules – they would have observers watching the swim for any rough stuff and drafting on the bike. The one area that was dwelt on was the expected impact of the heat. Ironically while the briefing was on we could hear an almighty monsoon going on…there was a real concern about the effect the heat would have on us (and not just us pasty Brits) on the run. It’s hot here, not just a bit warm but stupidly hot which when combined with humidity at 80%+ means racing expectations have to be adjusted if you want to finish the race. The BTF had taken this concern seriously. We’d all been sent advice about acclimatising prior to travel (hence lots of turbo/run sessions in extra layers) and increasing fluid intake, particularly during the race. There was more advice from ITU medical staff about ensuring we were drinking all day Saturday and during the race on Sunday. Each water station would have ice and water and we were advised to take on both at every opportunity. Ordinarily in a 10km this would be overkill but in a 5km lap there were 4 water stations! Once the briefing was over we had team photos done – there were a lot of us! It was then back to the hotel for lunch and to prep the bike before transition drop off.

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GreenlightPT post race briefing

I met the GreenlightPT guys and we all rode down to the race site together. Only a 10 minute cycle but via the main road through Cozumel. Plenty of speed bumps that really weren’t designed with TT bikes in mind and not mad traffic, just a little unpredictable! There was a hub of activity as we arrived at the entrance to the Fonatur Marina Park and it was now that the excitement started to kick in as the sheer size of transition came into view. It was a mass of blue carpet and bikes…My spot was the most central you could get – my age group got probably the best spot there was. Our row was directly in front of the ‘swim in’ bridge and only just along from bike in and out – very easy to find in a hurry. I put my bike on the racking and it ended up swinging – it’s a small bike and didn’t even touch the ground. I let the air out of the tyres and went to investigate ‘swim in’.

World Champs are notorious for long transitions. Even though we race the same venue as the elites we don’t get to climb out of the water and jump on our bikes as a rule. Our swim exit consisted of a long run up a ramp, along the length of the marina, up a few steps, then a bridge over the finish straight which consisted of a steep staircase and a steep ramp before we even hit transition. Then you have to find your bike among the 1000 bike alongs 20 odd rows…20160917_175956

We then headed off to watch the start of the women’s elite race and then home. I would have loved to stay and watch but the heat was oppressive and with a race the next day the aim was to keep as cool as possible and rested. The rest of the day was spent getting kit ready and packed before dinner and an early night.

Race day came and breakfast started at 4:30am so I was up at 4am for a quick shower and to put my tats on. Breakfast was busy and the hotel did a really good job providing ideal options for us – although I was very nearly derailed when the waiter advised me they’d no more tea bags! The look of horror on my face must have scared him into action as he rapidly found some!

We hit the shuttle bus at 5am and were in transition by 5:30am. It was still dark and although they had put up floodlights, our perfect central position meant we were pretty much in darkness – bit of a problem when you’re trying to pump up your tyres and can’t read the gauge. After the usual faffing around (triathletes are born faffers) and lengthy debates about tyre pressures – the heat meant lower pressures than normal as the tubes would expand as soon as the sun came up – and I decided I’d faffed about enough and made my way out of transition to find somewhere cool to camp for a bit until my race.

We gathered in the starting area and were handed cold water pouches to keep us cool – it was only about 7am but was already very hot – we were then walked down to the pontoon. I jumped in and realised straight away there was a really strong current – while holding onto the pontoon my legs were being pushed ahead of me – the race to the first buoy was going to be fast! And it was – it was also one of the most violent starts I’ve ever been in. Every bit of me was hit or grabbed over that first couple of hundred metres. After the first buoy it normally settles down, nope, carried on, second buoy – bit more space but someone behind me insisted on grabbing my ankles – it was a very strange swim. We were now going against the current as we drew back level with the pontoon, it seemed to take ages to go past it – as if we were swimming in treacle. The currents were also pulling us in all directions – I’d breathe one way and another swimmer would be right next to me, I’d breathe the same way two strokes later and she was 10 meters across from me, two more strokes and she’s back. 20160918-075220ch_01I was very relieved to hit the top turnaround buoys until I took the tightest line and somehow managed to get my outside leg tangled in the buoy ropes. I fought myself free and promptly managed to do the exact same thing at the next buoy – I’d been drafting two girls until this point and lost them so set off after them over the final 200m. Never caught them but passed loads from previous waves, Turns out my swim wasn’t too bad – 18th out the water and 2nd GB. The two I lost at the top buoys came out 30 seconds ahead of me…

On to the bike and I took the first 5km of the bike steady, probably too steady as by 10km groups from my wave were catching me up and passing. I hung onto one group, but it was quite a big group and made no drafting difficult. There were all sorts of shenanigans going on for 20km and in the end a Canadian girl got carded and had to take a penalty. We hit the turn around point and I’d had enough of it and tried to get my head down into some clean road. Eventually I just about managed it bar a Mexican lady from00992sa the previous wave who seemed to like to suck my back wheel – she’s in most of my bike photos about an inch from my wheel! The bike route was hot and flat – first 5km was beautiful with the sea on one side. The next 15km to the turn around was pretty much om tree lines roads – so sheltered from the sun but still hot hot hot. Turnaround to home was the same – the last 5km back out in the open, the sun was my properly hot by now and I could feel my body temperature rising. I was relieved to come back into transition as the heat was oppressive, not that it was going to get any better back at the marina.

20160918-090814a_02I started off on the run knowing it was going to be a tough one. I took on water and ice at the first stop and settled into a comfortable pace. Getting to the next water stop and getting some ice was the name of the game and I managed this at a reasonably decent pace for the first 5km. By the start of the second lap I knew I was starting to overheat. My pace had dropped quite considerably and despite taking on water and gels could feel myself going down. There were a few competitors who had been completely overcome by the heat and were lying or sitting by the side of the road with various officials and medial staff attending to them. Not wanting to join them it became a case of getting to the end in one piece. I ran/walked the rest of the way allowing myself to walk through the aid stations to take on water and ice and take advantage of the shade where possible. I summoned up the energy to run the last km – it wasnt fast or pretty but it was forward moving.  The final turn down to the finish was about 600m long – it felt like miles but I kept going, crossed the line and promptly collapsed. my legs decided they’d had enough and to be fair my body was right behind them. A couple of lovely volunteers grabbed me and sorted me out with wet towels and water. One of them then stayed with me and walked me round the finish area to get my medal and various other stations we had to go through. There was a pizza stop, coconuts, and local jewellery gifts before the best bit – the ice baths. Never before has a pool of ice-cold water felt so good!20160918-100054l_01

Starting to feel human again, I decided I really ought to go and find the family as it had been a while since I finished as was concerned they’d be wondering where I was. Especially if they’d seen my finish line wobble. I found them quite quickly  (in the bar area…) and was given an ice-cold can of lager! Not the normal rehydration strategy and it was only 10am but it tasted great.

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GreenlightPT post race in Cozumel

Gradually more of my team mates wandered though and we all exchanged our stories of the race. Some fared better than others. For some, it just wasnt their day, a mixture of illness and the heat took its fair share of victims. For me, my time wasn’t important. My position was a little disappointing – I lost a fair few places on the bike and where I’d normally make them up on the run I probably lost a few more but overall in the scheme of things, I finished in one piece and it was an amazing experience. This might be my last GB vest for a while as I’ve other plans for 2017 so it was a good one to go out on. There was a small group of us from GreenlightPT and it was great to share the experience with them. Cozumel is an awesome place to visit and as well as the couple of races I completed, we also managed to sail in a submarine, sample some Tequila, snorkel in the most amazing water and had a little swim with some dolphins.

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ITU World Triathlon Championships, Cozumel, Mexico – Aquathlon

Having qualified for the Standard distance at the World Champs in Cozumel, Mexico, we were given the opportunity to also race in the aquathlon as well. It’s traditionally the opening event of the championships and is a great opportunity to race early in the week and get rid of those pre-race nerves before the main event. So, I decided it would be a good idea to give it a go. I should confess that I have never raced an aquathlon before so I was a little nervous to be honest. Luckily the format of the race in Mexico was different to what most people had done before in that it was 2.5km run, 1km swim, 2.5km run. So everyone was technically in the same boat as me! The water temperature was around 29-30°C so no need for a wetsuit!20160914_072339

It felt strange entering transition without a bike to rack. We were faced with three long lines of little orange vegetable baskets in which to place our kit –i.e. goggles, hat and a number belt! It took all of 5 minutes to set up transition, work out how far along your line your basket sat and determine the in/out route.

The start was a bit strange as it was your traditional run start with everyone jostling for position over the first 100m. My wave had three age groups so there were a fair few of us. The first 1km or so was at breakneck speed – imagine parkrun on caffeine! It soon settled down and I realised I needed to slow down if I was going to manage to swim and run again so I backed off the pace a bit. 2.5km flew past and before I knew it we were running into transition along the marina to swap our shoes for goggles and a hat.

I took a few seconds to put my hat on properly and ran along to the pontoon ensuring my goggles were secure. This is the only time I’m likely to have to dive into the water for a race so we had spent a bit of time practising the previous day. I wear contact lenses so can’t afford to lose my goggles – and after the successful practising yesterday, disaster, they came off! After a bit of treading water to sort myself out I cracked on. The swim was awesome – beautiful clear blue water and loads of tropical fish. With the run beforehand there was none of the usual scrum and it meant there was plenty of clear water to swim in. As I approached the first buoy I was rather surprised to see a diver underneath me taking photos – don’t get that in the lakes in the UK! I started to pick people off although it was difficult to tell if they were my wave or age group. A few girls came past me as well and the swim was over before I knew it.

I ran back into trans20160914_082138ition and grabbed my shoes. Downside of sea swimming is that horrible salty taste. Luckily there was a drinks station just up from transition and I grabbed a pouch. Now to start running. With only 2.5km there isn’t a lot of time to get going so it was head down and get going. I picked quite a few girls off, probably most of the ones who had passed me in the swim and tried to hold on. The final km had an out and back section so I could see those in front of me. I was quite surprised to see I was quite high up among the GB girls although as we were mixed waves it was difficult to be sure where you were in your own age group. I managed to pick a few more off including a GB girl and felt really strong by the end. It was great to cross the line that Ali Brownlee had just an hour before and I felt I’d done a good job.

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Results on site were a bit scarce along with no wifi so I didn’t find out how I’d done until later in the day. Turned out I’d had a pretty good race and finished 6th in the World Champs and only 40 seconds off a bronze medal – not bad for a first attempt! My position also meant I have now pre-qualified for next year’s World Aqualthon Champs in Penticton in Canada, although as they’re 3 days after IM Copenhagen I’m thinking I may have to pass…

 

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Chicago World Age Group Triathlon Championships – Race Report

Race morning started a bit earlier than I had planned due to the storm that hit Chicago the previous evening. As a result pre-race racking was postponed until race morning. It was only just light at 7am as I left the Fairmont Hotel (our home for the week) at the top end of Grant Park but surprisingly warm considering the predictions, although my choice of trisuit and team jacket caused some amusement to a pair of Australian competitors who I chatted to at the traffic lights who thought it was rather cold in their woolly hats and thick tights!

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Transition was rather large!

Transition was around a 10 minute ride from the hotel and was a good opportunity to test out my last minute pedal and tyre changes – I found a large piece of glass in my tyre and my pedals seized up on the crossing from the UK! How not to be relaxed the night before a race…anyway, short test ride was fine and after the most minor of checks on transition entry (just my brakes – nothing else at all) I eventually found my racking spot. Transition was rather large, rather wet, rather muddy and very sandy – that’ll be nice later!

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My spot – bit sandy…

I had quite a nice spot in transition not too far from the end of a row and set my stuff up. A few of my GB team mates were racked near me and we did a quick scout of swim entry, bike and run exits while doing the usual faffing around with kit. Once I felt happy with it all I took an easy walk back up to the hotel for breakfast. With my race not until 11am I didn’t want to hang around the race area and thought I’d be better off chilling back at the hotel for a bit.

I headed to swim start about an hour before my wave to see if I could work out the best starting spot. The swim reccy didn’t enable us to swim the first half of our route so it was a case of winging it and hoping for the best. Following the storm the lake was quite choppy, even within the sheltered Monroe Harbour. From what I could see from previous waves the worst place to start was on the right – not only was it the tightest spot, there was also the danger of someone from a previous wave swimming head on into you. The route followed the harbour wall north for about 350m, round a buoy (or a booey as the swim Marshall called it!) then went south back past the swim start pontoon and all the way to the end of the harbour to the exit.

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The pontoon

We were called onto the pontoon and precariously made our way to the end to jump in. The pontoon was so unstable it was difficult to walk along it. I understand not long after my wave it actually broke resulting in later waves having a shortened swim and also diverting the elite men to have to use the age group exit and transition in an underpass!

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Swim start – bit of a scrum!

I opted for a start on the left and we were off. I’ve been a bit hit and miss with my swimming in races this year. Training has gone well but in races I’ve either had a stormer or as in the ETU Champs a panic attack. As a result my last few races I’ve started nice and steady and then build throughout. This seems to suit me and psychologically works as I pass people towards the end of the swim. The downside of this means little draft opportunities. I was going well, came back past the pontoon and was pulling away from the group I was with. Only trouble was the water was so choppy I couldn’t see any swim exit buoys at all. I could see the Field Museum which I knew was near swim exit so used that as a guide and used the harbour wall to stay straight. Eventually I saw the final turn buoy and had to double back a bit as I was too far over but came out of the water ahead of the group I’d passed earlier and started the 500m run to transition.

I wiped my sandy feet on my wetsuit – top tip from the sprinters – bike shoes on and I was on my way. I’m still not brave enough to do the shoes on my bike thing yet but this does have it’s advantages as I was moving very quickly passing quite a few girls still grappling getting their feet in. I capitalised on this and rode hard knowing the course was flat.

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Entrance to Lower Wacker drive

The Chicago bike route was rather unique in that no competitor had been able to ride it before the race. We’d all seen the route map, been warned about the change of light conditions and also the dodgy narrow tunnel on the secret road. So, it was with some trepidation that threw myself into the bike leg and despite the lack of course knowledge I loved it. Much of the course followed Lower Wacker Drive. To the film buffs out there you’ll know this better as the tunnel in the Dark Knight where the Joker and Batman chase each other. It was fab to ride in – part was open on one side, then it turned dark – and was rather quick. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat – not many of us in this world have had the opportunity to cycle down here and I was loving it. Judging by some of the other whoops and yells I could hear so were others!

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The ‘secret road’

Following the tunnel, we surfaced briefly before entering the ‘secret road’, a private busway that runs alongside the train tracks. This was just like a normal road but in a cutting and partly underground. It was rather narrow in places so made it difficult to pass and it was clear there was a lot of drafting going on. I pushed on although I was conscious I had been passed by a fair few girls. I was passing people but more were passing me. After Edmonton where I had about the third slowest bike split in my AG I had resolved to work on my bike over the last year so that didn’t happen again. I got my head down and pushed on. We arrived back near transition, did a 180 turn and went back out for another lap. Two GB girls had caught me up and overtaken me and I worked like hell to catch them back up. After a fair bit of cat and mouse I hit transition ahead of them both – just! My bike time was solid midpack and I know there is still so much more to come.

20150919_132231It was a long run from dismount to the racking and was not a comfortable experience in bike shoes – another thing to work on next year – I was so pleased to get my trainers on and start running. The run was 3 and 3/4 laps. Not the most inspiring of routes but we got to run around the Buckingham Fountain four times plus it was great for supporters. I got to see them twice on every lap which was great for morale. After a fantastic start to the season I had trouble with my calf from late June resulting in a painful 10km at the ETU champs in Geneva, thought it was fixed until a week before Vitruvian in late August when it went again, resulting in a great swim/bike at Vitruvian but a DNF on the run. I had done very little run training as a result so was quite nervous about this final leg. As it was probably my last race of the season I was just going to go for it and if it went it went, I’d blinking well crawl to the end if I had to! Mercifully after a steady first km all felt good and I felt good. I’d got a good pace going and was passing people. I passed a few GB girls so knew I was going well. The heat was rising so maintaining pace was difficult but I dug deep and left nothing behind and made it to the finish in one piece! I finished in 37th place and fourth GB in my age group – a massive improvement on last year where I had very few girls behind me in the race and was last GB home! I was super proud – one of my best races of the season, my swim wasn’t my fastest, nor my bike or run but overall as a race it all came together. After a summer of injury it finally came good at the right time.

wpid-20150919_143415.jpgMy improvement this year is no small part a result of my coaching from Adam Gibson at GreenlightPT. It makes such a difference to have someone else doing the thinking about what training needs to be done and how much and when and keeping it interesting. It means I can just get on and train. Working full time with a young family means one less thing to worry about. Another benefit is the voice of reason when you’re heading for disaster. Under normal circumstances I’d have hobbled round Vitruvian as I was in an age group podium place at the time but going into the race I was under strict instructions to stop if there was any pain otherwise I’d most likely jeopardise Chicago. Deep down I knew this but sometimes you need someone else to tell you it. Coaches know their stuff and you have to trust them!

20150919_191348I have also had brilliant support at home from friends, work colleagues, teammates at GreenlightPT and Redway Runners but most of all my family. I was lucky enough that my husband, son and sister were able to make the trip to Chicago with me and it does make a difference to have them there – especially my husband when my bike doesn’t do what I expect it to do (hence a dash to the LBS to buy new pedals!). It’s been a brilliant season, probably my best to date and I know there’s still more in the tank for next year. Just one last little local triathlon at the weekend and that’s me done for the year.

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Three weeks and counting…

Exactly one year ago today, I made my GB Age Group debut in Edmonton at the ITU World Championship. In three weeks time, I get another opportunity to race for GB in the 2015 World Championship in Chicago.

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I targeted qualification for the World Champs at the start of the season and registered myself for all three qualifiers. With Outlaw Half at the end of May sandwiched between the qualifiers it was a busy couple of months but under the guidance of my coach Adam at GreenlightPT managed to perform well at all three qualifiers and Outlaw and managed to win my age group at the first qualifier at Belvoir Castle and therefore booked my place for Chicago!

I was really pleased with how this first half of the season went. I was swimming, cycling and running faster than I have ever done and for the first time ever actually pass people on the bike leg! With Chicago in the bag, it meant the pressure was off for all my other races. Outlaw Half was a great experience again. The weather was awful – it poured from the start of the swim, all through the bike and then dried out for the run but I loved every minute of it. Despite the weather, I knocked nearly 5 minutes off my bike time – which was pretty good considering most of the bike leg was under water and it was my first ride on my new TT in the wet! I’d set myself a target of 5:30 – 11 minutes quicker than last year and on the day came in at 5:31 – partly due to the weather on the bike course and blowing up towards the end of the run. But, it was still a 10 minute PB and I know in decent weather there’s plenty more to come there.

The other two qualifiers Deva and Dambuster were also really good for me. Having spent three years in Chester at university I was excited to race here and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a fantastically well organised race with a great course. Even got myself on Breakfast TV and the Channel 4 highlights by virtue of the fact I came out of the swim with TV host Louise Minchin! The bike course was fast – my fastest ever ride and the run, on paper sounded dull – three laps of the Meadows and along the Groves – but in reality it was great, really pretty and varied terrain. It was also the National Champs so I was super pleased to finish 7th in my age group. I really recommend this event and hope to go back next year.

Dambuster was another favourite of mine. I qualified for Edmonton here last year and the course suits me – the bike is interesting with the first third very hilly (the Rutland Ripples), the second third mostly downhill and the final third lots of ups, lots of downs and not a lot inbetween. It’s challenging to say the least but you are rewarded with a nice flat out and back run to finish.

With things looking up I settled into some training ready for the European Champs in Geneva when the old calf problem raised it’s head again. With three weeks until Geneva it was a race against time to get fit. Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan – with a panic attack in the swim (don’t ask!), an ok bike leg, the run was a painful 10km. My first experience of the European Championships is one I’d quite like to forget! It was a great event in a beautiful location but for me, not my best experience.

Post race in Geneva - at least I'm smiling!

Post race in Geneva – at least I’m smiling!

Post Geneva, I settled back into training and trying to get my leg sorted. All seemed well by the start of August and GreenlightPT took part in a fun relay event, well sort of fun, it was the East Midlands relay champs and for me, I felt I was back on form – running still had a little way to go but after three weeks out it wasn’t too bad! My team – the ‘Green Goddessess’ came third in the women’s race so bit more bling for the collection and a good day out was had by all.

Green Goddesses - 3rd place!

Green Goddesses – 3rd place!

Before Chicago I had one more event to do – the Vitruvian. It’s basically Dambuster, twice over and was an event I’ve been keen to do for a few years. Roughly three weeks before Chicago it’s a good gauge of my fitness and form and I was hoping to get a decent 70.3 time (bike is a bit short so was hoping for sub 3 hours on that leg). But, as has been the case this year, for every high, another low and a week before I tweaked my calf again…With physio and staying off it and praying it was just a bit tight I went ahead with the race on the understanding if I got to the run and it hurt – to stop. It was a real pain as I was swimming well, biking quite well (a lack of proper run training means more time on the bike) and I can normally wing the run despite no training. I felt good race morning – after my disastrous swim at Geneva I was keen to put that right and adopted a different more relaxed approach – i.e. forget about everyone else and do my own thing. It worked and I really enjoyed the swim. It was a two lap route with a short run between loops and I came out first in my age group. Straight onto the bike, knowing there weren’t too many girls in front and I got my head down – bit too quick for the first lap – I did it quicker than I’d done Dambuster – that’ll hurt later! A girl from my age group passed me on the first loop but I managed to maintain second and hit the run in 10th place overall – not bad for me…the run started well. I was under strict instructions to keep it slow which was hard as my legs wanted to go much quicker but eventually I settled into the agreed pace, but by 5km my calf was starting to twinge a bit. Not badly but enough to know it could put Chicago in jepoardy if I continued so at the 5km turn I decided I’d walk/jog back to the start and then drop out.

Vitruvian swim start

Vitruvian swim start

Except I got to the halfway point back near transition and the commentator announced I was still in second in my age group (despite my walk/jogging effort!) and the competitor in me took the turn around and carried on. However, 400m further along my sensible voice came through and I took the decision to stop. It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make – to be in contention and then walk away was really difficult but I know it was the right one. I swam really well, I biked well (2:41 split) – so it wasn’t a wasted day and I still got my hoodie!

And here were are today. A year since my GB AG debut and now looking forward to Chicago with a few more weeks training to get done. Not sure how much running I’ll get done but hey it’s only a 10km and I’ve nothing else in the diary after September – I’ll blinking well hop round that Buckingham Fountain if I have to – bring it on!

Categories: Injury, Outlaw, Races | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Getting ready – plans for 2015

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Edmonton, Canada

Watching Top Gear tonight and their trip to Canada made me reminisce about my trip to Edmonton last year and also reminded me that I hadn’t written anything here for a couple of months. As my race number for the MK half dropped through the door this week it seems quite timely to update what is going on in my world.

The MK Half will be my first race of the year. It should have been the Bucks County XC Champs but as has been the case since May last year, my calf had other ideas. A common theme throughout my posts last year was my struggles with issues with both my calf’s. Although my running has gone from strength to strength (I’ve PB’d at every distance raced in the last 12 months) my calf’s neglected to join the party. Any time I run over 10 miles or a hard track session they give up, cramp up and generally cause me grief to the point I finished most of my running races nearly in tears and then need loads of physio to get me running for my next triathlon. Funny thing is, I never get the problem in a tri…

Anyway, after the MK Winter Half in December, I took some time off from running, ramped up the physio and have spent most of the winter doing strengthening exercises. Touch wood, the problem has eased massively but I’m nervous about next Sunday. It’s so early in the season and I’ve lots planned so first sign of trouble and I’ll be backing off!

Aside from my running woes everything else is going pretty well. I decided at the end of last year that I wanted to have a bit more structure to my training so have teamed up with Adam from GreenlightPT and it’s already working wonders. My time off the road has been well spent on the bike (mostly the turbo thanks to the wonderful British weather) and in just 8 weeks I managed to increased by FTP by 10%. I also decided to treat my swimming with a bit more respect, rather than the necessary evil that triathletes have to endure and have made some big gains in the pool over the last few weeks.

'Percy'

‘Percy’

I also treated myself to a TT bike. After my son started school in September I decided to up my hours at work back to full time and along with an unexpected pay rise, the extra cash was burning a hole so I now am the proud owner of a Planet X TT. It’s still sat on the turbo but as soon as the weather clears up we’ll be whipping up and down the lanes of North Bucks and South Northants. I know it’s all about the engine that drives it but to quote a well known supermarket ‘every little helps’!

So the next few months will be a lot of hard work to get ready for the ITU qualifiers, Outlaw Half and the ETU Champs in Geneva. I’m really looking forward to Outlaw. With an improved bike leg I know there’s gains to be made as long as I can run comfortably. I’ve no idea how the qualifiers will go. I’m now the baby in a new age group with the over 40s – I only turned 39 10 weeks ago so have no idea where I sit in the scheme of things, and am very conscious of the fact I got lucky with my qualification for Edmonton last year – hopefully luck with be with me again this year!

Categories: Injury, Outlaw, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Thank you 2014…you were great

wpid-20140731_110606.jpgIt has to be said, from my point of view, it’s been a pretty awesome year and beyond my wildest expectations.

As the clocked turned midnight at the start of the year, I was injured (again) but with one main goal and a ‘would like to have’ goal. The main goal was to complete the Outlaw Half in a decent time plus at some point get 1:40 in a half marathon (current PB was 1:45). As it turned out – I achieved both and a whole lot more. I wont bore you with the details – the rest of the blog is full of it, but in summary:

  • Duston pool triathlon – age group win (April)
  • MK Half Marathon – PB 1:42 (May)
  • Outlaw Half 5:42 – earning me a European Middle Distance Triathlon Champs place (June)
  • Dambuster – Qualified for World AG Triathlon Champs (and subsequently European AG Champs)
  • MK 10km – PB 45:02 (July)
  • MK Triathlon – age group win (July)
  • Parkrun – PB 21:03
  • ITU World Triathlon Champs in Edmonton Canada – 41st place (August)
  • Northampton Half Marathon – 3rd in County AG Champs (September)
  • ETU Middle Distance Champs in Paguera, Mallorca – 19th place (October)
  • MK Winter Half – pb 1:39 (December)

I knew deep down with the right training and some luck with injuries there was some good stuff in there but I just needed to get to it! But with support from my family and friends and some fantastic help from GreenlightPT, I achieved things beyond anything I could have predicted at the start of the year. My swimming has gone from strength to strength, my cycling is getting there and my running has hit numbers I never thought possible. Running with Redway Runners is always good fun and there’s always someone to run with and the GreenlightPT squad are a great crew – swimming on a Wednesday has been such good fun, even when we’re a mess by the end of it.

My proudest moment was the parade from the athletes tent in Edmonton to the lake for the start of the ITU World AG Champs – we were led by pipers and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a lump in my throat.

So, what about 2015? Well I hope for more of the same – I’m giving GB AG qualifying a bash with the hope of a slot for Chicago and also getting that sub 5:30 for a half ironman. I’m actually (for the first time in about 5 years) hitting New year uninjured and raring to go. I’m working with Adam at GreenlightPT again and hope to outdo this year – it’ll be a tough call but I’m ready…are you?

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Medal haul for 2014

Categories: Outlaw, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

ETU Champs – Challenge Paguera-Mallorca

They said the bike course “would be fast. Without any major climbs…”

They said the run route was flat along the beach promenade…

They said it would be a pleasant 21 degrees…

They said it would be a great event….

Well – one out of four isn’t bad is it? I rounded off the season with the European Middle Distance Champs in Paguera, Mallorca. This was my second GB Age-Group outing of the year and my final A race of the season, after Outlaw Half and the Worlds in Edmonton and as you can imagine I arrived in Mallorca a little jaded. It had been a long old season and I kind of just wanted to get it over and done with. But once we had arrived and bumped into fellow teammates I started to get the vibe back. The team bike reccy, that I nearly missed and had to cane the first five miles to catch up with the team, the swim reccy straight after into 5ft waves, the team briefing that left us all with a lump in our throat -‘ you’re GB, be proud’, and the obligatory team photo – all 230 of us, got me fired up and ready to race!

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GB Age-Group 35-39 Team

Racking had to be done the night before into a 300m long transition – I was really worried about finding my bike – just three rows of bikes, but with 250m plus of racking length, it was easy to miss your spot. Transition was also narrow – pretty much single file, especially with a bike in tow. We also had to use bags to hold bike and run gear – something I’d never had to do before. Normally you have the luxury of laying all your kit out making it easy to spot if anything was missing – this time, you had to leave it all in the bags and hope you had everything.

Race morning was strange – with a midday start, there was no need for an alarm, although I woke up early anyway. With several hours to kill before transition opened we hung around the hotel chilling, making sure my food was all sorted and that I kept hydrated as there were predictions (depending upon the weather app) of 29-30 degree highs later that day.

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I felt quite confident about the swim. With a 400m PB in the pool the previous week, I felt good and knew I could probably get away with starting at the front. I normally start on the far side out of the way but because the spectators were lining the route into the water it was quite narrow and I was worried I might get caught up among them so I came in a bit – big mistake – I was quick into the water, but took my dive a tad too early and had to come up for another one. I got caught on the side of my goggles which swung out and smacked back onto my face. They only stayed on because by some strange quirk of fate I had decided for the first time ever to wear a hat over my goggles. Unfortunately this meant the goggles hit my face with such great force I was gifted a black eye as a result! Non contact sport it is you know!

Anyway, once I’d recovered from that I settled into the swim. It was my first ever sea swim and my first without a wetsuit and rather surprisingly I really enjoyed it – I don’t like swimming in a wetsuit and this was heaven – warm and wetsuit free. I found myself swimming the first 400m or so with Jenny Bosman, winner of Outlaw 2014 (names on trisuits are a great invention!) and was quite honoured to be in such good company, but still feeling good, I decided to push on and find some feet further up. I drafted a Swiss girl to the top buoys until we turned then decided I still had some more in me and pushed on again. We had started to pick up the men from the previous wave, who had red caps, the same as the marker buoys. I fear I may have done some zig zagging as a result of mistaking the odd head for a buoy- with the swell sighting was a split second opportunity. In the end I gave up looking for the buoys and went for the big hotel next to the exit beach. I realised at this point most of the other swimmers were way over from the line I was taking – not sure who had the best line, but to try to save some energy I made my way across to them.

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I came out the water a smidge over 34 minutes – 2 minutes slower than Outlaw half, but with the distances nearer 2km and it being a non wetsuit swim – I was pleased and about 8th in my age group. The run to transition was long and narrow – I had to run around a few older guys who were walking and then got held up again in transition when they were walking down the narrow aisles to get to their bikes. This was even worse when they did the same with their bikes in tow! However, once out, I hopped on and was ready for a great bike split. My cycling has improved loads over the last few months and today I was going to put it into practice. The first four or five miles climb steadily until we reached a hairpin section that was steep – I didn’t mind this, I quite like the odd hill and passed a few people. We rounded the top of the climb and began the descent towards Calvia. It was then the heat hit me – I was in a furnace. My face was on fire, my whole body was burning and I suddenly had cramp behind my left knee. I kept on eating, and drinking and pushing on, but people were passing me left, right and centre. Another climb out of Calvia on the out and back section we hadn’t done in the reccy, although I’d seen it, I was surprised how tough it was.

Eventually we started to descend towards Palma Nova and Magaluf for some much needed cheers from the Brits on holiday. There was a long drag from there up to Santa Ponsa followed by a real killer of a bike path to take us back into Paguera to then start the lap again. I got my head down, kept eating and drinking but despite my best efforts, I seemed to be slowing. It appears from the results I wasn’t the only one and on the second lap there was a lot more chat between everyone encouraging each other up the hills.

I came in from the bike wpid-wp-1416523489680.jpeg10 minutes slower than Outlaw, even though I felt I’d cycled harder and stronger – just goes to show how different routes can be. Transition was a long affair again. I had to run 200m with my bike – take my shoes off, carry them all the way to the far end of transition and then run all the way back up again, find my run bag, get my shoes, cap and suncream on and then get moving. Surprisingly the start of the run, my legs didn’t feel too bad – the cramp had gone, I felt hydrated and fueled up – but being off the bike, there was no longer a breeze protecting me. Across the Torra beach promenade the heat hit again. I kept on moving until I hit the first aid station after about 2km. Sponges down my top and a bottle of water and I pushed on. Back up to the main drag and we had a long out and back section – it was a long, long drag up to the top of a hill and back down again. I managed to run to the top and felt quite good on the way down. There was another loopback to do up another hill to an aid station and at this point I decided I needed to go to the loo – with all the hydration I was desperate so took the opportunity when it arose – trisuits are not the easiest thing to take off at the best of times, but when you’re tired and hot and in a hurry in a confined portaloo it’s not easy. I don’t think I ever quite recovered from that stop as from that point onwards I fell into a run/walk routine. I could walk the hills and the aid stations butIi had to run the flats and down the hills. It seemed to work and I kept going. My worst ever half marathon but in 34 degree heat – it was by no means the slowest half of the day.wpid-20141018_180146.jpg

The support on the course was fantastic, with so many GB Age Groupers competing there was a real camaraderie going on out there along with all the supporters. It did make walking difficult, especially when you’re representing your country, but in the name of self preservation, it had to be done at points – and at some points my waking was fast than my running/shuffle. The finish area was fantastic, lined with hundreds of people all cheering. I was given a Union flag and for the first time I cross the line with a bit of a smile, not playing with my watch – the time didn’t matter. I’d just come 19th in my age group at the European Champs – not a bad end to the season really….

Talking to other team members that day and since then we’d all had a similar experience. Tough bike followed by a hot and hilly run. Would I do that one again – hell yeah? It was a great experience and Paguera and the surrounding countryside was beautiful – just a tad cooler next time please!

Categories: Races | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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