And we’re off…

The 2017 season has officially begun, and so I thought it was time for an update.

Having trained pretty consistently over the winter, I was keen to get 2017 started with a few “training” races and individual sport events. It’s nice sometimes to put all the training to the test, to see if all the hard graft is translating to real, measurable improvements come race day. It’s all too easy to get a bit disillusioned when it feels like it’s just hard work without any obvious rewards!

Having come very close to my 2017 goal for half marathon in February at Wokingham, I knew my running was improving. And I could see in the pool that my CSS time was coming down nicely. But although I felt stronger doing my bike sets on the turbo, with a lack of outdoor cycling over the winter and no recent short run races, I wasn’t sure what to expect of these.

First off came the Good Friday 10 mile TT on the A404 in Buckinghamshire. A deceptively undulating, busy TT which is not for first timers due to all the lorries! This year the event was so popular that they had to expand the field and STILL had to turn lots of women away. A real shame, however encouraging to see more female riders getting stuck in. Last year I pulled out a decent PB of 26:35, narrowly beating an experienced clubmate, which I was pretty happy with. This year we arrived and from the off I felt pretty nervous, not to mention cold! However I trusted in Paul’s training plan and sticking to the agreed power number, and successfully whittled my time down by 1:02 🙂 So bike improvement – check.

Next came my test races over 5k run distance… cue Parkrun. We’ve only really done Parkruns in Stoke Poges and Redditch, so this year we’ve become more adventurous and undertaken some Parkrun tourism! First off came Ormskirk Parkrun (my home town), accompanied by my little brother Greg. Historically he’s been annoyingly faster than me at running despite not really doing any specific training (he’s a mixed martial arts fighter and pretty fit), so my goal was to get as close to him as possible. Paul very humbly paced me around, and although I wanted to shout and swear at him in the latter half of the race for going too fast, I PB’d by about 5 seconds. Not entirely satisfied with this, and desperate to go sub-22, we went again the weekend after, this time at one of our local events – Upton Park. A pretty flat course mostly on grass, and this time running solo. It felt pretty good and thankfully I came away with a huge PB and my first sub 22 minute 5k. That’s more like it!

Finally, time to put it all together and see if these improvements could be maintained in a multi-sport setting! First off came Hart triathlon, a pool-based sprint distance which is popular amongst our club. I did it once before, coming 13th overall and 3rd in AG in just over 1:10. This year I felt surprisingly nervous considering it was to be tret as a warm-up race. We wasted a lot of time racking as others near me had clearly taken no notice of the racking numbers, and so from the off I felt rushed and had no warm-up. The swim went reasonably well, equaling my 400m PB despite having to let 2 swimmers past and not getting the promised 2 length warning! The bike felt OK, although I’ve completely lost confidence with proper mount/dismounts which no doubt cost some time. The run however felt good (for once!), despite there being an extra 0.7km which somehow passed me by in the pre-race info! Transitions were pretty slow, partly due to putting on an extra layer for the bike, but I finished in 7th place overall. Then this weekend we did a lake-based super-sprint at Eton-Dorney. We decided to race on road bikes as we have a draft-legal qualifier upcoming, but I had a new wetsuit (Huub Axena 3:3) and new tri-suit (Zone 3 Aeroforce) and felt reasonably confident. The swim was reeeeeally cold, but (apart from being swum over unnecessarily by another woman) I felt good, and exited 2nd female out of the water. Transitions again were slow, this time due to trying to rack my bike the wrong way coupled with numb feet. I felt a bit lost on the bike, power number seemed too low compared to effort involved, and Dorney didn’t disappoint with it’s renowned winds! Out on the run and I started off feeling great, running well above race pace but managing to sustain. However, at 1.5km in my feet had thawed and all of a sudden my right foot started to hurt really badly. With only 1km to go I carried on, figuring any damage done was already done. I slowed towards the end, and after crossing the line couldn’t put my foot down flat without major pain. Bugger. I finished 5th overall – good I guess but unable to be pleased given the pain I was in. Paul came 4th in the men’s race and 1st vet40, so we stayed for his prize-giving before hobbling home.

So, overall I’m showing improvements in all 3 disciplines, my new wetsuit seems to suit me with its reduced buoyancy in the legs, and I’m controlling my bike much better to allow for a stronger run finish. However, my transitions need a LOT of work, I need to re-learn how to mount and dismount my bike, and I urgently need to know what’s wrong with my foot. Until then, it’s going to be crutches and a lot of swimming and everything crossed that i’m pain-free by 21st May…

Oh, and I didn’t beat Greg at Parkrun, but with only around 30 seconds in it I’m getting there 🙂