I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought it better to do a round-up of summer 2018. And what a summer of success it’s been!
As usual, Paul and I had been ambitious in setting out my goals for the season. With the stress fracture behind me, I wanted to try and get my running back up to speed, but felt a change of approach to go long might be worth a try. Intervals clearly work in getting people faster, I just seem to break myself doing them – if it’s not my guts throwing a wobbly, it’s my bones! Ho-hum.
First up: Windsor Standard distance. I last raced Windsor in my first year of triathlon in 2015, but only the sprint distance. A key race for BTS, most do the standard and so this year I fancied my chances. It’s a notoriously early start, meaning settling the alarm for an eye-watering 4am! But we have our routine nailed with super secret free parking spot just moments from transition, which makes it marginally less painful 🙂 This year once we’d sorted out transition bits and bobs, we walked to clubmate Lynda’s gaffe for a loo stop and bag dump – v handy. Off 4 minutes before my wave were Gemma and Lynda. Next off were myself and Abby – talk about a flying start! No sooner had we paddled over to the start area, the start horn went… I hadn’t even had time to have the customary warm-up wee let alone put my goggles on! We scrabbled at the start and somehow during most of the rest of the swim too – bodies everywhere, never seeming to get any clear water, but fortunately I found Abby and we swam hip to hip for the majority of the downstream section (including directly over Gemma and Lynda… sorry girls!!). A former elite runner, Abby’s naturally strong at all 3 disciplines and truth be told, I think she’d beat me hands down when she’s not injured. I took a wide berth at the Eton bridge turn buoy and landed up on Abby’s feet. Secretly I was quite happy for the draft as I knew my upper body muscular endurance was lacking, and we exited one after another into T1. Good work team 🙂
Out on the bike, and I recall it being cold and a bit wet. With a completely new course for me to try and remember, I was quite nervous about being one of the earliest waves and a strong swim-biker… it has been known for me to get lost at quite important races!! However the couple of pre-race recces Paul and I did paid off, and almost gained me a placing after the girl in front of me went wrong. Nearly gave one of the gents a heart attack on lap 2 after my back wheel went out from under me whilst breaking at a roundabout – luckily my CX skills came to the fore and I managed to save it before hitting the deck or taking someone else out. Close though, and a silly mistake given the wet tarmac. Lesson for next time. Easing back into T2, and out for an undulating 10k in Queenie’s back yard. There was loads of support out on course, from BTS and their usual cheer corner, to members of the local “rival” club Evo, and Wayne and Zena from nearby running club Datchet Dashers. All helped immensely to boost motivation to keep going when I was already deep in the hurt locker. Coming over the line I genuinely wasn’t sure how I’d done, other than I was spent! Finding out I was 2nd in AG (to a former elite) and 8th overall was absolutely mint 🙂 🙂 Paul did alright too, winning his AG in a close-fought contest with clubmate Chris, but then it’s Windsor so to be expected!
July saw 2 key races, the first being our annual club champs. This year we stuck with Eton Dorney as our venue, but had a change of race organiser to Fix Events due to factors beyond our control. We were still given our own wave, and with my “carrot” Louise Croxson out of the mix due to a clash with the ETU finals, this rabbit had it all to play for to go one better than 2nd place last year 🙂 With a short non-wetsuit swim of just 350m, this played somewhat to my disadvantage as a swim-biker, although emerging from T2 with over a 90s lead on the next lady, I needn’t have worried too much. The bike was the bike (flat, fast), and after being heckled by a non-racing clubmate for putting socks on in T2 (what?!) I went onto the run feeling quietly optimistic. Somehow I managed to hang on with a 5km season PB of 21:59 (official time slightly longer due to run being a shade over 5km), although I have to admit the last km felt pretty bad!! And to top it all off, not only did I win the 2018 BTS club champs, I only went and won the whole event outright… Winner winner, chicken dinner 😀
Next up at the end of July was Challenge Prague 70.3. As a club, we’d decided to go for a middle distance destination race en masse, so Paul and I happily jumped on this to give us a bit of a mental break from the ITU racing treadmill. Having already signed up for a marathon later in the summer, my distance running was going reasonably well. It was my swimming and biking I was more worried about for once.
Pre-race prep went OK, and the penultimate night before the BTS gang plus a few extras went to a local pizza place to carb-load. My friend and fellow teamie/newbie to triathlon Steph brought along a couple of her friends, including the very talented middle distance specialist Sophie Kirk, who in turn brought along the lovely and very talented long course pro Laura Siddall. Now I’m pretty bad with names and faces (I genuinely think I have a mild case of prosopagnosia), but it made me giggle when, after we’d all said goodbye for the evening, it transpired that NONE of the boys had a clue who we’d been chilling with that evening until I pointed it out. Some things in life do make me smile 🙂
Race day arrived, and the heatwave which had been slowly turning England a nice shade of brown continued to rage on in the Czech Republic, with a predicted real feel of 35 degrees around the time of race start. 35 degrees!!!! I’m pretty sure I’ve been in hot-tubs colder than that. With a midday start, we had time after racking our bikes to go and cheer Steph on in the Try-athlon event. Girl did good, putting in a solid run to overtake several of the swim-bikers – not bad for only her 2nd triathlon! By midday, our swim was in some ways a welcome dunk into a safe haven of cool waters, even requiring double hattage to keep the old bonce warm. I had an absolute blinder considering my lack of swim training, coming out of the water in 32:49. Getting out of the water and on to the bank was more difficult that your average swim exit, involving an absolute mud-fest underfoot and a slightly ungainly hauling of oneself onto the steps – never have I felt so close to resembling a beached whale!! A long T1 ensued, involving a set of stone steps up to a bridge where the bikes were racked.
Next up my forte, the bike, and a mostly flat and fast 2 loop course with a hill at 23km and 65km. This should have been well within my comfort zone, but it was hot and windy at times, and I just could not keep my power up. I passed Sophie which was unexpected (she shook her head at me to indicate that the race was not going well for her), and just aimed to tick the miles off and get back to T2 in one piece. Considering how bad it felt out there, I came in after 2:36 on the bike, comfortably ahead of target and ready to settle into my nemesis: the run. The quirk of Prague meant that although the weather was almost unbearably hot, the tall buildings provided a decent amount of shade for parts of the 4 lap run course. The weather gods even released a little drizzle at one point which was LUVERLY!! Aid stations were well-stocked with
water, watermelon and vats of sponges and I walked through them all, using them as rest periods between my interval efforts. I was hugely surprised to catch up with another teammate Ed Nunn on lap 2 – himself a good middle distance triathlete but unfortunately also often afflicted with runners’ belly. I ran with him for a lap or so, trying to keep him motivated to finish and count it as a decent training session. He may not have realised at the time, but running with him kept my motivation up and I have no doubt helped me to do so well. Another couple of solo laps before Paul caught me and shouted how proud of me he was… I think we were both a bit overcome with emotion and choking back the tears. Final lap, and another clubmate Andrea caught me and gave some words of advice before himself continuing on. Coming into the finish chute, and overhead I could see that I was 5th in AG.. I had daren’t look at my watch or do any mental arithmetic along the way, so was absolutely stunned to see my 5:10 finishing time once I’d crossed the line. How on earth did I manage that?! A thumbs up from Laura, a sweaty hug from Steph and then an exhausted but happy picture with Paul once he crossed the line in a superb 4:34.
Post all 3 races I felt good about my racing for once. Maybe because the running has been more consistent? I’m a closet type A personality and usually have a feeling of disappointment after a race, no matter how well other’s perceive I have done. But so far this season I’m managing to look at things more positively and give myself (and my coach hopefully!) a bit of a break. 4 weeks to recover until Guernsey marathon, where is the beer??!