2016. . . its a wrap!

This weekend was the last race of the season, finishing with one of my favourites – Hever Castle! Having had 2 weeks off in Australia, and done some minimal training the week leading up to it just to get the body moving again, I definitely wasn’t feeling my fittest and was slightly nervous as to whether I would get round the tough course alright! Parys Edwards was also down to race – and I knew she wouldn’t give me an easy ride!

It was great to have my biggest support, Barney come down with me for the race. We do so many races in different locations it is nice when we get the opportunity to support each other actually on race day.

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The rain had cleared up and I was excited to get going. Jumping in was a slight shock – the water was a bit chillier than expecting! We were soon getting counted down and it was time to go. With the start line being nice and wide the swim is pretty civilised – easy to navigate and nice to go down the little rivers, other than when you scrape the bottom! I felt relatively comfortable on the swim, and was pleased to see my time at just under 30mins when I came out. Its a little hill up to transition, and coming out with another lady I was determined to get past her before getting out on the bike.

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Onto the bike and my legs were screaming at me from the beginning. I managed to settle into a rhythm but it was not a comfortable one. My legs definitely thought the season should have ended in Australia! Just as I headed out I saw Tom Higgins heading back in – as one of the speedsters I was worried he was having to pull out so was pleased to see him come whizzing back past me a little while later. Anyone that has done Hever Castle knows the bike route is either up or down, some short steeper hills, and some long drags. However there are some nice speedy downhills as well to make up for it. Having been told I was 3rd lady by a couple of marshalls halfway round the course, I was fairly sure I was in lead position coming into T2, having passed 2 other ladies with Gauntlet numbers on.

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Time to see if the legs had anything left. . .  it didn’t feel like it getting straight onto Shite Lane. . . but I started to feel better the more I settled into the run. Just as I came out of T2 Barney told me I had 25 seconds over 2nd place, so I knew I had to keep pushing. With a couple of glances back over the first lap, I couldn’t see any other ladies so was fairly sure she wasn’t gaining on me, however I didn’t want to get complacent. I started to relax by the final 5k, and was feeling on top of the world coming down the finish shute!

It was great to win with Barney there supporting, and to finish off a successful season. Having also just started working with a nutritionist, Will Girling, it was also great to see gains just 1 week after starting a program – with his advice I felt so much stronger on the second half of the run than I have done in many of my races this season, so I am excited to see what next season brings as we fine tune the nutrition.

Another big thanks to all those that have supported me this year: Precision Hydration, Torq, TrainXhale, Walker Brothers, Lloyds Bank.

And a huge shout out to my BRILLIANT coach Will Clarke, who has been beasting himself in the run up to Kona – cannot wait to see what he pulls out the bag in a couple of weeks time.

The planning for next season has begun. . .  and I am excited to tell you all soon what some of the new challenges might be!

70.3 world champs reflections

Finally, the big race of the season had arrived! I flew out so Sydney for a couple of days to catch up with friends, before heading to mooloolaba 1 week before the race. I seemed to avoid any bad jet lag and was happy to arrive in the sunshine and warmth after the cold of Sydney!

The week before the race was mainly about refreshing the legs from the flight, and then ticking over until race day. There was some good running and amazing swimming pool nearby, cycling a bit more difficult but managed to find seem good roads. By Thursday, more athletes were arriving, everything had been set up and I started to get excited about the race – I was feeling good and the course looked great.

Having registered, done a bike recce checked out the swim start, before I knew it I was putting the tattoos on my arms, and getting in my pre race dinner. It was an early start having to be out of transition before the pros started, with a long wait until my wave was set off, so I knew I would have to control my nerves the next morning and conserve my energy!

Race day morning 04.30am: alarm goes, roll out of bed and have my overnight oats. Head to transition and do the final checks of the bike, pump up the tyres and head to the beach to see the pros set off. Fortunately the sea was a lot calmer than when I had been swimming the day before! Had a good chat and coffee with Mark Livesey whilst w waited for our waves to go.

08.00: in the pen and lining up getting ready to go. Time to get in the water – fight as usual to try and get nearer to the front. Not a huge amount of space to be front of the line, and as the horn went it was chaos. It felt like about 3 people were trying to drown me and I lost touch with the front group pretty quickly. About halfway into the swim and I found some space, unfortunately at this point it was going a bit choppier and I knew I just had to keep powering through as quickly as I could. Emerging from the water in 29.40, not terrible but certainly not my best swim!

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Transition – the longest transition I have ever seen (worse than Mallorca!), and it was crowded having caught quite a few of the people in the previous waves. Getting out onto the bike quickly and I couldn’t wait. The first 50k is out and back on the motorway, the wind was picking up and it was clear it was drafting central with huge packs going around. I just focused on keeping my pace and picking off the girls in front of me. I had no idea how many in my wave were ahead but my main aim was to not let anyone overtake me, which I did successfully.

Coming into the hilly section which was a lot of fun – certainly not hilly by European standards, but there was a steep ramp that some people were having to walk up. Coming back towards transition I knew I was on for a fairly good bike slit, and hoped my legs would hold out for the run. I hadn’t been holding quite the power I wanted so hoped this would give me fresher legs.

Back through the ridiculously long transition and out onto the run. By now it was starting to heat up, and with 2 laps of the run with a bit of a hill I new it would be tough. The first lap went well, was holding a good pace and I felt reasonable. By the second lap however my legs were feeling a bit empty and I couldn’t hold my target pace. Time to just hang on until the end. I had been passed by one girl and had seen another ahead so was fairly sure I was in 3rd.

Finally crossing the finish line, nothing left in the tank and was happy that on the day I couldn’t have given anymore. 3rd was not what I came out for, but competing against a lot of athletes who train full time, as opposed to 50-60hour a week job, happy with a podium finish.

Have had a great couple of weeks chilling in Australia, and looking forward to setting goals for next year, and getting training to improve all the areas that need it!

Thanks to Will Clarke, Lloyds Bank, Walker Brothers, Torq, Precision Hydration, everyone I train with and Barney Purbrook for all the support this season.