Challenge Gran Canaria

Challenge Gran Canaria was very much my prep race before Lanzarote – 4 weeks before the big day in similar conditions and with a pretty brutal course. Time to see how winter training had paid off and dust of the triathlon race cobwebs.

I flew out on the Thursday night, giving me Friday to sort everything out. I was staying in the next bay along from the race start, and discovered on the first night we were close to a rooftop karaoke bar that went on to the early hours!

Friday was spent doing the usual pre race faff. Little spin on the bike course, dip in the sea to check my new Orca Alpha wetsuit, registering, racking and attending the briefing. The bike course is truly stunning along the coastal road with spectacular views, and continuous climbing and descending.

Race morning – usual pre race breakfast and the nerves were starting to kick in. As we were getting ready the sun was starting to rise, and the bay the swim is in was looking nice and calm. We watched the pros and age group men set off and suddenly we were being counted down and then we were off!

The swim. . . Was horrible for me! As soon as we were out of the sheltered bay it was like being thrown into a washing machine – very choppy and we had soon caught the slower age group men and were having to fight our way through them. The 2 loops also meant there was a section of us heading back in as age group men were heading back out along the same line, so lots of people swam into each other! I also had a guy properly try and dunk me – I was holding my ground around a buoy which meant pushing him a bit, so he grabbed my shoulder and tried to push me under – he got an elbow in the face!! Finally the swim was done and I was horrified to see one of my slowest swim times of over 34 mins, slightly balanced by seeing it had been 300m long but not the best of swims either way! I was also feeling a bit sea sick from the choppy swim, so was hoping nutrition wise all would go down ok.

Out onto the bike after a very slow T1. We had one big loop and then 3 smaller loops. For some reason I really struggled to get going on the bike – power was low, heart rate was off and I just didn’t feel great. The constant up and down made it very difficult to get into any sort of rhythm And I just wasn’t feeling as good as usual. Seeing the pros coming back on their loop helped give me a boost of motivation and coming into the second lap I have myself a bit of a talking too and managed to get myself more into race pace! It was definitely a leg burner and I was a bit worried about what the run would be like after such a sapping bike leg. One of the highlights was having Alistair Brownlee come flying past – unbelievably quickly! Coming into T2 in 2.58 I was happy to be under 3 hours but annoyed to have lost time on that first lap.


Coming into the run and the very first part of the lap is a steep climb! Similar to the bike the run course is basically hill reps. I was going pretty well on the first lap so wanted to just hold on. It was great to be able to see the women’s race unfold, especially to see the Brits absolutely smashing it. Lucy Gossage came absolutely flying past me – always amazing to see the speed which some of the girls run! By the third lap the heat and hills were starting to kick in and the pace had slowed a bit, however it is probably the best I have felt in a triathlon run. I had lost some of my nutrition on the run but think the good carbo load the day before and managing to take on a lot on the bike meant it didn’t matter too much.

Crossing the finish line I had no idea where I had finished, it is always difficult on lap courses to know where you are, and whilst I had overtaken girls on the bike and run I didn’t know how many had been ahead on the swim. It was only when I got my phone I could see I was first age grouper and 9th overall, which was a great feeling. It wasn’t the perfect race but I was glad to have been able to turn it around mentally.

It was great as a pre ironman race – great to see the nutrition strategy that Will G and I have been working on go well, and that all the kit was feeling good. I was thinking on the run I’ve got no idea how I can do double this distance at the end of double the bike. . . But hopefully when you go a bit slower it feels marginally easier!

Thank you to my very generous sponsors for the best kit for race day – Orca – the wetsuit was brilliant just a shame I couldn’t swim better to do it justice, Giant St Paul’s – the Liv was epic as usual, Clifbar for the tasty nutrition, Precision Hydration for keeping me well hydrated in the heat, Skechers for the speedy trainers, Lezyne for giving me the tools to prep the bike. Big thanks to Will for his coaching – was great to be able to follow his awesome progress at Ironman Texas having finished this race, and also to Will G for the nutrition advice. Thanks to James Mitchell for the brilliant photos as always.

Kicking off the 2017 season. . . duathlon time


It has been another consistent 3 weeks of training, whilst managing to watch Barney race a couple more times, and leading up to my first race of the season. . .  Ful On Duathlon. With 6 weeks to go until the A race, Ironman Lanzarote, I am happy to know I have had very consistent training since November, and have managed to build both speed and endurance. The run in particular feels like it is starting to fall into place, so excited to see what I can do in Gran Canaria at the end of April.

  1. The Bike Fit – having had a good month to get used to my gorgeous Liv Avow, it was time to get back in with Richard at Freespeed and make those adjustments for the extra gains to be made from a better position. As you can see from below the position is pretty aero now, but more importantly is letting me run well off a hard bike effort.


2. Daylight – being able to train more in daylight makes such a difference, mainly mentally, in being happier to get up early or train late around work. I have been lucky enough to see some incredible sunrises and sunsets both running into/ back from work, or around Richmond Park on early morning spins. Time and time again I’m bowled over by how lucky I am to live near a green oasis of calm (apart from when it is a nice day at the weekend!).

The race. . . .

The Duathlon was always going to be a training race, a bit of fun to open the season and help support the club with the London league. Being at the Top Gear track in Surrey I was excited to have a nice flat course to put the new bike to the test, and see if I could remember how to do transitions!


I was helping out on the registration desk before the race, and it was great as always to see the nerves, anticipation and excitement of everyone getting ready for the race. Soon it was time to go rack up – having already managed to delegate one of the club members getting the cassette on the disk wheel I was borrowing off Barney sorted out (thanks Xav!).

Now I wouldn’t be a proper triathlete without various bits of new kit to try out – and as well as the amazing bike I had treated myself to a new aero helmet (mainly because it just looks so cool!).

Lining up on the start line the usual nerves kicked in. . .  was I ready for a short, fast race post all the ironman training? How would my legs cope with a duathlon. . .  it had been a while but I could remember the pain of the second run! And probably more importantly, how was I possibly going to stick to the coach’s instructions of being very conservative on the first run, pushing it on the bike and being able to push on the final run??


                 (credit Jon Furuya)

As we set off with the Vet men – I knew immediately it was faster than the 4.30 pace Will wanted me to run the first 6k. I made a conscious effort to pull it back, trying to push away the frustration of the legs feeling pretty good but being passed by lots of the guys. Keeping it steady on the second lap I was passed by a lady running really well – I picked up the pace a little bit just to ensure she didn’t get too much time on me, and as we came up to transition I just couldn’t help myself from getting ahead to enter transition first.

Heading onto the bike – it just felt amazing! It was nice to be overtaking some of the guys who were ahead of me on the run, and as I was racing without power (haven’t worked out the best place for my Garmin yet!), I was just going by feel, which was pretty liberating. I wasn’t pushing the bike too hard, just keeping it steady and ensuring I kept overtaking people.

Onto the second run and I was thanking Will for the initial pacing instructions (although I hadn’t quite stuck to the 4.30 pace!). My legs felt great and I knew I could push it a bit with only 6k to get through. It was quite hot by this point but having drunk all my Precision Hydration on the bike I was feeling good.

Crossing the finish line in first place was brilliant – the support from the club the whole way round had been epic and I thoroughly enjoyed the first racing experience of the year! Even better was finding out Tom had also won so it was victory all round for Team Freespeed!


Off the back of a 15 hour training week pretty happy with the run and bike splits – looking forward to Gran Canaria in a couple of weeks – there is some strong competition out there so will be a proper test of where my form is at in the run up to Lanzarote. It was great to have done some race nutrition practice as well – Will G has got me doing some proper carb loading, and this got me through the short race with no need for extra nutrition. This bodes well for the longer triathlons coming up – and I am glad to have his expertise in the run up to the Ironman!

Thanks as ever to Richard for the awesome bike fit, Skechers for the brilliant trainers, Precision Hydration for keeping me cramp free, Clif bar for the nutrition, Lezyne for all the tools, Will Girling for the nutritional advice, Giant St Pauls & H2 Clubs for the brilliant bike, and Walker brothers for some speedy wheels. And as always thanks to Barney for putting up with the grumposaurus rex throughout some of the heavier training periods!

6 weeks to go until the big day. . . . with a potential house move in the middle! Its going to be fun 🙂