Smashing up Sweden. . . Birthday weekend

What a birthday weekend it was!! A big group from Ful on Tri had booked to go out to 70.3 Jonkoping on what was my birthday, to race and have fun. We flew out on the Thursday evening, and squeezed 6 of us with 6 bike boxes into a minivan to drive to the house we were renting.


Friday was my actual birthday – and I was treated very well! We built the bikes, had breakfast, I was sung to and given presents, and then we headed off to recce the bike course.

 

 

 

 

 

Cruising round the bike course got me really excited for the race – wide sweeping roads, beautiful lakes or forests on either side, and nice and rolling. We had a great lunch stop with a view and then went for a swim recce. Lovely flat lake, perfect temperature and all feeling good.

Saturday we did the usual racking of the bikes, final dip in the lake, and feet up watching Tour de France. Funnily enough going to rack as number 100 the organisers had only started age group racking from 101, so I had to go rack with the pro women which gave me prime position to find my bike!

 

 
Race day!! 

Whilst I really wanted a PB time having not really done any 70.3s that had less than 1000m climbing on the bike course, I also wanted a fun weekend and was trying to approach this race without pressure. Having the group of friends definitely helped with this.

It was off with a bang and I pushed hard the first 500m trying to find some fast feet. I seemed to get stuck behind a guy weaving all over the place and then ended up going quite wide to get some space. The lake was also quite choppy and generally felt like quite a tough swim. Not my best swim and I was a bit disappointed to come out in just over 30 minutes.


Onto the bike after a very long transition – 500m of running through the town. The crowds were amazing but I felt a little tweak in my calf which I just pushed to the back of my mind to concentrate on the next leg. Having had a bit of a panic with a puncture in transition, I was looking forward to seeing how hard I could push on the bike.

finisherpix_1777_007523The first 50k has a bit of a hill and is then very rolling, through some beautiful countryside and on lovely roads. I caught a couple of girls ahead of me but had no idea how many there weee in front. As we turned to head back towards Jonkoping which should have been the very fast bit we were straight into a headwind! Time to get as aero as possible and get onto the run! I had been aiming for 2.30 on the bike so was delighted to come in 2.26 – definitely my fastest bike split by a long way!

Having racked my bike the little run to get my bag I could feel my calf, and thought let’s just see if it eases up as I continue to run. Fortunately it did and the first lap of the run I felt great – holding good pace and on for a good time.

However onto the second lap I got a bit of stomach cramp, the legs were starting to struggle and I knew it was time to just hang on. The support around the town was so good and gave a good mental boost each lap. I also saw a couple of the gang from the club who were very supportive so that also helped push me on.

Finally it was time to run down the red carpet, and whilst still not knowing where I was in the race I was pretty happy with my time – 4.34. PB by a mile and not far off what I was hoping for, which given the long T1 and how I felt on the run is a good result.


Being able to celebrate with the Ful on gang was awesome, and even more so when we came 2nd in our tri club division, despite being hugely outnumbered by the Swedish clubs.


It is now time for a couple of weeks down time before the big build up to Kona. Flights and accommodation is all booked and it is starting to seem a bit more real (and expensive!).

Thanks again for all the support:

Giant St Paul’s – certainly a rapid bike giving me best AG bike split by 4 mins

Orca – for the awesome wetsuit and racesuit

Skechers – for trainers to help me fly around the run course (although a lot more to be done here!)

Precision hydration – another cramp free race

Clifbar – for the tastiest gels and shot blocs

Lezyne – for the kit to repair my transition puncture

Freespeed – for making me much more aero

British Summertime racing. . .

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It was time for the final edition of Exmoor 70.3, a race which I was hugely disappointed with last year after stupidly not taking any spares and getting a puncture. This year I was fully prepared with lots of spares, and bundles of determination to have the best race possible. It was 5 weeks after Ironman Lanzarote, and I had had a couple of weeks of complete relaxation and then eased back into some training. Being an age group only race I really wanted to have an overall win as well as seeing what sort of time I could get on a tough course.

I ended up camping having not sorted any accommodation, and having gone for a budget pop up tent, and arriving on the Friday evening to cold and pouring rain (in my shorts and t-shirt given how warm London was!), was a bit of a shock to the system. Having thought I was going to be in for another hot race I wasn’t sure whether it was a good thing or a bad thing it being cold and rainy!

Race day. . .

After a nice early start, checking the bike over and a quick dash into the Lake to warm up, it was time to line up and get ready. I love the camaraderie at the start line – everyone always has time for some friendly chat at the beginning. And we were off. . . I tried to find some fast feet but ended up on my own trying to fight my way inbetween 2 guys who were on either side and not the best at swimming in a straight line! So I cam out the swim reasonably happy but not my best. The Orca Alpha wetsuit really is awesome – I love how light the arms and shoulders feel, and how you get the buoyancy without feeling restricted.

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After a pretty terrible first transition – my elastic bands came off so couldn’t get my foot into my bike shoe, so had to completely stop to sort myself out! A couple of girls had come past me at this point, and I didn’t know how many others were ahead, so the chase was on! Despite the horrible conditions I really like the course – it is tough and keeps you on your toes! Towards the end of the first lap some specatators told me I was first lady, but you are never quite sure!

Having survived the bike it was time for the run. . . I had banished from memory quite how tough it is! Up and down. . . cross country type terrain, including the down hill which was so slippy! At this point I knew I was in the lead as I had the lead bike with me, however I had no idea what the gap was to second, and I knew there were some strong runners. Towards the end of the lap there is an out and back section, so I knew from that I had at least 8 minutes. This gave me some comfort but given how my legs felt on the second lap I didn’t want to ease up. Onto the final lap and I kept seeing other girls who I thought were getting close to me, so I put everything in! It was rather painful. ..

Finally I was coming up to the finish line, and I could relax and enjoy picking up the tape! I can’t quite describe how much of a relief it was to have put together a performance I felt proud of on that course, and to be able to enjoy a proper champagne podium!

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Very much looking forwards to a reasonably flat race this coming weekend in Sweden, to try and see now how fast I can go. We have a huge group from the tri club going and it is also my birthday – so either way it is going to be a lot of fun.

Thank you to everyone supporting me – Giant St Paul’s – my Liv Avow was truly awesome and one of the competitors even told me how great she looked as I went past! Orca, Skechers, Clifbar, Precision Hydration and Lezyne – you have all helped me put on a great race.