Challenge Champs 2018

Well, Challenge Champs in Samorin was certainly an epic race. Superbly organised, great location and so nice to have so many friends out there as well as Barney, and also my parents on race day.

Having not been able to finish Challenge Roma as I wasn’t running at that point due to a slight calf tear, I was excited to have my first proper hit out at a middle distance and see where I am at. I was trying to manage expectations a bit, with having had 3 weeks off running and so missing any speed sessions, and on top of that being Ill last week and not really getting over it 100% for the race. However my sessions the couple of days in the run up felt good and so I was hopeful that the overall AG win and a pb could be on the cards.

One of the best things about the race was having so many friends out there – great to catch up with everyone and see everyone have a good race.

Swim:

The swim was tough!! Heading out into the current, it was choppy and slow. I lost touch with the front group of girls within about 20m, spent around 500m with 2 girls either side, but then as we got to the turn bouy I pulled ahead of them and was swimming on my own as we were catching the wave in front. I thought it was a terrible swim but time wise it wasn’t too bad considering most people had quite slow swims.

Onto the bike:

Barney told me there were 5 girls in my wave ahead, so running into transition my aim was to catch them as quickly as possible. I caught 3 girls within the first 30 mins, which was also the section with the nice tailwind. As we turned onto the dam and into the headwind I was just concentrating on being as aero as possible. As we got to the end of the dam I passed Jane Hansom who I thought was probably at the front of the wave of ladies in front. At this point I thought there were 2 more ladies to catch in my wave (18-39). I finally caught the 4th age grouper and then it was back into the headwind for the final 25k. To be honest the whole bike was really tough – my power was nowhere near my usual 70.3 race pace, and nutrition was not sitting well in my tummy. Coming into t2 I still thought there was a girl ahead so was pleasantly surprised to hear them announce I was first age grouper.

The run:

Heading out into the run I firstly ran the wrong way (following the red carpet), but that meant I came into my first lap just behind Lionel Sanders coming past. Was a very cool moment!! I obviously wasn’t close to him for long!

The first lap I felt ok, not great but was moving ok and I knew I had a big gap on my age group, but that there was another age grouper only a couple of minutes behind. Heading into the second lap it was heating up and my tummy was not playing ball – I thought I was going to have to stop but managed to just about keep moving. I knew the age grouper behind me was closing the gap so my main aim was just on moving forward! Final lap I started to feel a bit better again, and the support was awesome. Barney and my parents were able to see me at about 4 different points each lap, and I really needed that encouragement!

Coming down the finish Shute was a huge relief – I knew at this point I was 2nd age grouper – so was quite disappointed in not winning and also not breaking my pb. However, on reflection there are a number of positives to take into IM Nice:

1. In a block of IM training my numbers and pace would set me up for a v good IM – so if the race is a reflection of what I can hold for that distance then I will be very happy

2. I got a bike pb by 8 minutes despite the power not being there

3. I managed to run back into a comfortable pace despite thinking at one point I was going to have to stop

4. I pulled off a decent result on a day that wasn’t my best, and where I wasn’t feeling 100% from having to take a few days off training in the run up to it because I felt ill

5. My support network of family and friends is the best!

Just 2 weeks until the big one now, final few big training sessions to tick off and then taper time!

As ever thanks to Will Clarke for dealing with my many moans from bad sessions and adjusting the schedule around work.

And bigger thanks to Barney for agreeing to spend our 5th wedding anniversary watching me race 👍

it was also great having my parents out there watching – first race in a while I have managed to coordinate my plans with theirs!

Great to see the Brits smashing it – lots of inspiration from all the great athletes!

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