A little bit down, but nowhere near out!

At this point in the year, I was hoping to be writing about the success of my first race in Sardinia, to see how the winter training was flowing through and build up to my busy next few months of racing.

However, it seems that April is not my month for racing, and after doing just the swim and bike of Challenge Rome last year due to a calf tear, this year I missed the Chia 70.3 triathlon as something was not right with my shin.

Up to about 3 weeks ago training had been going really well – I thought I had finally managed a winter of training with no little niggles or rolled ankles, and I had proactively been seeing the physio about some minor Achilles niggles which we have been managing. Running was starting to turn a corner, and generally speaking everything was moving in the right direction.

However, about 3 weeks ago I felt something in my shin, nothing painful, and it eased off as I was running, so I didn’t think too much of it. A week later when we were out in Sardinia I went for an hour run and it didn’t ease off, and I could then feel something the whole time. So I stopped running for the rest of the week, apart from trying a test jog a week later to see whether by some miracle I might be able to do the 70.3. Not a chance!

So having seen the consultant and getting an MRI it seems that I have a grade 2 tibial stress reaction, and thankfully no sign of it having progressed to a stress fracture. So another 10 days of no impact, and will then reassess, and make a further plan from there. Fingers crossed I will be running again for some of the next races I have planned!

Having spent quite a lot of Sardinia in a grump, not knowing what was going on and being immensely frustrated at not being able to run, not being able to take advantage of being on holiday and having all the time to train, and not being able to race, to being faced with potentially having a stress fracture that would put me out of all the races I have planned other than Kona, I am now just relieved that it doesn’t seem to be a fracture, and in the grand scheme of things I will be off running for a very short period of time.

On the plus side I have been able to properly support a few more of Barney’s races (and seeing him do so well in Sardinia was amazing!!), and being faced with not being able to do what I love has definitely made me appreciate more how lucky I am to be able to do triathlon and race, and given some more motivation for when I don’t especially feel like doing training sessions. I also have a few weeks of being able to focus on my weakness, swimming, which is never a bad thing!

Funnily enough the consultant commented on the amount of sleep I usually get, so somehow I need to find a way of getting to bed earlier to try and squeeze an extra hour of sleep in!

Big thanks to those that have been putting up with me in my current grumpy state – mainly Barney, and also Will for making the time to reassure me and change my training around despite dealing with his own frustrations.

Looking forward to a couple of very exciting weeks coming up with the Zwift team!

2018 – what a year!

Time for another reflective post before we start another year! Can’t quite believe how fast this year has gone, and looking back has been an interesting process to see where improvements have been made and areas I still need to focus on.

My aims last year were as follows:

1) qualify for Kona and go back to win

Very happy to report that this is one goal I managed to well and truly smash – apart from getting the overall AG win

2) be first AGer at all my races

– didn’t quite get this one – Challenge Roma I couldn’t run as was still recovering from the calf year (although I was first age grouper off the bike), challenge championship I was second AGer overall, getting pipped on the run, Alpe D’huez I think I was also 2/3rd AGer getting overtaken on the run, Kona again getting overtaken on the run. So still some work to do on the run to maintain my lead off the bike!

3) get a half marathon pb

– managed to achieve this one with a 1.26 in February – although a couple of weeks later I was then off running for a bit with a calf tear

4) be in a position where I feel ready to take my pro license

– still not quite there yet on this either, need to up my swim and run big time before I feel ready to compete in the pro field!

Other achievements from 2018:

1) winning AGer of the year award from 220 magazine

2) winning in Kona – after getting a new job with a new level of intensity managing to win after the mental and physical investment was the pinnacle of the year, and having Barney there to support was the icing on top.

So how is next year shaping up? I have some good races lined up and a few overarching goals for the season:

1) qualify for and win 70.3 world champs in Nice

2) see how close to 9 hours I can get at Challenge Roth

3) make some serious improvements on my run

Current race plan is as follows:

– Pays D’Aix 70.3

– Outlaw half Nottingham

– Challenge Champs

– Challenge Roth

– 70.3 WC (if I qualify!)

– Kona potentially

Looking forward to another year of training and racing!

As ever it would have been possible this year without a great support team around me:

– Barney – the ever supportive and motivational better half

– Will – always flexing around my various work and holiday arrangements and ensuring I am in the best shape at the right time – looking forward to another season of Will coaching me

– Orca – for providing the wetsuit and kit to keep me speedy

– Clifbar – for a great range of nutrition including the dangerous nut butter bars!

– Skechers – for supplying another year’s worth of trainers

– Precision Hydration – for keeping me cramp free and well hydrated

– Parcours – for the super speedy wheels

– Team Freespeed for the camaraderie and general support for the last couple of years

– Ful On Tri + various training buddies – for keeping the motivation and pushing on in training all year

– Jodie Moss – for the heat chamber training pre Kona – definitely helped mentally and physically in the race!

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone and hope to see lots of you at various races next year!

World Champion – what did it take

Inspired by Chris Standidge’s post on what it took to get him become 70.3 World Champion, which I found really intersting, I thought I would do a similar post. I think it is important to show that you don’t need to be a gifted athlete, or naturally amazing in one of the disciplines, but through general consistent hard work you can make improvements and become an all round triathlete.

So for those that like their data the below chart shows my weekly training from 1st Jan 2018 up to 14th October:

Screenshot-2018-11-27 Charts

I had a few races to break up the season, which you can see quite clearly on the graph:

1: Challenge Roma – at the end of week 16 – i was actually carrying a calf injury into this race and wasn’t running for 3 weeks up to the race (the runs that you can see are aqua jogs)

2: Slateman Savage – at the end of week 20 – more of a training race as I just love being in that part of the world, so still had a fair amount of volume leading up to that race, including 3 BIG weeks of training just before

3: Challenge Champs – end of week 22 – this was one of my A races, and I didn’t actually have the race I wanted, fading a bit on the run, but it was still part of a good block of training

4: Ironman Nice: the qualifier at the end of week 25 – as you can see this was then followed by a week off!

5: Alpe D”Huez long course – in week 31 – this was also a fun race – it is a brutal course but so beautiful. I also faded on the run here, not really wanting to start the run in the first place! Probably the most I have suffered in a race that I can remember

6: Hever Castle – Week 38 – was just meant to be a bit of a test for the legs and race kit, but this ended up being my first DNF when I just couldn’t warm up on the bike, so pulled out after 1 lap.

Average week: 17 – 18 hours of training

Swim: During winter and spring average just over 5 hours a week, c. 4 swims, c.19km, and then from summer onward 4.5 hours a week, c.4 swims, c. 17km average. I managed to get a regular Friday swim in with Nat Seymour up to the point of changing jobs, and when the lakes were open some Sunday swims with Nat as well – but other than that the majority of my swim was alone due to when I was able to fit it in.

Bike: Average 8.5 hours a week, 244km. Again a lot of solo sessions, seems most of my club mates aren’t keen for 5.15am sessions in Richmond Park! I am lucky in that Barney is usually getting up early as well, and that at the weekends I can ride with people from the club or Nat – depending on what kind of session I have.

Run: Average 3.5 – 4 hours a week, 42km. Most run sessions were alone, other than trying to make the club Sunday run where possible, and linking that in with my longer run sessions.

Gym: to be honest last year was pretty non existent – this was the session I binned off whenever work was busy (most of the time!)

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So juggling all the above with what was a c.50 hour work week, and which since June has been a 60-70 hour work week has been fairly hectic, and by the end of most weeks I was feeling quite wiped out. However I do think you almost get an advantage when you get to race week somewhere like Kona and you have 10 days prior to the race of not working, and managing to sleep, you feel extra magic on race day!

The key I think this year was both consistency and experience. With this year’s Kona being my 4th Ironman, and 2nd time out there, there is so much you can learn from just having done more of the distance, and knowing the course.

I had also been pretty clear that this year I was going all in to win. I invested in heat chamber sessions with Jodie Moss at Roehampton University – I definitely think this made a big difference to how well I coped with the heat, as well as mentally – when you can run for 1.30 staring at a white wall then the Queen K seems relatively interesting! I upgraded some of my bike components, I went out 10 days early again and generally did what I could to be in the best shape – other than lots of snacks to get me through some stressful work weeks!

The main reason I wanted to post something around the training I do and how I got to standing on that top step, was because I truly think that anyone can do it – if you have that drive and desire, and can put a consistent number of hours in, it is possible to do it around a busy life. How people juggle work, kids and triathlon I’m still in awe of though!

The final key for me was having Barney there throughout the whole journey – his own drive and motivation to be the great cyclist he is inspires me to go out and work that bit harder (if only to not get completely dropped when we go cycling together!). So finding training partners / people that inspire you makes a huge difference to helping push you on.

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I’m now back in training, and slowly starting to get fit again after 4 weeks of nothing! It hurts. . . .

Kona 2018 – World Champion!!

Wow, the last few days have been surreal!! Not sure reality has completely sunk in yet. To come back to Kona for the second time, and be able to put together another good race to take 3rd amateur overall and win 25-29 is a dream come true. To be honest, the main feeling crossing the finish line was relief – relief I had achieved my goal. I’m not actually sure how I would have been able to deal with it mentally if I hadn’t, given what I have invested in it this year.

So how did the day itself pan out. . .

Barney dropped us off for 5am to go and do the usual pre race faff. It was pretty speedy through body marking at that time, and there was a real buzz and energy from all the volunteers. Time to do the final bike preparations, pump up the tyres, get the nutrition on and then try and stay calm before the race. I had a lovely pre race coffee with Barney, and felt very lucky he was able to be out here to support me this year. It was then time to go and get in a good place ready to be one of the first women in the water to line up at the front.

Having treaded water for 10 mins and tried to hold my ground at the front suddenly the cannon went and the usual mass start chaos ensued! There were arms and legs everywhere and I was trying to go pretty hard to find some fast feet. It managed to spread out a bit by about 300m in so I settled into my rhythm. I found a couple of girls to follow for a bit but they were weaving around a bit so went back to swimming solo. Then around 1k we started catching the men so it was a game of dodge! As ever the swim out to the turnaround seems to take forever, but I was able to enjoy it a lot more than last year. It wasn’t too choppy and I was actually quite enjoying just swimming outside. Finally as we approached the pier to come back in it became chaotic again and I had to fight a bit to hold my line in. The usual relief to be getting out of the water and get excited to get on the bike!

I managed a pretty good transition and jumped onto the bike to start heading out onto the course. The first little loop through town is great – so much support from the crowds and a great atmosphere. It is always congested in that part so I was mainly concentrating on giving people space as I came last to avoid any crashes. We were soon up onto the Queen K and it was time to settle in and start catching some of the ladies ahead!

I absolutely loved the way out to Hawi, I was just passing people and sticking to my power and getting the nutrition in. As last year on the first chunk out I saw lots of people purposefully drafting (as opposed to the unavoidable groups at the start), but was careful to not focus on them and just focus on my race. As we started to climb towards Hawi the male pro race came back the other way, and then the female race. It was great to see Lucy crushing it on the front.

At the turnaround point Nick (Sophie Bubb’s husband) told me I was winning my age group and 3rd overall. This gave me a great boost. I knew I was riding well as hadn’t been overtaken by anyone at this point and had caught a lot of ladies. Time for the fun to begin. That first section down from Hawi was amazing!! Being so much lower to the ground than most of the men I was cruising past them. As we turned back onto the Queen K I was still feeling pretty good, not too hot and legs still strong. Not too far back now!! I was trying to work out if I could go sub 5 and started getting excited when I thought that was looking realistic.

Coming back into t2 I looked down and saw 4.52! Was stoked with that. Even though it was clearly a fast day without much wind it felt like a solid ride, and even on the way back I had only been overtaken by a couple of men.

Now for the real battle – the marathon. With not much wind it was feeling pretty hot, and having had a few crampy twinges at 160k on the bike I was just hoping the run legs would come through. Fortunately setting out down Ali’i drive I felt good. Tarsh (stomp the pedal queen!) told me I was 2nd overall, but leading my age group by 9 minutes. I was running pretty well for the first 10k or so, but there is such a long way to go and so much that can happen, especially in Kona I was trying to be very conservative. By the time I was heading up to the Queen K I knew that there were 2 ladies behind me that were running quite a bit faster, but I also knew I couldn’t go much faster than I was or there would be a serious blow out!!

The drag from Queen K to the Energy lab feels pretty endless. There aren’t really any crowds, there are long stretches of road and quite a few slightly uphill sections. I slowed a bit up here as I started to heat up a bit, but just kept plugging away. Barney continued to give me splits and by the time I reached the energy lab the lady in 2nd had closed the gap to under 5 mins. I spent the next 5k in a mental battle between giving in to the voice telling me to walk a bit, the voice telling me not to give up, the tiredness in my legs and the overwhelming heat!

It was also tough seeing the ladies behind me as we doubled back – there were a number looking pretty strong so I knew it was going to be a bit of a fight. Coming out of the energy lab the gap was down to 2.5 minutes. . . This was it, the time to remember the sweat, pain, tears and sacrifice that have gone in. Barney’s support was amazing, and James from the club had also run out along the queen k (in his sling), to give me some more encouragement. Would not have managed it without those 2 driving me on.

For the final 5k I met a lovely guy called Brad who had had 3 punctures so whilst he wasn’t having the race he wanted, he was more than happy to run with me to keep my pace up a bit. We had a good chat and that made such a big difference to the final section. It was finally time to go past the party tent and head down the hill. At this point my lead had gone back out a bit so I knew I just had to keep moving forward and not collapse before the finish!! That final 1.5k does seem to be quite long, but the crowds are unbelievable. I saw Joe Spraggins coming up to the red carpet so as promised gave him a little slap on the bum!

Coming down the red carpet there were definitely a few tears, and just huge relief!! The lady who met me at the finish was lovely, and helped walk me through. I was given the great news I had to go be dope tested (again!! 3rd time in the last 4 weeks!), so was straight up to that room until I was able to wee – 1 hour!! Not what you want when you want to go celebrate with your family / friends and get some food in. Good to see effort being taken to keep the sport clean but would think that 95% athletes who would dope would be clever enough not to have it in their system for the actual race!

Finally it was time to go find barney and enjoy the moment!!

Whilst it was an easier year on the bike in terms of no wind, this race seems to take some people at the peak of their fitness and give them the worst day. Absolutely gutted for coach Will for not having the day he deserves and has trained for. Also gutted for all my friends out here who didn’t have the race they wanted. Kona really is a brutal beast and you need a fair bit of luck on race day!

It has been an epic trip and I’m looking forward to some time off from serious training.m, and being able to concentrate more on work for a bit. Next year my A race is Challenge Roth, which before this race I was hoping to go somewhere around 9.20, but given my time from yesterday may have to raise that bar a bit!! Other than that I need to have a think about my plans and other races.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey – the support I have felt has been overwhelming st times. The triathlon community really is special!

Thanks again to the awesome sponsors:

Orca

Clif bar

Precision hydration

Skechers

Parcours

#roadtokona2018 – a few bumps along the way

As I have some time to kill whilst waiting for my flight, I wanted to write a few reflections about the road to Kona this year. In many ways it has been a very different build up – last year I had low expectations, I wanted to enjoy the experience and put together a reasonable Ironman. I wanted to see what the big deal was about Kona.

This year, having put together a good race at Nice I have higher expectations, and I want to win. That may seem like a silly thing to say, of course I want to win, but it feels like this year if I have a good race it is a possibility. I also feel like I have invested a lot more in the process this year, mentally, physically, emotionally (and as always with triathlon – financially!)

Having been promoted into a new job in June, work has been much busier and much more intense. I’ve been doing roughly 70 hour work weeks, but one of the main challenges with the job is it is one you can’t really switch off from. Supporting someone who heads up a team of 7000 looking after IT for Lloyds Banking Group means that you always feel on call. Although it has been tough, it is really interesting and I am loving it. One of the main challenges has been trying to learn a whole new world and language, it is completely different to Commercial where I was before.

Juggling the build up to Kona around that working week has been tough, and fitting training sessions in when you have meetings at 6.30/7am gets more challenging! Will as always has been great at switching some of my sessions around, and I have occasionally had to miss a few sessions which I have been better at not beating myself up about!

The biggest challenge has probably been how selfish I have felt. Sport can be very selfish, however for the professionals it feels more justified as it is their career. As an amateur, being selfish to try and excel at your hobby can often feel like you are being too selfish. There have been many weeks the last few months where I have barely seen or spoken to Barney, being out the door just after 5am and not getting back until after 9pm, at which point I just want to eat and go to sleep! Whilst he gets it, and is similar with all the training he does, I do sometimes wonder whether it is always the right choice.

This year I am feeling the fittest I have ever felt. I haven’t had a chance to test that, given I had to have my first DNF at Hever castle as I just couldn’t warm up from the swim, and having shivered my way around 45km I called it a day as I thought I could cause some serious damage if I kept going! However, I have done some heat chamber training at Roehampton uni, which I feel has been hugely beneficial, but let’s see when I get out there! I have managed to fairly consistently log c.18-20 hours of training and get some real quality sessions in. I didn’t want to go to Kona this year unless I thought I could improve on last year – as ever there is the unknown in terms of who else shows up, and trying to compete against some amateurs who might as well be full time athletes is always going to be tough – but it wouldn’t be rewarding unless it was a challenge!

So I fly out confident that I have done as much as I could to get in the best shape possible. I can’t wait to see so many people out there, and enjoy the amazing experiences of swimming with dolphins. I am excited that I get to see Will race after him being chief supporter last year. I am even more excited that Barney will come and experience it this year, and I hope I can do him proud. But most of all, I cannot wait for that feeling of nervously treading the water waiting for the cannon to go, with the anticipation of the whole race ahead.

Thanks to everyone supporting me – this year I have definitely needed it!

Ironman France 2018

img_0446.jpgI’ve taken a few days to process this, because to be honest, it’s taken a little while for Sunday to properly sink in!

After Kona last year I knew that this year I wanted the chance to go back and do better, but only if I could put together a performance that gave me the confidence I could go back there and smash it.

Whilst the winter was a really consistent and solid training block, the last few months have been a few ups and downs with a few weeks off running with a calf tear, and a couple of weeks of feeling pretty crap with some kind of cold/flu type thing, and a race I was disappointed with in Samorin, I wasn’t entirely sure what I might be able to do in Nice.

The run up to the day was quite smooth, got out to Nice Thursday lunchtime, and despite being completely scammed by the taxi driver, felt quite relaxed by the time I got to the apartment, and managed a little swim and run that day, as well as registering. I was staying with two club mates, one of whom was doing her first Ironman, and the other who was being our chief supporter – this helped keep a nice chilled atmosphere in the lead up to the race.

Friday I did a little spin (was not the easiest trying to dodge pedestrians in the bike lane or cars on the road!), swim and jog. I was testing out my new Orca Alpha, which I have to say is amazing! Feels even more like not swimming in anything restrictive or constraining than the previous version. Both swims had been quite choppy but I was hopeful that race day as we were starting earlier it would be calmer.

Taper week is always tough – for me I feel lethargic, a load of phantom niggles or pains seem to appear and lots of self doubt creeps in! But both Barney and Will were doing a very good job of pre race pep talks, and my sister, brother in law and nephew flying out to support also gave a huge confidence boost.

Given some of the tummy trouble I have had, I was very strict from Thursday onwards to eat very plain food – literally just rice, chicken, sweet potato and oats on the Friday and Saturday.

Race day:

The alarm was set for 3.30am – I woke up at 3.15 feeling relatively calm and not too tired – Thursday and Friday night I managed to get two solid 10 hour sleeps in!! Rice pudding for breakfast was consumed and then I went back to bed to snooze for an hour. Eimear and I walked down to transition at 5, walking down the promenade with lots of drunk French teenagers who were definitely not doing the race!! Final bike prep done and it was time for the mandatory portaloo queue time and then it was time to get lubed up with baby oil, wetsuit on and head down to the start.

This was definitely the calmest I have felt before a race – unlike last year I hadnt heaped loads of pressure on myself, and really wanted to be able to enjoy what everyone had said was the most stunning bike course.

We saw the pros set off and just 4 minutes later we were off!! With a rolling start I nearly got crushed just trying to get through the very narrow start gate, but then out into the water and it spread out quite well. I enjoyed most of the first loop, other than when we got near any buoys, when people seem to start swimming like twats even when they weren’t turning buoys but still in a straight line! Into the second half of the swim and it was quite choppy, and was becoming more of a fight. I always seem to end up in between 2 people who cant swim in a straight line and try and swim over me! Because of the tighter arms on the new alpha, I wasn’t wearing my Garmin so had no idea what I had done the swim in – I had felt quite comfortable but not particularly magic. So when I went under the time arch and it was showing 1.06, I was pretty chuffed to think I had probably got a swim pb and come out in an hour given the pro men set off 6 mins before us!

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Onto the bike – the first 10k you are on a flat bit getting out of town. There was a group of about 8 men ahead who seemed to think they were in a peloton, so rather than surge to get past them I rode under my target power to stay a good distance off the back of them. I had passed a couple of women early on but had no idea how many might be ahead. A woman came past me before we got to the climb and I did a bit of a double take when I saw it was Corinne Abraham – I wasn’t expecting to have overtaken any pro women in the water – but we had the advantage of wetsuits which would have helped. Seeing her come past I saw first hand how much the short gap to the age group race impacts the female pro race – she kept having to sit up as men surged past her and then dropped off their power. Clearly didn’t impact her too much with her ridiculous bike split and then run to go on and win!! She soon disappeared into the distance when we hit the climbs!

The climbing starts with an initial steep ramp – I was being very careful not to go over FTP power, and not burn my matches early. This then turned into a more gradual 5k climb, where again I kept to a nice consistent power and just ignored some of the men coming past. There was then a lovely rolling bit, and then it was onto the real test of the day – a 17k climb (with a bit of flat /descent in the middle). This part was absolutely stunning – we went past waterfalls and the views down the valley were unreal!! Again I stuck to my power. About quarter of the way up an age group lady came past. Thinking I must be near the front of the race I stuck to my 12m behind her and as I was still riding to a reasonable power stuck there for a bit. She then started to tire so I went past and she decided she would stick on my wheel for the rest of the climb up. A couple of Marshall’s came past but did nothing, and I unfortunately couldn’t quite muster any fluid for the classic pee deterrent. Getting to the top I had a quick stop to pick up my special needs which had my energy drink in (part of my nutrition strategy), and she came past – I wasn’t too worried as I caught her up pretty quickly on the descent. The next part was unbelievable – long sweeping descent through some amazing villages.

As we approached 110k I went past a female pro, and was then overtaken by Lisa Roberts a bit further on. I managed to stay near Lisa for about 20k before she powered on! On the more technical descents there were quite a few people in the medical tents, and we learnt at the awards that someone had unfortunately died as a result of crashing, which is always horrible to hear. I was being fairly cautious but mainly just absolutely loving the whole of the bike course. I felt good for the whole thing and nutrition was going down well, so I felt positive for the marathon.

Coming into t2 I had a decision to make. Talking to will before the race he had told me to be cautious, set off at 4.55 pace and aim for a 3.30 marathon to try and ensure qualification was in the bag rather than push it. I had told him I wanted to push it to see what I could do to give me the confidence for Kona. We had agreed to disagree. As I ran out of t2 I was feeling good, and Paul Kaye announced I was the first age grouper. I decided to run st whatever felt comfortable and just try and go off feel. I looked down after 1k and was running at 4.00/k pace – definitely wasn’t going to hold that!! Forced myself to slow down a bit and settled into about 4.35/k pace. My sister told me I had 3mins to next age grouper and 8 mins to next one in my age group. The decision was made – I couldn’t afford to just do a 3.30 marathon.

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I decided to just keep going st that pace for as long as possible, and kept my fingers very tightly crossed that I didn’t have a massive blow up and end the day with Will saying ‘I told you so!’ It was pretty hot, so I made sure I ran under all the showers and took on a water and coke at all the aid stations. Unfortunately they didn’t have any ice or sponges, which would be one of my only negatives about the day. Heading onto the 3rd lap – the legs were starting to tire a bit, the feet were a little bit sore, and the distance between aid stations seemed that little bit longer. However the crowds were epic and I just focussed on keeping moving.

Coming into the last lap, my sister and Ruth who was supporting told me I had about 8 mins to the next age grouper. I knew then I just had to keep moving forward. I had slowed a little bit but the wheels didn’t seem to be falling off. Maybe, just maybe I thought I might be able to get that 3.20 that had been my real stretch goal marathon target time.

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The final turnaround point I started to relax a bit and really try and soak it all in. I had finally put together an Ironman where I felt good the whole day, had managed to get nutrition in on the run, and was running pretty well despite having a bit of a run break a couple of months previously.

The crowds were amazing, and coming down the finishing Shute I soaked up the cheers, high fived as many people as possible and almost collapsed over the finish!! To be greeted by Paul Kaye is always awesome, and knowing I had managed to do my training proud I was completely over the moon.

To get my first sub 10, a swim and run pb, and be first age grouper by 11 minutes, was everything that I had been aiming for. To be able to put together a good race from start to finish really was magical, and gave me the confidence that I can go back to Kona and improve on last year.

The main challenge will be trying to juggle work and training the next few months – I have just been promoted st work into a really exciting opportunity, which is going to mean longer hours especially to start with. However, I know that Will can rise to the challenge of adjusting my training around that, and I just have to accept that I may not be able to compete against some of the age groupers who aren’t sat at a desk for 10-12 hours a day. If I can go to Kona and have a better race than last year I will be pretty happy – I would love to win but we will see what happens!

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Photo Credit: James Mitchell

Huge thanks to Barney for the constant support, Will for the epic coaching, Eimear for absolutely smashing her first Ironman despite lots of challenges throughout the day, Ruth M, my sister, brother in law and nephew, and Eimear’s mum and friend for the support the whole weekend, and all the people who have supported/ encouraged along the way.

Huge thanks as well to the brands that make it possible:

Orca – amazing new wetsuit and awesome kit

Skechers – for trainers that don’t break my feet

Clifbar – for your amazing nutrition

Precision Hydration for always keeping the cramps at bay

Parcours for the seriously speedy wheels (use RUTHP50 for a £50 discount)

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!

Swimming and sunshine – 2nd camp of the year

Well we certainly seemed to time the 2nd trip abroad of the year perfectly, escaping the BeastfromtheEast and Snowmageddon! Barney was off the Mallorca on team camp, so I took the opportunity to join Nat Seymour (Friday morning swim buddy) for a week in Spain on her camp with her coach Andy.

The focus of the camp for me was getting good bike miles in, and using the time with Nat to work on the swim as well.

Camp stats:

8 days

Swim: 32k (yes – this is by far the biggest swim week I have ever done!!)

Bike: 525k

Run: 63k

The first long ride I managed to link up with Mark Pearce’s athletes, so had a lovely cycle with Kim Morrison, Lou Croxson, Sam Proctor and Martin Cseik. Being back out on nice smooth roads with some sunshine was amazing, especially after a couple of very hectic weeks at work. It is always great hearing about other athletes plans for the year and how the training is going as well as finding out which races we might all be bumping into each other at!

Overall the bike miles over the week were great, it was generally quite windy which gave some good resistance to work against for all my interval sessions. Compared to last year the numbers are looking good, and the more time I spend on the Liv Avow the more comfortable and aero I feel.

As mentioned before another focus on the week was to take advantage of being with Nat and really work on the swim. I was very lucky in having her coach Andy there, able to give me lots of tips and pointers for my technique, which by the end of the week was feeling a lot smoother. It makes such a difference having somewhere there constantly giving you feedback on what you should tweak, and how it should feel. Thank you Andy!!!

With 2 solid camps done, I can’t wait for race season to kick off. The winter training Will has given me seems to be paying off, with gains made across all 3 individual sports – now just got to put it together.

Was great to spend more time with Nat – she is one of the hardest working athletes, always looking for that extra gain, and continuously getting the work done. Can’t wait to see her racing this year and her hard work over the winter paying off.

Just over a month until the first race – can’t wait to kick off the season properly!

Even more exciting is the new Orca Alpha getting released which I can’t wait to try. Hopefully my swimming will have caught up a little bit to do it justice this year.

Thanks to everyone for the continued support:

Orca

Skechers

Clifbar

Precision Hydration

Training – the winter months

For those of us Northern hemisphere athletes the past few months have been fairly miserable – cold, rain, snow, very short days and sometimes feeling like the elements are doing everything they can to stop you getting decent training in! However this year in particular I have found Zwift has helped make indoor cycling much more bearable, and running with the club makes it fun even when it is sub zero temperatures. However there is only so much cold and indoor turbos I can take, so it was great to spend the last week in Gran Canaria with Barney getting some good bike miles in!

The week:

Cycling – 500km, 7720m climbing

Running – 68km

Swimming – 20km

The main aim of the week was to get some good bike miles in, which we certainly did! I was expecting Gran Canaria to be pretty similar to Lanzarote, having only spent a brief weekend there to race last year. We were all blown away by how amazing the cycling was, the road surfaces are generally great, there are so many long climbs to choose from and the scenery is epic.

I love training camps – being able to spend a week recovering properly from each session and spend time with like minded people is always a great experience. It was great having Emma Bilham staying with us, and learning more from her about some of her favourite races, and also pushing hard to keep anywhere near her wheel as soon as we hit the hills! This time I also managed to get a few more rides in with Barney, mainly light recovery spins for him!

Thankfully I only have 2 weeks of British winter until heading off to Spain with Nat, where it will be a good experience trying to tie in with a lot of her sessions.

It feels like everything is starting to move in the right direction post the singer block so far, and I’m sure it won’t be too long until races are upon us!

Challenge Roma is first up in April – can’t wait to properly test the form and see where I am at.

Very excited to have another season with Team Freespeed – such a great group of athletes with awesome brands supporting us. The road to #Kona2018 is well and truly underway.

Reflections, resolutions and 2018 goals

With 2018 nearly upon us it seemed like the opportune time to reflect on this year and also set out my resolutions and goals for next year.

This year has both surpassed my expectations and also left me at times frustrated – it has given me my first taste of Kona, leaving me hungry for more, and whilst I have been happy with my results I still haven’t had a race where I feel I have truly delivered in swim, bike and run to my potential – but that is what motivates me for 2018.

Proudest triathlon moments of 2017:

1) Kona – not blowing up and managing to meet all my goals – a good first outing

2) Exmoor 70.3 – after my puncture disaster in 2016 being able to win with a good margin was a great feeling – first champagne podium as well!

3) Lanzarote 70.3 – felt like the closest I have got to an all round great performance

Aims for 2018:

1) Qualify for Kona and go back to win

2) Be first age grouper at all my races

3) Get a half marathon PB

4) Be in a position where I feel ready to take my pro license

2018 races so far (there will be more as I firm up plans!)

– Challenge Roma (14th April)

– Challenge Championships (2nd June)

– Ironman Nice (24th June)

I am looking forward to another year with Will Clarke – building on the improvements of last year and seeing what progress I can make. His guidance and support this year, particularly in Kona made the transition to full distance seem relatively easy.

Very much looking forward to seeing Barney smash next year under his new coach – his support and motivation makes it so much easier to get up and train, and seeing how hard he works helps push me on to train harder.

The support of club mates and other triathletes continues to amaze me – every race I go to I meet more people who are so friendly and encouraging, and the network of triathlon friends is ever expanding. It is great to see all of them do so well.

Thanks to Orca, Skechers, Clif bar, Precision Hydration for your continued support.

Happy New Year everyone!!