Kona 2017: The Big Dance

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I can’t believe it has already been a week since the big race itself, the race I spent 4.5 solid months training for, visualising during all the hard sessions and desperately hoping for a bit of luck to get me through what many people say is the toughest Ironman. I am immensely grateful that I am in a position where I smashed my goals, and my first experience of the island was overall positive, although it has given me the hunger to go back for more!

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The Kona Experience:

I don’t think I can give the whole experience justice in any words, but I will try and give some sense of what it was like. Arriving 8 days before the race I thought it would be a similar experience to 70.3 World Champs in Australia the year before. . . all I can say is it is like that on steroids times 1 million!

My week kicked off at 5.30am Saturday morning up bright and early for the Ho’ala training swim – basically an opportunity for athletes to swim the course in a semi race setting. Having only just arrived I was under orders to just relax and take it fairly chilled. This I did, and despite a punch to the face right at the start generally enjoyed the swim and was very happy to come out in 1.01. If I could have a swim like that on race day I would be delighted! We then had team breakfast which was awesome – with 8 Freespeed athletes out in Kona it was a great opportunity to get to know some of them better, and learn from all their experience.

I was staying with coach Will and his teammate Patrik – who was also in Kona for his first race. It was great seeing how he prepared for the big day and awesome to see him smash it in coming 8th as youngest pro out there.

The rest of the week consisted of practice swim, bike and run – all fairly relaxed sessions just getting used to some of the course and the conditions. Most days it was quite overcast so whilst it was quite humid there weren’t any days I went out and wondered if I could even get through the race, so I was generally feeling pretty good for the big day.

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The magic of the island is in being able to go from the beach outside our apartment and swim with wild turtles, and drive 20 minutes to a bay where you could swim with wild dolphins – huge highlights of the trip!

It is definitely the most relaxed I have felt in the run up to a race, despite the absolute circus of the leanest, fittest people I have seen running up and down Ali’i drive every day, the number of different brands all selling things promising to make you that bit faster, and the biggest collection of bike porn!

The race itself – the swim:

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Being the last group to set off and wanting to not get too caught in all the madness I hung near the back to get into the water – in hindsight a mistake. This meant I was about 6 deep in and had absolutely nowhere to go when the cannon went off. Definitely the most hectic first 1km of a swim – ladies fighting everywhere to try and get some space, and so many people unable to swim in a straight line. Finally managed to get some space so concentrated on getting into a rhythm. This lasted for maybe about 500m when we started hitting the slow men, which cause absolute mayhem again. Coming out of the swim I was mainly happy to have survived, although a bit disappointed with 1.o4 considering the time I did the week before. Anyway – onto the bike which is always the best bit!

The bike:

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Without a doubt the most boring course I have done. The first bit was quite fun looping through town so there were crowds cheering. It was also pretty busy having come out with a big chunk of ladies and a lot of the men. I was just trying to bike to my own power and keep my own space. As we got out onto the highway groups were forming and I knew I had to not get annoyed, do my own thing where possible and not over bike. I was with a few other ladies most of the way out to Hawi, generally a couple of them were good at keeping draft legal distance and we were swapping around as we were passing the groups of men. There was one girl (winner of 18-24) who clearly couldn’t be bothered to make any attempt to not draft and just sat on whoever’s wheel she could (like right on it!), which the draft busters seemed to ignore. After the turnaround point I stopped briefly to sort out my special needs bag (I think the additional PH1500 here saved me), and then the fun began for the descent. Fortunately the crosswinds weren’t too bad and until we hit the headwind I was loving life. It then got a bit tougher, my watts dropped and I was getting a bit bored of the endless road ahead, however I just kept focussing on passing people one by one and getting to the end of the bike course. I was expecting one more aid station at the end of the bike so the last 20k I felt a bit hot, but in future will be checking out exactly where all the aid stations are!

The run:

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Running through transition I was wondering how the hell am I going to run a marathon – given you can be on the aerobars the whole bike I felt a bit stiff and uncomfortable, and my legs did not feel like they were playing ball as I started running. Fortunately this got better, and the out and back down Ali’i drive was amazing! Crowds everywhere, music, people cheering everyone on, hosing people down and this section was the best atmosphere I have had at a race. I was running quite a good pace, but consciously slowed down to make sure I didn’t burn out. Heading out onto the Queen K I was running with a lovely lady from New Zealand, unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with her as we approached the Energy Lab! This bit of the run was the worst – long, boring, hot, hilly. I had no idea where I was position wise and at this point knew I was just trying to hang on to keep running. I didn’t seem to be having any stomach issues but stuck to coke and water with just a couple of shot blocks to make sure I wasn’t tempting fate. As I came out of the energy lab Will was there, and he told me I was in 3rd, with a girl quite close behind me. He also said Ali is just 2.5 mins up the road but I thought he was talking about teammate Ali (who came flying past me and I knew I couldn’t keep up!) so didn’t pay much attention. Coming into the final bit of town I put on a bit of a push as he said she was catching me a bit, and it was also great to see the crowds again!

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Crossing the finish line I had all sorts of emotions – relief at having finished, pride, gratefulness, excitement. I am completely over the moon that my first Kona I managed to run the whole marathon, enjoy the whole experience, and learn so much that I can take into it next time. Obviously my competitive spirit wants to go back there and do better!

A huge thank you to coach Will – for getting me into the shape to be here, guiding me through the week up to the race and being a real mentor as well as coach. I look forwards to what we can do even better next year.

Also Team Freespeed – you guys are all awesome and it made the experience more special to be able to share it with you all. In particular, Ali – you are a superstar and so happy to see you get the win, Charlie – huge congrats on 5th, and Stuart thanks for taking me on the bike recce.

To those sponsoring me and giving me the best kit to give me the best possible chance:

Giant St Pauls, Orca, Skechers, Precision Hydration, ClifBar, Lezyne

To Barney for always being there, supporting me through the ups and downs, doing the early morning sessions with me and showing me what real dedication is – I couldn’t do it without you.

And to all my friends and family who put up with endlessly boring triathlon chat, missed nights out, and holidays shaped around training – thank you.

Whilst I am very much enjoying a bit of time off, I have started to think about next year and what it might bring. . .

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The Big Island Itself

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Amazingly it is almost time, for the big race itself. . . 3 days! Having spent the last 5 days out here trying to acclimatise and taper has given me a fair amount of thinking time to reflect on my goals and hopes for the day.

  1. Have an absolute blast!
    • Whilst I am sure there will be moments of pain, wondering why on earth I am doing this to myself, and when will it finally stop, the opportunity to be racing against most of the best age groupers in the world (or at least those that could afford to come out!), and on the same course as the best pros in the world is pretty amazing
    • I am out here with some good friends, teammates and various athletes I have met at races, meaning that this week running up to it has been great fun already, and being able to give a good cheer to all those racing on Saturday will be a good distraction from the pain!
    • Hawaii is a pretty awesome place – whilst we definitely aren’t seen its highlights just cruising up and down the motorway, it feels like a pretty special place to be doing a race like this
    • Racing generally is really good fun – being only my second Ironman it is difficult to know exactly what to expect, especially given the first one didn’t go to plan, and so I just want to be able to enjoy the experience of racing and seeing what my body can do on the dayimg_1156
  2. Be patient
    • Its a long long day – no point getting overexcited and trying to smash the first bit of the bike (really hope I remember this on race day!!), and also need to ensure I don’t get frustrated with any of the bike packs or other peoples’ racing.
    • The bike course is long and fairly boring, but hopefully might play to my strengths if I can keep to my planimg_1224
  3. Run the whole marathon
    • this was my biggest frustration in Lanzarote, having legs that felt good but a tummy that wasn’t cooperating – whilst Kona is definitely not the place that most people seem to have their great races, it would be amazing to not have to stop at every single portaloo!

I have spent a fair amount of time this week reigning in any expectations, and focussing instead on the above goals – if I can get those three nailed then I think I will come away pretty happy.

So here’s to a chilled couple of days and then everything crossed for Saturday!

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Huge thanks to Will Clarke for all the support out here despite not being able to race – having someone who knows the area has been awesome. Also been great to have 7 teammates out here, most of whom have raced here before, take me out to various points of the course and also give lots of advice. Looking forward to seeing them all smash it on Saturday.

#roadtokona

Well the last couple of months has certainly flown by since my last blog after Sweden. Having treated Sweden as more of a fun race (although I also wanted to see what I could do on the flattest course I’ve done so far), I was ready for a bit of a mid season break before the big build to Kona. I had a complete week off and then a very easy week, which I really needed mainly from a mental break from the training. It also tied in nicely with my birthday and I managed to stretch out my birthday celebrations for a good few weeks! The return to training. . . The plan was to build steadily up to Lanzarote 70.3 and do a solid week of training out there after that, as work had agreed I could work agilely and work from Lanzarote that week.

The run up to Lanzarote was the usual – some stunning early mornings in the park, club swim on Thursday getting beasted by the speedy guys, and weekends doing as much as possible with Nat – who has really had an amazingly strong end to her season. Getting out to Lanzarote and it was nice to be back in the sun. . . The wind not so much! I had a couple of days getting ready for the race and a few efforts to keep the legs going.

The race was really enjoyable. As a training race I had put minimal pressure on this one, and just wanted to go out and have a really hard day. The swim as ever was pretty hectic – I always seem to end up between 2 guys trying to swim over me, so had to stop a couple of times to avoid getting drowned. The lagoon is also pretty horrible and I was happy to get out of the water!

Heading out onto the bike and it was time to have some fun! The roads are great, we had a nice tailwind on the way out and I was just enjoying myself a lot. I had the all clear to go all out so just went for it without really looking at he numbers, and was pretty happy to come in just under 2.30 on a fairly hilly and windy course.

Onto the run and time to see what the legs could deliver. Fortunately it was quite overcast but even so it was quite humid and I was taking advantage of all the water stops to throw water over me. This tookIts toll in terms of my number breaking off – so I was stopped after my first lap while a guy very slowly wrote my number out and made me pin it on! Was not best pleased. Was focussing on just keeping rhythm and trying to run smoothly – and was helped by the support of teammate Dec who was also racing.

Finally onto the final lap and I really gave it everything I could – the legs were burning and although I hadn’t managed to eat anything on the run I felt ok. Crossing the finish line was awesome and it was straight into the ice water to cool down!

Pretty happy with fastest age grouper and 5th female overall. Off the back of the race I then had an awesome week training in Lanzarote with Will out there for some one on one coaching. Unfortunately he has a broken shoulder so can’t train, but from my point of view meant I had undivided attention on the coaching front – amazing although there were times during some of the swim sets I wasn’t appreciating it as much. . . !

Coming back from Lanzarote with just a month until Kona has given me some good confidence in my fitness and form – just need to work on nutrition and nailing the conditions now! Thanks as ever for the great coaching Will – hugely appreciate your encouragement even whilst going through the frustration of injury. The team support as we get closer to Kona has been awesome – what a great group of people offering so much advice and encouragement – great to do some training with Stuart and Dec out in Lanzarote. Looking forward to so many of us being out there. Onwards and upwards as the weeks countdown!!

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.

 

Going long. . . The good, the bad and the ugly

                              

Saturday was the big day. . . The day I have been training for over the last 6 months and that I was excited to see what I could achieve given some of the training sessions I had done. I gave myself some time to properly reflect on the race, to try and give a more objective view – so here goes.

Race day!

– alarm goes off at 4.15am – to be honest I was awake already but had slept pretty well, and excited to get up and be getting ready

– normal breakfast of oats, banana and honey plus coffee and I was ready to go

– heading down to the start and final touches to transition – gels on bike, pumping up the tires and generally ensuring everything was ready – atmosphere wasn’t as pumping as other races I have done but kept it relatively calm

– time for a quick warm up beforehand quick good luck pep talk from Barney and Bridget before heading into the pen to get a good position – by this point normal pre race nerves kicking in a little bit, but mainly just wanted to get going!

            

Swim

– managed to get myself near the front and to the right, so whilst the start was pretty hectic being a mass start I probably had it slightly better than people who weren’t able to get into the AWA section

– as the gun went the first part of the swim was quite slow and congested up to the first buoy – the usual battles around the first buoy and then it started to spread out a little bit

– normal load of people not able to swim in a straight line cutting right in front, people swimming into me, people trying to swim over my legs and stop start in some parts of congestion

– first loop felt ok and going into second loop I knew I was on track for doing the swim in around the hour – and managed to find some clear water to get into a rhythm a bit better

– coming out in 1.03 was pretty happy considering some of the argy bargy and was then excited to get on with the rest of the race

The bike

– transition I took fairly slowly, making sure I got everything on right, getting smothered in suncream and mentally thinking about objectives for the bike

– almost immediately I felt like I was in a bit of trouble – I felt nauseous and not at my best – however I just focussed on forcing the gels down and trying to stick to my target power – I was getting overtaken going uphill but was catching people on the flatter sections and downhill (a first!)

– on the approach to fire mountain I had to make my first toilet stop – I was hopeful this would sort me out and I felt much better after this – time to tackle the hills

– the next part of the bike I absolutely loved – I felt great, holding my power felt comfortable and I was constantly overtaking people – the scenery was great and I saw Barney, Bridget and Sean a couple of times

– my favourite part was the descent from Mirador Del Rio until the approach to nazarat, where I hit a bit of a mental block and struggled to hold power and didn’t seem to be going anywhere

– the last 20k was a bit better post another toilet stop (mainly because it’s downhill!) and I was very happy to be coming into t2

      

The run

– heading out of t2 I felt great initially – I was having to slow myself down as running felt easy and I was getting excited to see what I could do

– this lasted all of 2k and then it all started falling apart – my tummy decided that it had had enough and it was going to cause absolute chaos – bring on the next 35k of constantly hunting the next portaloo, some enforced walking, not being able to eat anything and wishing the day was over

– some great support from people urging me on and when my tummy wasn’t shouting at me to stop I felt quite good running, and the last 4K I managed to power on through and hold a good pace

Crossing the line I was mainly overwhelmed with frustration and annoyance that the goal I had been working so hard towards had been ruined by something I really thought I had solved in terms of tummy trouble. Even after a lot of reflection I am not sure what went wrong – I did everything as I had in practice, and couldn’t identify anything obviously that I had done differently or that might have caused the upset stomach. At that point I thought Kona was out of the question as I was so far behind where I was hoping to finish I just assumed I was way down the age group ranks.

By pure luck, turns out I had come 3rd, and the lady in 1st Had already qualified, and Lucy in 2nd didn’t want her spot – so amazingly I managed to claim my Kona slot, which I am over the moon about. It is definitely not in the fashion I was hoping for, and I am nervous about what I can change to ensure the same doesn’t happen out there, but feeling very lucky to have had a bad race and be able to still claim that spot – as they are so competitive now that very few people can say that.

So on reflection. . . .

The Good: 

  • I am officially an Ironman now!
  • Very happy with general fitness and how I felt other than my tummy
  • It is the first time I have led my age group out of the water (and doubt it will happen again!)
  • I was happy to be able to pull through some dark places on the bike
  • My legs felt good on the run even if my tummy didn’t
  • I managed a full marathon on 4 orange halves, coke and water – well done body! And my moving time with the walking was 3.43 – not as bad as it could have been!
  • I am also happy that I managed to mentally keep myself going despite the run being a fairly miserable experience – with a lot of this being down to the amazing support out there!
  • I have completed the toughest Ironman out there. . surely it can only get easier?!
  • I QUALIFIED FOR KONA!!!! (probably the best part of the good!)

The Bad:

  • I don’t know what caused my tummy issues. . .
  • Despite the good it wasn’t the result I wanted, and getting my head around that having worked towards a result so hard for the last 6 months is tough – and I’m not quite there yet

The Ugly:

  • My sincerest apologies to anyone who was anywhere near me on the run. . . enough said!

Thank you everyone for all the support – in particular Barney and Bridget for being my integral support system in the run up to and over Lanzarote weekend – I would have been even slower around that run without you there telling me it was ‘just’ another 13k. . .

Thank you to Orca for the wetsuit and kit (black is a good colour!), Giant St Pauls for the awesome bike – still managed an average bike split despite the 2 toilet stops, ClifBar for the nutrition – just a shame I wasn’t able to take any on the run, Precision Hydration for keeping me hydrated – probably would have needed a drip at the end without your tablets, Lezyne for the tools to get my bike ready, Skechers for the trainers (sorry I wasn’t able to do them justice).

Thank you also everyone who was tracking me and cheering me on remotely – knowing so many people were tracking the race certainly kept me trying to push through the run. . .

Also – thanks to the pros – it was absolutely epic watcing the Brit ladies absolutely smash it – and Lucy Gossage – your words post race really helped me rationalise it all a bit more!

Onwards and upwards as they say!

Ironman Lanzarote – pre race thoughts

Race week is finally here! It seems like a long time ago I signed up to IM Lanza, and it definitely feels like the longest build to a race. So thought I would pen down some thoughts pre race, as post race I may be too broken for a while!

Training:

As mentioned, longest training block (with a couple of races) running up to the big day – a few stats from when I started in earnest for this race mid November

  • 6,389.6km cycling
  • 1 x punctures on the turbo, 3 x punctures out training (pre Giant tubeless tyres)
  • 1,280.2km running
  • 1 x twisted ankle
  • 337.9km swimming
  • 4 x forgotten to take underwear to work due to wearing swim costume (thank God for the Calvin Klein shop!)
  • Av. 17 hours a week training
  • 2 x training camps in Lanzarote
  • 5 x 1kg tubs of peanut butter eaten (would be more but only discovered I liked it in January!)

Kit:

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2017 – the year of the super bike!

  • Being supported by Giant St Paul’s in the form of a beautiful Liv Avow has been amazing
  • The bike rides like a dream and has allowed Richard to put me in a more aero position

 

 

Skechers

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  • Crucial for any triathlete is a great pair of trainers – with wide feet and high arches this is something I have struggled with in the past
  • The cushioning on the Skechers now I have got used to it seems to support my feet well and absorb a fair amount of the impact, and they are so nice and light

 

Orca – wetsuit and kit  IMG_3089img_2955

  • The Alpha is a great wetsuit – lots of flexibility in the arms and doesn’t restrict the legs
  • Hopefully in Lanza I can do it more justice than I did in Gran Canaria!
  • I gave the new race suit a test run at the weekend – it is a proper speed suit but still comfortable – and seems to give right movement for both cycling and running

ClifBar Nutrition & Precision Hydration

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  • A lot of triathletes talk about nutrition and hydration being a whole extra discipline – and I can certainly agree!
  • I have had a fair amount of GI issues in the past, but the Clif nutrition is both tasty and seems to agree with my gut
  • Precision Hydration I have been using for the last few years – and have been cramp free since using it – I love having the more personalised hydration plan and am hoping this will come into its own in the heat of Lanzarote

Lezyne – tools

  • Lezyne have provided some of the best tools to ensure I can keep the awesome bike ticking over nicely
  • In particular their travel track pump is brilliant – light for travelling but works so well removing any hassle at the other end
  • Will also be using their little bike saddle bag to carry all my spares in the race, just in case!

The Team:

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My better half – seems to put up with the tiredness (all the time!), the peanut butter binges, the depression post a bad training session, and my missing his birthday weekend for the second year in a row for a race. . .

 

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The Coach – would not be anywhere near this level of fitness or been able to get myself to this point without a certain Will Clarke

His patience and encouragement has helped me string together a lot of consistent training weeks without getting bored or demotivated

Hoping to do his coaching proud on Saturday!

 

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The Nutritionist – Barney and I have been working with Will Girling since the end of last year – having someone focussing specifically on my nutrition (and trying to tame my sweet tooth) has really helped me fuel better for races and feel better through the whole run without fading

Friends and Family – putting up with me being rubbish at finding the time to see everyone enough, or when I do not being the most talkative! Looking forward to a long family weekend post Ironman, and a friends wedding amongst other things. Hugely appreciate all the support you give – it wouldn’t be possible without that.

So that is my Ironman journey so far – I feel like the fitness is there so now I just have to get out there and enjoy it!

 

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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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??

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                 (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!

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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 🙂

T-9 weeks

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I feel like I have officially survived winter. . . the days of wearing shorts in England seem to have arrived (for training anyway!), there have been some glorious sunrises and we have hit longer days. With just under 9 weeks until the big race I thought I would give an insight into how the last couple of months have been.

Post Lanzarote at the end of January I have had a pretty consistent 7 weeks of training:

  • Averaging between 14 and 17 hours training
  • Another trip out to Lanzarote
  • 1 new bike courtesy of Giant St Pauls
  • A whole stash of Clifbar product to keep me energised
  • Some new Skechers trainers

IMG_1840Since that week we had the last of the X country races. . .  thank god! I think the only thing I actually enjoy about x country is the cake afterwards! I am not very good on slippy muddy surfaces, particularly with my tendency to sprain my left ankle, and I just find it frustrating not being able to go as fast as I could on a normal road.

However, I do very much like all the home baked goodies that get brought along, and also the end of season curry night!

IMG_2040I also had another great weekend up in Loughborough with Will and one of his other athletes, Tom. As always, being able to train with Will and get his knowledge and tips first hand is invaluable, and I had another weekend of swim pbs (I think the Loughborough pool may just be magic!). Clare was an awesome host as always, and Freddie provided the amusement!

 

I have been very much enjoying the benefits of some of my new supporters – the Liv bike is epic – rolls so smoothly and feels so responsive and stiff. I can’t wait to put her through her paces properly and get racing! Clif and Precision Hydration are a great combination to keep me hydrated and well energised – in particular the Shot Bloks are great for running or riding. My main challenge is to not eat the Clif Bar and Builder Bars too much as snacks – they are so tasty! Finally – Skechers trainers – am building up my mileage relatively slowly in them so as not to upset the body, but so far so good, and looking forward to getting a bigger range of colours to mix and match!

I was lucky enough to go back out to Lanzarote for another week of training (mainly because Barney was heading out to Mallorca with the Nuun-Sigma boys and I knew I would be too jealous just being at home!), with Sarah Lewis.

Being out there makes training so much easier – although my test of the bike course on the day with 26 mph cross winds the whole way was a mental battle! Having done it in those conditions gives me confidence for race day though – I know that I can at least get through it even if it isn’t speedy!

I had a great time last week at the Giant St Pauls ‘Women in Triathlon’ evening, being honoured to speak on a panel made up of Cat Jameson, Heather Sellers, Gillian Sanders, Jane Hansom, Helen Murray, Georgie Rutherford, Edwina Brocklesbury, Jennifer Tait and Stef Hanson. There were many lessons to be taken from them and inspiration by the bucket load! It is great to see lots of interest in events like that and hopefully women are feeling more comfortable getting started with triathlon and other events.

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This past weekend I had my first TT of the year – a 25m course I have done a number of times. I was hoping to get a pb – however the windier than usual conditions and legs that didnt want to respond meant that didn’t happen! However I had a good run off the bike, and the position that Richard (Freespeed) spent many hours tweaking the day before felt much more aero and comfortable – so looking forward to seeing the gains going forward.

 

 

So as we approach race season I am feeling positive – things are moving in the right direction, I’ve been able to combine my weekend training with watching a few of Barney’s races (thankfully missing his crash the other weekend), and only 3 weeks until my first race tester at Ful-On Duathlon.