My first triathlon of the season, in at the deep end with a World Championship Age Group qualifier, the Llandudno Sea Triathlon. Sprint distance with a brutal swim in freezing, choppy waters (awesome fun!), a hilly and technical bike course (scary fun!) and a reasonably flat run (flat fun?).
I made sure I didn’t go off too fast as I usually do on the swim and tucked in behind the leaders, came out the water 3rd and felt reasonably fresh going into T1. Although Draft Legal this course has very little opportunity to benefit from drafting due to the fact that we were very spread out and the laps are essentially up the Great Orme and back down. That said I was surprised at the benefit I got for a short while when I tucked in behind a guy who overtook me on the first ascent.
Bike went ok, was passed by about 6 guys, still my weaker discipline but I’m definitely stronger this year. Descending towards the end of the bike leg allowed the heart rate to calm down a bit and I felt strong on the run where I ran the 3rd fastest leg, sub 20min 5km and regained a couple of places. Finished 7th out of 37 in Age Group. The top 4 in each Age Group qualify automatically and with one guy ahead of me not registered it looks like I’m sitting 6th at 102.9% of the winners time. So, with my goal being to benchmark myself against the best this year there is possibly a slim chance of a fastest loser spot. Got one more shot at the final qualifier in Redcar in 5 weeks time…
Racing back to back can be hard, even more so if the conditions are against you. One week 30degrees the next strong winds. Happy to race back at St Neots near Cambridge as last year I was sent off the bike course so I had unfinished business.
A down up river swim, 24k rolling bike and flat twisty run. What’s not to like. The air temperature was cold but the river Ouse was warm so plenty of weed. The key is to hold something back for upstream and my plan worked well. I opened up a nice gap on second to exited the water in under 10mins (fastest time) since getting back to the Helix, I have dropped time like a stone – a real game changer.
I got out onto the bike fast to get out of sight and hit my flying mount at pace. The bike course was so tough for the first 15k out of 24. Gradually uphill and with a constant head wind. With no one to chase I had to settle in. Using a new bike fuel I felt strong and once on the down hill section I pushed the pace. 2nd fastest bike split and time on the run to play with.
Coming into T2 I knew I needed to settle into my run in my own time. I come good over the final 2k but can over push it too early. I could see on the return of my first lap that 2 & 3 were too far back to catch, so I could focus on my form. Heading out onto lap two I was lapping people so I could concentrate on chasing people down.
Crossing the line in first place overall – gun to tape back to back wins on a tough day. Happy to clock 18:14 for the run too. Not bad for an older 😉
Aquathon Friday so going for the hat trick
Windsor Triathlon Sunday 18 June
It was an early, hot one on Sunday and the women’s sprint group was in the Thames by 6.04am. I usually like the swim section the most but there seemed to be a lot of unnecessary kicking around me which meant I couldn’t really get any clear water, and I felt a bit frustrated as I exited thinking that I could have done better.
The run to T1 was really long but I got onto my bike and found that I loved the 19k course. It was beautiful being on the roads at that time with no traffic and the gently undulating hills meant that there were no difficult sections. I felt that I got into my rhythm and went as hard as I could so started feeling a bit happier with my performance.
Out of T2 and I found the 5K run hard. I knew that I was lacking on training due to a series of niggling injuries and the hilly course really tested me. I couldn’t even appreciate the castle or The Long Walk and I felt that I must have been going backwards in the race standings.
However I got a boost as I came to the finish to hear my name, Viceroys Triathlon Club, 2nd in age category 1:27:15.
When I checked all the results and I had come 1st in swim, 2nd in bike and 3rd in run for my age group which put me 2nd and 35th female overall out of 185. Happy with that. I know that I need to do a lot more work on my running , but I am pleased with the other two disciplines, especially the bike which used to be my weakest by far. Thanks to my training buddies and coaches over the Winter/Spring months as you definitely helped me to improve my times.
As a word of caution to anyone thinking about doing this triathlon, I had the worst case of vomiting on Monday night from the swim. It’s the only time I have had Thames tummy and it would put me off doing the race again despite it being brilliantly organized and a beautiful course.
All the Gear and Some Idea…
The last time I entered a triathlon with an open water swim was the Shock Absorber Women’s Only triathlon at Dorney Lake back in 2011. It was a novice distance 400m/10k/2.5k (I got a lot of stick for doing such a short one – Lisa Yeoman). I swam breaststroke, wore a borrowed tri suit and used a neighbour’s bike, but still managed to come first in my age group despite my bike chain coming off. Next time I was clearly going to have to do a bigger one…
Fast forward to 2017 (a long gap and two children later) and I found myself getting up at 4am to head to Windsor to do the sprint distance. This time was a bit different – I realised I actually looked the part with my 2xU tri suit, Zone 3 wetsuit, triathlon Garmin, bike shoes, Specialized Amira, Bike Garmin, Race belt and Viceroys top. Clearly this is a sport where you can spend a lot of money!
It was a stunning morning and I was so excited. I made my way down the start, head filled with all those cues from Mark’s Monday coached lake sessions. Once I was in the water the 750m swim seemed to go so quickly. Before I knew it I was hot footing it through transition. The bike ride was amazing with no chance of getting lost with so many other people on the course. Thanks to the Viceroys’ beginners cycle sessions earlier this year, I managed to find my gears and navigate the hills pretty easily. Into second transition. Ouch! Who put that hill so close to the start of the run leg? My legs were heavy but I was on such a high – I had nearly done it – my first ‘proper’ triathlon. The run was hard work but I still managed a smile and a whoop whoop as I crossed the line. What a buzz! Thanks to the fellow Viceroy who called out ‘Well done – I am a Viceroy too’ as I headed back to the car in my Viceroys top. Maybe I was a triathlete after all.
To my huge surprise (and elation) I had actually done OK. 2nd female in my age group and 24 out of 185 women overall. Perhaps I should train a bit harder next time 😉
ETU European Middle Distance Championships, Herning, Denmark – Saturday 10th June 2017
I stepped up to middle distance (70.3) at the end of last season and qualified for GBR AG team on the back of a strong result at Vitruvian (great race by the way – do it this year if you can!). This race has therefore been my focus across the winter and into the start of this season. I’d already raced the distance this season at Grafman a couple of weeks earlier and had done okay but still went into the championships feeling a little ill prepared and ‘race light’.
Anyway, excuses over!
Herning is nothing to write home about! However, on race day it was incredible. The whole town simply went triathlon crazy. The 1.9km swim was in a nearby lake which meant an awkward split transition. Great setting though. Water was cold so I was pleased that I’d taken the neoprene swim hat just in case. As always, the first 200m was a washing machine but soon and inevitably enough, we got away from the bunch and by the time we’d cleared the first buoy, we were swimming in a nice arrow head and in clear water. We caught the stragglers from the earlier (and younger wave) by about the halfway point and then had to cope with swimming through slow traffic all the way to the end. Put in a good swim split, exiting 12th in the wave.
T1 was slow -hands were so numb from 30 mins in the cold water that I couldn’t get out of my wetsuit! Anyway, managed to get away and onto the bike for 90km through the Danish countryside. Beautiful day for a ride! Velvet smooth roads and a rolling profile only hampered by a bloomin’ headwind whichever way we seemed to be heading! It took me about 60km to realise why there were a lot of wind turbines!! Worked hard on the bike to hit close to 2 hours 30 mins but fell short on my target time just down to lack of power into the wind.
Came through T2 knowing that I’d have to run a quick half marathon to stand a chance of a reasonable result. The heat was now building and athletes already on the course were showing signs of struggling. The run course was 4 x 5km laps with the course a mix between a technical town centre section (with loads of great support) and then a long out and back stretch. My first two laps were on pace for my 1 hour 30 min target but the heat and blisters were starting to tell and the 3rd and 4th laps fell away to leave me with a disappointing 1 hour 37 min run time. I came 27th overall in my AG and 8th in the GB AG team. Not a complete disaster but not as good as I’m capable of. I’ll rest and recover and then start building for Worlds qualification races over the standard distance in the coming weeks.
Anybody who likes swimming open water I would urge you to do this event next year and maybe we could have a few VTC teams entering? The swim up the Jubilee River was gorgeous! Many amazing people swam the whole 10k themselves and huge respect to them, but for the rest of us who do not have webbed feet splitting the race into 2kish blocks and changing swimmers at the locks was good fun and manageable.
I started off as Number 1 swimmer of our team of 4, in the second wave. There were 4 waves going up in expected speed with the fastest swimmers in Wave 4. It was quite a rowdy start with a bit of fighting which I was surprised about as some of the swimmers were going to be in the water for 3-4 hours, but it didn’t put me off as I am used to the VTC Bonkers 7pm Monday night Shepperton crowd and they are a bit rowdy too!
Soon I had lost the 2 girls who had been trying to sandwich me between them and then just enjoyed the swim pretty much on my own. Beautiful countryside around Eton, and I felt that I had a good rhythm going. Thumb to thigh and early catch were the things that I thought about as well as blimey what’s that in my face – oh its only a weed – relax!
At the end of my 1.9k I came out second in my wave at 00:33:31.0 at a pace of 3.4km/h which I was very happy with. I then handed over my chip to the next swimmer. There were some great swimmers in the waves behind and although I was chuffed with my time it put me 171/374 out of all the swimmers for my leg and that cut me back down to size!
Worst bit about the race is carrying people’s gear as you walk along next to them as they swim their leg. So pack light!
My group came second in the mixed gender category relay teams only to be beaten by a group from Shepperton Lake.
I rocked up to sunny Chester on Sunday 4 June to do the Deva Triathlon, standard distance. It was a World Championship qualifier, so the nerves started as I checked out all the very scary looking competition at registration on Saturday evening.
Nerves continued to Sunday morning, especially as it was a joint start for my total age group with the men. The swim is my weakest bit, and I was dreading the washing machine with all the boys as well as a fair few feisty girls. However, after a fantastic race briefing from a local coach on the Saturday afternoon I managed a pretty good swim (for me) – out of the water about 15th or so. Everybody headed to the far bank of the river, but a few of us had been given the tip off to stay to the left, and it worked!
Thanks to Mark’s Monday night swim coaching, I have gained loads of confidence in a couple of weeks and I drafted pretty much the whole way. Swim was 27 minutes – very good for me. A long run up a hill to transition, and onto the bike where I expected to gain a good few places. Disaster struck – bike felt like I was peddling through treacle and I just couldn’t spin and get any decent speed up without grinding through all my power.
Overtaken by 3 competitors (which I should have been doing instead!), despondency started to set in and I lost focus. Was it really the bike or was it just my legs? Was I just useless and slow? Anyway, the upside was a beautiful course into the Welsh countryside and sun all the way. Back to transition and off to the run – gained about 4/5 places at least, but there was just too much to do to gain any more. Also my legs were pretty fried from churning it out on the run. Again, lovely route and a great atmosphere with 1000+ participants and lots of supporters. Ended up 13th in age group out of 50. My age group was absolutely awesome – some incredible women, including first and second overall women both from my age group. And that has to be a good thing for us older ladies (although I can’t wait to be in the next age group when the two of them won’t be there for a couple of years…) Was pretty disappointed at the finish, but have found the mechanical on my bike so at least it’s not me. Onwards and upwards to Ripon – will be really tough qualifying this year, but at least I’m out there trying!
So – lessons are to triple check the bike and not believe your husband when he says there’s nothing wrong with it even though you know there is (I had to get a nag in somewhere…). But, it is a fantastic race, brilliantly organised, beautiful, fast and pretty flat. I’d recommend to anybody – there is also a middle distance route which looked pretty good too.
Eton Dorney Saturday Sprint:
Having chosen the Saturday sprint to avoid all the quick boys racing at Sunday’s qualifiers, it quickly became apparent that the codger’s age group I was in was not as devoid of speedsters as I had first imagined. At least not in the wet part of the day anyway.
Having exited the water fairly well down the field, I gave it some humpty coming out on the bike – only to get shouted at by the marshal for not having a race number on. Luckily, it was still attached to my bike so some less than aero adjustments to the apparel and I was back in the saddle (as it were) and consistently passing people from my wave as well as a succession of those from the earlier wave.
Following a short sharp shower (which caused a few incidents on the corners), it was on to the run which I was hoping was going to be my strongest part given the wintering I had and the loss of over a stone of excess blubber in the preceding months duly delivered the goods – not only overtaking the guy who led out of the swim (a full 6 minutes ahead of me !) but also posting a triathlon PB for a 5k by over a minute.
Race one for 2017 complete and with a time 5 minutes quicker than the original target I feel is a good place to start the year !!
A huge cohort of Viceroys raced around Cambridgeshire for the honour of qualifying to race in France for their country, or just for the fun of a demanding sportive:
||Posn in AG
||# people in AG
||Qualify / comments
||6 seconds off qualifying & 6th in line for roll down
||Relentless, flat, windy as hell – lots of sausage rolls at mid point feed station
||2nd in line for roll down
||Hadn’t fully recovered from stomach bug
||Next in line for roll down
Andrea tells her story: After the disaster I had last year of going out way too hard & cracking half way around & having to deal with the horrid headwinds in the second half on my own, my plan for this year was to go at my own pace, treat it as training for Roth and just do the distance safely and keep my knee intact.
We went over the start line in groups but unfortunately even within those groups it all splintered very quickly and found myself only with Nick & Matt for company, so we jumped on some wheels but there were people everywhere so it quickly became Nick & I, and then soon after just I! So I jumped into what groups I could, but found myself alone for chunks of time until Jamal came past & I jumped in with his group for a bit, but couldn’t keep up & gradually fell off.
This was about mile 25-30 at this stage and queue kicking myself for starting too quickly again & doing exactly what I’d told myself not to do & was already thinking ahead to the headwinds & how horrid it was going to be again, but I’ve learnt that when the negative self-talk starts it probably means my blood sugar is low so got some nutrition down my throat a bit earlier than planned but it did the trick as I felt strong again despite being on my own, but then got on the back of a chain and stuck with it.
Initially I was at the back so it took some work to stay on, especially after corners, but I was feeling stronger so moved up through the group and we caught back up with Jamal who also jumped on. Was a brilliant group to go through the headwinds with, perfectly paced as I was pushed but not flat out, so the second half was a massively different story to last year!
The group leaders peeled off at the 64 mile aid station but I knew I had enough fluid to last so pushed on with what was left from the group & a few of us stayed together for a while, but towards mile 70 I was still feeling strong so pushed on and caught the backs of a few groups as I went forward & also passed Lisa who was looking strong. I was feeling great so pushed more & gave it everything the last few miles.
I knew I’d done much better than last year & as I wasn’t too far out from qualifying last year had a quiet hope I might have managed to qualify so decided to stick around to find out. Unfortunately they changed the way results were released this year and they were extremely slow in doing so. The male age groups were drip fed one at a time & it wasn’t until after 7pm the first batch of female results were released so it was a long wait for Lyndsay & I but it turned out to be worth it as we both qualified!! Also chuffed so many others qualified too, and with luck Lisa, Andy & Nick will get roll down places to be able to go to France as well!
Today was my first triathlon since the Redhill club championships last year where I had to get off my bike and push 3 times. For those of you who have ever cycled with me or spoken to me about cycling you will know that I am a very slow and anxious cyclist. In previous triathlons, I have generally done OK on the swim, dropped to the very back on the bike and the run could go either way!
In April 2016, I decided I needed to do something about the cycling thing so I booked a bikeability lesson through Elmbridge council to go right back to basics. It was something like £20 for a 3 hours 1 on 1 so not bad value.
Throughout last summer I forced myself to cycle to the lake and back on Saturday mornings. Not a long distance but through the centre of Walton which was massive for me. I then took Mark’s development cycling course last Autumn and learnt more about group riding and since then I have tried to go out on more rides. Huge thanks to Pam Winstanley-Fisher for the encouragement. That all culminated in the New Forest 100km sportive in May. Since I was still a very anxious cyclist I have then been having NLP session to try to get to the root of the problem.
Today was my first chance to put it all together and give it a go in a triathlon and it was in the beautiful setting of Blenheim palace
My start time was 12 so quite a leisurely journey up there to an incredibly slickly organized event with huge numbers competing and lots of different waves. I felt strong on the swim although felt like I needed to do 2 stroke breathing rather than my using 3 and came out near the front of my wave. The pace recorded was 1.58/100m which was disappointing but I was 33/280 in my age group so happy with that (must have been an uphill swim!). Transition was 0.5k run uphill which was a shock.
Then onto the bike and I pushed myself faster than I normally do. It was a 3-lap course with a few steep downhills (the bit I like least) and some climbs. Each lap got a little bit faster as I gained confidence in the route and although I was passed by a lot of people I also did some passing. Rather than being the slowest by a long way on the cycle I was 212/280 which is a massive improvement for me, although clearly still room to do better.
The run was a really nice 2-lap course with beautiful views of the lake and some nice downhills and tough uphills. I haven’t done nearly enough running this year but managed to keep a respectable pace for me. Hearing the yell or encouragement from Lara Clay as I was nearing the end spurred me to go for a sprint finish.
Overall for my age category I was 127/280 so made it into the top half, which I am delighted with. All in all a great event in an amazing setting and I would thoroughly recommend it.