I love a challenge and this year was bridge to bridge. This is 14 k from Henley to Marlow. Last year I loved it but this year I decided to go non wetsuit. The training was fine at the lake and climaxing to just the cossie and I loved the fact no hassle of getting wetsuit on and off!! But they longest swim I had done was 5k and really did not know how I was going to feel with no buoyancy and tiredness. In training, work and 3 kids you can only do what you can and that’s life. Packing the car for a family holiday straight after B2B was really not the best preparation but then did put my mind elsewhere.
It was a wet start in Wave A on Sunday, with a 3:50 alarm going off only shortly after the last clubbers in the Hoxton Hotel noisily found their rooms.
‘Kona’ Steve Hobson & I joined Adam Buck & ‘6 Million Dollar Man’ (we can rebuild him?) Andy Curran in Wave A with about 200 others.
For Steve and I, as some of the elder riders in the testosterone-charged pack of young Bucks (Adam included) the biggest worry was:
Cb we go 4 hours without a pee, unchartered territory for me as some of you will find out as you get older.
The organizers joyfully announce severe flooding will make the first few k’s hazardous, so be prepared to stop at any time. Great!
Nerves were creeping in, but nonetheless they did a great job to get us away on time at 05:44.
The first 10k is pretty feisty at 50 kph+ so Kona Steve & latched onto any train that came thru – Onyx, Regent’s Park Rouleurs (RPR) & London Phoenix pushing up to the front. I sat behind Kona Steve, whose V8 thumpers were pumping out bursts of bonkers watts to bridge any gap and get us on their wheels – even my skinny little legs were hitting bursts of 500+ watts for 20-30 seconds 4-5 times in that early part of the event. Bizarrely this is the way to go, you have to vomit to stay in the pack. At all costs if you want a good time.
Going well at Pru 100 is counter-intuitive. A quick time involves more racecraft than power. With smart use of your power you can easily beat riders who should be stronger on the day, & who burned thru higher TSS score to finish 20-30 minutes back! I had a low overall TSS of only 255 on Training Peaks for the day, hence feeling fresh enough to ride home later. To put that in context, a Windsor Ride in Viceroy Group 1 burns a similar amount of energy & yet the Pru 100 is 100 miles and I averaged just under 40 kph to finish in 4:09:19. Big days out like La Maratona & La Marmotte would be a TSS of 380-450 to go well – far tougher abuse overall as there is little if any group riding or sitting on wheels in alpine events.The Pru 100 is all about using what you have wisely, and that goes against normal logic at times.
Most riders make the mistake of letting fast packs go, as it looks ‘too hard’ to hang on, but they then find themselves working hard for long periods in weaker groups, or solo, to ironically go much slower. Therefore working hard for 30 seconds at crazy watts and 50 kph is actually easier overall than being dropped to ride solo, as once in the pack you can often freewheel so averaging below 200 watts for long periods. You do however need to keep up on the hills, and not everybody can.
We entered Richmond Park in 43 minutes & sadly Kona Steve double punctured on a speed bump (I had no idea as he was behind me, but I never saw him again). To make matters worse he then had a ‘kit malfunction’ with the wrong tubes, or no valve extenders, or both for his deep rims. It was a long lonely walk to the nearest Bicycle Repair Man, and a finish time nowhere near where it should have been.
Leaving Kingston towards Hampton was feisty and I had to hold 330 – 350 watts for 2 – 3 minutes to get onto the group ahead as the pack was now splitting with some riders going backwards having shot all their bullets with 80 miles still to go. It would have been easy to back off, but you have to fight that instinct.
Walton, Weybridge, Byfleet & Ripley passed in a blur as after 2 hours we approached the first hill – Newlands. I could see the lead motorbike was only 50
metres in front of me & I was in a pack of 60-80 riders. They all looked young, it was about to kick off.
As expected the lead group blew to pieces up Newlands and 20 or so got away, never to be seen again. I ended up in the second group as we took in Leith and Box and then headed towards Esher via Leatherhead. Along the way we picked up riders who had dropped out of the first group, & saw several punctures too.
Given the relatively small number of riders ahead, the numbers puncturing seemed high but heavy rain had washed all sorts of muck onto the roads.
Measage to all Viceroys:
Keep a set of new, or nearly new tyres for key events. Nobody wants a puncture to ruin their day. Never train on your race tyres if you want to lessen that risk come the big day, as you want them perfect to reduce that puncture risk on key events.
After Esher the pace is hot up to Wimbledon & Putney, running thru red lights at 40+ kph as we cover the last 10k in 13 minutes to turn under admiralty arch and race to the finish. Sprinting is not my strongest suit at age 53, but I hang on to cross the line at 9:54 am and sneak in under 4:10 – a good result given the rain meant early sections were slower going, especially the descent of Newlands where we had a downpour to liven things up.
Next year my goal is sub 4:05. I will need to chance it with that counter-intuitive extreme early effort to push at maximum effort up Newlands to stay in the lead group to do that, as that is where the main split occurs. Perhaps had I stayed with them the ongoing pace might have been manageable, given the way thru & off works, with time coasting whilst the lead rider does the work.
I will try and find out next year!
Peter Kelsey 4:09:19
Darren Kidson 4:09:57: ‘Really enjoyable ride, and room for improvement next year!
Adam Buck 4:30:19
Johannes Veit 4:31:19
Andrew Curran 4:40:20
Lyndsey Fitzgerald 4:59:02
Stuart Simms 5:06:13
Kevin Dargue 5:11:46
Steve Hobson 5:12:02
Nick Christian 5:27:20
Stephen Newton 5:33:05
Jamal Shakir 5:37:32
Daniel Poynter 5:43:45
Tegwynne Goldthorpe 5:54:26
Kevin Argent 7:29:31
Elizabeth Kerry 7:30:11
Darrin Mackie 7:50:06
John Mackey05:26:24 (OT), 05:07:54 (MT).
Ian Talbot 5:12
Andrea Whelband 6:20 actual ride time was 5hrs 12 (which could have been sub 5 if it wasn’t for stupid tyre problems)
Lara Clay: 5.05 MT
Andrew Tolson: 7 punctures, and set my slowest time ever
4am and there was a knock at the bedroom door. It was the hotel night porter ‘kindly’ bringing me porridge (ouch!). With a 6.15am wave start it made sense to stay overnight near Arundel the night before…
Second race of the season, another ITU World Championship Qualifier, another B race, this time Olympic distance. Based on previous races and current training I’d decided to take a couple of calculated risks. On the swim I would go a bit harder and hopefully capitalise on my strongest discipline and on the run I would look to go into it with less fuel than usual and trust I had the strength to still finish hard. The bike leg was different, although non-drafting I’d agreed with my coach to use the road bike recently bought for my forthcoming draft legal A race, a Cervelo S2 with Ultegra upgrade I’d picked up on eBay for about half price.
44 people in my wave. I positioned myself front and centre in the river and after the horn blasted chased the leader upstream to the 200m turn point. With a deep water start I wanted to focus on the first few strokes so didn’t bother starting my Garmin which was tucked under my sleeve for ease of wetsuit removal. I swam based on two factors; was I breathing hard but controlled and was my form still in tact? Coming 1300m downstream with waves only 3 minutes apart I enjoyed continuously passing a multitude of swimmers and exited 1st in AG by half a minute.
On the bike, my weakest discipline, and riding to power for the first time. Quite a challenge to stay disciplined especially going uphill where it’s easy to get carried away and over do it. I monitored power, heart rate and cadence and was glad not to have monitored speed as after the race I realised I’d been doing 72kph on a descent which for me is scarily fast, perhaps I wouldn’t have let myself go that fast had I known in the moment! As expected a number of guys in my wave soared passed me in the picturesque countryside. I was down to 10th.
I had a pace in mind for the run had the course been flat but with this course being 2 torturous laps up and over the big hill on which the stunning Arundel Castle sits I decided to run mainly by feel, occasionally checking pace on any flats. I used to monitor heart rate but now find I instinctively know how that’s doing in shorter distance events. Recent training strategies had paid off and I stayed strong throughout the run passing a handful of my AG competitors on the way. I was pleased with my mental strength and physical stamina on what was a very challenging second lap.
At the finish I was extremely happy to have ended up 5th out of 44 which I couldn’t quite believe. And incredibly, a couple of days later, an email arrived in my inbox from British Triathlon congratulating me on qualifying for the World Championships in September! So, in a year where I was focusing on Sprint distance it looks like I may have ended up meeting my stretch goal at Olympic distance instead! Apart from different tapering approaches it does make me wonder if it’s worth treating every race as though it were a B race…
I flew into Nuremberg Thursday morning and collected my bike and registered and had a little wander around the expo. It was a slightly warm 34 degrees so knew we were in for a hot race, so plenty of fluid was the order of the weekend! Friday morning was swim practice then Friday afternoon went on a tour of the bike course, which was the first time we got to see the lovely roads that had been promised, then Saturday was racking the bike & registration.
Sunday morning was up at 0315 & got to the swim start at about 0430, which was rather early as my wave start wasn’t until 0700, but I’d heard the many horror stories of the traffic nightmare if you arrive later so I wasn’t taking any chances! Had breakfast in the car then toddled into transition to set things up.
Asked kindly to borrow a pump from a neighbour only to find my front tyre wouldn’t pump up. Queue the start of a minor meltdown but took some deep breaths & kept calm knowing I had lots of time & had brought a spare tube with me for such eventualities. Went over to the tent where they had lots of pumps & with the help of one of the thousands of amazing volunteers we got it pumped up, but I then spent the next few hours anxiously feeling it every few minutes just in case it went flat again (hence why I ended up on the official video standing next to my bike with arms folded looking grumpy – oops!!).
Everything else went to plan though and saw Debbie & Dave a few times and Neil kindly wrestled me into my wetsuit. I can’t really describe what it was like standing waiting to get into the water – I think my words were something like: “This is more like a circus than a triathlon!” as there were thousands of spectators, a guy coming in on a parachute & hot air balloons going off, and as if that wasn’t enough, instead of the traditional hooter to set waves off, they had a canon, a full blown canon, which made me jump about 5ft in the air every 5mins when it set a new wave off!!
Debbie & I were both in wave 7 so we wished each other well & got into the water. I actually felt quite calm, possibly the calmest I’ve ever felt before a tri, but that’s probably because I was distracted & in awe of the spectacle around us!! But very quickly off went the canon again & away we went!
We had the usual biffing within our wave, but because there were some 20-odd waves and we were only wave 7, it meant that just as the biff from our wave was settling, the men from subsequent waves started coming through and pretty much kept coming through right until I got out of the water. A lot of them weren’t so gentle about it either so it’s probably the most beaten up in a swim I’ve ever been, including a hard blow to the head which stunned me for a minute.
But I survived and while I was disappointed with my time, a slower time was somewhat to be expected in all the biff and also looking back at my data I swam 2.6mi instead of 2.4 – oops! But into transition and with the help of one of the volunteers I was soon ready & out the door & onto the bike.
I carefully controlled the first lap of the bike knowing it was going to be a long day and the mercury was going to rise. I also wanted to savour the moments in the crowds, especially on Solar Hill, as the only word to describe that is simply “wow” and if you’ve ever thought about going full then Roth is the place to do it!! Lance came past me during the first lap of the bike so it was great to see him too.
The second lap of the bike was a lot tougher though, as while the first lap had been windy it was cloudy & cool, but on the second lap the cloud lifted and it got hot, very hot, and it was a real battle. What had seemed easy the first time around felt 10 times harder the second time around, and despite the crowds there were some dark moments & even some tears on that second lap and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see transition!
I know I’ve already said it but I just have to say again how wonderful the volunteers at Roth are! In transitions one of the volunteers attach to you and lay all your clean kit out and pack away wet / dirty kit and generally don’t let you do anything except get dressed (despite my protests in T2 of going “no really, you don’t want to touch that jersey let me put it away!” and then grabbing my sunscreen and insisting on slathering me in it, to which I was ever more horrified as I knew how disgusting I must have been but she wouldn’t let me do it!).
It was then onto the run where very quickly it became an uphill to which I was like “hang on, this course is meant to be flat!!”. Unfortunately as well, the last 10-15mi of the bike, while I didn’t feel sick, I think due to the heat my stomach closed up and didn’t want to take anymore food on board, but knowing I still had to do a marathon I forced it in and the consequences were as soon as I set off on the run I got an awful stitch / cramp.
Debbie came past me shortly after on the run so I waved her on, but the stitch just wouldn’t go and I ended up with one of the Kiwi (New Zealand), girls for company as she was happy to walk for a bit and then do whatever slow shuffle I could manage until the stich became too bad and we walked again.
I tried to keep putting nutrition in knowing there was still a long way to go, but as the stitch wouldn’t give up I made a decision to stop putting anything in for a while knowing there was a risk it would hurt me later, but thankfully it did the trick and finally after about 5 miles it subsided. I saw Dave somewhere in all that and he was on his second lap and looking strong so waved him on to the finish.
My newfound Kiwi friend and I then got into a walk-run pattern, with a bit more walking up the hills and through aid stations and lap 1 was soon done (well, soon in a relative sense!), and we knew we just had to do the same again & we were done! I had a portaloo stop shortly into the second lap and said I’d catch up to my kiwi friend, so once I got going again I set off at a steady run (well, jog!), and actually found myself feeling comfortable so just kept going at a constant run (jog), rather than run-walk.
Had updates that Lance was doing well & close to the finish which is always good to hear, and I caught up with Debbie who unfortunately was having her own stomach issues as well as blisters, so we did a swap of antacids for gels & I headed off knowing Debbie was still ok for time & she had a determined look on her face! By this stage my Kiwi friend had found 2 other Kiwis and I was still feeling great constantly running (jogging), so knowing they too would be ok for time I kept on going and except for aid stations and hills I ran (jogged), the rest of the second lap & negative split it!
Started to feel tired the last few kilometres, but that’s also when the euphoria of knowing you’re going to make it sets in, and coming into the finish area and the finish stadium all the pain disappears, and while most people speed up / put on a run to finish, I did the polar opposite and slowed to a walk in order to savour every single second of it and that finish line (and the event in general), truly is everything they say it is!!!
Got to see Dave in the finish stadium on my way around, and I hung out in the finish area for a while with an Erdinger or two waiting to see the various friends I’d made on the course come home as well as Debbie, and we then toddled off to sort ourselves out.
As if everything during the day hadn’t been fantastic enough, my love for Challenge Roth was complete when I saw the huge bank of showers available, and I’m actually still salivating about the roll with ham, cheese & pickle that I had – seriously *the* best thing I have ever eaten in my life!!!
Unfortunately the shower was also the point where I discovered I’d forgotten to sunscreen my legs (my upper body was actually ok), so taking my calf guards and shorts off to discover to my horror the bright red patches from the middle of my thighs to just below my knees; those lines won’t be going anywhere for a while!!!
In summary though, a brilliant event with brilliant spectators and brilliant volunteers and is something you just have to experience for yourself!! Roth has a time cut off of 15hrs which I was very nervous about making, but ended up coming home in 14hrs 13mins blowing all my worries out of the water, but I also know if I’d been more sensible earlier with my stomach & pushed harder on the run I could have done under 14 hours – but that’s the challenge for next year?!
Stick a fork in me, I’m done. Been pretty busy recently with racing and on Sunday I did the last race before a little break to the French hills in Morzine.
I entered the VOTWO Dorney Lake sprint triathlon looking for more of a time trial effort. I was off at midday in the heat – two things that completely kill me. Body doesn’t respond well to the heat and I struggle to eat properly when racing mid day.
I was fortunate enough to watch the first wave with the under 40’s. One guy smashed the swim with a massive lead over 2nd and 3rd. I soon recognized him as a ex talented junior who is now in the 20-24 AG. However, he lost the lead on the bike but I know he runs like the wind so it was going to be tough to get on the podium as the guys around him looked super sharp. I was in the 40+ so looked to set the swim pace early then settle in focusing on my stroke. I exited with a couple of relay teams close behind so I thought I’d swam poorly but at the end I realised that I’d set the fastest split with 9.21 and the two behind where uber fast pool swimmers bought in for the relay teams.
Four laps into a head wind each lap meant I had to control the effort out so I could open it up on the return. Happy with my pace and came into T2 feeling like I’d done well on the bike. 8 seconds from the fastest split but happy enough with high 29’s for 20.5km,
The run at Dorney kills you mentally. 2.5k out into a head wind seeming to get no where as you run. I held an easy pace out and at water station stopped to cool off before pushing the return leg. I was surprise to see NO ONE near and I mean no one – they were about 2k back. Over the final 1.5k I pushed hard and came through the line to find that I’d won by 8seconds over the ex elite junior.
HAPPY DAYS – 3 wins in four races. So 9 races, 3 wins, 4 2nds and a silver AG at the English championships. Slightly embarrassed about the 4th place – lol.
Time for a rest before the final 5 races of the season with a European qualifier thrown in.
Can’t say enough how much your support goes into what I do. Thank you once more.
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.
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.