Enjoying the off season, or maybe not???

I just wanted to talk about my experiences post my last race of the season. I shared this on my Business Facebook page as I know some of my clients or people I come across could maybe relate to it or benefit from it, it is also good to be truthful about my own mental and physical health as I think some people just see ‘Claire the triathlete’ or ‘Claire the PT’ and don’t see the real me or the real struggles I face just like themselves. Anyway here goes!

I had maintained a clean, healthy lifestyle for probably 6-7 months including the run up to and during the triathlon season. This included eating to my diet type (I am a polar diet type – I do really well on meat!) and drinking 1.5+ litres of water each day. It wasn’t 100% clean the whole time with the odd treat and glass of wine every now and again, being that restrictive can’t be maintained for that length of time. The one other thing I always do is allow myself the night off after a race and once the season is over I always allow myself to essentially eat and drink what and when I want (within reason!) The same goes for the training, once the last race of the season is done, I need that down time to relax mentally and physically before it all begins again with the winter training.

So it is now 3 wks into the off season and I honestly feel awful!! I am bloated, lethargic, gassy, I am not sleeping well, my skin is awful and mentally I am battling the negative thoughts. I have put on 5kg in this short amount of time as well which in part is normal and should be allowed for, I am not training at all and there is no way I can maintain my race weight for long periods of time, but for me even though my current weight is a more normal maintainable weight it’s about how you feel as well and I just feel rotten.

Anyway the point I wanted to make is that i know what is making me feel like this, I know the exact foods and drinking alcohol are responsible, I also know as soon as I start to eat a diet that agrees with my body, keeping myself hydrated with water and starting to exercise again, I will very quickly feel mentally and physically so much better, what I also know is I am not going to feel guilty for it, I need this downtime and it also makes me appreciate feeling healthy when I do eat clean again.

I know some of my clients feel like I currently do but are not being true to themselves about their diet and hydration. I work out their metabolic diet type as part of their assessment with me yet I know they are eating things which their body type doesn’t agree with or they are still eating chocolates and drinking alcohol but then feel disappointed as they are not achieving the results they want from their programs and feel down on themselves.

It is so easy to make small changes in your life which your body will thank you for both physically and mentally. Even if it’s not eating quite so much bread, drinking more water, getting outdoors more often, I promise by making these small changes your body will thank you for it 💕 I just wish more people would listen to their body and notice the signs, it’s true ‘You are what you eat’.

ITU World championships- get a cuppa it’s a long one!

So the final race of my season and it’s a big one, the ITU World championships in Switzerland. Everything I have been working so hard for over the season has lead to this race, competing against the best ladies in the world, no pressure!

We had planned to drive over to Switzerland over a few days so as to try and keep as relaxed as possible. Ian was absolutely fantastic, making sure that I basically didn’t lift a finger, allowed me to nap, drove nearly all the way there and was just generally amazing as usual. We arrived in Lausanne a day early which allowed us to have a full day of run, bike and swim course familiarisation which was so useful as the bike and run routes were quite hilly in places so was great to get a feel for them early on.

The first incline on the run!

 

The swim was just incredible, warm, clear, calm and the scenery was just breathtaking, I was really looking forward to the swim in the race as there had already been talk of it being a non wetsuit swim. This would mean that the less stronger swimmers might not do quite so well as a wetsuit adds buoyancy and therefore speed, the problem beforehand was the not knowing whether it was or wasn’t going to be non-wetsuit but I had a plan that I would wear it unless it was wetsuit illegal, I was also secretly hoping that the officials would make the decision of non-wetsuit as it would then make the decision for us and make the playing field equal.

The few days leading up to the race was very much about registering, soaking up the atmosphere, attending the opening ceremony, team briefing, watching the elites and trying my best to remain calm and relaxed. The nerves were already starting to build and being around my teammates unfortunately didn’t help with this as their innocent chatter would make me fill with nervous butterflies! Unfortunately on one of the days we walked nearly 39,000 steps! I was exhausted so we made sure the following day which was the day before race day, we relaxed as much as possible. Lausanne was such a beautiful place so it was easy to find a shaded area next to the lake to just sit and unwind, it was the perfect day really.

Race morning came around so quickly, I actually felt quite calm, despite starting my period and having abdominal pains, typical! Ian seemed to be more stressed than I was, I tried to stay focused and get on with my pre race ritual. I ate my porridge, had a huge mug of tea, grabbed my kit and I was off to transition to get my bike ready.

I love the buzz and excitement of transition on a race morning, I arrived, said hello to my fellow teammates and started to place my kit out ready and prepare my bike. The officials had made the decision on a non-wetsuit race which really pleased me, we were in for a fair race now, no one was getting any advantages from the swim, fantastic! Finished in transition I headed to the swim start area and met with Ian away from the huddle and bustle. We had a good half hour before having to be in the start pen so I tried to keep warm and calm, it was such a beautiful morning and the venue was just stunning so it was easy to distract myself.

Before the swim start and the nerves had kicked in!

It was time to head to the swim start pen, the nerves were really kicking in now, I just wanted to get started, in the starting pen they tried to keep us all calm by playing music and getting us to dance which was very welcomed and did keep me distracted for a short while, but it was game time so I still wanted to keep my focus. We were called into the water and it felt choppy already, I stayed to the left of the group but it was crowned so knew the start would be a washing machine of arms and legs so knew I had to just get my head down and sprint the first 100 meters or so to get some free water, the gun went off and this plan worked, although a bit of pushing and shoving did happen to start with. The first thing that I noticed was that this swim wasn’t going to be an easy one, it was very choppy, in fact the roughest water I have ever had to swim in. This probably wasn’t helped by the fact it was non-wetsuit as the buoyancy from the suit had been taken away. There was a few times where I swallowed water and couldn’t catch my breath so had to do breaststroke to regain my breath and take a moment to stop myself from panicking, in the back of my mind I thought that at least we would all be struggling in these conditions so tried to keep plodding on. I reached the final turn and the water was a lot calmer now so I really tried to open up and put in some hard effort to finish, this gave me some space coming out of the water and just behind the first pack of women.

Right now to start the real hard work, it was time to really open up the field and try and take advantage of my stronger bike leg. My transition went really well, even making up a few places before exiting.

I was out of T1 and heading out on the bike. Note the hill in the background which we had to come down on the bike and the ‘crashmats’ that would protect us if we got it wrong!

I mounted my bike and I was off, it felt great having my name shouted at me and people cheering me on, this is what I love about these World championship events, this is why I love coming back and what keeps pushing me to try harder, I was in my element. Before I knew it the first of the 3 main climbs was upon me, it was tough but I just sat and dug deep, my heart rate was now through the roof but luckily there was a flat section and decent to allow for it to come down slightly but the turn point and up the next incline, this wasn’t quite as tough as the first but I still needed to sit and dig in. Next up was the part of the course I was dreading the most, it was a fast 13% decent with a sharp right hand turn at the bottom, we had been warned to take it easy but after crashing in a race before I didn’t want to repeat this here! I took it easy all the way down, probably too easy but the smell of rubber and break pads was in the air and the ‘crashmats’ didn’t look as though they would be much cushioning so I thought I would rather stay on the bike and loose a little bit of time on this section then come off and potentially risk the whole race. I was down and safe, now to gurn and push on. It was fast and flat and felt fantastic! I past so many competitors of both sexes and was using them as targets to try and push myself harder.

Lap 1 done and I was off onto the next, it was pretty much the same as the first in that I kept pushing myself using other competitors as a target to try and get past, I just loved it. Whilst riding around I did notice a name of a lady who I would keep passing but then she would overtake me further along the course, this happened a few times but I didn’t think much of it and just kept to my little gameplan. Bike course complete, transition 2 went smooth and quick and I was onto the run.

I was on the run

 

I knew this was going to be tough, the weather had been perfect all morning, not sunny, slightly cloudy and warm. When we got on the run the sun had started to shine and it was getting hot and with those hills coming up it was about pacing it out and making sure I had enough energy to get around.

Once again the support was incredible, so many people shouting and cheering your name, fellow GB competitors in and off the course supporting each other it was fantastic! I reached the first incline and it was tough,

My face captured as I approached ‘that’ first hill on the run.

I tried to keep the legs turning over and not go too quickly, I had a long way to go yet! That lady ‘McDonald’ past me again but it didn’t click that she might be in my age group or chasing me, I pressed on. The run other than the 2 inclines in each lap, was a beautiful route flat route which took you past the Olympic museum and through the gardens with sculptures in it, the scenery of the mountains and lake really helped to take away some of the pain as well.

One of the sculptures at the Olympic museum and the views across the lake.

1st lap done and it was time to dig deep, I overtook a few ladies but at this point I had no idea if they were in my age group or if they were on their first or last lap, I didn’t care I was running at my limit now, I couldn’t push any harder, it was really starting to hurt. That American lady ‘McDonald’ was just up ahead of me, I past Ian and he just told me to real her in, get past her, I didn’t think anymore of this other than to use her again as a target to get past and focus on and I was going well at this point, I went to overtake her and she stayed on my shoulder this time, we were pushing each other on, we had 1km to go, the American supporters were screaming at her to beat me, that she had this etc but again I had no idea who she was or even if we were in the same age group. The final twists and turns came and we were shoulder to shoulder, once we turned onto the blue carpet that was it, I knew I had to completely empty the tank, give it everything I had, I sprinted past her and managed to finish in front of her.

Relief, I had done it, I felt so proud, I really had given everything I could the whole race. I congratulated ‘McDonald’ on her race and offered a hand, she very reluctantly shuck it back but otherwise didn’t really acknowledge me and in fact just gave me a stare, very unsporting I thought but hey! I walked to the post race recovery area and chatted with fellow triathletes from all over the world, talking and giving feedback of our experiences, just a fantastic moment and I wish I could have sat chatting for longer but it was time to find Ian and celebrate. I found him in the crowd and it was only now where things started to fall into place, he told me I had come 4th, of which I was truly gobsmacked about, I couldn’t believe it, he also told me that the reason he told me to real the American lady in was because she was currently 4th at that point, it was his way of telling me without telling me, it obviously worked! No wonder she didn’t seem to happy to shake my hand!

Off we went to celebrate, what a race, what a season, I seriously couldn’t be any happier with how the year had gone. It’s left me feeling sad that the season is over and I have a belly full of fire to go out and improve but equally I am ready for the rest, it’s been a hard slog this year but I can’t wait to come back harder and faster!

For now it’s time to enjoy some down time in Switzerland and France before heading home.

Race report – Hertfordshire Sprint distance, national championship and European qualifier.

So I will be honest in saying that the last few weeks have been very up-and-down I think a lot of it had to do with my crash at Cardiff and then having a long break between that race and this next one.

I have found my training schedule tough especially over the last three weeks but I knew I had to keep my head down and keep focused with the main and last race of the season only a few weeks away in Lausanne. Luckily it all seemed to come right last week and training felt great both physically and mentally, although that didn’t stop me from feeling extremely nervous going into this race.

As usual I didn’t like to look at the start list for this event as I feel there is no point in me making myself worse nerve wise, by knowing who I’m up against as if I give it everything on the day and race as hard as I can it doesn’t matter who I’m against as that won’t affect my performance.

I think the long break in between races didn’t help with the nerves as well as I was feeling very anxious about racing on my bike again after Cardiff, I had hoped and planned to get to the venue early the day before so that we could do a bike recce in the hope that this would settle my anxiety but due to other circumstances we were unable to do this so drove the course instead which helped.

The venue itself was a perfect setting for a triathlon, the swim looked easy to navigate with lots of objects to use for sighting as it had wakeboard jumps in the water which we were to swim in between. We had already driven the bike course, I knew there were a few technical elements, a few little bumps and one area in particular to be cautious of other cyclists and road users. The run was more a grass trail run than road run which would make it interesting as in places I knew it would be quite hard on the legs. Overall the course looked good and I was eager to get the race started.

My usual race morning routine went to plan and I had a good nights sleep which is always a bonus especially when camping! Luckily the start time wasn’t too early and with only a few hundred metres to walk to transition I managed to have a lie in which was a huge bonus. I racked my bike and took myself away from the crowds to gather myself, get focused and put my wetsuit on.

Before I knew it we were being called to get into the water and make our way to the start line. I got in and did a short warmup then placed myself to the left of the group and started to think of what was ahead of us. The start gun went off and it was carnage! A washing machine is probably the best description of the swim start, arms, legs and white water everywhere. I tried to keep my head down and sprint as hard as I could for the first few metres, but with this I had my goggles knocked on my head and they started to leak. This coupled with the sun glistening in our eyes if breathing to the right, made for citing actually really difficult to the point where I had to stop briefly to fix my goggles and then get started again. This allowed me to get some open water and made sighting and my swimming a lot easier. I pushed as hard as I could and really started to settle into the swim and started to feel strong. I finish the swim, dragged myself out of the water and struggled out of my wet suit, nearly forgetting to take off my swim hat!

I grabbed my bike and run off to the mount line. As there were female waves of various age groups in front of us it was hard to know who was in my age group and who I was chasing down but I didn’t let this affect me and just knew I had to push as hard as I could but safely on the bike as this is my strongest discipline. I thoroughly enjoyed the bike course and took the areas of previous concern cautiously. This may have lost me a few seconds but as a confidence builder I was happy to do this. The big lesson I learnt from Cardiff was to be more vocal while overtaking and I certainly did this so apologies to anyone that had to suffer listening to my foghorn of a warning as I passed! I felt as though my bike leg couldn’t have gone any better really and I feel I made up a lot of time on the other ladies which I’m really pleased with. Coming up to the dismount line it was slightly congested but I made sure I was vocal so the other girls knew I was there. My T2 transition felt quick and I made up one or two places, which was good going onto the run. The 1st kilometre of the run felt hard which I knew it would be, the ground was more uneven then I thought it would be but I knew once I’d found my rhythm and settled into it I could just keep plugging away, which I did do. The course was definitely undulating and in short places very hilly. On the downhill sections I had my coaches words ringing in my ears of thinking of the bigger picture and not to get injured so I tried to take it easy in these parts. I managed to overtake quite a few ladies on the run which I’m pleased with but not knowing what age group they were in it was hard to know whether it was worthwhile or not, but as something to use as a target and drive me on, it was very useful. I did recognise one or two of the ladies that I passed I knew that they were in my age group and this gave me the confidence to keep pushing on especially when I had sight of the finish line.

I crossed the line in a heap and had to take a minute or 2 to gather my breath again, I’d given it everything I possibly could and I was extremely pleased with how the race went and this was before I knew any of the results. I managed to chat and catch up with some of the girls I knew from previous events and world championships which was great, it is definitely a family feel and very supportive sport after the race is done! It started to rain so I headed to the campervan to get changed and warm, grab my phone and head back out to watch and support Ian come in from the bike and onto the run. It was at this point I checked the results and couldn’t believe that I had won my age group! Such a confidence builder for the upcoming World championships in Switzerland!

Overall I am really happy with how the race went, I could have had a better swim but I’m not entirely sure how I would have rectified this. Bike wise I could have gone quicker on the areas where I was feeling a little cautious but who knows what this could have resulted in and the run I completely emptied the tank except for the downhill sections which looked slippy.

Whatever happens in Switzerland this year has been incredible, I have worked hard and the results have shown that. What is still exciting is that I still feel there are areas for improvement, especially with my swimming, which is something I am looking forward to working on in the off-season. I also have to reassess what distances I want to focus on for next year as the sprint and 70.3 are 2 which I am most interested in at the moment but you never know!!!

Next up the ITU world championships in Lausanne, Switzerland!!!

The lumps and bumps of the Cardiff sprint, ITU World championship qualifier – Race report

After the highs and lows of the last 2 weeks in particular, I went into this race feeling great. I had a good 2 days rest going into the race as although I was really mentally up for this one, physically my body just wasn’t quite on the same page. The rest really did do me some good and my body felt more prepared for what was to come on race day.

We decided to make a long weekend of it as Cardiff is around 4 hours away from home and with it being Ian’s birthday the week before we thought we would delay the celebrations for after the race and stay the extra night. We also have a good block of around 7 weeks before our next race so some much needed down time mid season was needed!!

We got to Cardiff and registered then headed to our campsite which we had booked into for the evening. It was a fantastic site about 20 minutes from race HQ, it was perfect, such a lovely and peaceful place with great facilities and best of all board games such as Jenga! In fact we just spent the rest evening sat in the sun chilling out and playing board games, a great way to unwind and switch our minds off from race mode.

As usual with triathlon we had an early 5am wake up and my race mode was fully switched on, I was focused and ready to go and give it everything I had. We got to race HQ and racked our bikes without saying anything to each other, Ian had been working so hard in the lead up to this race as he was trying to qualify as well so he was super focused and keen to just get on with it!

When we were racking our bikes there were announcements that there had been a police incident and the course had to be changed, this meant that rather than a 2 lap bike course we had to do 4 laps of a shorter route. This filled me with dread straight away as the race was draft illegal and due to the numbers of participants as it was a world championship qualifier, this would mean there would be a lot of people on the bike course at the same time and it would make it near impossible not to draft. The shear number of people who would be on the course worried me slightly but hey it was one of those things and we all just had to get on with it. I sorted my kit and started to walk down to the swim start, keeping myself away from the hustle and bustle but still able to hear the race briefing and do a warm up in plenty of space. We were called to our pen and I recognised a few of the ladies I normally compete against, it was actually really nice to chat to them before the race and hear what they had been up to and what their plans were for the rest of the season. Normally I don’t do this as I get so psyched out but it seemed to calm and relax me. We got into the water and I headed straight to the left side of the group as I normally do and before we knew it we were off. The course was a simple small straight from the start line, one right turn and then one big long straight to the pontoon. It was the big long straight where the swim became difficult as it was very choppy and I found it very difficult to sight not only just because of my goggles steaming up but I couldn’t see where the exit pontoon was. I obviously carried on regardless but had to keep on doing a stroke of breaststroke to gauge if I was going in the right direction, my swim time reflected this but it was either that or potentially swim in the wrong direction. I got out of the water and headed to T1 where I quickly stripped from my wetsuit, popped on my cycling gear and headed out onto the bike course. I managed to overtake a couple of ladies within the first hundred metres of the bike course and I felt really strong so just pushed on. Before I even got to the first turnaround point I realised that the bike route was extremely congested and in parts was very dangerous for example there was one stretch of road where there was a filter for local traffic movement which meant the course bottlenecked and cyclists were going past each other in opposite directions with no barrier or divider to separate us. This along with the fact that the course was heavily congested and people overtaking each other, I was very surprised there wasn’t more accidents especially at this point on the course. At the second bend there had already been an accident and we were asked to slow down past it. This then lead to a long straight and wide roads which meant I could really get my head down and apply the power. This lead to the turnaround point, 1 bend and then back along this long straight again, 1 lap of 4 completed or so I thought! It was at this point that I started to overtake a lady who was on my left hand side but as I started to overtake her she started to drift over to her right and into my path, unfortunately before I knew it we had collided and i was on the floor. I checked to see if the other lady was okay to which she seemed to be and got back on her bike and carried on. I had quite a nasty road rash on my shoulder and cuts to my elbow, wrist and knee but at this point I didn’t feel in to much pain and although the thought crossed my mind about stopping it wasn’t in me to quit, so I grabbed my bike, swore a lot and tried my best to get my bike back in working order but in the heat of the moment I struggled to get the chain back onto the chainring. More cuts we obtained by finally getting the chain back on, I jumped back on my bike, swore a bit more, gritted my teeth and got back on with the race. At this point I knew that I couldn’t give up and not finish the race, all I needed was to complete the race to be in with a chance of gaining the qualifying spot for next years world championships which was all my goal was for this race. Although the bumps of the road hurt my elbow on the aero bars I couldn’t feel any other pain as i’m sure the adrenaline was kicking in and so I remained focused about finishing, I had three more laps to go and I gave it everything. I got into T2 and saw some of the competitors that was in my age group so I knew I had to push on in the run, I left my bike on the racking, slammed on my run shoes and started off on the 5K run. I knew if anything this would be the painful part but luckily I didn’t experience any pain from the crash, It was more from pushing my body hard in the last part of the race. I overtook a few more ladies which kept me going and before I knew it I had reached the turnaround point, I was halfway feeling happy-ish and knew it wouldn’t be long until I reached that finish line. I continued to push on and actually felt really strong, the good thing about an out and back route is once you have reached the turnaround point you can visualise and physically see the finish line which really kept me going. Before I knew it the blue mat was there and I had crossed the finish line. For the first time I actually felt numb crossing the line, a huge mix of emotions as I had no idea how I had got on in terms of position but equally I felt immensely proud of myself for getting back on the bike and getting it finished as it would’ve been very easy for me to give up. All that said I felt very frustrated as if I had stayed on the bike I am positive the result obviously would’ve been a lot different. Other competitors reactions to me covered in blood cuts and oil made me worry slightly and Ian‘s reaction when he saw me as well made me seek some medical attention to at least get cleaned up so that’s what we did. I’m extremely grateful to the paramedic who helped clean me up and send me back on my way which meant I could go and get a well-deserved pint to help ease the pain and settle the nerves back down. Once I had managed to get my bag and check my phone for the results I realised I was very lucky to have still come 2nd in my age group and 11th female overall which is amazing considering what had happened and goes to show that being stubborn and determined does sometimes get you places. I think this race taught me that I am a lot more stronger both mentally and physically then I give myself credit for, it has also made me even more determined and hungry to prove that I can be up there with the best of them. I’m currently writing this race report two days post race and I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus! I have been suffering with whiplash and have the obvious cuts and bruises all over my body but the main thing is that it is all flesh and will heal and I was very lucky not to have done any more serious damage to either myself or anyone else which I’m very grateful for. The bike course was extremely dangerous on the day, something that the organisers need to take on board but at the same time I realise they were put in a situation with the police incident and did the best they could with the amount of notice they had to change things around. For now this has knocked my confidence a little bit on the bike but with a good 7 week lead up to my next race now I have plenty of time to regain his confidence and come back even stronger. The plan now is to rest up for a week and then start 2, 4 week blocks of solid training heading into the world Championships in Switzerland, this will include a Sprint European qualifier in Hertfordshire. I’m actually looking forward to having a little bit of a break and refocus my training again including some nice long bike rides in the sun if the British weather allows us!

Feeding negative thoughts!

(My new GB suit, a picture of a very proud moment right?! )

So the last 6-8 weeks have been such a rollercoaster of emotions, I’ve felt exhausted, on top of the world, excited, nervous, fatigued, self doubt, confident so many! I now feel a little bit like I’ve been spat out at the other end and with that I have been suffering a lot the last week with anxiety, for no other apparent reason, my life couldn’t be any better right now, I am in a loving caring relationship, business is going well, training is going well, race season has been incredible so far and financially things are good as well. I suffered a lot with anxiety in some of my previous jobs (due to being unhappy) and used to take herbal tablets which would really help take the edge off but I don’t want to resort to them this time, I want to get to the bottom of why I feel like this. Maybe it really is just down to the highs and lows of the race season so far and my body recovering from that, but who knows.

I had ordered a new GB trisuit for the world championships in August as I will be racing under my maiden name and with my new sponsors, my previous one was also a bit big as I have lost a bit of weight since then. As previously written about I have always struggled with my weight, I yo-yo a lot and comfort eat especially when feeling a little low or stressed although I seem to have this under control now more than I ever have previously. Unfortunately the last week or two I have found myself eating a lot more sugary treats, maybe this could be related to my heighten anxiety levels who knows? Anyway my new suit arrived, it looks fantastic! My dad always said he would have loved to see me racing in a suit with Williams on it (my maiden name), so at an early Father’s Day meal I unveiled it to him and his reaction was priceless, it was completely worth it to see his face, he was so proud, I can’t wait to actually race in it now! I asked Ian (my boyfriend) to take some pictures for me (one above) and when I saw them I hated them, I look awful, all I can see is my skin hanging out the suit and it makes me feel sick at the thought that I have to race in this suit in a few weeks time! I really try and be positive about my body, I really have come so far, have lost a lot of weight and my god, my body is incredible with what it has achieved especially this year alone yet in these pictures, when I should be looking proudly and inspired upon them, why am I body shaming myself again?! I hate that I do this to myself. When I look at myself in the mirror all I see is the big girl still, I find it hard to visualise myself as a slim person. I even still have my clothes from when I was a size 16 and still wear them even though I am now a size 10, they hang off me! I am typing this and thinking how ridiculous this is as I know I will never go back to that weight and size, I know the clothes look daft on me now, but I can’t let go, I need to let go, I need to throw the clothes out and buy some that are actually my size, but why won’t I?

(Pictures of me before I lost my weight and did triathlon)

I haven’t felt like this in a long time and I am putting it down to these anxiety attacks I seem to have been experiencing as, like I say I am normally very positive about my body and what it has achieved etc, it’s what my business is now based on! I have another race coming up this weekend, it’s a sprint world championship qualifying race for Canada next year which we are keeping everything crossed for. After that we have a good 7 week break before the next race so we are really looking forward to a mid season break and some down time before ramping the training up for the world championships in Switzerland. I think we both need the down time to let loose a little and gather ourselves up again so I am hoping this will do both my mental and physical health the world of good.

Anyway I am sorry it’s quite a negative post but I just wanted to get it off my chest, which has actually made me feel better and realise a few things!

WTS Standard distance British championships – race report.

My next race was the Leeds WTS standard distance British Championships.

I had a lot of anxiety in the lead up to this race, I hadn’t had the best few weeks after Southport and especially in the week up until Leeds I was feeling fatigued, lack of motivation and in some ways doubting my own ability on a more competitive scale. I also felt a level of expectation from places, to do well which added to the anxiety and the nervousness.

I had two days recovery going into the race which actually made me feel a lot better and more prepared for what was to come, whether that was a good thing or not I’m not quite sure but even if it helped mentally going into the race then I did the right thing. I had decided going into this race I would use my watch to record the race which I don’t normally do as I feel it distracts me and I always like to go on feel.

The day before was quite heavy on the legs with all the walking we did up and down hill to get to the event village so I’m definitely glad I didn’t do any pre-race exercise as this was enough!

Picture of the transition area, part way up the hill!

On the day of the race we were there nice and early, as usual I didn’t sleep a great deal the night before due to nerves! Ian was starting his race an hour before mine which meant I had plenty of time to relax, go over transitions, revise the race route and take time to get myself ready and at the start line in plenty of time. Although I had this extra time I still managed to keep myself away from the hustle and bustle of the other competitors which I like to do as sometimes I get myself psyched out being around them.

I went down to the swim start and got myself ready, we had the race briefing and before I knew it we were walking out on the pontoon. The officials were telling the girls to move further down but no one seemed to want to. I always like to start on the left hand side of the swim for two reasons, one being I breathe to the right so it means I can gauge where I am in the field and secondly I use the other competitors from a sighting point of view meaning I’m not expending any extra energy and I just try and follow the other competitors rather than having to keep bringing my head out of the water to see where I’m going. With all this in mind I pushed my way to the far left of the start. It was an in water start but against the pontoon, I got in and held onto the side. I was conscious of the fact I wanted to start my watch so decided to start it slightly early which meant I could then try and bring my leg up high enough to get a foot onto the side of the pontoon to push off. Somehow it all worked out and we were off. The lake was a lovely venue and the water was really nice, not mirky or tasting of duck poo!!! The only problem I had really with the swim was sighting. I used the other competitors as usual but when I did look up to see where we were going I couldn’t see the bouys. I just kept going, luckily I got around the first few ok, using the other ladies as a guide and then we were off down the long straight of the lake, this was the more difficult part as I was on my own so no one to sight off and when I did look up I couldn’t see the bouys due to the sun and how small they seemed, so I was having to use the safety canoeists as a guide to where I was heading. This seemed to work and after a few minutes I was able to see the bouys and start my final turn to the exit pontoon. Swim done and now onto the long transition to T1! It was hard work as it was uphill and I couldn’t get my wetsuit off, especially over my watch, while trying not to lap it or stop it! I surprisingly managed to find my bike quite easily (the transition area was huge!) and I aggressively pulled my wetsuit away from my legs and feet. I strapped my shoes on, grabbed my bike and off I ran, down the next long transition exit to the mount line, shouting and pushing my way through the other competitors, sorry! The mount line eventually came and it was congested with people struggling to get their feet into shoes and tackle the incline which met us immediately after! I was lucky enough to get my feet straight into the clips and start pushing on up the climb. I loved the bike, it really is my favourite part at the moment. I loved flying past the other competitors and blokes, screaming at them to move out my way as I went hurtling through! I was brave on the downhill sections and stayed as aero as I could and then pushed hard on the uphill, the bike route definitely favoured a strong rider. Bike route done and throughly enjoyed I headed back to T2 after grabbing a gel to keep me going. I found my racking, trainers on and off I went up the hill out of the park, ouch, it really hurt especially after giving it so much on the bike. The run course was either up or downhill really, there definitely didn’t seem to be much flat that’s for sure! I was past by one lady quite early on but she was incredibly fast, the second lady passed me but I managed to stay with her all the way to the finish. I really tried to run on feel but I couldn’t help but pay attention to the watch telling me my 1km times. It was great for telling me roughly how much further we had to go so I could pace it out and when I was starting to feel it in my legs I told myself to back off slightly as we still had 4km to go. I pushed on as I hoped the crowds would help in the city centre loop, and they did just that, it was such a fantastic atmosphere, and the support was incredible! I was still suffering though but knew I was nearly there so kept going as hard as I could, I ignored my watch by this point and I couldn’t hear it giving me the 1km splits anyway as the noise from the crowd was so loud. I knew I had 2 more bends and I was at the finish shoot. It was at this point a lady in my age group sped past me, I couldn’t go with her, I had emptied the tank and I knew she was a really strong runner. I let her go and accepted that all I wanted from the race was to qualify and really all I had to do for that was finish in an ok time to get a roll down so I tried to enjoy the blue carpet and my finishing moments. I was so glad it was over! I stopped my watch and was happy with my time. I knew I had given it everything I could have. I tried my best to work the bike as hard as I could to build up any lead onto the run, my weakest section, and I really did that. I finished 3rd in my age group overall which I was super pleased about, the lady that came 2nd beat me by 25 seconds in the end. I beat this lady previously at Southport by 5 minutes and it was hard not to think that the shorter bike route at Leeds (4km short of the usual 40km Standard distance), had played a part in her beating me this time. I would like to think so but hey that was the race and she is an incredible runner and she deserves the result.

I am really pleased with the overall result and how I performed, I couldn’t have given anymore, I worked hard, I can’t expect anymore than that. I also achieved my goal of qualification for next years World championships in Canada and wearing that GB kit once again.

What I do know is I have a lot of work to do on my running, I want to go away and do some focused training on this and work hard in the run up to Lausanne and the World Championships.

As for my watch I felt it was a distraction, I struggled with my wetsuit, having to think about lapping it and starting it and then also in the run, having it tell me how quick or slow I was running each KM was a distraction and even looking at those splits and thinking I needed to back off the pace etc, I wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t wearing the watch, so maybe I would have pushed harder on the run, who knows. What I do know is that from now on, unless it’s a full or half distance race, I will not be wearing the watch for a race again!

Next up is Cardiff sprint distance which is also a world championship qualifier. I am super excited for this one already, a short race and at a venue we have been at before and loved, I can’t wait!!!

Southport Race report – ouch that hurt!

Race report – Southport standard national championship triathlon.

So with only coming back from Majorca two days prior to Southport and having only just completed 70.3 a week ago I really did not have any high hopes what so ever going into this race. I felt tired and lethargic all week and typically Mother Nature payed me a visit which didn’t help things ha ha. I had taken it easy all week and planned a relaxed few days going into the event which certainly helped. In all honesty I was still in two minds the night before as to whether I should still be doing it but thought I would give it a go anyway and mentally prepared myself to stop if I needed to. I think my coaches thought I was a little bit nuts to still go ahead but hey you have to take risks and you have to be a little bit nutty to do triathlon anyway. One of the main reasons for still wanting to go was that this event was not only a qualifying event for the European championships next year but also a Triathlon England National Championship event so there was a lot at stake really so thought I had to give it a bash!

Even though Southport is fairly local to us it was still a 4 am wake up which didn’t go down well but off we went in the van, again with no expectations of what lay ahead of us. We did the usual registration and bike check-in when we got there, had my last comfort stop before squeezing into my wet suit and then tried to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the other competitors and the mental games that come with that. I was dreading the swim at Southport, it is never nice there and always tastes of duck poo, Not to mention the squishy underfoot feeling when you put your feet down errrrrrrrrrrr!!!! With all the ladies piling in behind each other at the start I tried to stay to the left hand side and out the way of them all which definitely worked and helped as we were soon set on our way. I still haven’t been swimming much recently due to my shoulder injury which still isn’t 100% but my swim felt strong to start with I struggled a lot with the sighting because my goggles had steamed up due to the cold water but managed to keep my eyes on one of the competitors Who I followed around this from course quite happily. I managed to come out of the water in the lead pack and started to quickly get myself in a good position going onto the bike course. I knew once I got on the bike I just had to get my head down and push hard. I was quite happy in my game plan for this race to push as hard as I could on the bike and make up as much time as I could as I knew this was one of my stronger areas. The course at Southport is as flat as you can get it the only issue is always with the wind. It wasn’t quite as bad as it has been in previous years but there was still a strong headwind on the longer portion of the course heading back to transition. At the first turn point I had managed to pass all of the girls except for two. One was quite a way ahead but the other was in my sights so I got my head down pushed hard and before I knew it I passed her, fantastic I thought, keep going hard, only one more lady to pass to set you up for a chance on the run. At the second turn point I have managed to catch up to the lead lady and I knew we were going back into the headwind, I dug deep, grunted and shouted at myself, got my arse in gear and very quickly managed to overtake her. Now my game plan was to create as much of a lead onto the run as I could as if I was going to suffer with fatigue in my legs it was going to be there and I’m not a strong runner. I managed to keep the lead going into T2 but as I was putting on my trainers for the run my legs started to cramp up and in all honesty I thought it might have been game over at this point. I managed to slam my feet into my trainers and hobble off. Coming out of the transition I was joined by a gentleman on a bike who lead me around the course, he didn’t say anything to me and he was far enough away from me that he didn’t influence my run whatsoever but just having him there as something to keep me going really helped. My legs cramped up quite badly at the end of the first lap and seeing Ian shouting his support at me got me a little bit emotional but I knew I had to push on and keep going, only one more lap to go! I always find the run course at Southport seems longer than what it is so I knew I had to pace the run correctly so that I could get round in one piece, I tried to break up the final lap into segments to try and help me mentally get round and once I could see the other side of the lake and the finish arch that really helped. By now my legs were really starting to hurt and my breathing has become more strained, I was really suffering at this point. I felt quite comfortable in the fact that if I got overtook I only had to come 4th to qualify for the European Championships, which was my only goal, so thought I could at least hold on and push for that at the very least if it did happen. Deep down though I was determined at this point and being so close to the finish i wasn’t going to let this happen and I was determined that I wasn’t going to get anyone past me. I wanted that gold medal, I needed this as redemption for Majorca, this was for those five seconds off the podium, this was for the four minutes off going under five hours, this was for all that hard work I had put in over the winter all those early morning sessions, this was for Ian who believes in me and pushes me to be the best I can be, this is for my parents whos love and support is just incredible, this is for my coaches who have put the time and effort into my training program and push me to my limits, I had to win this race! Luckily before I knew it I was heading down that red carpet and under the finishing arch I literally couldn’t believe it, my legs started to cramp up as soon as I crossed the line but I knew the pain was worth it and that I had given everything I could out there and it paid off. What an experience! OMG I’m English standard distance champion, WTF!!!!!!! I managed to find Ian and as usual we both had a good cry and hug, I phoned my parents to tell them the good news and they were obviously ecstatic, next up I had to call my coaches Russell and Paul who sounded as though they were more excited than I was about the result ha ha.

So okay I may have been a little bit silly to enter a standard distance race so close to completing 70.3 and travelling back from another country but somehow it paid off and I’m still in disbelief about what actually happened and how I managed to get round as I’m sat here in my pyjamas still in a tired heap ha ha. I am super excited for what the rest of the season now holds and again this has made me more determined to keep pushing on as there are still so many areas for improvement and that really excites me. 2019 triathlon season bring it on 💪🏻

My first proper race report!

So here goes my first ever race report!

(Apparently the biggest transition in the world, 3800+ competitors, what a sight!)

After getting the first race of the season under the belt at Chirk, I felt ready and raring to go for this that’s for sure!!

So I have done one 70.3 prior to Majorca but this was certainly under different circumstances, firstly I wasn’t doing triathlon to the same standard as I am now and secondly the objection for entering Staffordshire 70.3 was to raise money for charity as I lost a friend to a brain tumour. In all honesty Staffordshire was just about getting around in one piece I had a time of around 6 1/2 hours in mind and to enjoy the race. I had no awareness of nutrition or hydration, no race plan or training plan leading into it but did what I thought I was meant to do and having read things online put my own plan together that way. Anyway the point being It was a very emotional day and 32° heat didn’t help!

So back to Majorca I classed this as my first competitive 70.3 and now with a coach on board and a structured training plan and input into the hydration and nutrition while on the course I definitely felt better prepared and up for this race. I naïvely said to my coach that I wanted to achieve a time of 5-5.15 hours but in all honesty and deep down I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever achieve this but it gave me something to aim for. I also had the huge advantage of being able to do it with my like minded, amazing boyfriend Ian. Ian has done many Ironman events previously so was really looking forward to competing in this one as well. Being able to train, support, advise, help and watch out for each other while preparing for this event has been incredible. We really push each other along, especially on the days when we aren’t quite feeling it, it’s great to share the highs and the lows with him.

The lead up to Majorca went really well I was pleased with my training unfortunately have a shoulder injury which kept me from swimming for about three weeks prior to heading out but we thought and hoped that the rest would help and make good just in time for the race and this seemed to be the case.

For anyone that hasn’t done a 70.3 Ironman event before but would like to, I could highly recommend Majorca. The buzz and atmosphere around the athletes village and town in the days prior and post race was just incredible and for me summed up everything about the triathlon community. Friendly, similar minded, inclusive, helpful, fun and generally amazing bunch of people all in one place.

So anyway let’s cut to pre race day, we had managed to put the bikes together and take them out for a spin prior to racking just to make sure that we put them together properly and so that they wouldn’t fall apart while out on the bike course. This went really well the roads in Majorca are so smooth and absolutely fantastic in comparison to the UK, it was hard not to get carried away so this set me up with a great mindset going into race day. Going in to rack my bike the day before the race was also an experience I will never forget. This race saw over 3800 age-group competitors start, That makes for one huge transition area and it really was something to say. You definitely had to take pictures and visualise and remember where your bike was let’s put it that way.

So race morning there was the usual butterflies in the stomach and lots of toilet runs ha ha. I like to try and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the other competitors but still be close enough to take in the atmosphere and the energy of it all this is because I tend to get myself psyched out by other competitors so by staying away from them I find this helps just to keep me focused. I made a big decision at registration to go with the under five hour completion swim wave. This may have been a bit silly at the time but now on reflection I completely did the right thing and wish I’d started closer to the beginning of the race rather than hold back and go with the slower of the wave. The swim felt fantastic the water was warm and lovely and clear and I felt strong and thrived on the fact that I was passing quite a lot of people. It was very easy to sight for this race as there was a lot of buoys and I just stayed by the side of the other competitors which made it very easy. When we hit the beach I lapped my watch and By my surprise I clocked a 29 minute swim which was fantastic considering I haven’t swam for around three weeks prior to heading out to Majorca due to a shoulder injury. So out of the water I ran whooping as I crossed the beach, soaked up the atmosphere and support from the crowd and headed to the humongous transition area. I managed to calmly put on my bike kit and pack my wetsuit and ran to find my bike. Now as previously mentioned this was one of the biggest transitions in the world and even with my photo preparation and walk through I still managed to lose my bike typical ha ha. Once I found my bike I was off to cross the mount line and head off on the bike course. I very quickly found my rhythm and found I was overtaking a lot of competitors which pushed me on even more. The one thing I did find hard was having to hold back to make sure I had enough left in the tank for the rest of the race which is the complete opposite to what I’m used to doing in the Sprint distance triathlons I’m used to doing! The smooth Majorcan roads made the bike leg an absolute pleasure to cycle on and even the lump that is Lluc was a pleasure to ride over. I even managed to take in the incredible views, It was absolutely stunning. One of the things that I’d wanted to do during the race was make sure I enjoyed it and not be purely focused on racing, with this in mind I was chatting and having a laugh with people while on the bike not really thinking how it would or could influence The overall results and outcome of the race. While we were pushing hard up the hill I got called back by a competitor who ended up being my coach we had a good chat and then he told me to push on and not wanting to be a rebel I followed his orders and off I went. One thing I would say about the bike leg was it was meant to be draft illegal but this would have been incredibly hard to achieve due to the pure volume of people on the course and at times I found there was big groups of cyclists together and I had to work really hard to try and pull away from these groups. I had planned to take on gels which were provided on the course but unfortunately by the time I had taken a bottle of fluids and secured it in my bottle holder I had passed the gel stations so completed the bike with just fluid and one energy bar. I felt strong coming off the bike and had the bonus of being able to feel my feet which makes a change as normally I suffer with numb feet which I can’t feel again until at least 2 miles into the run. I was a good girl and made sure I applied my suncream in T2 and emptied my rubbish into the bin as I didn’t want to be littering the course and that was it, I was off on the run section. I knew with the run that I need to pace it correctly As I have a habit of going off to quick, so I kept an eye on my watch at every kilometre. The first 3 km ended up being far too quick so try my best to slow the pace down but I still wanted to go with my legs, unfortunately the next couple of kilometres were slower but still not slow enough. The support on the course was phenomenal and definitely pushed to one in the heat. Two laps completed one more to go in and this is where I started to struggle those quicker kilometres and the heat started to catch up with me but I knew I had to push on and the realisation of a five hour 70.3 iroman was becoming more and more a reality and that definitely pushed me on. We were extremely lucky that we had our parents out in Majorca with us and also the fact that our villa was on the run course which made great viewing for them at several points which was greatly appreciated from our point of view, we needed all the support and encouragement we could get! I kept on breaking the last lap down into segments to try and divert from the pain and it seemed to work. I knew once I was on the beach I was into the final stretch and tried to push on but by this point I’d emptied the tank and just wanted to enjoy the race and not suffer. I saw the red carpet and felt quite emotional I wanted to soak up the last few seconds of this race so was giving high-fives to the crowd as I ran on that red carpet and under that finishing arch. I had done it, I had completed it, i raced it but also enjoyed it, I was given my medal and started to cry, unfortunately I get quite emotional at the end of my races ha ha. I had my photo taken and headed into the athletes tent. I’m never hungry after events but still filled up my tray with fruit, doughnuts, water and more importantly a free pint of beer. I wandered around and found somewhere to sit and soak in the atmosphere of the finishing athletes, what an incredible experience. Once I had settled and the enormity of what had happened had sunk in I became energised again and felt fantastic! I’m not quite sure this went down well with Ian when I saw him after he finished as he just wanted to be left to gather himself together, he had a fantastic race but unfortunately found the run hard with the heat and it had completely wiped him out. We stayed in the athletes village for a good hour or so to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the free drinks. We had just been alcohol free for the last few months so we needed to enjoy this. At no point did I even think about what time I completed it in although I did know from my watch it was around five hours five minutes which I was completely gobsmacked about it was only when I went to find my parents that I found the live results being posted so I thought I would have a look to see how we had got on it was at this point I realised I had incredibly come fourth in my age group but frustratingly and annoyingly I missed out on 3rd by five seconds, five whole seconds! This is where I started to get frustrated with myself and started to beat myself up about areas in the race where if I just got on with it I could’ve very very easily made those five seconds up. I just couldn’t shake it, the competitive side of me just wouldn’t let it go and unfortunately this seemed to overshadow the initial excitement of having completed it in such a fantastic time. On reflection now I’ve dropped it but its still at the back of my mind that if I’m there to race I need to race, if I’m there to enjoy it enjoy it as races could be won or lost by potentially chatting to people or carefully disposing of rubbish rather than keep hold of it or loosing the place of your bike in transition. This has definitely lit a fire in my belly in terms of returning to Majorca to firstly beat that five hour mark and secondly to try and qualify in my age group for the Ironman 70.3 world Championships.

Anyway overall Majorca 70.3, my first competitive middle distance triathlon was absolutely fantastic I completely smashed my expectations of the race and what I could do and now I want to do better and improve so I will definitely be wanting to return next year and also complete more 70.3 distance events in the near future. Again for anyone that is thinking of entering one I highly recommend doing Majorca the weather was incredible, the roads were superb, the support and atmosphere on the course was electric, What’s not to like hopefully see you there next year!

The race season has started!!

The 2019 race season has now begun and what a crazy few weeks it has been!

(That was painful! The finishing line at Chirk tri)

Just to bring the blog up to speed, my coaching via Tri Fitness in Guernsey has been going amazing so far, I have really felt the benefit of having structure to my training. I used to just do what I felt I needed to do or wanted to do previously, whereas now I know exactly what I have to do for the whole week and its great. The coaches Paul and Russell are so fantastic as well, really supportive and encouraging, it really has been such an eye opener. My bike and run have been improving during training which I am obviously super pleased with but I unfortunately picked up an injury with my shoulder which has meant I have not been swimming for about 4 weeks really. I have done the odd splash around to see if there was any progress but this has been met with differing results. Some days I could get in and do maybe 1000 metres and once I could only managed 200 metres and had to get out. I went into the first race of the season hoping that it would be ok for the 400 m swim and luckily I think the adrenaline kicked in and it was fine, although ached the following day. It was also the same going into Ironman 70.3 it had improved but not back to 100% by any means.

So the training and coaching has been going well, the sponsorship with Bikmo has also been going fantastic. They are such a supportive group of people and really are superb at what they do as they are all so passionate about everything bike!

Work wise I have been getting my head down and working hard. The strength and conditioning classes have been so much fun and the response we have had about them has been really encouraging. We have also had requests for another class in another location on another night so we are currently looking into venues which is exciting. I have been continuing with my agency shifts and also some bank work within the local NHS hospital which has been great for keeping my radiography skills up to date and importantly keeping the bills paid!

So my first race of the season was a local sprint triathlon in Chirk, North Wales. I had heard about this event via club members and was told what a great little race it was but it had a challenging run section. As we had a weekend free in the run up to the race e thought we would go and test out the bikes and do a rece of the course. The roads we awful, full of potholes and rubble which didn’t make for a nice ride! we decided to extend the route for another hour or so, so ended up going over the Horseshoe pass. This has a gentle incline and obviously some descents. I am not sure what happened this day as I just wasn’t feeling it at all. I couldn’t keep up with Ian who obviously was jet propelled, or it certainly looked that way! I just wasn’t about to put out the power I wanted, this put me in a mood and I just couldn’t shake it off! We had reached the top of the incline and started to descend down the hill, this is when I realised there was a problem, one of my breaks had failed so I was hurtling down this huge hill with only one break which didn’t improve my mood, ha ha. anyway I managed to complete the ride safely, thank goodness and decided not to run off the bike as planned so we drove it. Now the run route was challenging in the van nevermind on foot! this was going to make for an interesting race!

in the runup to race day the organisers had to cut the bike route short due to roadworks. I wasn’t to happy about this as the bike is one of my strongest parts of a triathlon, so I knew I had to really dig deep and push as hard as I could. What I also didn’t realise going into the event was that there was prize money at stake! Now this might have been optimistic of me but I hoped to do ok at this race, my plan was to use it to get rid of any first race of the season nerves and take it easy. With this new information about prize money I couldn’t take it easy! Triathlon is an expensive sport and every little bit helps!

Anyway I did my usual pre race, stay away from others and the hustle and bustle, keep focused and think about what I had to do. I queued up to start and before I knew it we were off! It was a pool swim and I was very fortunate to end up with the lane to myself for most of the swim which was great, the shoulder held out as well which was a bonus! Transition felt quick and then I was off to dodge pot holes. The bike was short and fast with a little incline on the way back into transition. My T2 transition was awful, I couldn’t get my feet out of one if the shoes in time, as I was to busy avoiding potholes and speed humps, so ended up with one shoe on and one off, hobbling into transition. Run shoes on and it was off up the first hill, ouch!! It was tough after just coming off the bike, but it was done and I had the downhill to enjoy on the way back, so I thought! Up until the halfway point it was actually mainly downhill, which allowed me to get my rhythm and breath back. A few more undulations and I had turned the halfway marker, now just to get back up those hills and get to the finish! Oh boy did I underestimate the hill on the return leg, it was awful and the closet I have been to walking in a race. I knew I had to keep pushing on as there were some very fast runners who would undoubtedly be super speedy on this course, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed on. Up over the top and then the rest was downhill to the finish and it felt great to complete my first race of the season. I was extremely pleased to come 2nd female overall, in what was a tough competition. The bonus of £120 prize money was absolutely fantastic especially as it was my mother birthday on the same day so I spent the money on celebrating with yummy food and drinks, so win win all round I think!

So first race done and dusted next up was Ironman 70.3 in Mallorca!! Bring it on.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑