Races and motivation – or lack of them both!

Well the one thing I can be certain of this year is neither of these things have happened! Once I knew the first lockdown was taking place my motivation packed its bags and hasn’t returned since, in fact if anyone finds it please kick its ass and tell it to return home please.

Happy/Good times – When I had motivation and we were allowed to travel and race.

As much as I tried though to scrape something together race wise for the year, the desire to train wasn’t in me, I think I knew deep down that those late season races just wouldn’t be able to take place so why bury myself in the pain cave. In a way I’m still feeling the same way now and it’s actually been setting off panic attacks post turbo sessions. The session would sometimes go ok, my power would be slightly down, but this is normal for this time of the year anyway, but in the cool downs I wouldn’t be able to get by breath and have a panic/anxiety attack, they are truly horrible and really scary. It’s weird because there isn’t really a trigger, other than they happen post exercise/exertion. They were also something that were occurring quite often during my recovery from Covid so I’m not sure if this is a long term issue from contracting the virus? It could also just be from the amount of pressure I know I put on myself and seeing that I am not performing as well as I know I can or should be, could also be a trigger? From this point of view I know I do it but equally its not intentional and I don’t mean to, I just want to do well at things and want to push myself and the realisation that I’m not living or performing up to this standard is hard. Plus sewing my competitors on social media completely smashing it, doesn’t help either!

Why do we do this to ourselves!!!??? It shouldn’t matter about anyone else, plus If this was a client I would be telling them too not pay attention to it, to not be so hard on themselves, to find positives in their own training, set small targets and to look at where they were last year in comparison!

Anyway I am really looking forward to getting back to races next year but already feel pressure of not having races under the belt from this year and loosing out on that experience, I wonder whether I will be going in rusty.

Next year is actually a huge year for me, I’m 40, so not only do I go up an age group but I have the expectation of a memorable year ahead of me as well. We have decided to give the postponed World championships (sprint and standard distances) a miss next year and concentrate solely on middle distance. We even managed to get a place at the iconic Alp D’heuz triathlon which has been on the bucket list for a few years now and we are both extremely excited about.

At the moment I think my expectations of next year aren’t particularly high at the moment, to simply race would be a success, but to also perform to the standard I know I can would be amazing and to do my sponsors and coach proud and that’s all I can hope for right now.

Aside from racing I’m hoping to get more involved with coaching others. It’s something I have been doing anyway for the last few years, but I still have a huge amount to learn. I especially love helping those triathletes who are new to the sport and have that new enthusiasm to do well, I really want to help encourage and focus that energy.

2020 the year that wasn’t! Part 1

So I have been debating as to whether to write a post about my year so far, the below was actually written a few months ago, that’s how much I have been wondering whether to post it, but I feel like I need to share it to just empty my head and allow me to share my feelings and thoughts.

In previous blog posts I have given you some insight to my life and the changes I have gone through over the years, my triathlon training, race reports and just general life/work posts. With all of that in mind, what could I possibly say that you all haven’t gone through this last year yourselves, afterall this is a worldwide pandemic that we are currently living and dealing with. 

I have however thought I would share my experiences of the first part of the year, 1st lockdown and my surprise (pending) house move and my feelings about that. I hope that in doing so, you may realise that you might be feeling or did feel he same way or it may help you find positives to come out of this situation.

So where to start!!!!

1st lockdown

March was when the UK was put into lockdown which for us in particular, meant closing the gym and the focus being switched to how we could keep an income coming in for both Ian and myself. This is where I am so extremely thankful for our previous careers in healthcare. I managed to pick up enough shifts to keep the bills paid and Ian signed up to a paramedic agency and ended up doing full time hours which was fantastic! 

We decided to keep our clients and Facebook page followers moving during this period, by holding facebook live classes 3 times a week and also posted lots of ‘at home’, exercise ideas. I must admit though towards the end of lockdown the novelty wore off for our followers and for ourselves so we ended these just before we were allowed to open the gym up again.

Triathlon training eased off very slightly and the focus obviously switched from outdoor runs and rides to Zwift turbo sessions and short runs, and our swimming went from pool swims to weight sessions and banded work instead. Little did we know that all our races for the 2020 season were going to be cancelled and postponed to 2021. Something that I will post about another time as I really struggled with this part especially.

We really tried to keep to a routine, which we both needed and benefitted from and the amazing weather definitely helped during the lockdown period!

My birthday was in April, and Ian started to suffer with hayfever symptoms the days leading up to my birthday. He had a runny nose, fuzzy head and felt quite lethargic but we just put it down to the amazing hot and sunny weather we were experiencing in the UK and the walks we were going on.

I knew he must have been feeling under the weather as on my birthday I wanted to head out on my bike for a few hours, he felt to unwell to come with me. I of course, pulled a face as I wanted him to join me, but he insisted that I head out on my own so me and my pulled face rode solo.

Me heading out on my solo birthday ride.

Ians symptoms improved the days after this but I started to suffer the same, and in general just didn’t feel quite right. After exercise I had a bit of a cough but that was it really. At this point more shifts were starting to come through to the agency for NHS work but in the back of my mind something didn’t feel quite right so I discussed getting a Covid test done before offering to cover any of them. Short story is a had caught Covid. It took me around 6 weeks to start to feel slightly normal again, overall my symptoms were manageable but I can imagine if people had underlaying health issues and caught the virus, that things could be completely different and very dangerous! You can also see how difficult it can be for some people to realise that they even have it though which is the scary thing about it really.

Anyway lockdown gave us the extra time at home which allowed us to finally get jobs done which we never had the time to do in normal day to day life. Things like tackling the over grown garden/veg patch at the back of the property, clearing out the shed, clearing the attic space, painting the fence panels, you see where I am going with this, so when lockdown was lifted and the stamp duty was dropped it seemed a great time to take advantage and try and sell the house.

Lockdown project – Overgrown veg patch – Before
Lockdown project – After

The few times that we did manage to get out and into Chester, this cemented these feelings and after a short discussion we put the house on the market. It got snapped up 2 days later which was fantastic as we had already seen a beautiful house in the perfect area for us both.

Fast forward nearly 3 months and the house move date is looking more and more imminent! With that said I had my first panic/anxiety attack on the way into work this morning. The realisation of all the memories, good and bad that I have had in that house, really hit me. I love my house and if I’m honest I don’t really want to move but I find the commute in and out of the city really frustrating and not time efficient at all. It also causes stress with regards to parking which is an issue for us every time we go into our gym. I know the work/life balance will improve significantly when we move and the area which we are moving to has so much more to offer than where we are currently. The only issue is that because of the fact we are moving from somewhere out of the city, to in the city centre, space becomes a premium, so we are in effect downsizing to the new property and outside sunny space is limited. I’m sure everyone has these little moments of doubt about whether you are doing the right thing etc, I know I am doing the right thing, its normal to feel like this and I’m sure once we are in these worries will disappear. The other issue that is causing anxiety is the fact that the property was bought originally with my ex-husband. We bought the house with the intention of it being our forever home to have and bring children up in. We completely renovated it and got it just how we wanted it, added a fantastic conservatory and amazing outdoor patio and entertaining space. I know life doesn’t always work out how we plan it, but one thing is for sure, I do truly believe in fate and what is meant to be. I mean, I just need to look at where all parties involved are now, how far we have all come and how we are all doing things that we have always wanted to do and even if it didn’t seem it at the time, the separation has allowed us to follow our dreams and give us the life that we actually wanted all along, for that I am grateful.  

I have some fantastic memories in that house though, but also some sad and unhappy ones. I believe I am on the correct path that fate wants me to take and I am so much happier now than I have ever been, I just need to trust in the process. When I left my husband, I took on the property, so it became mine, something that I was and still am, so proud of. Don’t get me wrong I am excited about buying the new house with Ian and to the new beginnings and new start for both of us, but I think I am scared, the thought of ‘I’ve been here before and it didn’t work out last time’, the fact that if that did happen and Ian and myself split, I am stuck with a more expensive house to upkeep and renovate and could I afford it all. I feel sick at the fact I even have this thought process as it’s as though I am doubting my relationship with Ian already, of which I don’t at all. This is a long term deal we are entering, whether he likes it or not ha ha! With regards to the house itself, although it is smaller than my current house, the potential that this property has is the appeal. It is a trendy and bustling area of the city, with a village butcher, green grocer, coffee shops, bars and restaurants which are all a 5 min walk from our doorstep, plus the city centre is a 20 min walk away, so 20 mins to get to our gym and less than that to get to the swimming pool. Already we get the community feel from the area, the train station is 10 mins walk away, it really is going to improve our work/life balance and once again the property itself has so much potential, I just know it’s going to be hard work to get it to where we would like it to be. 

Anyway I am sure there will be plenty more updates with regards to the house move, it’s been stressful at times and no doubt will continue to be so for some time, but I’m excited to get moved and start new our new life and fresh start together in this soon to be home.

Year one of being coached – my experiences so far

I started to get into triathlons around 2014 and up until december 2018 I had just done my own thing with regards to training and what I was doing within those sessions, it was very haphazrd really.

The way I found my coach was by accident really, I got a friend request on facebook from Paul, who had mutual friends and obviously did triathlons so I accepted it.  He contacted me about meeting up as I was currently doing some swim coaching at David Lloyd sports club and he was good friends with the manager there, we eventually met up and talked about all things triathlon and I felt very comfortable in his company. Post meet up Paul contacted me about trailing some coaching with his company Tri Fitness Triathlon Coaching and I thought, what have I got to loose. Going into it I had doubts about having someone telling me what to do, I can be quite stubborn and set in my ways and find the more someone gets on at me the more it makes me rebel and not enjoy things. Anyway the first few weeks went well, I loved not having to plan my sessions or the structure to what the sessions were, they were easy to understand, it gave me accountability and it wasn’t to pushy and took into consideration my work and lifestyle. I eventually signed up with the company and it really has been a fantastic year with the team.

Paul and Russell are triathletes themselves so they understand the struggles of trying to balance life, work and training and their approach definitely suits me, it’s a more softly, softly approach than , ‘you will do this’ and ‘why haven’t you done that’ type of method which would push me away and not motivate me at all. I have weekly coaching calls with Paul and we discuss the weeks training, the following weeks schedule, how I have been feeling generally and he is also great at nutrition and relationship advice as well ha ha!

A good coach really does need to know everything that is going on within your life, relationships, menstrual cycles as mentally and physically this has an effect on how you perform and how you train. For that reason you need to feel comfortable and trust your coach which is something I felt I could do with Paul from the very start really. This was reiterated when we were competing in Majorca at the Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Tri Fitness had a big team out there and we were made to feel very welcome and part of the team from the outset. We met up socially before and after the race as well which helped to build on the relationship we had with the coaches.

Paul has been fantastic throughout the year, when I have been struggling he has been there at the end of the phone to help pick me up and offer advice and another viewpoint on things, and also there to celebrate success, it really has opened my eyes to coaching and the many advantages of having one.

So if you are wanting to take your triathlon training and performance to the next level I highly recommend paying for a coach, they don’t have to necessarily be a company near you, in fact Tri Fitness coaching is based in Guernsey, so no where near Chester! Online options also make it slightly cheaper in some instances but it depends whether having the face to face contact is important to you or not, I personally think it wouldn’t make any difference to me because the training schedule is through Training Peaks and we FaceTime each week which is as close to face to face as you can get really.

Tri Fitness have completely taken my triathlon performances to the next level and what is more exciting is there is still so many areas I can improve on, which is something we are working on during the off season, I can’t wait to see what next year brings!

 

Tri Fitness coaches Paul De Garis and Russell James Smith can be contacted online and via Facebook and Instagram and come very highly recommended by myself, why not check them out!

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 💪🏻

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑