I had hoped to leave the bad weather with my race a Diss but it was not to be another grey and slightly damp day welcomed me at Waveney. The race was pool based meaning small waves of five people but the rush from being first out from my wave was still a great motivator only to be dampened about 3K into the bike when I was overtaken by someone else in my wave. After that it was a somewhat lonely ride the small waves meaning everyone was very spread out on the bike however that wouldn’t last when I passed fellow athlete Lauren who was marshalling at this race I expected this to be the only friendly face I would see during the race however not a few kilometres later I passed Ian and Matt at the side of the road after what I would later find out was a rear wheel blowout. After that it was plain sailing back to transition and into a run that was never flat but after a hill session the week before I was well prepared to smash it up the hill to the turnabout point and the empty the tank on the return journey. Crossing the line I was happy with my results and another good race under my belt, however I am still looking forward to my first race in the sun this year.
Waking up to a wet and grey day is never how you want a race day to start luckily by the time I had arrived and racked up the rain had stopped leaving the race to just be a cold and damp. At the start of the race I found myself running in a good group running the pace I wanted which made the first 5K fly by, entering into transition I felt good and knuckled down into a cold 30K on the bike where the largest challenge was avoiding all the flint on the road form the snowfall that had happened in the weeks previous, a challenge that would seemingly catch many out from those I passed walking dejectedly toward the finish. Coming out again for the final run I felt strong and pushed through enjoying the downhill into the town centre before chasing a man in a bright blue Yorkshire kit for the remaining 2K to the line. The pace from the chase gave me allowed a good finishing time that all things considered I was proud of.
BUCS Sprint – Despite arriving at 10 am to race at 10:30 am, I got to the pool briefing on time. The swim was pretty confusing, with loads of overtaking and undertaking so I forgot how many lengths I was on but managed to swim a massive PB of 12:13. The bike went really well too and despite lots of traffic and a few hold ups on the course due to cars, I did the 25 km in 46:46 and even overtook some girls with aero bars and snazzier bikes. The only disaster of the day was when I came into T2, I couldn’t find my trainers so spent a good minute looking for them. Oops! By the time I got to the run, it was getting hotter so I knew I wouldn’t be going at my fastest. I started off at 4:20min/km pace but slowed to come in at 22:24 which given the heat I was pretty happy with. Overall, really happy with how the race went. I came 69th out of 210 girls which I’ll take. Thanks to Beacon for all the support! I can’t wait to race on my new bike from TriHarder in the BUCS Standard in a couple of weeks!
For the first triathlon of the season I went back to the first one I ever completed 3 years ago. I wanted to use it as a marker to see where I was and get a bit of race experience. It was a good day and the sunshine also made an appearance! Even if that did mean the traffic and pedestrians made an appearance meaning a couple of stops at traffic lights. Still plenty of room for improvement but over 8 mins quicker overall and 2 mins quicker on my swim meant a good days racing.
The ‘Mad March Hare 10k’, should have been renamed ‘Mad April Hare 10k’ since it was postponed from the beginning of March due to snow! The conditions were (only slightly!) better than in March: the cold was worsened by the strong biting wind. Thanks to senior Athlete James Chapman cheering me on!
I set out with the 2nd pack on the road, we worked well together taking turns in the wind. It felt good and I got into a good rhythm at about 5.45-50/mile, running side-by-side with my training partner Sam Kenmore switching 3rd/4th place. Around 4k in, my asthma started to take hold. This was probably due in part, to the weather and worsened by my cold. I knocked off the pace and went into damage limitation mode. Running into the fierce headwind on my own was pretty brutal, it felt like I was going backwards. I was trying to cough up the phlegm so I could breathe… but this made me retch!
I eventually plodded over the line in 9th place, in 38.30. Though it’s probably one to forget, it was good character building in the conditions. Next up on 13th May, is the Norfolk County Athletics Championships 800m with Beacon Triathlete, Alfie Bentley. Then, it’s off to the Edinburgh Half Marathon at the end of May.
Thanks as ever to Beacon Tri and all our sponsors for their continued support.
My first triathlon of the season was over the super sprint distance in a sunny Yarmouth. I had ground to make up after finishing 16th fastest on the swim. I pulled back some time with the 6th fastest bike split and ended with a 9.21 3km which was the fastest run. I finished 4th overall so I was pretty happy with that. But I was let down by some slowish transitions and I've still got to keep working on my swim. Up next is BUCS sprint triathlon.
Diss Duathlon - 8th April 2018
The morning of the duathlon started with grey skies and drizzle, not the ideal conditions for the race. As my first race of the year, I was aiming for a warm up race to get ready for the season ahead. The three of us racing for Beacon Tri were kitted out in our new tri suits, thanks to Epic Orange and brightened up the otherwise grim conditions!
I went steady for the first run, as one of my first duathlons I wasn’t sure how hard to go and didn’t want to have jelly legs before I’d even got on the bike. Into transition and out onto the bike course. It took a lot of concentration over the 3 laps of the bike course to avoid all the flint and potholes but fortunately I made it through to the second transition unscathed. There were a fair few who weren’t so lucky and had to make use of our free puncture repair kit we were given at registration. The second run went fine and as I ran through the finish line to all the loud cheers of Beacon Tri, I was told since I could still talk I hadn’t tried hard enough. Next time I will, promise!
Despite not having as fast results as I’d hoped, it was great having the support and encouragement of Beacon Tri, before and during the race, particularly the last minute fixing of my bike! I came second in my age group and 6th overall so hopefully this will set me up for some good races later this year and some good experience for other duathlons.
Ely Duathlon 11th March 2018 – Race Report
We were up bright and early for the Monster Duathlon in Ely, leaving Norwich at 5am. This was a good test and an early-season benchmark. To be honest, I hadn’t been able to do any specific training in preparation. As I’d been gearing up for Seville and Marriott’s Way marathons in February, I had only done one hour of cycling in the past five weeks, and no speed work on the track! After Seville a fortnight prior to Ely, I took a week off and then did a few short runs and a bike session.
Conditions were favourable on the day and the wind was low. This meant one thing: fast bike splits! There were some good local racers taking part such as Tony Heather & Jake Pye (Team Skipper), James Hayward (Ipswich Tri), George Macfarlane (UEA Tri) and Alfie Bentley (also of Beacon Tri).
The race kicked off at 8am. On the run we settled into a comfortable pace, though the group fragmented slightly at halfway because of the slippery mud on the airfield. Jake Pye (Team Skipper) and James Hayward (Ipswich Tri) led into T1 in 17.22 with an advantage of about 15 seconds on the rest of the group, which included Alfie Bentley (Beacon Tri), Tony Heather (Team Skipper), George MacFarlane (UEA Tri), Gordon Irvine (Newmarket Tri) and myself (17.34). Uber-cyclist Tom Huband (unaffiliated), was about a minute in arrears.
After a smooth T1, Heather made a strong start, flying past as he set off in hot pursuit of team-mate, Pye. I settled into a comfortable rhythm after a few kilometres and felt strong. About halfway into the bike, I saw Heather and Hayward only a few hundred metres ahead, they had lost time because of a wrong turn. I dug deep for a few kilometres, and eventually caught them. At this point, I was yoyo-ing off the back of the group of Heather, Hayward and MacFarlane. In the last 5 kilometres I was on the limit trying to bridge back a large gap on the main road. I was just making the catch with about 500m to go, when I hit the deck hard going around a sharp left turn. Admittedly, I’d carried too much speed into the corner, especially given the wet conditions. I ended up with 39.33 for the 25km bike leg, averaging 23.6mph. Luckily, I came off worse than the bike!
Battered and bruised, I got back on and came out of T2 having lost about 30 seconds. Onto the second run, I just couldn’t seem to get going. I’d felt great all day but the legs just didn’t want to hit their stride. (Maybe it was the crash, or just lack of preparation!) I could see the others in the distance, gradually pulling away. With a run time of 19.05, I took fourth place overall in 1.17.38, with Alfie Bentley of Beacon Tri taking 6th, as well as the quickest second run split of 17.42.
It was a great event, and nice way to start the season. Despite the crash, I’m happy with the result and the 4-minute improvement on last year!
Looking at the results from last year my aim was to get on the podium, having finished 9th the year before, I knew this would be ambitious.
The first run went well. As my run is my strongest element I have a tendency to go out too hard. I restricted myself to sitting in the lead pack. I was feeling pretty comfortable, until I took a tumble on the muddy course. Luckily I’d just grazed my elbow and dented my ego!
T1 went smoothly. I was initially fairly hesitant as I was using a tt bike for the first time, having borrowed UEA legend Dave Chesterman’s steed. Eventually I got the hang of it and started picking up some speed (av 23 mph). I kept bike guru Tom Huband in sight and with 5km to go I picked up the pace and was closing in on a group of three athletes.
I started the second run leg with Jake Pye (Team Skipper) but managed to pull away. I began the painful task of reeling in Tom. Having nursed a stitch through the first 3km I finally started to feel good. I began to gain on fellow Beacon tri athlete Jake Brockwell (4th) and the 5th placed athlete, but they were too strong and the finish line came too soon.
Overall, I’m happy with 6th place as there were some very strong guys there. I won my age group, had the fastest second run split, and was four minutes quicker than last year!
Next up, is the Norwich Half marathon and the East Coast triathlon. Thanks to Beacon tri for the support.
Having learnt valuable lessons from Marriott’s Way Trail Marathon the week before, I’d decided not be my usual unprepared self and left no stone unturned for Seville. On the Wednesday was massage time thanks to Beacon Tri sponsors “Replay Sports Clinic”, who understood the situation of torn quad muscles post-cramp, and didn’t go too deep on the muscles!
I flew out on Thursday, allowing time to acclimatise to the rays, check out the course and explore the city! After a couple of short runs to coax the legs back into gear, they felt surprisingly ok but by no means perfect. The atmosphere of the city was buzzing, especially as the race doubled as the Spanish National Championships. I went to the expo on the Friday to pick up my race kit and bumped into (eventual Spanish champion) Javi Guerra. After carbing up on delicious tapas during a city tour, with friend of a friend Andres, I hit the hay ready for Sunday!
Conditions were cool and still, pretty ideal for running (In hindsight, a vest still would have been better than a t-shirt). I got to the ‘Estadio Olimpico’ along with 15,000 other runners, who’d managed to nab all the loo roll unfortunately. (N.B. I held it in.)
At 8.30am, the gun sounded and we were off! I settled into a nice, comfortable rhythm just ahead of the 2hr 45min pacer. Going through 10km in 38.24, it felt really manageable. About 12 miles in I took my foot off the gas a bit after feeling the oh-so-familiar feeling of early cramp. I went through halfway in 1.22.12, a half marathon PB by 43 seconds. The quad cramp properly took hold by 15 miles. Shortly after, the 2.45 group went past and from there on in I knew it was damage-limitation time.
Put simply, the next 11 miles were agony. At first, I slowed from 6.15/mile pace to 6.40/mile. At around the 20-mile mark, the hamstrings, calfs and glutes also started to go and I slowed down to about 7.00/mile. Luckily, this time I didn’t hit the wall/bonk. I had a gel every 5km (EIGHT gels), along with some solid food and sugary drinks.
Every step for those last 18 kilometres sent a shooting sensation of pain through the legs, each one screaming to stop and walk. Having learnt the lesson from the week before, I knew as soon as you stop to walk… it’s game over! The huge crowd was out in force from mile 1 to mile 26… the extra motivation from them was infectious. At 15 miles, I honestly didn’t think I could run another kilometre. After counting down the remaining 18 kilometres one by one with the help of the crowd, the stadium was almost in sight.
The feeling of running under the tunnel of the Estadio Olimpico and onto the athletics track was simply euphoric. Suddenly there was no pain, just disbelief. Running down the home straight and crossing the finish line is a moment I’ll never forget. To be honest, with my body in pieces, there was nothing left but emotion. The euphoria and atmosphere were overwhelming! It had been a real test of will-power.
I finished in 2.52.08, and was delighted to finish top in my age category, “promising young talent” by over little over 2 minutes. It was then time for some Estrella and there was even a prize ceremony with Rosa Mota (to this day the only person to hold the Olympic, World and European marathon titles simultaneously!) which was a real honour. That trophy is definitely going on the mantlepiece!
Although the race didn’t go to plan, I’m over the moon and can return to chilly Norfolk proud. It’s easy to question whether running Marriott’s Way Trail Marathon a week before was a bad idea, maybe the legs would have held out. Maybe so!
Or, whether I should I have stuck with/behind the 2.45 group. In all honesty, I don’t think this would have helped. The pace for those first 12 miles (about 6.10/mile) was comfortable, on fresh legs a sub 2.45 is hopefully possible. Never know, might even come back to Seville next year for some unfinished business (and more Estrella!)