Another weekend...more Triathlons!
Last weekend we had not one but 3 Totton members competing in Triathlons! Esther Wiley headed to Rutland Water, Leicestershire to take part in The Vitruvian Middle Distance Triathlon. Jo Haley travelled to Well-am-see, Austria to complete the Ironman 70.3 World Championshps and Paul Bullen stayed local and did the Southampton Triathlon. Esther and Jo have kindly written a report of their events for us all to read and be inspired! Girl power at its best!
The Vitruvian Middle Distance Triathlon
Last weekend I completed this event for the second time – last time I did it was in 2009 after a year of a lot of bike miles/training camps and attention to training carefully for the distance….and before I had kids to ensure that the sleep aspect of training no longer gets the hours it requires!
Prior to the event, I felt I’d done a good few long rides, but could’ve done more, not quite enough long runs, and nowhere near enough swimming this time round (not that you ever feel like you’ve done enough training for longer events anyway!)
Driving to the venue, Rutland Water, a lake near my parents’ home where I spent many happy hours as a kid cycling, walking or playing, the full moon over the lake made for a spectacular, yet not overly inviting scene. Still, I had another hour until I had to get in the lake at 0615!
Onto the bike, and early on there were a couple of hills – not too aggressive but enough to make my cold legs complain! The second half of the loop (which you went round twice) made for good fast times, overall I finished the 53ish miles in under 2h 47, slightly quicker than 2009. However, I think I made a fundamental mistake on the bike of not eating or drinking nearly enough – I felt okay coming off the bike, but after 4 miles of 7.30 minute miling on the run, my pace dropped and I felt empty and struggled! I walked here and there – it felt like I walked loads, and spent the whole run wishing it was over, but I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised to see in the results that I actually finished the 13.1 mile run leg within 1h 47. That was about 3 minutes slower than in 2009, but I had felt great throughout the run that year, to the extent I managed a sprint finish, and had taken on a lot more fuel on the bike! However, I also think that the many miles and back to back rides I did back then made the run a lot easier too.
My overall time was within 1 minute of my 2009 time, which I was absolutely delighted with; furthermore, on checking the results, I placed 3rd in my age group out of 30, and 18th lady overall (out of 140) so felt like I’d done a pretty respectable job really…but could definitely improve my time by paying attention to nutrition alone, let alone more training!
The swim was a nice one, although the beginning was more of a “washing machine” than I’ve experienced before - we had a standing start in the water and once everyone started to swim, we were all bundled up together and kicking and weaving made for a slow and anxious start, but once we spread out a bit it was lovely – the lake is clean, the view pretty and the sun came out too. I almost fell on my backside at the point where we had to exit and re-enter the lake, but managed not to somehow! I came out of the swim in 38.20, slightly slower than 2009’s time, but quicker than I thought given the lack of swim training!
Ironman 70.3 World Championshps
I’d like to start this review by saying that my race didn’t go well and at the time I was gutted. However, on reflection, I’m actually ok about it. After all, my goal this season was to qualify and race at the 70.3 Worlds (primarily because it’s the first time it’s been in Europe and, therefore , the first time it’s been affordable to me) and I’ve succeeded in doing that and completed the race so, really, I should be pleased as punch!
Anyway, I qualified by winning my age group in Mallorca 70.3 in May. This was a bit of a surprise in all honesty – I was intending to use Mallorca as a warm up race then attempt to ‘kick-arse’ at Wimbleball in June as, being a skinny midget, hills are my strength. This turned out to be a blessing as I was ill in the lead up to Wimbleball and DNFed having pulled out after the swim feeling awful.
On paper, Zell-am-See was my sort of course – hot and with a big hill in the middle. Not at all dissimilar to Mallorca, in fact. This is how it went on the day....
Transition closed at 10:30am but my start time wasn’t until 11:54. It was total chaos is all I can say. For a World Championship race I think the organisers could have done better! We were segregated from our supporters (my boyfriend and parents had made the trip) so I found some shade and just chilled out for a bit. 10 minutes before our start time we were called and walked through to the edge of the lake. At this point I was very very excited. The feeling of being stood on the start line was just awesome and my adrenaline was pumping massively. The gun (and it was actually a gun) went off and I started swimming. I felt I got a pretty good start and didn’t get kicked too massively but, somehow, I ended up pushed very wide after the second turnaround buoy so undoubtedly swam rather further than would have been ideal. But other than that, the swim was uneventful and I exited the water looking forward to a bike course with a lovely big climb and descent in it....
Transition was a long one (longer than the ‘normal’ 70.3 the previous day) due to the large numbers of athletes and the racking being in a different place. I picked my bike up quite happily and started the run out. Just as I heard a marshall shout ‘bump’ my front wheel hit said bump and my aero bottle flew out, losing its lid and depositing itss contents all over the red carpet. Arse. So I stopped, re-assembled and carried on but it wasn’t the start to the bike I’d been hoping for – especially given I, ironically, struggle to get that bottle out of its holder usually and end up taking the whole assembly off the bike!
10 miles into the bike was the point I started to realise this wasn’t going to be my day, unfortunately. My gears which had had to be sorted by a race mechanic the day before after a seat fell on my rear mech (in the car – don’t ask ;)) worked up to that point and then decided they’d had enough leaving my with every gear in the big ring but only the easiest in the small ring without slipping and sliding all over the place. Also, my legs weren’t feeling like mine. It normally takes me 10 miles or so to get going (hence my preference for long distance) but the turbo just never kicked in. Where I felt invincible going up the climb in Mallorca, I felt like a weak useless puppy which, in combination with gear issues, meant my strength was no longer my strength. Upon summitting however, I still believed my other strength – technical descents – would gain me some places. It did but I was very frustrated that people who couldn’t descend also struggled to keep right for some reason! Nevermind, onwards and downwards!
I started to feel a bit at about the 60k mark. I didn’t worry too much – I thought it would pass and therefore was looking forward to getting on my feet and putting myself through hell. However, the hell part turned out to be accurate in a different way.
Running is my natural strength. It’s the thing I can do without training. However, I spent the whole 13 miles of this race just trying not to throw up. My boyfriend and parents got no acknowledgement whatsoever the first time I went past them (which I felt bad about) but had gathered myself together enough the second time to explain. Fortunately, I wasn’t actually sick but if I tried to pick up the pace the nausea just got worse so I ended up having to plod at a damage limitation speed – resulting in my fat my slowest 70.3 run split ever on a fairly straightforward course. And, to be honest, it’s that run that I was really gutted about – I knew I hadn’t even been able to push myself and therefore completely failed to do myself justice.
However, 2 good things have come from this race:1. I really want to compete at a World Champs again and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity and 2. I am determined to go back to Zell and show that course what I’m really made of!
52nd in age group
1394 overall (men and women)
Swim (1.9k) 32:34
Bike (90k) 2:56:45
Run (21.1k) 1:51:22
3rd in gender/age group
252 of 704 overall
Swim (1.9k) 38:20
Bike (85k) 2:46:15
Run (21k) 1:46:48