I raced two weeks ago at the World Champs Long Distance in Spain. It was quite frankly a brutal affair, I ended up 20th in the world in my age group and it was the hardest start line I have ever made. There were several reasons for this but a big bike dilemma right up until the day of departure on a hilly course certainly didn’t help. I was quite unsettled otherwise and the best I could do was to give myself 3 jobs: get on the plane, get to the start line and then a finish line. All that said, as ever, I had a great time racing for my country. It’s also helpful to remember that this isn’t just finishing Ironman’s (my original dream) but actually being selected and racing for Great Britain. For what its worth I think perhaps that affords some Great Bragging Rights (GBR). On the day the swim was massively shortened which cut one of my biggest advantages and my cycling wasn’t the best, but overall it wasn’t bad for an early season race. I did however come home very sore which is unusual for me and had a mega cut on my neck that was showing signs of infection. How. That. Hurt.
I knew I had to get things right to be on a start line again in just two weeks at Outlaw Half today (19th May). I am not sure I have had to manage such a short turn around before. The first couple of days I settled into sweet spot training on my Wattbike and was still pretty sore. And then suddenly, boom, by day 3 the legs came back with a bounce. At the end of that week I was sleeping at 37BPM and feeling in the form of my life. I basically reversed tapered from the race in the first week, put in over 8 hours effort last weekend and then this week I have had to taper again to race today. It’s been hard and I’ve had to really work at it, but I’ve been patient and have taken tapering to a new obsessive level. I shall be doing it again, I have truly loved watching my body prepare to race better. I’ve obviously always tapered as a triathlete but I’ve paid extra attention to sleep, carb loading at the right time, keeping off big gears on the bike, massaged the hell out of myself, managed foot pain and religiously taken vitamin C. I also had to do serious work on the neck wound.
So today was Outlaw half. It started hairy, there was an accident en route from Leicester to Nottingham at 4am! Got re-routed and then ended up parking a mile away from transition and where I needed to be to race. I literally ran to rack my bike and made it at 5.58am with the deadline to be in transition being 6am. With such shenanigans, I then found the remainder of my breakfast (neglected in my hour of need) in my pocket about ten minutes before the start. It obviously had to be binned without further consumption. All went better after that.
The swim was very solid, it wasn’t a sub 30 minute as I hoped but I was still 11th out of the entire female field and felt good. It was my last swim in this wetsuit, named “Smelly Skelly” by my Mum. It’s the only wetsuit I have ever owned and it has some fantastic memories: my first open water swim, my first Ironman, my first GB start and some less favourable moments (for later!). I am proud to say I have peed in him at least once in every single triathlon I have done (around 20).
I’m still getting used to my full TT setup on my new bike but 19mph average without foot pain worked for me. I said pre-race that I would get that bike home through 56 miles and home in under 3 hours. And so I did. It was perhaps the first time I feel I have done myself justice properly in a triathlon on a bike. The huge numbers I see in my training 6 days a week finally came out to race.
The run wasn’t the fastest, but I wasn’t in too much pain and didn’t need to do my run/walk show. Put together these things left me in 11th place in my Age Group and within 115% of the winner which is needed to keep my GB places at World and European level. I’m delighted with the result. Outlaw Half to my mind is one of the most competitive half ironman distance events in the UK. This is the very last race I would have fancied my chances of qualifying at this season. I have always been a better full Iron distance athlete but I now hold qualifying times at both distances and I’m looking forward to making myself the very best Middle Distance triathlete I can.
I don’t expect too much repair work needed after today as I have already been up to 80% of full Ironman training this year and have the miles and legs. Next is Holkham Outlaw half in early July. I’m now ready to build up some big volume again and heading to Tenerife for a week of Charlie’s training camp soon.
Bring on wetsuit “Smelly Skelly 2”.