Sunday, 26th April 2020.
This day was meant to be different for so many people. Thousands of us would be congregated on the Marbella coast before sunrise, preparing our transition areas for the IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella 2020.
Instead, the world is on lockdown and all races have been postponed or cancelled. At the moment, my first race of the season is in September, when my racing season would normally be finishing! The 70.3 has been moved to October, the European Champs has been postponed until an unknown date and I've just been told the World Champs won't be happening in 2020 at all.
But I can't complain. Even though it is frustrating for so many of us, with hotels and flights already booked and paid for, I know that it is the best decision for us.
With my mum working in the NHS and my dad a Firefighter, I know that this lockdown is needed to keep them and us safe.
This lockdown has also given me a few extra months to get over the ankle injury I have been battling with since November. I have just been able to introduce some running into my training again, so I guess having the 70.3 pushed back to October is a blessing as I can't imagine the half marathon going well on no run training!
My days, the same for many people, now consists of working from home, using the new gym in my garden and enjoying the beautiful weather we are having in England. I try to get out on my bike as much as I can, there are only so many times I can use my turbo without getting bored! Today's ride was just like all the others recently: quiet, sunny and windy. Living my the sea is really nice, until you have to cycle into a headwind and struggling to go faster than 12mph!
I just want to say a huge thank you to my sponsors for continuing to support me through these times. Hopefully it won't be too long until I can wear the GB colours again and finish this year off on a high!
If you’d asked me this a year ago, I would have said, ‘I have no idea’. To be totally honest, I didn’t really know what CrossFit was until my mum joined her local box (apparently, it’s not called a gym!? I’m still learning about the CrossFit world!) and was instantly glued to the sport.
For me, it was September 2019, so the end of what felt like a very long season. It was also the start of the dreaded winter season, when the training turns from the short and fast sessions you get used to in the summer, to the long, boring sessions of winter!
It was the perfect time to try something new and change my training up a bit. My mum was so settled and happy at her box, and she had finally found a hobby that she loved that I didn’t want to intrude by joining the same place as her, so I found another local CrossFit box, that was close enough to the train station to get to work in the mornings.
It took a bit of time juggling my training to fit in the extra sessions, but I have found a routine that I enjoy.
I didn’t realise how weak my upper body was until I started CrossFit – who knew lifting some weights above your head was so hard! Any workout that involved my upper body has always left me feeling like I’d done 1000 press-ups (some workouts weren’t far from that!) and I’d struggle lifting my arms out of the water in my next swimming session.
It wasn’t until recently I realised how much stronger I am. Since my shoulder operation I have had limited movement and strength in my upper body, but I didn’t think it was affecting me as much as it was.
One of my swimming sessions a few weeks ago was a set of 100m’s sprint, with a pull buoy. For those that don’t know, a pull buoy is a float you put in between your legs to keep your lower body afloat, so you don’t have to kick your legs and is usually used to strengthen the upper body. I was managing to consistently stay at 1 minute 19 seconds for these 100m’s – for comparison, I was doing the same set without a pull buoy (so I had the added benefit of kicking) and holding 1 minutes 23 seconds at the end of last season!
Within half a year, I have been able to hold a faster time with a pull buoy than I was without! I’m now really interested to see what I can do without a pull buoy! Maybe I could finally get to my old personal best of 1 minute 7 seconds!
I can’t definitively say that it is all down to CrossFit, as my other training over the winter has pushed me to be stronger, but I can’t deny that since starting this new hobby, my swimming has finally started to feel like it is getting back to how it used to be.
So, should triathletes do CrossFit? I do not have the answer for that on behalf of every triathlete, but for this triathlete the answer is definitely a resounding YES.
There are a couple of reasons why I’m happy today:
1) it’s nearly Christmas, and
2) I just ordered by Team Zoot 2020 kit!
There aren’t many triathletes that don’t know the triathlon-specific apparel brand Zoot Sports, and for good reason.
Zoot Sports was founded in Hawaii in 1983 after the success of the Ironman World Triathlon Championships and the start of what would be an obsession for many international triathletes crazy enough to race that distance. So, this brand is rooted in the heart of triathlon and has been for many years.
Now, having moved to California and expanded worldwide, Zoot Sports brings together passionate athletes from all over the world to compete in Team Zoot. I have been lucky enough to be racing with them this season, and I’m so happy to be competing with my fellow Zoot athletes again next year.
It’s amazing when you turn up to a competition where you aren’t expecting to know anyone, yet just wearing the team kit draws the attention of strangers in identical trisuits to your own – those strangers instantly become team mates who high-five you when you pass each other on the course, or call out (a somewhat comprehensible) “keep going” to you when you’re feeling knackered on the bike or run!
I’m really looking forward to next year’s season, especially my first 70.3 in Marbella in April, and I can't wait to put on the brilliantly-bright colours of the Team Zoot 2020 kit as well as sliding back into my Great Britain uniform for the European and World Championships 2020!
It's going to be a busy season next year, but any other way is boring, right!?
Social media has received a lot of negative attention in recent years, but it isn’t all bad. One of the amazing things it can do is connect total strangers.
Only a month ago, Michael and I were total strangers who happened to live in the same area. Although we had never crossed paths in person, a Facebook page dedicated to our local town (does anyone else have these!?) connected us.
It started with a streak of angry posts from the members about a group of kids who were going around on bikes and causing problems at the local shops, schools and high street. I know, not a great way to start!
It got to the point where every post was negative, and that just didn’t sit well with a few people! They suggested posting some happy and inspiring stories onto the page, either from local people or something they had seen on Facebook/the news. My mum thought it would be good to show that not all cyclists were as disrespectful as these kids, so uploaded a short introduction to me and my life in Triathlon to join the other amazing stories that people were posting.
Michael Hayes, owner and director of Railscape, noticed my mum’s post and got in contact with me. He was interested to find out more about Triathlons and if he could help in any way.
Michael will probably agree with me on this, he loves to ask questions! But I was more than happy to answer any he had, as he was generally interested to find out more about my time in this sport – it also helps that as soon as you get me talking about sports, I cannot stop!
So a little post on a local Facebook page has led to this blog, introducing my newest sponsor, Railscape!
Railscape is one of the top 3 vegetation specialist contractors to Network Rail in the UK, along with facility maintenance, waste management and minor building work services across Great Britain as well as the Eurotunnel and High Speed 1.
I remember saying to Michael at the end of our meeting that I wish there was another word for thank you, as their help deserves a lot more than such a small phrase. Put simply, they have just taken a huge weight off my shoulders for next year’s season of racing and training.
To Michael and the team at Railscape, I cannot wait to make you all proud and show that your faith in me wasn’t misplaced!
With this cold that I have been harbouring for the last week and a half finally gone, it’s time to get back to the proper training and get ready for the 2020 season!
Make sure to follow my progress and training leading up to next year on my Instagram: @kieratippett
How many of you actually take a break at the end of a season, whether that’s from triathlon, athletics, football or any other sport? I don’t mean cutting the amount of sessions down, I mean a no training, no exercise break?
Not many, I imagine?
And how many of you think taking a break will ‘put you back in your training’ or will show a lack of commitment?
Taking a short hiatus from your sport has more benefits than you expect, not just for your body but for your mind.
For the body:
Let’s do a bit of maths for this part: say you do roughly 15 hours of training a week. With the 52 weeks in the year, that is 780 hours of training per year, with quite a lot of that being high intensity training. Add on a few races (we’ll use an Olympic distance triathlon for this example, as that is what I know), that will be another 12(ish) hours, which will take you to 792 hours a year.
Now, you may be thinking that it isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but now add on the rushing around you do for your job, shopping, social trips, cleaning the house, cooking, looking after the kids etc., and you’ll soon realise how much stress you put your body under.
Taking a break from exercise will give your body that little extra rest it needs to repair from the racing season and get ready for the next block of training. Yes, you will probably lose a bit of fitness in that time and going back to training after will feel tough, but it’s better than the alternative option of pushing on in order to keep your fitness up and risk an overuse injury at an unsuitable time, like at the beginning of the next season.
For the mind:
People often forget about this part. Your brain has to work just as hard, maybe even harder, than your body. It is constantly working; processing new information, sending electrical impulses down your body in order to move, forming memories, and that’s only scratching the surface on what it does.
Another obstacle it has to deal with is stress. Stress can come in any form and I hate to say it, but sport is one of them. Most age group/amateur athletes will know what I mean when I say juggling a full-time job and training/competing is stressful. You’re constantly thinking about the flights and accommodation you have to pay for, the new kit you need to replace the old stuff, how you’re going to fit your training sessions in around your 9-5 job, and probably the biggest one, that next ‘big race’.
Taking a break at the end of the season will give your mind the rest it needs from sport. It won’t get rid of all of your stress, but it is one less thing to think about for a while.
Trust me, you’ll appreciate it.
However, I know how hard it can be for an athlete to not do any sport. I never used to take a break at the end of a season, yet I always wondered why I was getting injured in the winter training block.
But you don’t have to sit around and do nothing. Go on that day trip to the zoo that your kids really wanted to do or relax on a spa day with some friends. Try something totally random, like zip-lining or bungee jumping, or just simply put your feet up and enjoy a nice quiet night in watching a film with the family.
Whatever it is that helps you to relax, do it.
And then get back out there with renewed eagerness, ready to get started again!
A few months ago, I wrote about how the European Championships was ‘possibly the hardest race I have ever done’. I would like to take that back, because I can now easily say that the World Triathlon Championships in Lausanne last week takes that title!
Firstly, let me just say that Lausanne and its surrounding areas are beautiful, and I would definitely go back again for a holiday. However, I might skip that trip if it is for another race!
I was warned about how hilly Switzerland is, but I wasn’t prepared for it to be so in the city centre – I thought that the undulating terrain would be restricted to the quiet countryside, not right outside the hotel’s front door!
In the short-course (the shorter Sprint and Standard distance triathlons, not the IRONMAN distances) triathlon world, the World Championship events are deemed as the biggest event of the year, or the Grand Final, where triathletes from all over the world compete for the World Champion title. For the elites, it is the final race of the year in the World Triathlon Series, where the athlete who has accumulated the highest amount of points across the multiple events staged all over the world during the year, is crowned as the World Champion.
So you can probably tell that this event is huge, and normally takes over the city that it is hosted in. You can’t walk 5 minutes without seeing another anxious-but-excited athlete wondering around. But that’s what I love about these events; I get to meet with friends I haven’t seen since last year’s World Championships, and also meet new friends from all over the world.
However, the sheer magnitude of this event can also leave you feeling overwhelmed and, like I was in the days leading up to the competition, a nervous-wreck! Watching the normally quiet city being turned into the triathlon-hub of the world can be a bit too much sometimes, so it is nice to get away from it all for a little while and relax. This year, that came in the form of a day trip to Thonon-Les-Baines, a small French town on the other side of Lake Geneva. It was so peaceful and oblivious to the transformation Lausanne was undergoing on the other side of the lake, it was a perfect day to relax and momentarily forget about the race.
I couldn’t stay away from it for too long though. All-too-quickly, it was race day. This one felt different to the others, probably because everyone was nervously anticipating the tough course we were about to race on.
At the unearthly hour of 4am, my alarm woke me up to race day. Setting up transition with my bike, helmet, nutrition (energy drink and snacks for on the bike) and running shoes in the dark isn’t something I have done very often, but that’s just a part of triathlon: you never know what’s going to happen, but you just get on with it!
With the unusually warm weather Lausanne had experienced for the days leading up to the competition (around 29 degrees Celsius), the swim was deemed a non-wetsuit swim. If the water temperature goes above 22 degrees Celsius (for races up to 1500m of swimming, which is what my event is), we are not allowed to wear wetsuits for safety reasons (chance of over heating in the wetsuit if it is too hot).
After a very choppy swim – which is weird, how did a lake have waves!? – it was time for the dreaded bike course. I had cycled around the bike course a few days before, so I wasn’t surprised when I arrived at the hills. But there is something totally different about racing on them than training on them! The first hill was within a mile from the start of the bike course, so not much time to get the legs moving on the bike. And it was mostly uphill from there!
I’m not bad at uphill climbs, but I’m also not brilliant at them. But I am quite happy with how I paced the cycle section of this triathlon, enough that I still had some energy in the legs for the equally-hilly run course.
I would say the run was the part of the race that I was most nervous for. I’m not ashamed to say that my running hasn’t been brilliant this year – mostly, its been ‘just get around the course’. When Kris Whitmarsh, my coach, realised this earlier on in the year, he factored in a weekly track session with the ‘fast boys’ into my training schedule. After I was left lying on the floor from exhaustion after the first session, cursing Kris for putting these sessions into my training plan, I was adamant I wasn’t going to do it again. I mean, these guys are running 16 minutes for a 5k, a time that I am NOWHERE near!
But he told me to persevere with it, that I would eventually get used to it. So the following week, and several weeks after that, I reluctantly dragged myself to the track on a Tuesday night.
And I actually started to enjoy it! (Shhh, don’t tell Kris that!)
I didn’t realise how much it had helped until this race. No, I didn’t get a PB run split for this race (I would be surprised, and suspicious, if anyone did!), but I felt good during the run. This is probably the point where non-triathletes say, ‘what do you mean you felt good, how can you ever feel good running!?’ but ask any athlete this and they’ll know exactly what I mean. Sometimes you just feel confident and strong on a run, even if it doesn’t result in a best performance. That’s how I felt on this run – the hills were tough, with 20% inclines on a big portion of the course, but I got up them. And on the flat sections, I felt like I was running at a good pace. I even had enough for a sprint finish at the end!
Going up to a new age group and racing against athletes four years older than me has been hard, but I expected nothing less from the best triathletes in the world. And I am so proud to say that I am 34th in the World!
Let’s be honest, some people will look at this placing, compare it to my achievements from last year and think ‘well that’s not very good’. But these girls are serious – many of them have performed well in elite races before this race, and many have a lot of extra training time than I do (some are lucky enough to train full-time!). So, to say I am amongst the 35 best triathletes in the 20-24 age group IN THE WORLD is a privilege, no matter what other people think!
I am now back to reality (aka back to work!) and on my two weeks break before getting back into training in preparation for my first IRONMAN 70.3 race in April next year, as well as the European Championships in Estonia and the World Championships in Canada. A busy and expensive year coming up, so time to rest, recover and start saving the pennies for next year!
As the Swiss would say in Lausanne, au revoir!
noun: serious thought about one's character and actions.
Not many people take the time to do this. I will admit, I’m one of those people. I wake up, train, get to work, and then it’s suddenly 5pm and I’m on my way home to do some more training. And then repeat the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the training – this isn’t a blog to complain about how cyclical my life is at the moment! Instead, this is a blog about how I’m getting out of that endless cycle of train, work, eat, sleep, repeat!
I recently competed in the European Triathlon Championships 2020 Qualifiers. The 7 hours of driving it took to get there gave me a lot of time to listen to good music, mindlessly scroll through social media and angrily moan from the passenger seat at the people who were sitting in the middle lane going slower than I could cycle (seriously if this is you, please just MOVE OVER!)
It was a fantastic race - barring the fact that it was an evening race - and the volunteer marshals were nothing but welcoming and encouraging, even after spending the whole day setting up and then directing the competitors.
I came away first in my age group and a ticket to the European Triathlon Championships 2020!
It wasn’t until I got back in the car for a long drive home that I realised this season is almost over. I am now down to my last two races of the year: the World Triathlon Championships in August and the National Aquathlon Championships in September. Then I’m done. Just like that, I’m back to the long winter training sessions and having to put at least three layers of clothing on for each session.
Self-reflection. Nothing like a long drive home and a realisation of the speed this year has gone for you to look back at what you have achieved.
My sporting endeavours have again surprised me this year – going into a new age group, I had no idea what to expect from myself or the other people I would race against. But I managed to hold my own this year and can only say I will be better and stronger for next year!
But outside of sport, I haven’t done anything to progress myself as a person. I have been stuck in a cycle, without even realising it.
I heard a quote a little while ago: “You need to live a better day tomorrow. You need to live a day worth writing about”. Now, quotes don’t usually have a big effect on me; where people feel inspired by them, I normally just see words strung together in a sentence.
But this one stuck with me. It made me think, what had I done that is worth writing about outside of sports? If I was told to write every day of this year in a book, what would I fill it with?
I came up blank, and that frustrated me.
So, I’ve done something that I had probably, subconsciously, known was the right thing for me for a while: I’ve started my Level 4 Gym Instructor and Personal Trainer course!
Over the next few months, I will qualify in:
I know, throwing myself in the deep end with this one! But why start small when I had the opportunity to do it all at once!
Not only is this going to help my future clients, but it is also going to help me. There’s no limit to the amount of knowledge one can acquire, and when your main hobby consists of not one but three sports, there is a lot to learn and improve on!
I am really looking forward to starting my studying and getting my qualification. I will be showing my progress, as well as my sporting journey, on my Instagram: @kieratippett.
Self-reflection. A small task that produces some amazing realisations!
What are you filling your life-book with?
Two races in two weekends!
Now that all the travelling and racing is done - for now at least - I can finally write these blogs.
The first race was the European Triathlon Championships in Holland.
Moving up to a new age group is more daunting than I thought it would be, as I had no idea what to expect from myself or my competitors. Added with the stress of a confusing course (which this most definitely was), it’s fair to say that in the run up to the race I was a bundle of nerves!
We arrived on the Tuesday afternoon, four days before the race. It was weird to see the whole event being built from the ground up on the Wednesday, as I normally get there during the preparations. In a way, this made me more nervous – it was all becoming so real!
I had never done a triathlon that had a split transition before, so it took a lot for me to understand how they were both connected and the amount of time I had to leave myself before the start of the race. Added to the fact was that I had to cycle between the two transition – which were 7k apart – as there were no buses running due to roads being shut. Timing was crucial.
Once everything was set up and I had made my way to the swim start, it was an anxious 20-minute wait before we were called up.
I was the first wave to go off with a run-in beach start (running into the water when the start horn goes off, instead of already being in the water). I’ve always liked those starts, so I managed to stay away from the carnage of people diving on top of each other behind me and got into the front/middle pack.
My swim, as predicted, wasn’t the best in the group but enough to keep me in the middle of the rankings (not that I knew that at the time, I don’t find out all of this until after the race!).
from exhaustion and heat stroke. It didn’t help that the water at the aid stations on the run were made up of plastic bladders that were impossible to open whilst running! I think I must have only had one sip of water during the whole 10k run, and I was lucky to get that much. I know quite a few people that didn’t get any water during the run, and unfortunately that was reflected in most people’s run times.
All triathletes will say how happy they are to see a finish line, but I would have cried happy tears if I hadn’t been so exhausted! That had to have been the hardest run at the end of a triathlon that I had ever experienced. There’re not many times when I feel like I can’t carry on, but I must admit that there were a few of those moments during that run. But the spectators, and especially my parents running around cheering me on, made me pick myself up & continue – after all, I hadn’t gone all the way to Holland just to give up!
I managed to place 8th in Europe from that race, which I am over the moon about! It was a lot higher than I had initially expected due to most of the other competitors being 4 years older than me and even higher than I would have thought with my run being so bad!
There are quite a few things to work on, but with the World Champs not taking place until the end of August, I am confident that with Kris’ help, I’ll get there!
Look out for my next blog about the roller-coaster of a race that was the British Triathlon Championships in Leeds!
What a roller-coaster of emotions at this year's World Aquathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain!
An Aquathlon, for the people that don't know, is quite similar to a Triathlon in that it is a continuous race but without the bike section. So obviously, this should have made the travel over to Spain a lot easier without the bike.
Notice that I said should - of course, nothing ever goes smoothly for the Tippett family! In order to get to Pontevedra, we had to fly into Porto, Portugal and drive the 2 hours up into Spain. Taking into account the time we would land, the distance we would have to travel and the race registration deadline of Wednesday night at 6pm, we booked our flight for 9am on Wednesday morning.
Anyone who lives in the UK near the M25 will know the mayhem that happens between 6am and 10am for rush-hour. I should have remembered that this would cause a problem, as I work in London and have to commute in the rush-hour every day. Long story short, we RAN through Gatwick airport to catch our flight in time, which isn't fun if you really need to go to the toilet!
Once we were safely onboard our flight (and finally had the chance to go to the bathroom!), we had time to relax. We were even able to stay relaxed when trying to figure out what the Spanish signs were saying on the roads (I can speak a little bit of Spanish, so it wasn't too bad). It wasn't until we got to the Portuguese-Spanish border at 2pm that we realised there was an hour time difference between Porto and Pontevedra, so what was 2pm was now actually 3pm. We still had another hour and half to drive, find the destination and somewhere the park, find registration and get checked in - all before registration shuts at 6pm! To say we were stressed was an understatement!
Obviously we made it in time, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this blog! With my registration kit in one hand and a complimentary World Champs bag in the other (which was a very nice surprise, as we normally just receive a complimentary food voucher to the Pasta Party!), I made my way to the competition area. Situated beside the Lérez river - where I would be swimming the next day - was the transition area and run section. Each athlete's transition area was labelled with their name, country and race number. I had two fellow Brits next to me and a USA athlete opposite me.
I normally get to the country where I am racing a couple of days before, so arriving the day before the race was a little weird for me. But what was even weirder was the fact that my race wasn't until 4:30pm then next day.
I'm used to rising before the sun to get myself ready, and finishing my race before some people have even got out of bed! The waiting around is the worst part - once you have set your equipment up in transition (which was only my running trainers and sunglasses for this race), you are just counting down the minutes until the start.
Finally, it was time to start. I had heard that the water was extremely cold, and as I still cannot wear a full-arm wetsuit due to the restriction of movement post-shoulder operation, I wasn't looking forward to getting in! But with the amount of people in the water (I want to say about 100 people in my wave alone) and the inevitable craziness after the start horn, the cold was quickly forgotten. The swim was a one loop, 1km course with the current against us on the way out and with us on the way back.
At the end of the swim was a pontoon and flight of stairs to reach the transition area, and while everyone managed to pull themselves up and start running towards transition, I - in the true ever-graceful fashion - managed to miss the first step and fall flat on my face. I'm sure someone out there has a picture, and I would really appreciate it if they could just delete that embarrassing moment from their camera and pretend it never happened!
Once I had regained my footing (and my dignity!), I ran into transition whilst trying to undo my wetsuit zip which is very hard with numb hands! I placed my hat, goggles and wetsuit in the box provided and made sure it was ALL inside the box (you can be disqualified if the officials find your wetsuit outside of the box, even if it is just a part of it).
With one of the fastest transition times in my age group, I was then onto the 5k run. The simple two loop, out-and-back course was swarming with people from the previous waves by the time I started, but I love those races. There is nothing worse than running on a quiet course where there are too many options to over-think!
By this time the air temperature was a balmy 25 degrees Celsius, something us Brits are not used to! Many cups of water were consumed and even more thrown over my head to cool me down. My mum was near the turn around point, and both times I went past her, she would shout out messages she had received from my coach, who was watching my split times back in the UK.
At this point, I had no idea where I was in relation to the rest of my age group so I just had to do the best I could. The heat was quite draining, but I felt good coming up to the last turn around point. With less than 1000m to the finish, I knew I had to pick up my speed.
My mum and fellow teammate, Charlotte (she was racing in the Aquabike two days later) were waiting for me outside the recovery area. We found a nice shaded area and I was able to look at my results for the first time.
As I was the youngest in my new age group most of the girls I was racing were nearly 4yrs older than me so I had no idea what to expect.
When I saw that I had come 5th in the World, I was so happy!
Even though I hadn't had the best swim, I was happy with the rest of the race and kind of shocked that I had managed to get 5th place in the next age group even without my favourite bike discipline. And I was even happier to see that I was just 58 seconds off 2nd place.
Obviously I was very happy and after about 45 minutes of cooling down in the shaded area and chatting, I made my way to transition to collect my equipment from my transition box.
As all of the boxes looked the same, I thought I had walked past my own numbered box as there was no wetsuit in it. However, when I went back I knew it was my box as my hat and goggles were In the bottom.
All of the Brit's equipment was still in their boxes, meaning they had yet to collect their things, however the USA athlete's equipment was gone along with both mine and her name place cards which were attached to one anothers on the bar above our boxes. I did wonder why she had taken my name place as well and whether it was anything to do with my missing wetsuit.
It really dampened down the joy of coming 5th and as I walked around I found myself quietly checking everyone accusingly and looking into any open bags along the way.
It was another 5 hours before I heard anything about my wetsuit. when I received a call from a mobile number saying they were sorry they had picked up my wetsuit 'accidentally' and had left it in the reception of the Team GB hotel. It was the USA athlete who was opposite me in transition and whom I had chatted to before the race.
I am not sure quite how or why my wetsuit was picked up from a completely separate box, however I am Thankful to have my wetsuit back as with the European champs in less than a month, it would have been one more thing to worry about if I had to find and buy a new wetsuit (those things are not cheap!)
There you have it, the roller-coaster of emotions that was the World Aquathlon Championships.
I am so happy to have come away with a 5th place in my first race in this age group, and looking forward to acting on the game-plan Kris and I have in the run up to the Europeans and the rest of this season!
This blog is a little late, but better late than never, right?!
A couple of weekends ago, Kris and I made the trip to Arras, France, for the Team Zoot Europe training weekend. From following a few of them on Instagram, I was looking forward to finally being able to train with them. So, Kris and I packed our bikes and bags into the back of his car and hit the road on Friday morning.
The drive down to Arras, France, wasn't too bad. I have to say though, do the French just walk everywhere?! There were basically NO CARS on the roads when we got to France! Even though the longest part of the trip was in France, it took us longer to get to the Eurotunnel from home than it did the French section!
Anyway, back to the story. Many of you may know who Zoot are, but some of you may not. Let me just clarify, as I have had a few people ask me: Zoot Sport is the name of a sports apparel company that was started in Hawaii, the birthplace of the Ironman Triathlon – it IS NOT the other meaning of the word, if you know what I mean!
The first day was mainly for people to settle in and get ready for the weekend. As our team, Whitty’s Sport Therapy, is new to Team Zoot this year whereas some people were returning members, it meant we had some catching up to do. Quite a few people already knew each other, so it was nice to see that they have remained friends and team mates even when they are in different countries!
The first night was a team bowling evening – you can imagine how that turned out with 50+ competitive triathletes competing in a couple of games of bowling! Turns out that I chose the right sport, as I am shockingly bad at bowling, however I think Kris has found his new calling in life!
Saturday was the main day of training. After a nice, very-French breakfast consisting of cereal, croissant and bread, it was straight down to the pool for a 3 hour session. I know, that may sound like a lot, but it was split into 3 x 1 hour sessions, taken by Ameo Powerbreather, Masters Of Tri (both partners of Zoot Sport) and Zoot.
The only way I can explain the Ameo Powerbreather is a swimming snorkel that makes you look like an alien with horns! Unlike a normal snorkel where the inhale and exhale of breath is in the same tube, this is a one-way system, meaning you are always getting fresh air. It was weird to use for me, as I am so used to breathing during a length that I kept forgetting I didn’t have to!
Martin and Matt from Masters Of Tri (an online and face-to-face coaching team based in Spain, with regular training camps near Alicante) showed us the importance of the push-back phase during a swim stroke. Being a club swimmer since I was 5 and then with the added weirdness of my stroke post-operation, it’s fair to say that I didn’t find it easy to concentrate on this. However, they were very patient with all of us and understood that it couldn’t be changed in just one session.
The final part of the swim session was from Zoot Sports themselves. This was a chance to try on some of their new swim wear. Some of you may have realised that for the entirety of last season, I wore a wetsuit with no sleeves. This was a result of my limited shoulder mobility after my operation – I literally couldn’t get my arm out of the water if I had a full-sleeve wetsuit on!
However, when I tried the Zoot wetsuit on, I was able to swim partially normally! Although I will probably still have to stick with the sleeveless wetsuit (as I still don’t have full movement in my shoulder), I am hoping I will be able to use one of these wetsuits in the future.
After lunch (which consisted of even more bread!) and a short break, we were onto one of the hardest sessions of the weekend. Many people didn’t bring their bikes with them as it was predicted to be bad weather, just like the UK. However, I am so glad I did! The group of people we cycled with were amazingly good, so we had our work cut out (especially on the uphill sections – I felt like I was in the Tour de France on some of them, these things were like mountains that never ended!) At the tops of these hills/mountains were multiple different war memorials with breath-taking views of the country below. We would stop and admire the beauty of the place and pay our respects to the many people whose names were carved into the memorials. I wish I had taken my camera with me in order to capture some of these places, but here are a couple of photos Kris got:
Once we were back at the hotel, it was time for the session with the Professional Sports Recovery guys. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to use their equipment on Saturday (as we had a team meal that night – well deserved pizza for everyone!), but I did on Sunday and let me tell you, it works! I got to try the full legs suit, which surrounds all your lower body. Once connected to a small machine, air is blown into 12 different chambers of the suit, starting from your toes all the way up to your lower back. This is to get the lymphatic system moving, and basically get the crap from a hard training session out of your legs! It is a surprisingly nice feeling, it’s not too tight on your legs and the machine makes hardly any noise. A few people fell asleep whilst testing this out!
Like I said, I was able to use this equipment on Sunday morning, but not before the team run. Again, the guys I ran with were really good which meant for quite a fast 10k run, but being amongst other triathletes for a few days gives you that extra little bit of motivation to push more and more with every session.
Overall, this weekend was amazing (except the 3 hour delays at the Eurotunnel on the way home, but we won’t talk about that!), and I cannot wait until I am able to go to another one.
I was able to test the new, custom-made Team Zoot kit yesterday at the London Fields Aquathlon. It was my first race of the season, just to get me back in the competing mindset. The trisuit is AMAZING and so comfortable, I can’t believe I’ve never used a sleeved trisuit before!
The race was good, not my best but I wasn’t expecting that at the beginning of the season. There is definitely room for improvement, but I am happy with my times and taking 5th female overall.
I think I need that recovery suit again!