With this being my first International adult competition in the Triathlon world, I was expecting it to be hard both physically and mentally, but what I wasn't expecting was to come back as a European Silver Medallist!
To say I was nervous is an understatement! People always say that you shouldn't show your competitors that you are nervous, but I'm pretty sure they knew from the look on my face when I finally saw the whole competition area being put together!
The swim was situated in the marina next to the river, so luckily there was no current to pull me off course. However, I was already preoccupied with the distance of the swim to worry about the current; 1000m is the furthest I have swam in a multi--event sport before, so this was a real challenge for me. I didn't hit my target time that Perry had set me unfortunately, but it gave me the opportunity to realise that I need to improve on my open water swimming without a wetsuit. The swim out went well and I kept up with the top group, but the swim back into the marina seemed so much harder as my arms were aching from the pull of the wetsuit - I realised that I would have been better without it at this point. I came in just behind the front group, in a trio of swimmers. I didnt know where my other competitors were but I decided to make up the downfall on the run section.
However, before getting to transition I had a very wobbly pontoon to get out the river onto which sank with the weight of more than one person, then a long decking run and up the highest and steepest set of steps Ive ever seen - it was knackering just getting to the top of them let alone a further 100 metres run into transition.
My wetsuit came off really quickly and my total transition time was 50 seconds! Not bad - now for the 5k run.
The run was a simple out-and-back, 2-lap course along the river side, with the added bonus of the turn-around point being the Lindt Chocolate Museum (it was a real temptation whilst running!) We were protected by surrounding buildings, so there was no wind to run against, but it was still 23 degrees Celsius which made it very uncomfortable to run in and my asthma played up a bit.
At this point I didn't realise that I was in 2nd place until my mum started shouting excitedly. I couldn't see the girl in first place until she ran back the opposite way going into her 2nd lap. She was about a minute in front of me, but I could tell she was struggling.
By the time I was running into the finish line, she was only 11 seconds in front of me! Gutted - I just didnt have enough to catch her - still I'd caught up well. But being the youngest in my age group, I realised that the other athletes are a lot stronger and have a lot more experience than me, so all in all I think I did the best I could at the time... but next year I will be going or GOLD!
The finish line was very glamorous with a red carpet leading you over the finish line and a huge arch that you had to run under. And being cheered all the way in by all the GB supporters was a fantastic experience.
The only reason why I remember that part specifically is because it was the best feeling ever to run over that line knowing that I am a European Silver Medallist!!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors, Sovereign Play Equipment and Pedal Potential for helping me with the crucial funding to get there and to compete, and also to PAS for the important fuelling I needed during the race. Please see my link to my Sponsors and supporters above.
Also, a huge thank you to Perry, my coach, for DRIVING to Germany ( I know, he's crazy!) to support both me and Seb. He is an amazing coach and I have him to thank for talking me into going back into Triathlon. I wouldnt be a silver medalist if he hadn't seen my potential and convinced me to come back. And I am so glad that he did.
And well done Seb Garry for your great race in Germany too - 4th place in the European Champs and the youngest competitor by far in his group.
Now the hard work to get fit and ready for Chicago in September!!
Preparation for the Europeans has finally finished and I am packed and ready for the race! Now the nerves are kicking in, but I'm ready :D
Thanks to all my supporters: Sovereign, Pedal Potential and PAS, and to my coach Perry and Squad Dezire. Fingers crossed for a good race and hope my hamstring holds up!
Seeing as though I haven't done a 3000m track race (7 1/2 laps around the track) in a while, I thought I would give it a shot.
I thought, 'hey, I do a 5k at the end of a bike and swim in the Triathlon, this will be easy!' Man was I wrong!
I felt good in the first 4 1/2 laps and when I realised that the other girls were drafting me the whole time, I felt that had to change that. I managed to pull away with around 100 metres lead when I crossed the line in 1st place!
I am now the Essex School's 3000m Champion!:)
Having had a Retul bike fit several years ago on a previous bike I knew that they werent cheap but having got sponsorship financial help from Pedal Potential @pedalpotential I decided that it would assist me and my future races to use some of it to have a Retul bike fit.
However, what I wasnt prepared for was how many adjustments had to be made to my bike this time round.
I knew that my aches and pains far exceeded previous bike riding training, but my training has increased so I expected to be aching more.
Having a physiotherapist as a bike fitter is such a sensible option as they can 'fit' the bike specific to your body 'makeup'.
ie I have one leg longer than the other (many people have according to Bianca) which I have known for several years and only thought it affected my running, however Bianca explained that it was having an effect on my cycling too. When I cycled I had to wiggle in the seat to get the full reach on the pedal. This was obviously affecting my back and causing lower back ache.
This was only one of many things she noticed being a physio rather than just a fitter.
I ended up needing 20mm longer stem, 30 degree shift on the hoods and a 10 degree movement to the bars themselves. Along with several other things that had to be adjusted, I came out of Cycles UK in Basildon some 3 hours later feeling very positive about my future rides.
Having done my first bike ride today since the fitting, I can honestly say that it is like a completely new bike and fits like a glove. Over 2 hours and several hill reps today proved to me that Bianca was right when she said the setup made it almost impossible to have total control on bends and downhill as I was hunched up. Today it was like a different bike and felt so comfortable and I felt totally in control. My reach wasnt causing my arms to ache or my shoulders to tense up, I had no numbness in my fingers and my back wasnt aching at all. I also noticed that I wasnt fidgeting in the seat when pedalling too.
Bianca mentioned that it might take a while to get used to the new setup due to me needing so many adjustments to it.
However, it took literally 5 minutes to get used to and I felt so much better and more relaxed and the 2 hours went so quickly. I cant wait to try the new setup out in a race to see what a difference my times will be as I know it will help massively.
I want to thank Bianca for doing such a good job and spending so long sorting me and the bike out. She had so much patience and didnt complain once considering she was 1 1/2 hours over her expected finish time. She is a real professional and knows her stuff - bike fit wise as well as anatomy & physiology wise.
She knew exactly what was needed and did all the adjustments herself. I can totally recommend Fit Your Bike UK - it is worth every penny. You can contact Bianca/Fit Your Bike for an appointment on: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07534993680 or FB- fityourbikeuk
Can I also add that Cycles UK staff were amazing bunch too. They were also late shutting up shop as my bike fit went on so long, but stayed even later to spend time rewrapping new bar tape and sorting out my gears and brakes. They never complained once and were friendly and helpful. They obviously enjoy their work and I hope Cycles UK appreciate what great workforce they have.
Sunday was the first of the St. Neots Triathlon Race Series, with another 2 later in the year.
I was meant to use this race as a 'training race' and concentrate on the bike specifically. However, when it comes to racing, I don't like to watch everyone else try their hardest and not do the same. So, despite my coach's orders, I went and raced the whole thing as hard as I could.
The swim was a very big start with all the men and women who were doing the sprint race going off at the same time. I was expecting it to be a very rough start, especially from the experience I had from the previous race where it was more like a boxing match than a swim start, but since Perry taught me how to get away quickly, I was out in front with the top 3 men from the start! The rest of the swim was good as I had the men to draft from, especially going against the river's current on the way back towards the transition. I was very pleased to be the first woman out of the lake.
Being my stupid self, I ran past my transition spot coming out of the swim but eventually realised that I looked like a right melon and found my space. I think I had the fastest transition 1 involving a wetsuit that I have ever done - 43 seconds! And probably one of the fastest in the race. It and my swim gave me a 40second lead on the 2nd lady.
What was meant to be the main section of the race, the bike section ended up being my worst - in terms of time!
At the beginning of the bike leg, there is big hill that I usually find easy to get up, but this time I felt like I wasn't moving. Like I was cycling in toffee. I put it down to my hard swim and carried on, but it carried on throughout the whole bike section. It was only after the race (so after doing 24.9k on the bike) that I realised I had a puncture!
No wonder my legs were screaming at me. But I'd only managed to lose 4 places after my good swim leg - I would just have to finish with a good run and see where it took me.
I had a good T2 and came out of transition feeling good and with my fastest 2.5k run on the first lap (according to Perry's timings) and managed to overtake 4th placed lady. My mum shouted that 3rd placed lady was just a few yards in front of me as I headed out onto the 2nd and final lap, so I dug deep and overtook her with around 500 metres to go. Running into the finish felt good but my time was well down on the last triathlon here, but lessons learned today - don't ride 24k on your bike with a puncture as it feels like 48k!
Considering my times were down so much on the bike due to the puncture, I still managed to claw back into 3rd female overall - but 1st U20 female. So not a bad race all in all. However, I am looking into purchasing a pair of carbon race wheels with the financial help I am now receiving from my sponsors Pedal Potential @pedalpotential as I think this would help with the weight and add some extra speed on the bike section.
Some rather large adjustments to my training plans from Perry now that all my big qualifying races are over and in preparation for the biggest race of my career so far - World Triathlon Champs in September. Oh I can imagine the aching muscles already :/
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my sponsors for helping me to reach my milestone dreams so far, without whose help I would be struggling right now to do so much;
PEDAL POTENTIAL - identify and support talented young athletes, with a passion for cycling, who require a degree of financial assistance to realise their potential, progress within their chosen sport and achieve success.
Sovereign Play Equipment - professionally manufactures fun and exciting play equipment in the UK and supplies schools, businesses, and local authorities nationwide.
P.A.S Pro Athlete Supplementation- Leading the way in providing batch screened research driven sports nutrition performance for the elite of professional football, rugby, cycling and athletics in the UK, ensuring that our athletes and teams are supplied with safe but effective products.