Coach Annie has secured top spot in her age group in a series of 4 sea races on the Costa Blanca. The series of four races with three to count has taken place over the past two months, each race has been a 1500m (give or take) sea swim with a point to point format. Annie has secured first place despite having to miss the last race of the series.
Did you know? During today's La Vuelta Stage 8 (199Km) the riders will consume between 12-15 bottles of fluid!! Makes my hydration strategy whilst on the bike a little inadequate.
Two of our 2017 Calpe Training Camp Coaches/Guides showing how its done in Canada at the Elite Penticton ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships, 1.5km Swim - 31km MTB - 8km Run. Congratulations Henry Sleight 18th Elite in 2:21:48, and Jess Roberts 12th Elite in 2:48:49, top performance guys. We look forward to you both joining us for our 2018 Training camps in Calpe Spain?
I completed my first Middle Distance Triathlon completed on Sunday! Ely Monster Racing event. The aim was 6:30 and actual time was 6:27 so very pleased with that - and only one small toe-nail lost in the process. Not planning on repeating it next year - maybe two years time though. Thanks to Brian Butler at Natural Ability Performance Coaching for his support and coaching programme, and all of Rachel's support throughout the event - not least the supply of jelly babies which got me to the finish!
I drove up the day before as Llandudno was a good three hours away. I was really excited for this race as it was a qualifier for the World Championships in September and many of my team mates had already qualified so I really wanted to join them. I registered and there was a quick opportunity to drive the bike course before the roads were shut, so I did! It was a technically difficult course with lots of climbing, I think mum wished she hadn’t driven the course after she had been round and saw the decent, it was a very narrow road with lots of tight corners. I knew this would however be an advantage to me being a strong rider as riders would get very spread out.
Race day came and I could have a lie in as I wasn’t off till 11:45. All set up I was feeling confident. I lined up for the sea swim which was the first time I had raced in the sea all warmed up. We had been told the sea was 18 degrees but when I first got in I did not believe this, felt like 12! This soon passed as we swam out to swim start. We had a 10 second count down which was nicer than the usual horn and everyone being startled! I had a great swim coming out joint first with a strong swimmer (Junior Super Series racer) that I had eyed up as a target to stick with before the race. This gave me a great boost as I ran up the jetty and up through the very long transition. Wetsuit off, helmet on I was off onto the bike.
I left transition in 1st so knew I had to push so not to be overtaken. It was a draft legal race but I knew that it was going to be safer and even quicker going round solo. Pushing and pushing up the hill, well I wouldn’t call it a hill more like a mountain, another rider caught me up and we worked together up the hill before he dropped me on the decent, on the decent!! The bike course was two laps and I desperately tried to get back onto his wheel before the climb again but I couldn’t. I kept the gap together however as I entered T2 which was very quick.
The run was just and out and back so very boring. I kept my pace up finishing 2nd overall and 1st in my age group by over 4 minutes in a time of 1:04:18. This means I have qualified for the World Championships in Rotterdam.
Thanks to Brian from Natural Ability for their continued support making it all possible, for pushing me and getting me to the startline in great condition.
The Cotswold 226 Iron-distance tri near Malmsbury had long been in my calendar as my full distance tri of the year. However there is a considerable difference between intending to do a race, and actually getting round to booking it. The race was Sunday, so a flurry of emails, phone calls, coercing Annie to come with me, and hot-footing it down to the Cotswold Water Park having packed my kit and bike in record time on Saturday afternoon saw me safely paid up and ready to compete as No. 127 (Late Entry), the last number issued for the course.
A friend who lives 15 mins from the start line was on hand to provide accommodation and curry, so all was going well for a good final night of preparation before the 3:30 am wake up for the 5:30 am gun time. I had planned on using a spare wetsuit, as I had left mine at my parent’s house – a ten second check had shown that I could at least get into it, but I thought it prudent to double check, and disaster! It was waaay too tight. An emergency phone call, and a halfway meeting 25 miles away at Burford at 20:15 (thanks Dad!) and my usual wetsuit was in my possession, so I retired to sleep, at least knowing that I had the right kit with me. I always am a bit restive before a big race, so I was up at 2:15, and 2:45, before falling back to sleep again. I woke up, and the alarm had failed! It was 4:38 (the exact time is now shockingly emblazoned on my memory) and racking shut at 5:10. No breakfast, no coffee, everything grabbed any old how, into the car and we got to the race at 5:00, and into racking. Actually once it was clear I would be able to start I calmed down and was actually pretty unfazed by the hectic start to the morning. I had plenty of time to rack up, lay out my kit, put the wetsuit on and be briefed.
We were let into the water at the start of the two lap swim course a good 10 minutes before the gun, so had a pleasant swim warm up in the 21.5 degree water, which was absolutely perfect, made sure the suit was well adjusted, and not about to trap various parts of the anatomy, and get to the edge of the pack – my preferred position, as I value a clean and longer route, over the direct and punchy one - for the one wave mass start.
5:30am: Off we go! I was on the left hand side of the cluster of swimmers, keeping out of trouble, and thankfully the leg up to the first buoy was fairly long, allowing everyone to spread out a bit, and there was not too much of a melee at the first turn. I got into a good spot about a quarter of the way down the field, and, after that first turn, had clear water for almost all the swim, I’d fallen back from the leaders and, but was well ahead of the main group, with perhaps three people in sight near me. The water quality is great there, visibility good, and the only real thing of note was that the early morning sun was low, which made sighting tricky on the second half of the lap. The swim went quickly, and I covered the 2.4 miles in 1:13.49, for 29th place.
I’ve never been very quick in the water, but I was happy with that, as I was feeling remarkably fresh as I removed wetsuit, goggles and hat and donned helmet and number belt. I really like the smaller, more friendly and easygoing events (113 Events are run by a husband and wife team) as Annie was able to lean on the fence and have a brief chat whilst I made transition. I was not hurrying, as making a mistake for the sake of a couple of seconds, can mean a huge problem later over the one hundred and twelve miles of biking, nevertheless I was still the 6th fastest in transition. Up to and over the mount line, into the saddle: Pedal.
The bike is usually the strongest part of my race, but previous races at all distances, and weekly time trials, have shown that I have a tendency to go off too hard, so I concentrated hard on keeping a steady, even pace – riding to my powermeter. The two lap course is notoriously fast, and although I dropped off a little bit (about 20 watts) on the second lap I was reasonably pleased with the overall pacing, as the end of the first lap and beginning of the second saw a slightly blustery day turn to full-on wind and cold rain.
A note on equipment and setup: for the long course events (and indeed general riding in the relatively hilly area in which I live) I would argue that the most important piece of kit other than the basic frame and wheels that I have is the powermeter. My efficiency and economy has increased dramatically since I started using one a couple of years ago. My trusty Felt TT bike is customised with a deep section carbon front wheel, and a carbon disk rear wheel, (both clincher tyres in case of punctures at the wrong end of an iron-distance bike course) which I was pleasantly surprised to find was very manageable in the strong winds, and I didn’t have any gust-related wobbles. I have, alas, no electronic shifting on the bike, but a careful tune and indexing of gears on Saturday morning meant that I didn’t drop my chain or have any mechanical problems of that nature. Hydration and energy is delivered via a front mounted refillable aero bottle, with a spare bottle in a rear saddle rack, the other side of the rack holding a mech kit and spare tubes. I usually have gels taped to the top tube, which can be ripped off and immediately consumed, however, this time I had a tube of blocks, which proved tricky to get at, so I only started taking on nutrition on the second lap of the course, having transferred the energy blocks to the rear pocket of my trisuit. I use a two-prong ISM tri saddle, and this was its first iron-distance outing. For anyone who has not encountered these weird-looking seats before the theory is whilst a traditional saddle starts off comfortable and gets progressively more agonising, a two prong saddle starts a little bit uncomfortable, but stays only a little bit uncomfortable. It worked well for me, and I had none of the chafing and general soreness that had plagued my lower regions at Ironman Mallorca in 2016.
A small thing I would have changed would have been the setup of my tri bars. I use the bike both for triathlons and timetrialling and the position was just a little bit too aggressive for the longer course. I’m writing this two days later, and whilst my legs feel fine (after a couple of days of walking ‘John Wayne’ style) my shoulders still feel tight from being pulled in for so long, as I was pretty disciplined with myself, and only rarely broke aero position. I will probably mark up two different positions for my bars – aggressive for the TTs and a more relaxed one for longer races.
Annie, having nothing better to do, had volunteered to marshal, and had been posted to around 40/90 miles into the bike course, so it was nice to get a boost going past her, and she could see I was not flagging, despite the chaotic beginning to the day. She later told me that the mother of another competitor lived next to her marshal station, so she was well supplied with tea, chairs, umbrellas and a convenient toilet. My parents and uncle came down to watch as well, and actually manged to turn the second half of the bike (they had quite reasonably declined to turn out for the 5:30 start) and the run into a spectator sport, by working out my splits and getting to the next probable point where I would appear if I was sticking to the schedule that they had worked out I was on, so the occasional cheer from various unexpected (to me) points, kept morale high, despite the wind and rain that characterised the mid-section of the bike.
I had survived well so far through the race nutritionally speaking, considering that I had not eaten since curry the night before, and my only hydration had been plain water, and the gel blocks had only been taken from mile 60 onwards, at about 20 minute intervals. I had half a banana at the last feed station, as by that point my stomach had started to growl a little bit, and the solid food settled my stomach, and this poor nutrition strategy at least meant that I did not have anything heavy sloshing round my guts for the run.
I moved up to 11th place on the bike course after doing what I felt was quite a well-paced ride of 5:27.41, so I was still feeling good as I ran my bike into transition, paused to put socks and sunglasses on in addition to my trainers, (again valuing comfort in the long-term over speed in transition – although I was still the 4th fastest through T2) and set off on the run.
I was feeling, if not tip top, then at least OK, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out. The sun peeping out from behind a cloud quickly turned, over the first lap of the 5 lap course, into scorching rays beating down. Very nice, I’m sure, for the weekend visitors to the watery cool attractions of the Water Park, playing on the inflatables and sipping cold beer next to their barbeques. Not so attractive to the sweaty athlete who was contemplating over 20 more miles of slog. There were four feed stations on the course, and at the first one I slowed down to take on some jaffa cakes and a banana, to get some solid food into me, and some coke and water to stay hydrated. The liquids at the feed stations came in cups, so I always made sure to walk through the feed stations, to make drinking easier.
The course was very flat, with only a few metres of variation across it, but by lap two I was getting pretty severe stomach cramps – probably from going from an empty stomach to quickly eaten solid food and my pace had dropped right off. Luckily at the end of the lap there were some loos, and a quick break sorted me out. I picked up the pace again, the only residual effect was that for about five minutes after every feed station (regardless of if I was taking on food or only liquid) I would get cramps, but nowhere near as painful as the second lap, and I knew that they would pass. One of the organisers was on the microphone near transition, and it was a welcome distraction to have some banter as the lap marker was passed.
The run was fairly uneventful. I overtook a few people, and a few people overtook me. I had a bit of a slump on lap 4, just through general fatigue, but with the finish getting ever nearer I dug deep for the final lap, my Dad having worked out that if I kept my pace up I was on for a sub 10:30 overall time. I was sceptical when he shouted this to me, as I was not feeling brilliant, but it gave me the push I needed to stick with it for the final lap, and not to give in and walk and I even went for a sprint finish for my 3:42.11 marathon, to give me an iron distance PB (admittedly taking advantage of a very fast course, although the conditions had not always been perfect) of 10:26.57.
I had managed to snatch a PB and placed 15/127 (I was vaguely irritated that the printout said I was one place lower – the one relay team having ‘beaten’ me) but getting to this finale, from my various catastrophes in the 24 hours preceding the race meant this was really the best possible outcome. I was (physically) in good shape at the start, mainly thanks to Coach Brian (Natural Ability Performance Coaching) who somehow managed to do this in spite of all my efforts to not register… not arrive at registration… not turn up to the actual start on time… so he should take a lot of the credit.
A shout out should also go to 113 and DBMax events who together organise the Cotswold 226 – As I mentioned earlier in the article it is nice to see small, local, companies doing such a fantastic job of organising really quite large-scale events well. Nice touches like giving you free (low res, but perfectly fine for social media) make it a good value for money event as well. My next race is also run by 113 events – the Cotswold Classic on 13 August 2017, so I’m now looking forward to working with Coach BB at Natural Ability Performance Coaching to put in a good performance there (Don’t worry Brian, I’ve already registered!) and rumour has it that is a pretty fast course too… let’s see how it goes…
Full results at the link:
Staffordshire Ironman 70.3- 18/06/17 Katie-Anne Birch
Debi, Charli, Cathy (my fan club) and I arrived at Shugborough on the Friday evening, our camping home until Sunday, the evening after the event. By the time we arrived it was quite late so early to bed ready for the busy day we had ahead.
On Saturday morning I woke up about 7am ready to head off for registration at 8am. I had made an itinerary for the weekend, which included everything I needed to do and know which made me feel calm and reminded me of everything I needed to do.
At registration I received my race pack, bag, and athlete wrist band. Then a quick visit to the expo (so many bright shiny things😊), I bought a top which had everyone's names on the back as a souvenir of my first 70.3.
Then back to the van, for a bacon sandwich, my sort of pre-race food!! I carefully put my kit into the T1 bag and made sure my bike was ready to go. I then went to check out the swim area. The swim course looked really big but I assured myself that it was only 1900m, I think I thought it was so big as I’ve only ever really swam smaller loops in open water anyway I worked out the swim route and where I would start from, the run from the swim exit into the T1 tent was quite far, about 400m, luckily, they were going to carpet it so the stones wouldn't hurt our feet. I then headed into T1, the race official checked my helmet and bike over and then let me in to rack my bike. I have never seen such a big transition before, it was massive!
I had been hydrating and eating well all day, and enjoying time in the shade with my legs up so I was all rested for race day. As it was a split transition I then sorted out my kit for the T2 bag, I had included sun cream in both of my transition bags as it was guaranteed to be at least 28 degrees all day. I walked over to T2, familiarised myself with where to re rack my bike as it was a split transition and dropped my bag and looked for the run exit.
The race briefing made it all seem very real. I pretty much knew everything that was said because as it was my first time I had read all the rules, athlete guide and the swim, bike and run guides. They had mentioned the hot weather and told us all to forget our times and focus on crossing the line alive and well, I agreed with this as I haven't done any training in the heat.
That evening Cathy made us dinner, we had pasta with chicken and sausage, it was very yummy! I then organised the stuff I would need for race day and my nutrition to put on my bike in the morning.
As it was an early start in the morning and I needed to catch a shuttle bus to Chasewater I decided that I should get the 5:25am bus. I then went to bed at about 9:45, I pretty much fell straight asleep and slept really well, I thought I would be really nervous but I knew that everything was ready and I needed a good night's sleep to feel good in the morning.
I had set my alarm for 4:40am and when it went off I woke up thinking I’d overslept, I was shocked that I didn't feel tired, I was excited. I had my breakfast of porridge and got all my stuff together and headed to the shuttle buses. We arrived at Chasewater at 6:12 and I went straight into transition, it took me about 10 minutes to find my bike tyre! I put my bottles on my bike and strapped on my saddle bag with all my nutrition (flapjack and jelly babies). I had also taped one gel to my bike to have towards the end of my bike so I would be ready for the run. I pumped up my tyres and then just hung around in transition for a while, I was waiting for it to close so I knew that my bike was how I left it. After a while I left and went to stand outside and put my suncream on where I could still see my bike. A man came over and asked if he could borrow my suncream, we had a nice chat and it made me feel a bit more settled. I received some texts wishing me good luck and my Dad rang me to say he was on his way.
At about 7:15 Debi, Cathy, and Charli arrived and over the load speaker system I got a shout out for being the youngest athlete racing, it was quite cool to know I was the youngest person on the course!
With wetsuit on they called my wave to go to the pens, I said goodbye to everyone and then went to the pen. It was a rolling start, so we got in a pen for our estimated swim time, after no time we headed onto the pontoon. I chatted to some people I was stood near and then I got in and off I went.
The swim was lovely, the water was about 20 degrees so really warm. I got into my pace and swam. I picked people off as I saw them, passing quite a few people in the wave before me before the first buoy. After that it was a long way across the back of the reservoir before we turned towards the swim exit. My hat kept slipping further off my head which was annoying so after a while in would just pull it down a bit every minute or so. It soon came to the final turn towards the swim exit. At this point the swim became less enjoyable, people started to attempt to grab legs and swim over you, I kicked quite hard to warn people away and went towards the swim exit. I stood out of the water onto the ramp and immediately took my hat and goggles off. I felt dizzy but started the trek to T1, it felt like I was doing a half marathon then! You could already feel the heat, I checked my watch and knew that I had done a swim time slower than what I wanted, 37:20, I later found out that the course was longer than 1900m, this made sense with what my watch was telling me too.
In T1 I dried my feet put on my socks, bike shoes, helmet and carried my sunglasses in my hand and ran out towards my bike, luckily I found it quite quickly, I gave it a check over and headed out of T1. I hooked my sunglasses over the top of my trisuit, they soon fell out and broke (they have since been fixed), I shoved them down my top and hopped on bike. As discussed with Brian I took the first bit of the bike quite easy, I had some food and drink and got into it, I was being passed quite rapidly and ended up telling myself it was time to get going. I got into my rhythm and started to pass those who passed me earlier. The bike course was rolling, this worked to my advantage, I would pass people on the uphill section and stay ahead on the downhill and then they would pass me on any flat sections however it wasn’t really flat for very long. I lost one of my water bottles fairly early on the bike which was unfortunate as it had my electrolytes in which I actually prefer to the energy so I just sipped on the energy drink until the next feed station where I collected a water. I tipped this on my head and drank some and was on my way. I then made a big mistake as I was going through the second feed station and decided to throw my nearly empty water into the litter section so it would be replaced with a fuller one. I caught the first one but when I tasted it, it wasn't water so I threw it and got ready to catch the water but I missed. I carried on when I should have gone back. I had been taking on my solids well but in the heat I needed the hydration. After another 5 miles I started to feel weak and knew that I needed water as my other bottle had run out, I was going slow, people who I had passed earlier were catching me, after about 10 minutes of slow cycling I got my act together, took my gel and started pedaling to get me to that feed station. I got the water poured some over me and then added and electrolyte tablet of my own.
The bike was fairly hilly which I liked and I had looked at the map and elevation and could see that there was one big hill towards the end, I thought I had done it, I was wrong. There was a really long hill all up through Cannock Chase, it seemed to last forever but by then we were so close to home and I was so excited. The bike seemed to pass really quickly and all I could think about was the run. I knew that I was going to get into T2 at about 4 hours so I was happy. Anyway, what goes up must come down so we had a long downhill before cycling past the runners and into Shugborough estate. When I arrived at the dismount line I was pleased to see my Dad and Debi Charli and Cathy cheering me on, I was on a good time and had completed the bike in 3:18, it was what I was expecting and felt happy as there were more hills than I realised.
T2 was good I was sat putting on my shoes and telling myself that it was only three laps, a warm up lap, a run lap and a victory lap. I applied sun cream and ran out of T2, I stopped for about 3 cups of water, I drank two and poured one over my head, then put my cap on. It became apparent that the run was going to tough, even running in the shade wasn't nice. As I came over to the first feed station I saw my fans which was encouraging. They reassured me I was doing well. I had some pepsi and water again and carried on, I had brought my own gels and shoved them in my trisuit so I didn't have to carry them. The weather was scorching, people had hoses, power washers, sprinklers, water guns and buckets of water out their houses and were throwing it at us. I don't know what I would have done without being drenched in water every mile or so. It was too hot to run the whole way, so I decided to do a run-walk, walk the hills and then run the rest. After the big hill I ran the rest of the lap with a man called James, he encouraged me to run more and we made it round by walking through the aid stations. I would have two or more waters and a jug over my head, a pepsi and then more water, I would take my gels when I felt I needed them. I ended up having only 3 during the run, I had planned to have 4 but it got to a point where swallowing them just wasn't nice and the pepsi seemed to do the same job.
At the start of lap two I saw everyone again and I let James run on as I wanted to walk. I found some ladies and we started chatting about what lap we were on, how we were feeling, how long we’d been racing triathlon and 70.3 etc, it was really nice. There was a pub just as you started to head downhill after the big hill, they had Bon Jovi ‘Living on a prayer’ blasting, people dancing, singing and cheering, it was amazing and a real motivator. I hadn't noticed but I'd actually passed James on the second lap and towards the end he came up behind me so we ran together for a bit.
Lap 3, I knew I was so close to the end, I was tired but still so happy, I had been smiling the whole day and I wasn't going to stop. I started lap 3 well, I passed a girl called Bella who was walking, I could see she was from my age category from her number, I told her to run with me and again we did a run-walk (walked the hills and ran between markers we set ourselves). We had a great chat and it was really lovely to talk to someone closer to my own age. As we got towards the end of the lap, I knew the finish was in sight but my legs had gone so stiff. Bella really helped me push for the last mile, we said goodbye as she had another lap to do and I headed for the finish line.
I managed to find some energy to sprint down the finishing chute round the corner and to the red carpet. I sprinted past a few others with what can only be described as the biggest smile ever! I was so happy I had finished, I knew the half marathon had taken me ages but I didn't care. I had finished, I had completed 1900m swim (or more), 56 mile bike and a half marathon. I collected my medal, waved to Cathy, Debi, Charli, my Dad and walked over to the recovery area where I sat and rested for a few minutes. I then got up to eat a well deserved pulled pork roll, watermelon and drink a few bottles of water. My final time was 6:46:48 meaning the half marathon took me 2:40, which was very slow but understandable due to the heat. I finished in 4th place in the female 18-24 category. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when it was difficult I knew that I had trained to be able to push past it and make it out the other side.
Thank you Brian from Natural Ability Performance Coaching who made it all possible, the training plans, support, advice and encouragement he gives me is what got me to the finish line. I am so grateful for everything. Also need to thank my fan club (Debi, Charli, Cathy), my dad for coming to watch me and making the weekend stress free. Also thank you to anyone who has given me advice, helped or encouraged me along the way, it means so much to me. Now I'm recovering so I can be ready for the next middle distance race in September. Hopefully by then I will have improved my run despite the weather!
Leeds 10th June – Race 2 of the Youth Super Series
I knew my first season in the Youth Elite Super Series was going to be tough, and I would have my work cut out to prove my place. This season was always going to be about getting experience, mastering transition, and aim to get in a pack during the swim and bike legs (draft legal racing). I did manage to get into a swim pack at Blenheim, but I was out on my own on the bike, which was hard work, trying to catch up and join a pack. At Leeds I was determined to get the bike section to work for me, this required me to get out of the water in a strong middle pack position, which would enable me to find a good cycling pack to latch on to.
Leeds race day - My day started a 4:30am, it had already started raining heavily and this continued throughout the day. The lake did not look inviting as I was already shivering as wet through. I managed to get into a good position on the pontoon, which gave me some confidence. The scary drum role music started and the horn went! We dived in and the fight began. I tried hard to hold my position when turning at the first buoy but I got a bit battered and fell back slightly in the group which didn’t help my cause! Transition one was long and slippery but I hauled myself out of my wetsuit pretty neatly, something we had all been working on with Brian during the Monday morning Natural Ability swim sessions (Brian’s wetsuit challenge 😊). Again, there was a long run with bike down to the bike mount line where I got stuck behind a girl who didn’t seem to be in a hurry, I could see a group of girls up ahead and I was desperate to keep with them so I could get a chance of a bike pack. I managed to jump on the bike quickly and dig in deep, as the route went straight up a steep hill. This worked in my favor, as this is where I managed to overtake a few girls and join the pack I wanted.
The difference of riding in a group was amazing, we all worked well together under very slippery and tough conditions, the rain was hammering down but we just kept going. Then the leader of our pack slipped and fell nearly taking us all down with her on a hairpin turn. I really felt for her as she had worked so hard, but I had to move on and just get on with my own race. I came into 2nd transition feeling relatively fresh in comparison to the previous weeks race. It was such a buzz to ride the bike section, as it should be done, working together!
The run again was straight up a big hill. I had a group of girls behind me and my main goal now was to keep them behind me and hold my place. I started to pull away from them and over took the girl ahead. Now, I was pretty confident I could keep my place. I finished in my best position so far this season and was pretty pleased.
I know I still have a lot of work to do to keep improving, but I do feel with each race I am getting better and stronger mentally and physically. Thank you to my mum and dad for travelling with me up and down the country, and Brian at Natural Ability for his support, guidance, and for pushing me just at the right time.
Sunday 26th February saw the launch of my 2017 triathlon season, albeit it was a 'Duathlon' (run/bike/run)!!
I was particularly interested to see how a long hard winters training had paid off. At the end of 2016 both my coach (Brain Butler from Natural Ability Performance Coaching) and I had identified that my running was going to be the main focus for the winter training program, and this was the first opportunity to test it in a multi-disciplined event.
After an early start and a long drive, I arrived at the race 'ready to race', and with my race plan in hand, the coaches always tell us to ‘control the controllables’. and the race plan helps to do this. So, following the plan, I got my kit all set up, and listened to race briefing which was the same old same old! It was a chilly morning, so keeping well wrapped up I started my warm up, which really did warm me up!
I lined up on the start line (this time not in the water) ready for my first 5km run, with a good winters training behind me I was keen to see what time I could produce. The hooter went and we were off, I got myself into a good start position working with the adults. The pace was high but I felt good and knew that it would be a fairly fast first 5km time.
I came into transition just behind the leaders so knew I would have to work hard on the bike. I flew through transition gaining two places and got onto the bike in a strong position, I fastened my shoes up and went for it. The bike course was very undulating which played to my strengths as I live at the bottom of a hill, and I need to climb every time I ride in training!! I could see two cyclists just in front of me so pushed hard up the hill to overtake them. I knew that I had to keep pushing to gain time on them, after the first run I guessed they would be slightly quicker than me and possibly be able to run me down during the second run.
I came back into transition and quickly got my trainers on for the second run. I was able to hold the athlete behind me to come across the line in 5th place overall, and 1st in the Under 20s AG.
This was a positive start to the season, the running focus was really starting to show dividends with the fastest 1km averages I had ever recorded over the 5km and 3km distances, with these gains in performance and moving into a new AG, I am really looking forward to the 2017 season.
My next big challenge is at the Loughborough Performance Assessment weekend where I will be racing against the best in my age group in the Country…wish me luck!! Thank you to Brian for his continued support.
The dates for the 2017 Elite Youth and Junior Super Series have been announced, at Natural Ability we are proud to support a small group of talented athletes who will be competing in the series below. Why not plan a day out to come along and watch some great racing, and support the Natural Ability youngsters.