Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Quarteria ETU Triathlon European Cup, Portugal

The start: I was number 26, somewhere in the middle

On Wednesday the 9th April I flew out to Portugal to prepare for my second attempt at a Continental Cup race, the Quarteria ETU European Cup. I really enjoyed visiting Portugal, I've been there quite a few times for athletics training camps in Vilamoura and Monte Gordo and holidays with friends in Salema so it felt very familiar to me. I spent the days leading up to the race swimming in the sea, doing a few short rides and runs and relaxing-mainly reading Mark Cavendish's book 'at speed'.
The elite women's race was at 13.45 on Saturday, so I spent the morning relaxing and doing a bit of stretching before heading over to the race start. Unfortunately I picked up a puncture on the way, but better now than in the race! While I waited for the athlete's lounge to open with British team mates Hannah, Emma and Jess , Jess' boyfriend kindly whisked my back wheel up to his hotel room to pump up my new inner tube for me -thanks Jonny.

Discussing tactics and staying hydrated before the start with Hannah and Chris
The swim was 1500m in the sea as 2 x 750m laps with a short beach run in-between laps. The water was a bit choppy on the way out but not too bad once we were round the first buoy and easy on the way back into the beach where the waves were carrying us in to shore. All the way to the first turning buoy I felt like I was just trying not to drown rather than actually doing any swimming with girls bashing into me on both sides. Things calmed down a bit over the rest of the swim though and I was able to swim properly, coming out of the water in 19th place.
The bike course was six laps of a 6.67km circuit which included four dead turns, one of them quite tight and a short sharp hill on each lap. I caught and passed a few girls on the first two laps, then spent a couple of laps by myself before being caught by the chase pack on lap four. I hoped we would work together to try and catch the lead pack, or at least minimise the time gap, but apart from team mate Katie Synge no one seemed willing (or able) to help.
The run course was four laps of a 2.5km loop on the seafront. I tried to stay relaxed and cool by pouring water over my head at every available opportunity. I caught a few girls who had got away from me during T2 and crossed the finish line in 20th place. It felt great to be racing again and I'm now really looking forward to my next race which will be the Antalya ETU European cup in Turkey on the 4th May.
Results here

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Skipton Triathlon

Trying to stay relaxed on the run at Skipton Triathlon

My first triathlon of 2014 and my first triathlon since the start of June last year.
This was the second time I've competed at Skipton Triathlon. The first was in 2012 when I came 4th woman in a time of 1.10.01 so I was pleased to better that this year finishing 1st woman in a time of 1.08.19. Skipton is a sprint distance triathlon with a 400m pool swim, 20km hilly bike on open roads and 5km run on tarmac paths through a park. This year, following some wet weather the transition area resembled a cross country running event and I left looking like I'd been mountain biking! But all the mud didn't seem to bother triathletes or spectators and there was a good atmosphere with plenty of support on the run course.
I didn't have a great swim but this was because due to some poor planning on my part and a GPS failure on my phone's part I arrived just in time to set up in transition but without enough time to do any kind of warm up. My swim then served as a warm up for the bike.
At the start of the bike, triathletes were flying past me and disappearing into the distance which was a bit disconcerting, but once we hit the hills I started passing people and worked really hard through this middle hilly section. With 10km still to go I started to think that maybe I'd worked a bit too hard, but a downhill section gave me a bit of a rest and I managed to hold it together to the end.
On the run my plan was to set off steady and build through the second lap if I felt good. As it was, I was pleasantly surprised with how my legs felt after a hard bike so I set off faster than I had intended to and then just tried to stay relaxed throughout.
My transitions were fine too, although I was quite a bit slower than the last time I competed at Skipton because I stopped to put my waterproof jacket on in T1 and take it off again in T2! I wasn't about to go from wearing long sleeves and tights, 3 layers on top plus gloves and overshoes for cycling to just a wet tri-suit, even if it would have saved me 51 seconds in transition time.

So all in all it was a good day out for me. Next up I'm off to Portugal to compete in an ETU European Cup race, it's a standard distance triathlon and will be quite a different challenge but one I'm really looking forward to now.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

More Bike Races

Post race smiles in York (L to R: Sam, Emma, Victoria, Alison and Seonaid) 

Race: Yorkshire Day @ The Races 2 (2/3/4)
Position: 1st

With a four o'clock start time I was able to do an easy swim and short run in the morning and have a bit of feet-up time before heading over to Sheffield. I met albaRosa team mate Victoria and Leeds University rider Lucy at the sign in desk and we sheltered from the torrential rain for a while before heading out for a 'warm up'. 

On the start line there was a bit of discussion about how long we were going to ride for. I wanted 40 minutes- I felt it would suit me well and that was what was advertised and I’d driven all the way to Sheffield for. No one else looked that keen though, so the race official decided we would race for 35 minutes because there were some black clouds in the sky. This seemed a bit unusual to me, I'd never heard of a race being shortened because it was raining before. Anyway off we went. This was my first time racing on the circuit in Sheffield and it was good fun to try out a new course. It’s 1 km long with two hairpins, a bit of a chicane and a slight uphill finish.

With about 7 laps to go we were down to a lead group of about 7 riders. Alison (PH-MAS) led the group around the final lap and coming into the finishing straight a couple of girls made their move. I accelerated to get on someone’s wheel but found I was going faster than them so just put my head down and sprinted for the line, crossing it first. Well done to Victoria in her first ever bike race and Lucy who was riding strongly throughout.

By the end of the race it had started raining again so Victoria, Lucy and I chose sitting inside next to the radiator for some snacks and a chat over a cool down. 

Results here

Race: York Sport Day @ The Races 3 (E/1/2/3/4)
Position: 1st

Back to a 1 o'clock start so I treated myself to a morning off training. After breakfast and second breakfast with some feet-up time in between I drove over to York. I met up with albaRosians Alison, Victoria and Emma, all looking great in their pink and black kit. We did a bit of a warm up around the campus and a few laps of the circuit. 

We were set off in two groups. The first group contained 13 riders. The second, four - three GB Cycles girls (Iona, Brit and Jo) and me. We worked together to catch the main group and Iona accelerated past them without picking up any extras. So it was down to four again. At one point Jo had a good gap but unfortunately she fell and so in the end it came down to a sprint finish between me and Iona which I just managed to win. Well done to Alison for adding to her point collection, Victoria for her second bike race and Emma who felt the benefits of a good winter’s training in her first race of 2014.

It was good to be back at York Sport, it's so close to Leeds that it needn't take too much time out of the day, unless you want it to that is... I ended up spending the whole afternoon there with a post bike race hot chocolate and snacks followed by an easy swim. 

Results here

Next up some actual triathlons, watch this space.