I Spy

Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.

I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!

So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.

I Spy…..

Pre Race

  • Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
  • Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
  • Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
  • Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
  • The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
  • Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
  • The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
  • Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
  • Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
  • Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
  • Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
  • LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
  • The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
  • The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!

Swim

  • Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
  • The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
  • People swimming. Obviously.
  • Lost swim caps!!
  • Pontoons/deep water starts.
  • The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
  • The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
  • A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
  • The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
  • Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
  • Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
  • Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
  • A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
  • Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.

Transition  (T1)

  • Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
  • Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
  • Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
  • The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
  • The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
  • The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.

Bike

  • A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
  • An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
  • Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
  • Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
  • Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
  • Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
  • Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
  • Lost water bottles. Easy done.
  • Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!

Transition (T2)

  • A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
  • Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
  • Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
  • Bikes racked wrong way.
  • Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.

Run

  • Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
  • Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
  • Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
  • High-fiving support especially from small children.
  • Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
  • Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
  • Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
  • ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
  • Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.

The end!

  • Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
  • The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
  • Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
  • Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
  • Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
  • Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
  • Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).

 

Other random things to look out for:

  • Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
  • Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
  • Limping.
  • Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
  • A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
  • People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
  • Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
  • Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
  • Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)

 

I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.

Outlaw X – first 70.3

I absolutely loved it!

I should leave it there but I am not going to! Full, rambling review needed while it is fresh in my memory. It wasn’t fast but I didn’t DNF and thats the main thing!

Official times – just to get them out of the the way…

Swim 00:41:30 T1 00:11:05 Bike 03:34:11 T2 00:08:03 Run 03:00:03

Background

So Outlaw X wasn’t originally on the cards – it’s a new race but its one that I deferred to after not being ready for Holkham – which proved to be a wise move despite the cost. I was supposed to be doing Holkham with a friend but what with one thing and another, it didn’t happen. I’ve also been suffering with a knee injury and not run for about 5 weeks. Coupled with this, I found out the ex’s girlfriend was racing – great – at the time it felt like an absolute punch in the guts after managing not to race near home all year. Bloody typical that my first 70.3 would mean they were there – a flurry of texts to mates and I soon got over it. Timing wasn’t great in one respect as was only three weeks after swimming Coniston end to end.

Registration and the day before

img_2638Luckily for me, one of my mates had booked Outlaw X – which meant we ended up going down together – which turned out to be great for me simply because actually my nerves were a bit shot and I was a bit ‘argh’ in the run up to it and a bit of a moany cow about my knee. Both him and my mates had a bit more faith in me to get round than I did! So actually going with someone else racing worked out well.

Registration day though was a beautiful warm sunny day (yes I did catch the sun) – which was deceiving as the forecast wasn’t so great for Sunday! The registration was at Thorseby Hall and it was such a gorgeous location! The briefing, number collection and general organisation was spot on. Racked the bike, walked transition to make sure I knew where I was going – none of us could see the lake – this was a bit weird, had a good natter with people, went to the briefing and then went to find our accommodation and some tea, as well as check we had our race kit ready. The ex bumped into us and tried to make conversation, I pretty much ignored him and let my mate do the talking. So far so good, nerves almost all in check!

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Race Day! 

Well I probably wasn’t great company at 5am the morning of race day. We were up and out by half past 5 and I was trying desperately to eat – which wasn’t really happening. Think I managed about half my porridge. We rocked up at Thorseby and headed to transition to sort our stuff out. Thankfully I don’t tend to faff in transition too much but everyone was looking up at the clouds debating the weather – I left two waterproofs out over my kit and hoped for the best. My only actually criticism of the transition was that the bag drop area could have done to have been covered – especially with weather forecast (a lot of people didn’t have dry clothes at the end and a lot of bag drops recently have been covered)

Swim…. 41:30

As previously stated, no-one had seen the lake before the race – you couldn’t see it from transition either – so it was an unknown to all of us! Due to the edge of the lake being SSSI, we had to get into the water via a pontoon for a deep water start. It was actually a nice morning and stood with other competitors who were clearly a lot faster than me, I had actually calmed down – probably something to do with wearing my wetsuit. I am not a massive fan of mass starts and although we were waves – I think I was in one of the biggest! I wasn’t sure how my shoulder and back would hold up so never intended on pushing it but did my fastest OW time of the year, with 2k in about 40 minutes. It was a bit of a weird course and the water was pretty weedy but not really cold or bad – swum in better places but swum in worse so fairly average. Lovely location though and managed to draft off some hips.

T1 – 11:09

Ridiculously slow I know but that includes 500m hike from the lake to T1. I walked it. Not wanting to risk my knee and knowing that in all honesty, if I had run, I wouldn’t have been that much faster! Then I had to try and dry my feet enough to get my socks on. Then walked up to the bike mount line, again – not much point in running. Successfully ignored the weak cheering from the ex. I MAY HAVE GLARED.

Bike… 3:34:11

I made the decision to wear my waterproof on the bike. Not so much for protection from the rain but as an extra layer against any chill and I am really glad I did. I probably would have been fine without it but I genuinely felt strong and confident on the bike – even in the rain, but I think this is partly due to the fact I’ve ridden in worse. It may have rained but at least it wasn’t windy! It was undulating and some roads were a bit busy – I saw some rather interesting (read – dangerous) driving but it was mostly good. Think there might have been one or two accidents but with the weather I don’t think this is much of a surprise. The last 10km were hard though! Just endless. Even with my TT head on – I was glad to get off the bike. The new trisuit is actually reasonably comfortable but I think for any longer distance I would be tempted to have a full change of clothing! I fuelled my ride perfectly – so actually going into T2 I still felt full of energy – I really tried to pace myself on the bike and make the most of descents – but I have to say, Tailwind is awesome stuff!

T2 – 8:03

Yep wasn’t busting a gut out of T2 either – change of socks and race belt (really glad I took my running belt actually). Went to the loo, sauntered out without a care in the world but still smilling!

Run… 3:00:03

Ok ok the run was more walk than anything but with my knee not happy I wasn’t willing to risk running it – even on pain killers. Although in the end – the blister on my left foot on a toe hurt more! I ran/walked the first lap – so far so good, then walked more/ran the second lap with a lad from Darlington Tri Club (both motivating each other) and then I walked most of the last lap with another lady who, having not quite completing Weymouth 70.3 two years ago after chemo, was back with a mission to finish! The marshals stationed near the car part were epic – how they kept it up like they did with the cheering is beyond me! Again, managed to ignore the ex. Without swearing at him!

The route itself was actually really nice – again – no-one saw it until race day due to it being on private property but it was a mixture of road and trail and was just really lovely. I really hope they run this race again as I would like another go at full fitness – three laps and good cheer crowds.

The end!! 

I hadn’t suffered any cramp until the last 200m. Headed off to the finish line and just before the orange carpet got cramp! Sod it – I had to run the finish if nothing else and as I came round the corner – I got my own shout out – and was absolutely beaming – think my mate got a bit of a shock to be honest.

The adrenaline and pure fact I finished without DNF made my day – I can honestly say that even when I was out racing – apart from a wobble during the swim (the bike was my fave part yesterday) – I wasn’t ever thinking ‘I don’t want to. do this again’. I think the attitude in middle distance tris and longer is different. I really enjoyed the whole day! Even the rain. Sort of! I rescued my medal and T-shirt after a massage and went to find my stuff.

Absolutely buzzing! If it hadn’t have been persisting it down – I really would happily have stayed for the free meal but both of us were a bit like – shall we just go get KFC on the way home?

Although couldn’t manage much of it. When I did actually finally get home, I didnt quite have the energy to unpack properly and put things in the wash. Had a bath and basically collapsed on my bed.

The morning after

Tired, stiff and aching. Stairs are an issue and I still need to wash/clean my bike. Still buzzing though! The tiredness is real!

Actually looking forward to potentially doing another 70.3…. and I don’t really like running……

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Pressing Reset – Holkham

This has come as a bit of a surprise to even me but after seeing a Facebook post about changing my A race, a month of being far too sociable and thinking I can manage to balance everything, as well as a rubbish race last night and cold….. I’ve decided to quit Holkham and change to Outlaw X in September.

After speaking to mates last night and some equally awesome people on Twitter, this will come as no real surprise – there are multiple reasons for this and I am quite happy to share them – I don’t feel at all bad about changing my race or my priorities – in fact if anything, going to see Graeme Obree speak last week has just reaffirmed my own outlook to not really care what others think, to not worry too much about life’s purpose and to enjoy the moment. I’m not a pro and life happens and no-one will die as a result of me changing my mind!

So why the change?

  • I don’t think I will be race fit in 6 weeks. That is completely my own doing. I had a plan. I was, at the start, doing well to keep to The Plan. Then I booked too many social things and took on extra work with my own business and an extra day at work in the day job, that I’ve struggled to fit it in – slowly heading towards burn out.
  • I was too ambitious with my initial training plan – I think this may have contributed to my loss of running mojo. It had all started so well too! I know too well though that this does ebb and flow anyway.
  • My friend withdrawing meant that I was racing far from home on my own. Ok this is a bit of a no-goer as an excuse and her decision, like mine, has been the right one (so no feeling bad!!). Changing my race means I can probably actually get out on the bike more with her, which was part of the original plan when we discussed Holkham anyway so win win! We will be back! And I’d still like to do Holkham.
  • Delaying/changing my A race means I can take on board what I’ve learnt in the last three months and get it right or rather improve it. How many people honestly get to reset their training during a race season? We are still only just in to triathlon racing season and I’ve a reasonably ok base on which to restart – so taking this as a mini win.
  • I need to reset – building on from the last point. I’ve come down with cold/chesty cough and noticed last night how much it effects my riding. As well as getting a good kick in the backside about doing more hills and actually going and doing some S&C – as one of my mates keeps nagging me to do. I need to mix up my training again. I also need to swim more as I have signed up for Coniston End to End and that now lands BEFORE my half-iron distance race.
  • Outlaw X is quite a bit closer to home. I hadn’t sorted out my accommodation for Holkham but Nottinghamshire is closer – which has some obvious travelling advantages. I also think I know a few people who might be doing it so that’s a bit of a winner for me too.
  • The weather will, hopefully, stand a chance of being cooler. Equally, there is a higher chance of it being a lot wetter – but I don’t really do well in heat – to be fair, this is just an advantage of having a later race – it could end up being an Indian summer and hot!
  • It gives me chance to go do some sportive that I’d like to do which will help with training – after last years events and thinking about my cycle fitness by September last year – I was in a good place – hopefully I will be in an even better place by this September!
  • Hopefully I have learnt to not book in too many social events – or rather, balance them a bit better. I feel like, after 8 years of being in a relationship with someone who actually wasn’t that spontaneous and that up for mini-adventures, I’ve been making up for lost time. I don’t want to lose that but I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Alnwick Sprint a couple of weeks ago – why not incorporate my mini-adventures/road trips with training? So going forward, I want to incorporate them.
  • Triathlon/training has taken over a bit too much and I need to step back as well I think. Hopefully in changing races, I can actually take a step back. I am heeding the warnings of my friends about burnout before I do actually properly burn out.

Genuinely think this is a good call on my part. A middle distance triathlon was the goal for this year and changing it has all sorts of advantages. It also means that I stand a better chance of getting a time I am actually happy with compared to racing in 6 weeks and possibly breaking myself!

Roll on a summer of training and enjoying life!

 

Alnwick Sprint Triathlon

Where to start?

At the beginning.

In the beginning there was…..

Haha ok maybe not. So it may have come to some people’s attention that North or ‘The North’ is my favourite place to be. More precisely – Northumberland. In fact the temptation to move there increases regularly. As a result it should come as no surprise that entering Alnwick Sprint Triathlon was a bit of a no brainer! I’d set a reminder on my phone – which didn’t work so originally missed out – until I spied over social media that some more places had become available as people hadn’t wanted them. Bingo! This was months ago.

Fast forward to the day before.

Accommodation was booked and sorted – I arrived in Northumberland in plenty of time. All good you’d thing – I was too early to go to my accommodation so decided to drive the bike route. Well what a BAD idea that was. I knew it wasn’t flat but argh – talk about putting the wind up myself. Undulating is a rather mild word for it! Either way – it was a scenic route but it did put the wind up me and result in some frantic texting! This kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Stayed in my favourite village – Beadnell – at Farne Lodge – what a gem of a find! I’ll be back over the summer! Really nice rooms and didnt need breakfast so was more than happy – although a little gutted my mate couldn’t make it. In all honesty I had a bit of an emotional wobble about life which again was solved/helped by some conversations with mates and I snapped out of it.

I had some jobs to do work wise (I had taken laptop) so sat and worked through a bit of the to do list then headed over to the pub next door for tea and some Guiness – why not? I took a book and just sat chilling on my own – looking distinctly like billy-no-mates.

Netflix and bed.

RACE DAY!

My first triathlon in nearly a year. I really think I am one of the laziest racers in the club. Alarm went off, I hit snooze. I thought about moving and wondered how close I dare leave it before dragging myself out of bed and getting up. Ate some food – thought that was wise! Pulled on my trisuit and some trousers before loading the car and tootling off to Alnwick. The joys of knowing the area meant no worrying about getting lost and knowing exactly where I needed to be and how long it would take. Bonus points really.

Rocking up on my own was a bit novel. I HAD read the race pack re registration and the briefing but after liberating my race number and my bike and racking up in transition – someone kindly reminded me I needed to be at a race briefing! Perfect planning there.

Thankfully not before leaving my long sleeved jersey with my bike. I hate being cold on the bike. Even in a race.

Briefing done, Let the waiting game commence!

My swim wave was 8.30 – I’d put down 7:30 swim time when I entered which put me in the 5 wave – out of 7 or 8 so heading towards the top half. The wave in front – one lass was quite slow in finishing, leaving no time for any warm up so it was a case of straight in. After focusing on my form – I was annoyed that I forgot in for the first 150m. Then it clicked – higher elbow, more power, pull and relax – then things eased up and I managed to keep on the toes of the lad in front – I’d let him over take. Stopped my watch dead on last stroke – 7:19 thank you very much! I was over the moon.

Then I buggered up my watch. I use my watch in triathlon mode so little that I forgot how it worked – so trundled through transition with the full intention of keeping warm on the bike (so that could have been quicker…). It took me half a km to get my watch on to cycle mode but….

The bike had almost given me nightmares but there was no point in sacking it off – I needed to do it. Turns out though that as tough as it was – it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was as undulating as it was scenic and in the end I was genuinely happy with my finish time – my average pace as 15.8mph which was better than I was expecting. My attitude on the bike is better than running – I seem to be able to push through the pain on the bike more than I do the run.

Talking of the run.- I faffed into transition – and as I set out on the run – remembered just how awful that heavy leg feeling is off the bike. I really should remember to do brick sessions. Either way – the run was four laps of the local secondary school – a long slow gradual uphill with a corresponding decent and in all honesty – once I got into it, managed to maintain somewhat reasonable pace for me, but I will admit I spent the last half an hour never wanting to do a triathlon again. I was properly miserable at one point! And so glad to see the finish line! At least the sun was shinning and. there was a good support crowd! The race photos are definitely amusing!

Of course after finishing – without having a support crew there, a flurry of texts went out with ‘I NEVER WANT TO DO A TRIATHLON AGAIN’. Obviously two hours later once normality had been restored I took most of this back!

Biggest worry now is actually getting enough training in for Holkham. Any chance I can take the next 7 weeks off work?!

Holkham Training – Week Four

Well I’ve hit an absolute dip in my motivation to train this week – in terms of running anyway. It’s just been busy. On the plus side – my cycling has increase and I got my two hour ride in on Saturday so I really need to stop beating myself up – I also didn’t get my LSR in on Sunday – I decided cheering my mates on at Skipton Triathlon (why is it always cold there?!) was more important! I also really need to give some serious time to strength and conditioning work! I would also like some more sleep!

Swimming – 3250m – Nothing to really report here – although my pace wasn’t on form at all this week – I’m not too worried – it has fallen a bit by the wayside due to cycling….

Cycling – 69.6km – All on the road and none on the turbo. Managed to get a two hour ride in on Saturday to town but spent nearly an hour gabbing to friends – on the downside, had a head wind back. Starting to feel a bit more confident with my cycling in terms of getting my general fitness back.

Running – 15km – This is really poor for this week – and where I really need to be focusing. I had a really good run on Wednesday but still suffering with a hot spot on my right foot when I try to put any pace on – and I missed my LSR on Sunday due to heading off to Skipton and not really getting up early enough to go before.

Next week I am not working quite as much – I am hoping I’ll get some run mojo back but I am not feeling particularly hopeful at the moment. I think Monday and Tuesday will be write-offs.