Friday, 22 August 2014

Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

"This is it, this is really it, this is what I've trained for, this is the Commonwealth Games". These were the thoughts going through my mind as I dived into the loch in Strathclyde Country Park on Saturday 26th July 2014. For the first few seconds it seemed a bit surreal that after days, months, weeks and years of training the moment was finally here. But I quickly refocused on the task in hand, to swim, cycle and run around the Commonwealth Games Triathlon Relay course as fast as I could.

Running down the ramp into the Loch

Diving in

As soon as I came out of the water I was hit by the noise from the crowd. Coming into T1 I focused on what I had to do. Hat and goggles in the box, helmet on, bike out, run run run, jump onto bike, feet into bike shoes, pedal pedal pedal. Then I heard the crowd again as I tried to push as hard as I could round the bike course. I spotted a couple of people I knew in the quieter areas and I heard my Aunty Clare cheering on me. Back into transition, bike in, helmet off, run shoes on, run run run. "This is it, everything you've got, oh no my legs hurt, I can't keep this up, just keep pushing, I'm going to have to slow down, just keep trying, all the way to the end, every second counts".

Coming out of the water

After the race we cycled back to the hotel, showered, changed, attended a Triathlon Scotland reception and finally headed back to the athletes village for dinner and then the bar for our first alcoholic drink in quite a while. One was enough.

I stayed in the athletes village for the remainder of the Games, soaking up the atmosphere, watching other events, having my nails done in the village salon(!) and of course making the most of the 24 hour food hall. The closing ceremony at Hampden and following Team Scotland after party were brilliant and the perfect ending to an amazing experience which I'm still happy to recall minute by minute to anyone who makes the mistake of asking! 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, especially husband Jamie and coach Jack.

Thanks also to Jamie Simpson/Herald & Times for the photographs.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Bratislava ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup, Slovakia

Running through puddles
 On Wednesday the 14th May I travelled to Slovakia to prepare for my third Continental Cup race of 2014, the Bratislava ETU Sprint Triathlon European Cup. I felt like I had learnt a lot in my first couple of races and was looking forward to racing again and hoping to improve on my previous results.

The elite woman's race wasn't until the Sunday, so I had a few days of light training in the build up to the race with British team mates Hannah Drewett and Kirsty Anderson for company. We swam in a 50m pool quite near to our hotel and I found a grass track even closer to do some running on. However, finding somewhere suitable to cycle was a bit more challenging. The roads were very busy throughout the day and so after our initial attempt to find a quiet circuit we stuck to the stationary bikes in the gym.

On race day, I had my usual pre race breakfast and did a bit of stretching before heading over to the course ready for a 11.30 start. The water temperature was 14⁰C, the air temperature was 12⁰C and it was raining, needless to say the athletes from warmer countries were not impressed. For me though, the conditions were perfect- I don't mind the cold (must be my Scottish blood) and I'm used to training in the rain.
The swim was one 750m lap of a lake. I had quite a good start and got stuck in. I wasn't in a great position at the first buoy, but I managed to swim past girls throughout the second half of the swim, coming out of the water in 23rd place.

The start of the swim
The bike course was four laps of a 5.1km circuit which was quite technical with lots of pot holes, drain covers and tram lines. I held on to Emma Pallant's wheel as she powered up to a group ahead, which turned out to be the second group on the road. Quite a few athletes came off their bikes early on and unfortunately Emma was one of them. I then stayed at the front of the group for the rest of the bike but was unable to close the gap to the front pack who came into T1 with a one minute lead.

Chasing on the bike
The run course was two laps of a 2.7km loop. I set off at my own pace and quite a few of the girls in my bike pack came past me over the first kilometre, but I caught and passed a few of them before the finish to cross the line in 13th. I was happy with my result, which is my best of 2014 so far and I loved racing, especially on the technical bike course.
Results here

Thanks to Peter for the photos.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Antalya ETU Triathlon European Cup, Turkey

The start of the swim

On Thursday the 1st May I flew out to Turkey to prepare for my second Continental Cup race of 2014, the Antalya ETU Triathlon European Cup. I travelled out with British team mates Hannah Drewett and Jess Learmonth. Apart from it being nice to have their company, it was also handy to have someone to wake me up when I fell asleep at the gate so I didn't miss the flight.

The elite woman's race was on the Sunday, so I had a couple of days to swim in the sea (which was warmer than the hotel pool), do a few short rides and runs and read Bradley Wiggins' autobiography. I didn't enjoy it as much as Mark Cavendish's, but it was still interesting to read. On race day, I spent the morning relaxing and doing a bit of stretching before heading over to the course ready for a 10.30 start.

The swim was 1500m in the sea as 2 x 750m laps with a very short beach run in-between laps. I had quite a good start but in trying to avoid getting caught up in the fighting, I let the main pack get away leaving me out of the race pretty early on. I passed a few girls over the remainder of the first lap but swam by myself on the second lap and came out of the water in 38th place.

Quick run around the buoy before heading back in for lap two
Exiting the sea at the end of the swim
The bike course was eight laps of a 5km circuit which included two dead turns on each lap. I caught and passed a few girls before a small group led by Emma Pallant caught me up. Together we caught a few more girls forming a group of about 15 athletes but unfortunately only about five were willing to do any work and we lost time to the large lead pack.
The run course was four laps of a 2.5km loop on the seafront. I set off at my own pace and quite a few of the girls in my bike pack came past me. But by the final lap I had overtaken all but two of them, Emma Pallant and a Russian girl. Emma was now well ahead and chasing down the girls in the lead pack, I started to catch the Russian girl but couldn't quite reach her and finished in 28th. I was disappointed with my swim and therefore my overall result, but I still really enjoyed racing and can't wait for the next one which will be the Bratislava ETU Sprint Triathlon European cup in Slovakia on the 18th May.

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.