One of my favourite of the colder race series—yes, one I genuinely look forward to competing in during the gelid, miserable winter months—is Humanrace’s off road duathlons. Sadly due to a broken shoulder from an MTB crash, I was not able to compete in the series this year. However, getting back my fitness, I was able to take part as the 1st runner in a Rgactive relay team. The distances were 10k first run followed by 18k bike followed by the last 5k run.
The race was called The Iceman but, unless the Oxford New English Dictionary has changed it’s definition of “ice” to ” soft, sticky matter resulting from the mixing of earth and water”, there was no ice in sight. There was, however, plenty of mud. So, without the usually daunting prospect of having to avoid slipping on the ice, I guess you could say I was in no danger of getting cold feet… Everything kicked off about 9:30am with the dog runners, or, as they are known in the business, Canine Cross, then the 11k and 16k trail runners. The weather was unseasonably mild with sunshine popping out now and again which made conditions very pleasant to run in but very slippery underfoot.
The course was tough although it did have some beautiful parts where I felt I could run all day on. Through the trees the ground was soft and fast especially on the downhill parts—lots of fun! Sadly that ended quite quickly and the series of hills that were just ahead really challenged my mental fortitude. As I wasn’t at my fittest I was very happy to walk behind the plethora of people who were also just trying to survive the 90% gradient of the hills (again, the dictionary might consider readjusting it’s definition of “hill” to “a steep or rugged cliff or rock face”…)
Finishing in a quicker time then I ran last year, go figure, I was very happy to pass the baton off to my team mate Simon on his Rose Bikes MTB. He had the exciting part of an 18k MTB ride in the mud, but being a true mountain biker I am sure it wouldn’t have even phased him. Leigh-Anne had the glory leg of our Dream Team, she was left with the last 5k run and lucky her, she only had to run that devilish loop once. We finished in second place a mere 30 seconds behind the team ahead of us—I guess you could say it was the “icing” on the cake for us…
For anyone thinking of competing in Humanrace’s OffRoad Duathlon Series I can not recommend them enough. These races are fun and friendly but tough enough that when you finish you have a real sense of achievement. It is a fantastic morning out for anyone who enjoys a running, cycling or just getting dirty!
ICEMAN DUATHLON 2014 IMAGES
Call it going out on a limb, but triathlon is very much like the fashion industry; once one season is over, the next is eagerly anticipated. However this one was a bit different. The World Champs in the iconic and well-kept Hyde Park was pretty special; it has already been 2 weeks since I dipped my manicured toes into the beautiful waters of the Serpentine, and I still get excited just thinking about it.
What an amazing adventure! It all began 2 years ago when I was told The Triathlon World Champs were to be held in London 2013 after the spectacular Olympic Year. Oscar Wilde, one of my son’s favourite writers, famously said: “He who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world”. While I’m trading in a socialite’s dinner table for the algae-encrusted pontoon of the serpentine, I suppose the quote is still applicable; dominating the course at London this year really would have meant competing at the top of the world. And so my goal was set. I wanted to try and qualify for my age group and race in my hometown, London, in front of family and friends. Here is the précis of my journey…
I accepted that the pressure of wanting to race in London as a GB athlete would mean that the competition would be incredibly hard—who wouldn’t want to race for their country in it’s capital? My training leading up to the race went as planned; I had a solid training program which I was going well on and John, my other half, was happy I was progressing in each smaller race I did. Then the unthinkable happened… No, I wasn’t caught at the tills in my local Primark on a Saturday, but I DID get injured.
At first it didn’t seem like anything—just a little strain in my foot, and I thought the tightness was merely massage-worthy. Wrong! It turned into the worst planter fascitis (razor blades stabbing into my foot when running or walking) I have ever had. I have only had it once before, many years ago, but it passed quickly and didn’t disrupt my training too severely. When, however, it didn’t seem to get any better even when I was doing all I could to elliviate the ever increasing pain, I knew this was a big problem.
So I had to manage my run training best I could. I wasn’t able to run long or fast, which is when it felt its worst, and actually just walking was becoming painful. This was not ideal! So I just kept running to a minimum, and once again this was not ideal. But, as athletes, we have to manage our injuries as best we can and try not to go too crazy over them.
Here were a few problems/challenges I encountered before and during the race and how I got round them:
1. Loosing my water bottle at the 1st speed bump……… SOLUTION: Realising I can ride an hour with no water or MTFU which I did. (That honestly is my water bottle in the picture…as my youngest would say, “ALLOW!”
2. Mentally giving up a bit after I lost my bottle on bike. SOLUTION: Re-focusing my head (the mental discipline thing again)
3. Managing running with an injured foot…………………. SOLUTION: Remembering how thrilled I was just being IN the event.
4. Bad weather leading up to the event……………………… SOLUTION: Trained in it so I was happy to race in it.
Here is a list of my PROS which is why I race.
1. Racing in front of my family and friends….an atmosphere which was just electric.
2. Racing a course that was equally as iconic as the Olympics….with closed roads to boot.
3. Not having to stay in a hotel cause my house was just as close AND having a delicious dinner made for me the night before by our wonderful boys….surprise, surprise!
4. Representing GB…against one of the strongest fields you will ever see…OMG!!
5. Being able to grab a BIG FLAG on my way to the finish from my friend Rachel…not just a little plastic one…hate those!
6. Having my sons get some fantastic photos…much better then the official ones…no really!
7. Getting my super cool medal and t-shirt at the end….ALWAYS important!
8. Finishing with the biggest sense of achievement regardless of how my race went!
9. Seeing how proud my boys were of their mother…really was a moment.
10. Had a great time!
After reading these I don’t remember any CONS….
What now?? Will it be another Olympic distance or will it be longer maybe Ironman?? Not too sure yet on which races I will be doing in 2014, but what I do know is that metallics are the must-have accessory for the next Spring/Summer collection. So for me its time for makeup, high heels, metallics and and as many lie-ins as I can manage.
WORLD TRIATHLON CHAMPSIMAGES
My summer holidays, warm weekends away, and any littoral escapes for that matter, will never be the same after racing my beloved mountain bike on the fine sands that separate the beautiful city of Den Haag from the tempestuous North Sea. I’m not necessarily one for sand at the best of times (more of a pool girl really), but this definitely has put the gritty stuff in a different light. Did you know that sandcastles are more dangerous than sharks? Since 1990, sandcastles have caused 16 fatalities, compared with the 12 killed in shark attacks in the US. Before this race, I would have laughed at this fact just as you probably are, but now I fully understand the destructive power that all of those millions of little grains hold…
John, my son Taylor, our best bud Richie and I leisurely arrived at Rotterdam Airport on the Wednesday and went straight into the 1st tough competition of the weekend…a criterium race, which—you guessed it—was on the beach. John and Richie were racing, I however, decided last minute that after the long and arduous 45 minute flight it would be better to rest. Thank goodness I did—otherwise my legs would have been finished for race day. The locals dominated and showed the rest of us non-beach dwellers how to ride fast and effortlessly on the white stuff. John was the first non-Dutch back, shortly followed by Richie who, too, is quite handy on an MTB.
The following day we were able to race the course with a group of 20 athletes from all over the world. This was an easy, steady ride to see what was in store for us, although it would be much harder and murderous-sandcastle-esque come race day. They took us over all of the technical parts of the course, which included 2 death slides (my friend Victoria’s description) and 2 steep sections of stairs that most people ran/walked/crawled or fell down. Coming off the end of one said death slide, we were all reminded of the lethal capacity that sand seems to have—there were just too many wipeouts as a result of tyre slippage, bad bike handling or not unclipping in time.
That night the next tough competition was a 1k or 3k swim race for anyone interested in swimming the course. Thinking this to not only be a good idea, but also an accurate representation of what race day might be like, Richie and I signed up for the 1k and John for the 3k. I started to worry a bit when all the buoys were ripped away even before the start by the 20ft high colossal waves. Still, in we went and hoped for the best.
Upon finishing, I realised how much it actually took out of me both physically and emotionally. The 3k was cancelled mid way through as the water became too rough for all those crazy enough to have wanted to get smashed about by whitecaps and aggressive tides for that long in the first place… Richie and I strangely bumped into John right in middle of all the gargantuan waves, so we all decided to stay together. Well… they stayed with me in reality. I was just happy to survive, get to the end and feel solid ground again. Safe to say I was ready for the real race…couldn’t be any worse than that…right?!?!
Race day finally arrived, the weather was great and I was ready! 1 lap (1000m) of the tumultuous swim, 4laps ( 24k) on the bike (death slide 6x..gulp) and 3laps of a 9k run in deep sand. All of this in the searing heat of mid day just to make it more fun. I finished all in one piece, most importantly, 2nd GB and 8th in my age group. Big smile at the end for me and a GB flag from our fantastic team manager Paul on my way in to the finish. Tough race, incredible experience, loads of nice people but way too much sand—give me a shark attack any day. My next trip that involves any form of sand will be either on the cerulean shores of the South of France or form within the bottle of a beautician’s exfoliator, complete with jojoba extracts and all. Never again…until the next time…. right??
WORLD TRI CROSS CHAMPS IMAGES
raced last weekend at one of my favourite events on the calendar: Rutland Water’s Dambuster Triathlon. I never realised just how many little victories I’d have, seeing as it was my first standard distance for the season. And as I am preparing for The British Triathlon September World Champs this was going to be a just training race, I kept on telling myself…really!!
Yet another 3 hour journey up the picturesque M40 with nothing but our iPods and vocal chords—regardless of what John says, I’m convinced my pitchy renditions of chart favourites significantly enhanced the panoramic views of a grey motorway blending into an even greyer sky. We left London Friday afternoon, thankfully avoiding the traffic, and arrived relatively early that evening. We went straight to register and drive the bike course just to remember how the infamous “Rutland Ripple” was going to be on race day. However, my mental preparation left me unusually ready and rearing to go, which we’re going to count as personal victory number one…
Waking up at stupid o’clock the next morning wasn’t to be as mentally positive as the previous night. My eldest son once quoted Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part III, to me, and I remember these words: “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course”. I wonder if such “wise men” would feel the same having to rack a bike in temperatures synonymous with November rather than late June, aggressive, horizontal rain and winds that made the transition area feel like a muddy, dark freezer compartment? Possibly a little bit of an exaggeration but it wasn’t ideal for a June race. My mental preparation was in the toilet at this point. Had John said, ‘come on lets go home”, I would have been in the car quicker than Oakley at his dinner bowl. But sadly he didn’t, so begrudgingly we begrudgingly readied ourselves to face the elements.
The swim, for me, was surprisingly good. After positioning myself up front and to the left in the cold water I got a good start and was able to stay with a group, who in my mind looked like a world-class pick n’ mix of a bit of Phelps, Lochte and the rest of the Olympicswimming teams. Finishing with a time of 26 minutes dead, I gained a new PB. That is better then getting a pair of coveted, wait-listGucci shoes at Harrod’s first day sale. Putting me, mentally, in a much better place for the remainder of the event—we can count this as personal victory number two.
Jogging up to transition, all I needed to do was decide whether to put on my fur coat for the bike or not. Hmmmmm….tough call. However, the majority weren’t and so I decided to man up and go with out. Surprisingly, Shakespeare’s wise men got it right this time—it was the best decision I could have made and I was very comfy on my 42k ride. We can, therefore, count this as personal victory number three; everybody knows that getting your clothing wrong in a race can leave you far more uncomfortable than any injury or weather conditions could.
My one gripe—and its a big one—RACKING. Why, at a World Qualifier event, did someone get the racking wrong? It was too low for some people (thankfully I’m not that big so mine was fine) which meant that when I got back into T2 my neighbours bike was lying on the floor in my place. As efficient as us girls are at multitasking, this gave me the almost impossible job of having to try and pickup their bike with one hand while juggling my bike with the other. Not to mention a slow T2 time for good samaritan me! UGH! Alas, we can count one more personal victory here—not panicking when unforeseen mishaps tried to fling me off kilter! Boom, victory number four!
The beautiful run course took me out along the dam, hence the name Dambuster, and back which leads to my fifth and final small personal victory. Coming out of T2 I noticed a girl who I had been with on the bike course. Overtaking each other more frequently than I would have hoped for, she ended up passing me, and it seemed effortless, after the first 1k on the run. Not letting her get into my head and pick up my pace, I kept to my race plan. I stayed at the pace I knew I could hold for 10k and miraculously at the turn around point I got her….shock, horror!! Now I just had to stay ahead, which I was able to do until the end…another shock horror!
To summarise my personal victorious day, The Dambuster Triathlon is a race that everyone should put in their triathlon calendar for 2014. It has a smooth lake swim (well, kinda smooth…), a rolling bike course with a few uphills, but also a few fast down hills as well. Finishing off with a run that is both picturesque, fun and exciting, it is a course during which you can work hard on your strengths and try to improve your weaknesses. But for me it was all about those little victories and enjoying a race I will continue to come back to. Was the path in the face of adversity the wisest one? After 5 personal victories I’d definitely say so, regardless of how I may have felt at the time.
Race safe everyone, write soon!
This blog is a place for me to share what I do with you. It is about my love for racing, family and fashion. It is also about being an older athlete and how I manage to keep my training balanced and, most of the time, injury free. I hope to inspire other ladies, regardless of age, to get up and get healthy...just try it!