In 2015 I entered Ironman UK. As part of the build-up I did the Outlaw Half triathlon and managed to come 4th in my age-group. I was 3 minutes off a podium. The hard work that I had been putting in over the last couple of years was starting to pay off! Off the back of this result I wondered whether another winter of consistent training and specifically targeting the 70.3 distance would enable me to actually make the podium. Being so close gave me a hunger and motivation to really push every session. I also thought that I’d enter the Vitruvian – the English National middle distance triathlon Championships to see how I stacked up against the best people in the country.
After a hard winter of training I achieved a 2nd in my age-group at the Outlaw Half triathlon, 10 mins quicker than 2015, and started to believe that I could give a competitive showing at the English National Championships, although I thought a podium was possibly a stretch too far at the moment!
The days leading up to the Vitruvian had been quite hot and I was getting a bit worried as I find heat really affects my performance. However, this is England and the weather can change in an instant! So it was that at 3:30am on race-day I awoke to a very wet although not too chilly morning! Could have done with a bit less rain but the temperature in the teens was just about perfect for me! Due to the 3:30am start I got a coffee down me but couldn’t face any solid food. A banana and a gel half an hour before the start would have to do!
Leading up to the start the atmosphere was buzzing with nearly 1000 nervous triathletes champing at the bit to get started. Soon enough it was time to go. We lined up on the beach, and when the hooter went off, charged into the lake. I am a bit nervous of swim starts so started near the front, off to the right. This was a good tactic as I found space relatively quickly, swimming with a group of only about 3 or 4 other athletes. We stayed together as a group for pretty much the entire swim. The swim was remarkably uneventful and I was pleased to get out of the water in 32:50, a PB by nearly a minute.
So it was onto the bike. The water was cascading down the road and I thought I needed to be careful not to come off. Would be awful to end the race like that! However, I wasn’t going to let the rain dampen my spirits - so got stuck in. The Vitruvian is a rolling course so it’s difficult to judge how you’re doing based on average speed. I just concentrated on trying to put an even effort in throughout the race regardless of terrain and tried to stay controlled but strong. I passed a few women and a few women passed me so I thought I must be doing OK. And as it turned out I was. Going out of T2 I was informed by the announcer and my husband that I was 3rd in my age-group. Let’s see if I can hang on to this - I thought.
In previous races my run has been, relatively, my weakest leg and I have slipped out of podium positions as I have been overtaken by faster women. I have been working on my run recently, however, with some tough, structured long run sessions so I hoped this would make a difference. At the start of the run my legs didn’t feel great – definitely some jelly legs going on! However, they soon settled into a rhythm and I started to feel strong. Looking at my watch my pace was about 7:45 – 7:50 and although I was passed by a few women I felt like I was holding my own. I slowed a bit on the 2nd lap and a few more people came past me. I tried to respond but had nothing more. I just had to hope that they weren’t in my age-group. Soon enough the finish line was in sight and I crossed the line in 5:07 to find I was still 3rd in my age-group. Couldn’t believe I had got an age-group podium at a National Championship - by far my biggest sporting achievement! Actually got 2nd in British Championship as the winner wasn’t affiliated to triathlon England so was ineligible for a Championship medal!
I had a few tears as the emotion that all the hard-work that I had put in had come to fruition. Thanks to Performance Edge for all your advice and support – I couldn’t have done it without you!