Ok you caught me – I wasn’t going to mention I had the British Champs at the weekend because a) I didn’t want to steal Kyle’s thunder 😉 and b) I had NO IDEA how it would go because a) I was injured for most of the start of the year, b) it is my first real race this year, and c) I am training for my A racing being a half iron distance triathlon next month!
I thought the best way would be to go there, trust the training that I’ve done, and know that my swim won’t be as good as the young whippets that swim 6+ times a week to my 2/3, use my Chris Hoy thighs to overtake as many people on the bike as possible, and then hold on for dear life on the run.
For those that get confused with all the “qualifiers” and “team gb” athletes in these triathlons, if you are an amateur athlete, at certain races if you come within 10% of 1st place in your age group in the triathlon, you qualify for the world age group champs. So if there are 100 people in your age group racing and you come 10th, you can self fund yourself to a world championship essentially.
Not this race.
There were WTS girls and an Olympian! This was the Elite British Sprint Championships, where the race is roughly an hour long. Blenheim consisted of approximately an 800m swim, 400m transition up a hill, 20km bike on a single road track within the ground of Blenheim Palace, and finishing with a 5.8km run around its lake.
Kyle came with me, and after work on Friday we stopped at the Lake District to camp (what a gorgeous area we found!), then on Saturday we drove towards Woodstock via Yorkshire where Kyle did a low key half marathon (he was due to do that distance as a tempo anyway!), ended up breaking the course record and winning £300 in the process!! He is a mental case! We continued down the road, staying in Banbury and having the most phenomenal meal we’ve had in months! I had a ridiculously sized hot wing sauce pizza, K had a huge bbq rib stack and we may have had honeycomb and butterscotch cheesecake for dessert #realathletes. No pics as our phones died and apparently you don’t get electricity when camping…
A quick clean of my bike (there was a billion bugs on it from the 500+ mile journey down), lay out of kit and a quick stretch, it was early to bed and up at 6ish to get ready for my race which started at 8.55am.
Getting to Blenheim was easy enough but I’d forgotten how much of a faff getting everything sorted was! Registering, putting tattoos on, setting up transition, then there were weird rules about not allowing to take bags out of transition area but not allowed to keep them there anyway (cue Kyle acting as my coach and saying he had to have my bag), walking to swim start, warming up, hiding clothes in bushes for after race (I sink without a hoody, shorts and trainers from warming up), realising your engagement ring could come off in the water so arguing with Kyle as to the responsibility of such treasure…etc etc.
Anyway, we were called to the start area where I saw Julie and Iona, walked to the pontoon (we were the keen beans first in line so the camera was right in our faces..!) and as it was NON WETSUIT!! (the water temp was 21C!) we were all pretty nervous! In the water we got, I went over to the far right as that seemed to be where the fasties had gone in previous years, goggles on my forehead looking out at the further buoy, the gun goes off!! Ahhhh!! A profanity may have been used (sorry Mum), before quickly putting goggles on eyes and head down and kicking like I’ve never kicked before! Hannah Kitchen was a good body length ahead when I looked up for the 1st time, with clear water in front of me. I wasn’t getting a draft, but maybe I was doing well? So I kept following her.
Nope, I was in no man’s land. When I breathed to my left for a change (I never do this) pretty much the entire women’s field were over there. Ugh!!!! So I headed over there to try and get some draft, but I was about 2/3rd down in the pack to made a wee challenge of overtaking as many feet and shoulders as possible. This made time go quit quickly and soon I found myself trying to get out of the water as quick as possible! Up the ramp, I was expecting the 400m hill so didn’t go mental, but within myself. It was more like 200m and then it totally flattened out, but not to worry I would just smash the 1st couple minutes of the bike with my reserved energy…
Swim time: 10.26 – 12th
I actually had a decent transition!! I did a “flying” mount – ok ok plodding mount – and quickly got feet in shoes and just picked off girls in front of me. The 1st group were all over the road so I had to shout where I was…I was a bit scared of a collision but was in race mode so was going to go regardless.
Using the bike leg as pretty much a TT, I didn’t look at sitting in with a pack, I wanted to overtake as many girls as possible.
A girl managed to go with me and we worked nicely together. Rather than shouting to go harder at each other, we made jokes about trying to make as much time as possible as Beth Potter was behind us! And despite my confidence in ability, I’m pretty sure I’m not in 32 minute, Olympic-qualifier type 10km shape.
Near the end of the 1st lap, there was a motorbike next to me and another camera in my face. I was so confused. Surely I’m not in contention here? I had what I thought had been a terrible swim, so could only assume I was in a top 10 position. I had been going flat out for nearly 10 minutes here so the last thing I wanted was a camera, but secretly I was liking it because it must have meant I was doing well. Like, Channel 4 commentators don’t go “and in 28th position, this girl doesn’t look great now does she?” [camera close up of Debbie dying on bike]. So hopefully it was a good sign.
Turns out I was in 4th! I knew I couldn’t catch Sophie, who I heard on the speakers was in the lead and she just got 4th in Yokohama after leading with Flora Duffy for the entire bike leg, BUT I was certainly going to try! From this point, I did most of the work, particularly on the hills, and by the middle of lap 2 we caught Hannah, who came out of the water as leader.
Now there were 3 in our group. We didn’t work amazingly together, but we weren’t enemies. If I was to look back I probably wouldn’t have spent so long in the front, as I did struggle on the run.
Anyway, we powered on to try and make a gap on a chasing pack. At transition, admittedly I got to the back as I was scared I’d cause a crash with my lack of speed, but turns out I got off the bike just as fast as the other two girls, transition 2 went well too (yay!) and I was out on to the run in 4th place right behind Hannah, already having a gap on 5th.
Bike time: 33.15 – 3rd
As we turned a corner, we were told the chase pack were 1 minute down on us, and someone shouted we had to speed up if we were to hold onto 3rd and 4th. Well, silly me treated it as a 1500 race you’d think, as I stayed with Hannah who then slowly started getting further away from me.
At the end of the 1st lap, I was in 4th. I kept telling myself I must have more endurance than the others, but that wasn’t the case either! With about a mile to go, I heard heavy breathing and knew exactly who it was. Beth passed me so quickly and looked so graceful! By this point we were on a hill and could really have been finished there. The remainder of the run was uphill, and my legs were crumbling underneath me!
When I went over the bridge for the last time, it was a run over some grass and then the finishing straight. Lots of spectators were out cheering and I didn’t want to look back in case someone was coming. I had secured 5th place, with about 80second gap on 6th and had to be happy with that with zero sprint training!
Run time: 21.14 – 4th
The girls ahead of me were really nice and supportive and I had lots of fun! Kyle was there at the finish and looked super proud! I didn’t want to let him down after my HORRENDOUS performance in Liverpool, and also wanted a decent race so the 10 hour car journey home would have some happy chat rather than the alternative.
4th Brit and £600 later, it was a successful Mooreig weekend! Although Monday morning in the office was not as productive.