I have just come back from competing for GB in my Age Group at the European Triathlon Championships in the breath-taking Kitzbuhel, Austria. What an experience!
Having qualified in second position at the Newbiggin’ Sprint Triathlon last September I spent 9 months looking forward to, and preparing for this event. Although my training for Triathlon took a slight pause through the winter due to my London Marathon training, I still kept up my cycling. As soon as the London Marathon was done I was back in the pool and out on my bike, relieved to drop the 70mile running weeks down to just 25miles.
I ran 3hrs5mins at the marathon, not bad for my first one, and not bad for such a hot day! I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I thought I would, nerves seemed to take over as well as sheer knackeredness from the distance!
My coach Dave sent me my Triathlon training plan the week after the marathon, yeah thanks for that Dave, no rest for the wicked! I threw myself wholeheartedly into training, glad of the change of direction from purely running. That was until week 3 of my training when brick sessions being triple brick sessions, ie 20mins cycling, 10mins running, 20mins cycling, 10mins running, 20mins running, 10mins running – lie down and die!
Single leg drills on the bike, lots of speed running and long swim sessions helped to get me back on the Triathlon track. My first event this year was Nottingham Sprint Triathlon, run by OneStepBeyond. This is my favourite Triathlon event, due to the course being so fast and so competitive. I did my fastest ever Sprint Triathlon in 1hr8mins, having averaged 21.5mph on the bike section and 6mins/mile on the run. Like I say it’s a fast course, and that makes it so exhilarating!
In the build-up to the Europeans I felt quite relaxed, apart from a few post marathon chest infections I had completed all the training Dave had given me. As well as setting up my own Personal Training business it was a very busy time but I loved it. For me training for events is the most enjoyable part.
My family, aka Team Pom Pom (Ian, hubby, Joel 7yrs and Ollie 5yrs) and I flew by Ryan Air from Stansted to Salzsburg where my Dad picked us up from the airport. Mum and Dad drove through France and Austria with my bike and triathlon gear (I know I’m a very lucky girl). We all stayed together in a typical Austrian chalet – just idyllic and such a giggle!
The 2 days prior to the Triathlon were spent attending briefings, parading through Kitzbuhel centre as part of the GB team and getting my bike into the Transition area. Pre -race days are not the most relaxing or enjoyable. You spend your time worrying about the race and trying hard to relax (and eat/drink the right things!). Having my family there however was invaluable, Mum and Dad babysat for us while Ian and I reccied the bike course and Ian helped me relax by reminding me that I just had to do my best.
On the morning of the Triathlon I was itching to get going. My lovely Dad got up at 6am to drive me to Transition so that I could set up my equipment before then driving home so we could have breakfast. I then returned to the race start at 9am where I performed my warm up and squeezed myself into my wetsuit.
For me the swim through lake Schwarzee felt very hard as I struggled to relax and find a rhythm. I was hugely relieved when the swim was over and I was able to get on my lovely Canyon bike. The bike course was superb, up and down the beautiful mountains surrounding Kitzbuhel I felt strong and was able to do most of my overtaking going uphill. I never realised I was a good uphill cyclist! Coming down the mountains was a bit hairy due to the rain and tight turns but I felt exhilarated throughout.
Running is where I do well in Triathlons, it’s the last discipline therefore the one where doing well is a major advantage. Despite a stitch crossing my diaphragm for the whole run section I was able to overtake several girls. One german girl shouted ‘super’ to me as I ran by her which I thought was lovely.
I finished in a very respectable 12th place. For my first European race for GB I feel very proud of my achievements and so grateful that I got to share this experience with my lovely family. I am one happy Triathlete, and already planning and of course training for next year’s GB racing!!