Thursday, 1 August 2013

Following the coach’s advice… Kind of.

Liverpool Triathlon - The British Championships 13/07/13

After qualifying for the World Championships 2013 held in London at the event in Bristol a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t need to race at Liverpool. However I wanted to race the good competition at the British Championships but without doing any more damage to my knee. Philip’s plan was for me to push really hard on the bike, see what I could run for 5km off the bike then ease off completely. Here’s how that plan unveiled:

I arrived into Liverpool Lime St station on Friday afternoon, hoping to be greeted by Ben. Unfortunately, he was on the 6th floor of some multi-storey car park in the centre of Liverpool, and told me to come and find him. With no knowledge of the geography of the city centre, a race bike and heavy bag to drag around, and being followed by a train of young scousers asking how much my bike was worth, this was a bit of a mission to say the least.

How I felt leaving the train station

Back on the marginally safer side of the Mersey at Ben’s house in The Wirral, I did the standard pre-race procedure of picking all the stickers off my helmet from my last race and re-applying the new ones, checking out the contents of the goodie bag and finally having a pint at the local. In the goodie bag was a flyer for the World Champs 2014 in Edmonton, Canada; I sent a picture of it to Laura Fidler, fellow triathlete and supporter in Alanya, jokingly telling her to book her time off work for us to have our next girls adventure. I would never have guessed that the next day I would win the British Championships and pre-qualify for next year’s World Champs in Canada! Despite Ben’s persuasion, I was unconvinced that a vindaloo would be good pre-race nutrition, so I left him to deal with the spicy stuff and stuck to the pasta-pesto combo.

"Fiddy, you better book some time off work - this is our girls adventure next year :P xx"

The 9:40am start meant that I could enjoy a race-morning lie-in – bliss! All went smoothly on race morning: I set up in transition without any mishaps, except for a rather large spillage of talcum powder right by my spot, which unintentionally helped me to spot my bike in transition during the race. Sneaky.

This isn't deliberate marking of my transition spot, no?

The day was hotting up – it was already 24oC when I was getting into my wetsuit. Feeling like a sweaty beached whale, I couldn’t wait to jump into the Mersey (surely this needs to go on one of those ‘Things ________ didn’t say” facebook groups). I did a quick warm-up then positioned myself on the pontoon amongst the other ladies. I looked up to wave to my family one last time only to see Ben dashing towards the portaloos – I’m guessing that vindaloo wasn’t such a good idea after all. There was a surprising amount of chat on the start line for such a big event; I guess this is what happens when you put all of the girls together in one wave.

With a starter signal that sounded more like a fire engine than a klaxon, we were off. Despite the friendly chat on the start line, these girls were aggressive in the water! The initial sprint from the start line was incredibly speedy and I felt myself panicking – I wasn’t used to all of this splash and fighting. After the first buoy I had moved my way up to second position and at around 300m into the swim, I overtook the leader to take the lead of the race. Feeling comfortable, I pushed again a couple of hundred metres later to open up a gap between me and the girl in second. It was at this point that I noticed the pretty lights in the water. Slightly dazed, and confident that there could be no life in the Mersey, I presumed these were carrier bags that were reflecting the sunlight. It was only when I brushed my hand against one of these that I realised the ‘carrier bags’ were actually hundreds of jelly fish! I didn’t panic initially until an unfortunate jellyfish hovered around the surface just as I was taking a breath and he got a bit too close and personal with my tonsils… I almost swallowed a jellyfish!! I took off after that and reached the swim exit in 20:05, the fastest female swim of the day.

Not much can be said about the bike… It was pretty flat, I pushed hard and I enjoyed overtaking a cervelo P2 a bit too much. My mum and dad were cheering with Ben from the sidelines (was that a bacon butty I spied in his hands?).

Now onto the run. I’d kept a keen eye out on the bike for other in my age group coming past me, however they never came, or at least I didn’t spot any. Following Philip’s instructions, I did my first 5km at 5km race pace and still, no-one passed me. Feeling really comfortable at the turn point, and without pain in my knee, I decided to dig deep and continue at this pace. All I could think about was my post-race McDonald’s and what I would get in my prize-bag if I kept going and won.

I crossed the finish line in 2:15:25, with a PB in all three disciplines that day and as the British Champion in my age group. I really can’t complain with that (except for the fact that there was no goody bag for the winner!).

Proving that size doesn't equal speed

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