Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon Race Report 2017

 

Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon 2017

This year’s race was now organised by Dirty events (previously live active sport) so the race course was slightly different and no longer the Scottish Championship race. The swim was exactly the same in Loch Tay. The bike course was essentially the same cycling over Schiehallion and around Loch Rannoch but instead of cycling to Aberfeldy to finish the bike course, it took you back to Kenmore. The bike route was a little short at 90Km (usual middle distance is 91Km). The run route was completely different: a three lap course around the grounds of Taymouth castle. Perhaps they should change the name of the race to Kenmore triathlon as the race no longer goes to Aberfeldy!

 

I headed up to Kenmore on Saturday afternoon with Sam via Sterling. Sam bought a new bike at Velocity 44 in Sterling. We just made it to race briefing for five. After briefing we checked in our accommodation at Kenmore hotel (few hundred meters from the start). In the evening a few of us from Edinburgh triathletes had a pre-race dinner at Taymouth restaurant.

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 5.15am. The hotel put on an early breakfast for athletes. I unusually felt hungry, so had two slices of toast and my usual pre race breakfast of porridge and green tea. I had breakfast with my friend Cat and then headed back to the room to take my bags, kit and bike to transition.

This race has a split transition, transition one and two were only a few hundred meters apart so I dropped my running kit at transition two and cycled with my bike to start for transition one. I lay out my kit in transition one with my bike and walked to the start.

I met up with a few club members at the start and donned my wetsuit. We had a quick team photo altogether before the start. The weather was perfect, it was warm, sun shining and everyone was in good spirits. I genuinely felt good and was aiming to push hard on the swim to get a good swim time.

I was in the first swim heat so headed into the water. Last year I remembered the water was really cold. This year I was pleasantly surprised, it felt warm when I got in. It was 15 degrees, I think it was about 12-13 the previous year.  My plan for this race was to swim fast, then pace the bike and run. The swim start was between two canoeists about 20-30metres from the water’s edge. By the time I swam to the start, the siren went off and the race began.

 

Swim (1900m / 1.2miles) 34minutes 34seconds

 

I started swimming and my positivity and optimism of the race diminished. I felt nauseous as soon as I started swimming.  The water wasn’t particularly choppy but I felt every motion. I got around the first buoy trying to ignore my stomach, but after the buoy the pack got quite brunched up. I thought it wasn’t too bad until I started burping and tasting my breakfast. I had a couple people drafting me, by my side and on my feet. Suddenly I had what felt like a blow to my side and hip then uncontrollably I vomited, and moved over from the pack. I didn’t really stop and slowly continued to swim (avoiding vomit) breathing every other stroke but after 150metres I vomited again. I thought about stopping but I managed half the swim so carried on. I did feel better after but the feeling of nausea remained. I continued my swim at a much slower pace and hoped for the best.

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 3minutes 58seconds

 

When I got to the marina and was so happy to have finished the swim. I jogged up to transition and sat down to get changed. I was so relieved to be out the water but also annoyed at myself for eating too much at breakfast. I didn’t even look at my swim time as I knew it wouldn’t be great. I felt much better being on land and headed out on the bike.

 

Bike (90kms /55miles) 3 hours 12minutes 40 seconds

 

I started the bike well, trying to make up the time I missed on the swim. The weather was sunny and warm which also helped! My nausea just wouldn’t shift; I found it difficult to take sips of my drink never mind food. By the time I was over Schiehallion and commenced cycling into head wind around Loch Rannoch my energy levels were low. I felt like everyone was overtaking me at this point. I ate and drank slowly.

When I was cycling on the other side of the Loch I felt much better and ate as much as I could before the climb back up Schiehallion. I was overtaking other athletes up the hill and managed to pick up pace again. I really enjoyed the dissent back down to Keltneyburn. I narrowly avoided a crash when another athlete just overtook me and judged the corner ahead wrong. Luckily when she fell she slid to the side otherwise I would of gone straight into her. I checked she was ok and continued my race. I found out later she only had bad bruising and road rash grazes across her face, nothing too serious. I got back to Kenmore to transition and was ready for the run.

Bike to run transition (T2) 1 minute 35 seconds 

 

Transition two, was quick in and out. My only problem was that there were no toilets in transition. The bike route also doesn’t have toilets at the feed stations. I didn’t want to expose myself on the bike or run. When I started my run I had to go off course to use the portaloos, I was pretty desperate at this point. It is also against the triathlon rules to get naked during the race and will be taking this up with dirty events.

 

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 52mins 44 secs

After my toilet dilemma I started the run well, I felt the best I had all day. I had a planned pace and tried to keep it up. The run was actually quite similar to Edinburgh Ironman run route, three laps and one big hill. I really enjoyed the new run route, spectators were able to cheer you on and the route was much more interesting, a mixture of road and trail. By the third lap my legs were goosed. I couldn’t keep the planned pace my legs were very heavy and sore.

The last three miles were a real struggle, however I think everyone else around me was the same. All the smiles and enthusiasm from other club members and competitors had gone. I tried a sprint finish but my legs didn’t have it in me. I was so relieve once I finished!

 

Finishing time- 5hours 45mins 32 seonds 70.3miles (70.3)

Overall I was disappointed how it went but also pleased I managed to complete it. I really liked the new run route however my Garmin did clock up 13.6miles! I had a great time with fellow club members and the race was well organised. This is still one of my favourite races in such a beautiful setting. I still somehow manage to get a faster time than last year but the course had changed. On reflection essentially never do anything new on race day! I usually find it a struggle to eat in the morning so I thought eating a little extra wouldn’t do me any harm, I was so wrong!

Last week I finished my last triathlon this year at Haddington Sprint triathlon, a week after Aberfeldy. The race report will be coming soon. My next big race is Loch Gu Loch on 30th September. It’s my first Swimrun event which I’m completing with my friend Lisa. We race as a pair and complete thirteen open water sections and twelve trail run sections. In total we will swim 7.4km and run 47.4km. I do love a challenge and very excited to try a new event!

Jenwaar

Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 Race Report

Edinburgh Ironman 70.3 Race Report

I wasn’t in the best condition or well prepared for Ironman 70.3 Edinburgh. Two weeks previously I completed Celtman Extreme Triathlon followed by two weeks of travelling around the west coast of America enjoying myself, eating my weight in food and minimal exercise. Celtman was my focus this year, any other race was an extra and I wanted to enjoy my holiday away after months of solid training. A few friends and family thought I was a little crazy to do them so close together but how could I miss the first Ironman event in Scotland on my door step?!

I arrived back in Scotland on the Friday night after a six-hour flight delay from America, urgh! Registration and bag drop off was the next day so I packed all my triathlon gear, ready for Saturday. My wonderful friend Eilidh washed all my kit post Celtman (as we pretty much drove straight to Manchester airport from finishing Celtman). Thanks, Eilidh!!!

Saturday morning, I got up early to register at Meadowbank stadium. I got my race pack, number 406 and bags to drop off at transition. This triathlon has a split transition, a point to point race. This means there are two transitions, I had to sort my kit into two bags, drop them off in two different places and also rack up my bike. I filled both my bike and run bag with kit, and headed firstly to the swim location at Prestonpans. I saw a few members of Edinburgh triathletes (ET) at transition and had a quick chat. By coincidence I saw Eilidh at the bike rack and she was next to me, number 407. I dropped off my bike and bike bag in transition and collected my timing chip. I drove back to Meadowbank stadium for the mandatory race briefing and dropped my red run bag at the run transition- by Holyrood Palace- afterwards.

Briony, my friend, was visiting this weekend so after dragging her around Ironman transitions in the morning. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with her in Edinburgh and having a big dinner. I went to bed early whilst she and my husband Sam had a few cocktails (not jealous at all).

Everyone competing in the race received an email at 7pm from the race organisers. Potentially the swim may have to be cut short to 0.6miles (instead of 1.2miles) depending on the sea conditions the following day. We would all know at the 6am race start. I was a little disappointed as the swim is my best discipline but our safety is paramount.

Sunday morning I awoke at 4am, Celtman was 2am so practically a lie in! I got ready, made my breakfast and left. I met Eilidh and we walked to Meadowbank for the coaches to transfer us to the swim start at Prestonpans. I ate my lukewarm porridge on the coach. I bumped into Robin on the bus who also completed the Celtman triathlon two weeks before. We all discussed the uncertainty of the swim and the wind speeds. Yesterday morning when I was at transition it didn’t look too bad but apparently the wind was very strong overnight. Once I got off the coach, I felt how strong the winds were and I started to get cold. After a quick loo stop, I checked my bike and got my wetsuit on an hour before the start as I felt so cold! The wind was bracing but once I had my wetsuit on it was fine.

Swim (950metres/ 0.6miles) 20mins 29secs.

At 6am they announced the swim would be cut short, even for the pro athletes. This was no surprise as the conditions were crazy for swimming, waves over a metre high, lots of athletes were happy with this decision. I got a quick group photo with fellow Edinburgh Triathletes, then dropped off my dry clothes and headed for the swim pen. I decided against my pre-swim banana due to the rough conditions. I lined up with fellow athletes based on our swim predicted swim times. Most Ironman events now start with rolling starts. You place yourself into your predicted swim time and each group commence a rolling start based on these times with the fastest athletes first. Each athlete’s race started once they crossed the swim timing mat. The pros started and because the swim was shortened we saw them complete the circuit before I started so I knew exactly where to swim. The buoys were also quite close together so less chance to go off course (which I’m really bad for doing). We were set off in fours, 4 seconds apart and before I knew it, I was running into the sea.

Prior to starting the race Ironman very kindly advised that the hardest part of the swim would be the swim to the first buoy, as we were swimming into the waves. They suggested you kick as hard as you can during this part and after turning past the first buoy the swim would be better. This was now my game plan, however once I was in the water, my plan changed to swimming hard for the whole swim.  I’m a strong swimmer and now a fairly experienced open water swimmer, it was tough and the roughest conditions I’ve ever had in a race. I swam through the waves to the first buoy and decided to bilaterally breath (I usually unilaterally breath) and sight every other stroke. I did not want to swim any extra distance in these conditions! I inhaled a lot of sea water during this part but once I turn after the first buoy I was able to get into a rhythm and feel comfortable swimming. After that I found the swim fine, it was still very wavy, like swimming in a washing machine! Although the conditions were challenging I found no one was drafting each other, so no kicks or hits to the face or legs which I enjoyed and it was not really congested, even at the turning buoys. I think it’s the best I’ve ever sighted during a race, my lines were pretty straight on strava rather than wiggly. I was much more relaxed as I knew I wasn’t going to get a fast time and just wanted to get out in one piece. I didn’t see anyone getting pulled out of the swim but I heard 60-80 athletes were assisted out and a few people decided not to start the race after looking at the sea. Swim time wasn’t great but so was everyone else’s.

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 5 minutes 39 seconds

Surprisingly, the sea wasn’t that cold so running out of the water into transition I felt warm. I grabbed my bag, sat down and got the rest of my wetsuit off and bike kit on. I saw a couple of people vomiting, I was so glad I didn’t eat that banana! I felt a little disoriented but once I was on my bike I was fine, a couple of others around me fell off their bikes after mounting them.

Bike (91kms /56miles) 3 hours 24minutes 22 seconds

Initially, I felt strong on the bike- a tailwind does that! Along the east coast trail, I was in my TT bars and overtaking others. I was making sure I was eating, I didn’t want to bonk on the upcoming hills and the challenging Gifford/Garvald loop. I had the advantage of being a local, completing most of the course a few times before and practising the hills. On the first big hill, just before Haddington, I was powering through and enjoyed the long hill down into Haddington. Out of Haddington the head wind was strong and my lack of training between events was evident. I just didn’t have the power in my legs to keep up with the others around me so I kept eating and dug deep. The rest of the bike was just a battle with either cross or head winds: when I could I pushed. You would think I would be accustomed to the wind after Celtman and living in Scotland but today was particularly bad. The bike course was quite technical in parts, I took them safely. I’m glad I did the course before as I saw the results of a couple of crashes, a few athletes receiving aid from ambulance crews.

Some of the bike course is a “there and back with a loop” which was great as I saw so many of the club members and everyone was cheering each other on. On the last big hill to Cousland I got a second wind and it’s more inland so the wind didn’t feel as bad. There was a sign in Cousland stating this was “the last hill” which was is a cheeky lie! After Cousland it’s a windy course back to Edinburgh through Dalkeith county park; Bonnyrigg; and then a cycle around Arthur’s seat; a nice short steep hill to finish your legs before the run. The views coming back down to transition are worth it. Again, not a great time but my legs just didn’t have the power or energy since Celtman.

Still smiling after climbing up Arthurs seat!

Bike to run transition 2 minutes 39 seconds  Transition two was unremarkable: in and out pretty quick and grabbed my energy gel for later.

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 53mins 43 secs

Out on the run, the sun came out and it was warm. The run course is the usual Ironman three lap course, starting with a run up Arthur’s seat (900ft ascent), with a few turn and backs with gentle inclines and a run up and down the innocent railway tunnel.  Not the easiest half marathon I’ve ever done. Lap one was fine, I was elated with the support from club members, volunteers and other supporters, wearing club kit in a home race was so much fun. I, stupidly, didn’t take on any fluids on the first lap and paid for it in the second, so drank at every feed station thereafter: Edinburgh was surprisingly hot for once. Energy levels were low as I started the third lap so had my energy gel and pushed on to the finish. I managed a sprint finish in the last 500m and down the red carpet to finish.

Finishing time- 5hours 46mins 70.3miles (69.7)

Hands down, this was the hardest 70.3, well technically 69.7 middle distance triathlon, I’ve ever done. It makes Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 last year seem much easier in comparison. The course is brutal; rough sea swim; hilly, windy, technical bike; and hilly run. Despite the harsh conditions and gruelling course, I still had a great time. Plus my legs hadn’t full recovered from Celtman and also the none existent training over the previous two weeks didn’t help. The support during the race was immense throughout the race and especially on the run! Being a home race, wearing club kit meant I was cheered all the way to the finish. I wouldn’t recommend this race as a first 70.3 middle distance race or for a personal best time but more for the challenge in the beautiful Edinburgh and East Lothian surroundings.

Thank to Sam my wonderful husband for supporting me. Also thanks to Aisling, Alex and Briony for cheering me on at the end and post-race treats!

My next race is Aberfeldy middle distance race in two weeks.

Jenwaar

March Training Update

March Training update

Less than 3 months away from Celtman (OMG!!!).  I’m starting to get excited but on the whole a nervous wreck! Race day is slowly creeping up, I keep wondering why I even entered? I do know why… I love a challenge and to push myself (maybe too much). I am really enjoying training (most days), but keep having moments of self doubt.

This month the volume of training has increased. In March I swam 16.2 miles, cycled 325.3miles (not including turbo sessions) and ran 82.8miles.

Run and bike sessions, especially, have been further and longer. Swimming is the same, one to three sessions a week. I have noticed I am swimming slightly slower and weaker in the pool but I will be cycling and running much longer during the race so need to concentrate on these disciplines more.   I’ve been having a mixture of mainly good but a few bad or tired days/sessions.  I am feeling a lot fitter, I’ve lost weight and my times in training are getting quicker.

My main problem is getting the right balance between, work, training, and sleeping. Shift work can work in my favour sometimes, such as having more days off from work. It can also work against it as 12.5 hour shifts, mean I can only do a short session that day. My shift pattern is irregular and I can work a mixture of nights and days in the same week, with interrupted and little sleep. Not so great with training. I am trying to get more sleep, with at least 6 hours but aiming for 8 hours most nights or days.

In March I have been starting brick sessions, doing back to back sessions to imitate the race. Brick training refers to the stacking of two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with minimal to no interruption in between. It is really essential to practice this prior the race. The brick sessions so far have mainly consisted of long bike ride followed by a short brick run. Over the next few weeks, the bike and runs will be further distances and also adding in a swim session.

This week I bought some trail shoes, I will start running on trails and hills to mimic race conditions… two Munroes, I’m sweating just thinking about it! I’m quite excited about getting out and exploring hills and trails, rather than running on roads and urban areas.

In April training sessions are longer and more brick sessions. I have my next triathlon at East Fife and would like to improve from Tranent triathlon. Now the weather is starting to get warmer, I hope to start open water swimming sessions.

 

Jenwaar

January training update

January Training Update

I’ve been back from Australia for over a week (booo). Whilst away I did train but it wasn’t planned-more leisurely and when I could.  I’m back to work and full time training, which was a shock to the system!

In Sydney, I managed to use some of the amazing outdoor pools the city has to offer, I don’t think the Scottish weather would really suit outdoor pools! I swam at Sydney harbour bridge pool with amazing views of the bridge and Icebergs by Bondi Beach, again cracking views! Both 50metres pools and use seawater with some chlorine. At Icebergs you may feel the waves crashing over the sides as you swim! When I was at Whitsunday Islands I swam in the sea a couple of times, on one of my swims I got a bit spooked by seeing a large sea turtle and stingray swimming near me!

I hired road bikes, with my husband, and cycled up to Newport beach, North from Sydney and back. Both of us were not used to the heat-36 degrees- so we took it easy, visiting the beaches along the east coast. I would also not recommend cycling through Sydney in the day, it’s pretty much like cycling through London!

I did run a couple of times, however I couldn’t handle the heat too well, so I ended up doing short runs and long walks or hikes. Ideally I should have got up earlier when it was cooler but I was on holiday and enjoying myself. This me looking like sweaty mess after a short run.

Now I’m back in Edinburgh, the holiday bubble has popped and my tan is fading. Last week my coach got me back on an easy week which felt tough. I was a little worried I hadn’t done enough training over my holidays, losing the fitness levels I’ve started to build over the last 2 months. After a few days, I got back into it and the holiday fluff/ heaviness lifted.

On Sunday, was my first outdoor ride this year (in Scotland), I started out with Portovelo cycling club but after 20miles, my friend and I peeled off to do a different route. We stopped off at Bass rock for a quick photo. We completed over 60miles and I felt pretty good, so much better being outdoors than on the turbo trainer!

This week I’m continuing to build on distance and trying to get out on the bike once a week.

Jenwaar

December and January update

December and January Update

I’ve not written a blog post in 2 months and quite simply it’s because I’ve been so busy with festivities, training, work and trying to see friends and family.

I’ve ended 2016 on a high, I completed my main goal for the year, to race my first middle distance triathlon at Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and came 6th in my age group. I then went on to compete in Aberfeldy middle distance triathlon in August. I’ve also had a few ups and downs, particularly my ankle/calf injury, it’s on going but well managed (I can still exercise) and not getting worse! Overall I leave 2016 with a passion for triathlon (which I didn’t have last year) and as a stronger and more focused athlete.

For 2017 my two major races are Celtman in June, an extreme long distance triathlon (further than full Ironman) and Edinburgh Ironman 70.3, Scotland’s first Ironman event, I’m so excited!! I’ve always been a middle-distance runner and never completed long distances before my furthest run is about 18miles and 70miles on the bike. I’m really excited about the challenge and pushing my body!

In December, I decided to get an online coach, Barron (Endurance Worx)and it’s the best decision I’ve made! Not having to plan training each week is bliss, but also because I’m a novice and need guidance. We are using training peaks fitness app, which he uploads training sessions for me to complete. After each session, it connects with Garmin connect so we can analyse my progress, heart rate, power, pace etc. I found following set plans difficult to follow due to my shift patterns which differs every week. I can upload my work shifts on the app and Barron can develop a plan for me. He’s also really approachable and happy for me to contact him with any queries.

I started training for Celtman six weeks ago, I’m currently slowly increasing distances in cycling and running. I’m swimming less but I’m a strong swimmer and I need to work on the other disciplines. I’m cycling two to three times a week on my turbo trainer, three runs and two weight sessions. The run sessions mainly consist of slow paced runs increasing in distances each week and one speed interval track session a week. Cycling is a mixture of intervals and durance work, and if the weather is good and I have the time, an occasional ride outside.

I’m starting to feel stronger and fitter. My calf this week has been tight, since my long run on Saturday, but easing with my physiotherapy exercises, foam roller and spikey ball.

Tomorrow I’m off to Australia with Sam for a holiday and to visit my little brother who lives in Sydney. I hope to keep up training when I can, we are hiring road bikes for a couple of days and I look forward to trying at Sydney’s Olympic outdoor pool by the harbour bridge.

Jenwaar

Staffordshire 2016 Ironman 70.3

Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 12th June 2016

I’m really sorry for my lack of blog posts recently, I’ve just been busy having fun and now I’m back at work. In the first week in June I was away with friends to Barcelona for Primavera sound music festival, followed by a trip to Wales, completing Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 and then down to Cornwall for a friend’s wedding.

ironman

In this blog post I will be about my Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 race.

The two weeks before my race weren’t really ideal… I think I enjoyed tapering too much.  For friends who aren’t into fitness, tapering means reducing exercise before a race/competition so your performance peaks on race day. It doesn’t mean you should stop training altogether, just that you should cut back on the volume and intensity prior to race day. In Barcelona I ran once, had one gym session and drank lots of cocktails… Oops!

I arrived in Staffordshire Friday evening before the Ironman 70.3, my parents live locally to the race so I was able to relax at home and have Mum’s home cooked dinner. I read the race pack, double checked my kit, completed a full check on my bike and had an earlyish night. I noticed at this point I didn’t have any bike leavers in my puncture repair kit, panicked and then realised I would be going to a triathlon expo tomorrow morning so could buy some before dropping off my bike in transition. I ran three miles after all my preparations to calm my nerves and help me sleep.

triathlon

On Saturday morning I went down to Shugborough Hall for the triathlon expo and race briefing with my Mum. I checked in and got my race pack.  We arrived early on Saturday and the bike stall wasn’t open, a very kind man on the stall beside them for Staffordshire County council gave me some leavers for free, I was so relieved and thanks again Staffordshire County Council!

Ironman

I had three ‘firsts for this race’; it was the first time I had to drop my kit off the day before a race, first Ironman event and also my first point to point race. This means there are two transitions, I had to sort my kit into two bags, drop them off in two different places and also rack up my bike. I think I felt more stressed about this than completing the actual race! I’m used to arriving race day with all my stuff and just laying everything out by my bike in transition about an hour before it starts.

I usually always forget something on race day, this time was my race belt with a pouch. Lucky I had my other race belt in my bag so no big problem. I was going to put my flapjack in the pouch but my tri suit has pockets, so placed my flapjack in my bike bag and hoped I would remember on race day (which I did).

I was given three bags, blue for the swim to bike transition, red for the bike to run transition and white for after the race. The bike to run transition (T2) was at Shugborough hall so headed back to the car, put my running shoes and extra gels in the bag. I checked the bag a few times and dropped it off in the transition tent, on a peg with my race number. The swim to bike transition (T1) was at Chasewater reservoir about 12 miles away, so after a 30 minute drive we arrive at the reservoir. In the car park, I labelled my bike and helmet and packed my blue bag. This bag had my bike shoes, helmet, socks, cycling gloves, towel, race belt, gels, and flapjack. I checked the bag a few times and then racked my bike and put the blue bag on my peg in the transition tent. I got my race chip and then went back to my bike to remember where it was racked in transition ready for the race the following day. I then realised the bike was being left in the elements overnight and it was forecast rain overnight, I did not bring a cover and just used a plastic bag to cover the chain. I walked around transition entrance and exits to familiarize myself ready for the race the following day.

ironman

We headed back to Shugborough hall for the race briefing and then headed home to relax. I finished packing and setting up my swim gear (tri suit, goggles, swimming cap, anti-chafing glide, wet suit) and also the white bag which contained my dry clothes for after the race. I then applied my race number tattoos to my arm and leg, it was beginning to very real. It was my older brother’s birthday so Mum cooked a curry in the evening and we all went to bed early.

Itonman

Race day

 

I got up at 4am! I had a little pre-race nerves and excitement, when the alarm went off followed by an elbow jab in the abdomen by my husband. I headed down to the kitchen for my usual breakfast prior to any race: green tea and porridge (made with water) with blueberries and honey. Examined my kit, put my tri-suit and clothes on and made sure I ‘evacuated’ before I left home (sorry for all non-runner/triathletes). We arrived at Shugborough hall with plenty of time to get the shuttle bus to Chasewater reservior. I bumped into a fellow Edinburgh Triathlete Ian Gillon and we sat together on bus, wondering why we signed up, my race nerves had well and truly commenced! The athletes got priority first buses, so my husband and parents waited for a later bus.

ironman

At Chasewater I got to the bike transition and checked my bike, removed the plastic bag over my chain and checked my tire pressures. After two minutes I was done and realised I was just staring at my bike and then race day nausea kicked in. I had a chat to the ladies next to me and left transition to get ready. I had an hour and half to kill before my swim heat, so I went to the start to watch the elite and earlier waves. Sadly I missed watching the elite athletes as I was in the toilet queue but I wanted to make sure I went again before the start. I donned my wetsuit and warmed up. We were unable to warm up in the water as the reservoir is a place of special scientific interest and you can only swim in for the Ironman event.  I found my cheer squad (my husband Sam, Mum and Dad) and we all watched earlier heats start whilst I checked out the buoys locations and exit layout.

Swim (1900metres/ 1.2miles) 33 minutes 48 seconds

The swim course is one loop, with just two turns and in a reservoir so no choppy water which I prefer. This year they introduced a rolling swim start. We were divided into our predicted swim time groups and each group commenced a rolling start based on these times with the fastest athletes first. Each athlete’s race started once they crossed the swim timing mat. I was really pleased about this change because it can be really hectic and dangerous with everyone starting at once.

I lined up in my zone group 30-34minutes and put my swimming cap and googles on. I made a massive error when packing my kit, I only packed one pair of googles and they were broken so I had to buy new ones for race day. I bought the exact same googles but I hadn’t swum in them before.

ironman

We started on a jetty and after the horn sounded a few seconds later I jumped into the water and started swimming. The water temperature was twenty degrees which is fairly warm (compared to Scottish Lochs!) and the water clarity was good. No strange or funky taste and I could see my arms whilst swimming. The water was calm even with other swimmers around me. I always have a mini panic at the start of any open water swim, usually takes me about five minutes to relax properly and settle into my stroke and breathing pattern. This has improved with the more races I’ve done. I just have to keep telling myself to keep calm and then I’m fine. The rolling start definitely made it better I didn’t have to swim around (or over) other swimmers and settled into the swim much quicker.

My new googles back- fired on me, after ten minutes my googles had steamed up and I had really poor vision. I was swimming beside two swimmers with similar abilities so I used them for direction. The first buoy came quickly and I felt good and comfortable. One of the swimmers besides me went ahead so I latched on to her feet. I was drafting for at least five minutes but after a few mouthfuls of water I decided to go it alone, massive mistake! I couldn’t really see the buoy properly until I came close and kept swimming quite wide. In hindsight I should just stopped for a second and demisted my googles but in race situations you’re not always thinking logically.  As I result I kept changing my swim pattern which I think slowed my swim time (as well as the extra distance). I got to the second buoy and knew it was a straight line to the finish and it easier to sight the activity centre by the swim exit. Towards the last 200-300metres I swam around some swimmers in the earlier heats including one man doing backstroke, crazy! Reviewing my Garmin stats after the race I swam an extra 160metres, I really need to work on my sighting and remember to bring all my kit, so annoying!

Swim to Bike transition (T1) 7 minutes 11 seconds

I got out the water no problem, I wasn’t dizzy and my legs felt good. I ran along a long the gravelly tarmac path to the transition tent. Surely they could have put a mat down? I saw Sam and Dad when running along the path to the transition tent, Sam even ran alongside me cheering me on, then I looked at my watch 34minutes I was really gutted. I am a strong swimmer and can easily swim faster than that but it was done now so I focused on getting to the tent. I arrived to the transition tent collected my blue bike bag, wet suit off, helmet on, towel dried my feet, socks, shoes, sunglasses, race belt and gloves on. I remembered my flapjack and put it in my pocket. I put my wetsuit, googles and cap into the blue bag, tied it up and threw it into the drop off point. I took my time in transition as I didn’t want to panic and forget anything. I ran to my bike, picked it up and ran to the out of transition to start cycling.

ironman

Bike (91kms /56miles) 3 hours and 7 minutes exactly

The first couple of kilometres started slow due to speedbumps and a gravelly road but after that I got into my stride. The first few kilometres the roads were narrow and twisty. I was in one of the last swim heats so the roads at this point were very congested with other athletes and hard to overtake. After 10 kilometres the roads opened up and I could easily overtake. I felt really good during the bike and pushed hard in the first hour.

The second and third hour consisted of torrential rain. I got cold at one point and this massively affected my nutrition. I find it really hard at the best of time to eat whilst exercising and with being cold as well made it even harder. I was managing to drink and have gels regularly but I pretty much forced myself to eat most of my flapjack. I know I didn’t drink enough as well again down to the cold factor.

Ironman

The bike course was well supported by locals and beautifully scenic. The volunteers at the feed stations were great, smiling and cheering even in the pouring rain. The rain definitely slowed me down, I was much more cautious around corners and going down hills. I had a toilet stop at the 37 mile feed station, which added about 2.5minutes onto my bike time (now I understand why people wear two piece suits for longer distances). The last 30mins on my bike the rain eased and I got warm again ready for my run.

Bike to run transition 3 minutes 4 seconds 

I jumped off my bike, ran with it to the racks, racked my bike and ran to the transition tent. I saw a long queue for the toilet, I was so relieved I went to the toilet during the bike course. I threw my bike gear into the red run gear bag, changed shoes, had a sip of water, tied my bag, passed it to a marshal and ran off. No dramas and a fairly quick transition.

Run (Half marathon 21kms/ 13.1miles) 1 hour 49minutes 5 seconds

I came off the bike feeling pretty pleased with my bike time, out of transition I felt pretty good and the weather improved. In my head all I was thinking this was the last leg, not long now. I wanted to finish the race in one piece and also enjoy it, checked my Garmin and saw I was going a little quick and slowed my pace. My ankle had been playing up again a few days before the race so I continued steady for the first lap and would see what my legs felt like in the other two laps. At the first feed station I saw my parents and Sam cheering me on, just what I needed.

Ironman

The run course consisted of three laps around Shugborough hall grounds and through two villages, Great Haywood and Little Haywood. The run had mixed terrain of tarmac, trail, mud, gravel and grass which included one big hill, which we had to run up 3 times!! In parts it was really muddy and only one runner could pass so got a little busy in places and slowed my pace. I steadily went past other people, and generally felt pretty good in the first lap. I didn’t take any nutrition or drinks in the first lap.

Ironman

The support from the spectators on the run was amazing, spectators pretty much the lined whole run. The locals in Great Haywood and Little Haywood were in good spirits and recognised you each lap, which really spurred me on.

Second lap didn’t feel too dissimilar from the last. At mile 6 I had a sip of water, just after the hill. A mile later I started to feel tired. The next feed station I took my own gel and had some water, I walked through the feed station as I haven’t mastered the art of eating a gel, drinking and running at the same time.

Ironman

The third lap was tough, ‘only 4 miles to go’ I kept telling myself. My legs were starting to get heavy. I decided to take on a sip of water or electrolytes at each feed station. My cheer squad were by the first feed station on the lap, I remember staring at Sam with my tired eyes, feeling awful and he started yelling and cheering, it was just the boost I needed. Strangely after that I felt like I was on a high, smiling and even chatting to other athletes along the way. I think hysteria kicked in,’ I can do this’, and ‘I’m going to make it to the finish’. I was slowly picking off people one by one, no one passed me on my last lap. After I got over the big hill the last time I just let my legs go, and picked up speed. I saw the 12 mile sign and that last mile felt like forever.

IronmanIronman

I turned towards the finishing chute and sprinted down to finish and crossed the line. I looked up at my time 5 hours 40minutes 8seconds! I was so shocked by my time I had to look back and check it twice! My goal was to finish, enjoy the race and try and get under 6 hours which I did. I collected my medal and was beaming.

ironman

5 hours 40mins 8secs 70.3miles

Ironman

In conclusion it was a great race, apart from the weather (typical Midland’s weather). Overall I was disappointed with my swim, happy with my bike and satisfied with my run. It was my first Ironman and middle distance triathlon and I did it! Prior to the race I read a few negative reviews about last year’s race, this year’s was well organised and I had no issues. I had a great time and would highly recommend Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 to anyone.

Thanks again to my cheer squad Mum, Dad and Sam for helping all weekend and standing in the rain waiting for me!

My next challenge is Aberfeldy middle distance triathlon in August.

Jenwaar

Training weeks 15-17

The last couple of weeks of training has gone well. The weather has been improving and I’ve managed to get out on the bike more, slowly getting more miles in, with both running and swimming going well.

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My ankle and calf are both doing well, I’ve not had any pains for two weeks. I’ve continued the physiotherapy exercises daily and they seem to be working!

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Last Friday was my birthday, my last year in my twenties! I finished nights in the morning and after a short nap, Sam treated me to a shopping spree in Glasgow. We met up with some friends for a Mexican meal and we all went to a gig to see Marissa Nadler. I had the day off training, had a few cheeky Margaritas and was treated like a princess.! Thanks Sam!! Heavy black heart

mexican

Edinburgh has had amazing weather over the last couple of weeks and I’ve managed a few open water swimming sessions at Threipmuir reservoir. I was pleasely surprised that the water wasn’t that cold (once I got swimming). I’ve been trying to open water swim at least once a week in the run up to the race. I really don’t like swimming with a wetsuit, I find it quite restrictive. It usually takes me a couple of sessions each season to feel comfortable in swimming in my wetsuit. I would highly recommend and or insist on practicing before a race! During my first open water race I panicked and felt I couldn’t breath even after a couple of training sessions in my wetsuit.

open water swimming

On Sunday I competed in a triathlon relay race with Edinburgh triathletes. The race consists four team members completing a mini triathlon after each other. The distances are quite short; a 300metres swim, 7km bike and 1.5km run. The team consists of two ladies and two men, the order for the race is girl, boy, girl boy. The relay was at Knockburn, Aberdeenshire at a purpose built triathlon venue. We had a glorious day resulting in sunburn on my back and forehead (I never learn!) I started the race, my swim was quick, I got kicked in the head and I couldn’t get my wetsuit off my right leg after the swim but that’s racing! My bike ride was alright and I felt my run was slow but the time wasn’t too bad. I found sprinting each discipline really hard as I’ve been training for long distance (steady pace) so after 23minutes my lungs felt like they were going to explode! The race was well organised and I really enjoyed the post race food (fancy sandwich and ginger cake). Overall we were tenth out of 24 teams so pretty pleased with the result and we all had a fun day out.

triathlon relay

Yesterday I completed a long brick session – I cycled 50miles and ran 10miles. I now feel confident enough I can complete the race. My aim in this session was just to complete it, I kept a good pace whilst cycling and ran relatively slowly. My run time was pretty rubbish but I didn’t want to push it, plus it was 21 degrees in Edinburgh! On the bike I mimicked my nutrition for the race with two gels and a porridge bar. For hydration I had one energy drink and half a bottle of water. On the run I had one gel but had to stop to buy water as it was so hot! On race day I will probably just have a sip of water every 3-4miles. When I run a half marathon I don’t usually take anything on board as it usually comes back up, so my aim is to try and take as much fluid and nutrition as I can on the bike.

cycling

I’m currently writing this blog on a flight to Barcelona. I’m away with friends for a week, we are going to Primavera Sound music festival followed by a few days in Barcelona, can’t wait!
running
I’ve now only two weeks away from Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 (well actually 11 days), I strangely feel ok about it. I’m now going to start tapering, in preparation for the race. Perfect time for holiday (not), I intent to stop drinking from Sunday, continue running and cycling at the hotel gym. I also intend to fully enjoy my holiday!

I’m about to two weeks behind on my blog, I wrote this on Wednesday 1st June. I’ve now completed Staffordshire Ironman 70.3 on Sunday, yippee! Blog post to follow soon.

 

Jenwaar x

Great Edinburgh Run 2016

Great Edinburgh Run

My first race this year, Sunday 17th April 2016, I made my way to Holyrood Park for the start of the Great Edinburgh run. I felt a little tired when I got up however after a big bowl of porridge, honey and berries I was ready to get my game face on!

porridge

I’m lucky enough to live close by and walked to the start after meeting my friend Tiffany. I packed for the race the night before so my start wasn’t too early.

great run

I’ve run this race for the last three years and it’s a favourite of mine. It’s a hilly ten mile course through Edinburgh city centre. Half the course is up hill and the other half downhill starting and finishing at Arthur’s seat. I really enjoy running the streets I regularly run and it’s a true reflection of hilly Edinburgh!

I got to the start five minutes before the start during the warm up so I wasn’t able to get close to the start line but still managed to wiggle past a few people. Luckily, the weather improved, Edinburgh was grey and wet all week up to the race. Dare I say perfect conditions, over cast and dry however a little windy in some places across the course.

running

I felt good at the start and the energy was palpable from the other five thousand competitors. My laid back approach to arriving back fired slightly as I spent the first mile running around other runners. After the first mile I was able to get settled in, my own space and start first hill run, up the royal mile from Parliament building. I unexpectedly saw some friends spectating and their cheers spurred me on up the hill.

This year due to works at Scott Monument, the course was changed, instead of running along Princes Street gardens and up the Mound we went up Market Street (another steep hill) but it’s not quite the same as the iconic Mound. To make up the extra distance they added an extra short, out and back section on Lauriston Place.

Miles three to four the sun came out and I instantly regretted not taking my sunglasses and took my gloves off (I‘m used to carrying my gloves in training so no real problem). I felt pretty strong at this point and continued my pace.

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Mile five went through the Grassmarket which was well supported, thanks for all the cheers and also half way point. I looked down at my watch: thirty seven minutes, I was determined to get under forty five minutes at six miles and pushed on.

I found mile six the hardest it’s a long incline from the Cowgate, up the Pleasance to the Royal commonwealth pool. I started to dig deep, knowing once I got to the top we were going downhill again. I was picking out other runners and slowly catching them, I’m quite competitive and like picking out people at similar paces to push me further. I heard the bag piper at mile six and looked down at my watch forty four minutes, whoop!

Miles seven and eight I let my legs go down the innocent railway path and to Duddingston village. The last hill is up Duddingston Low road but totally worth it for the views. After hitting the mile nine sign its downhill with a short flat distance to the finish. My legs did feel a little tired at this point but the end was in sight and my legs went with it, I even managed a sprint finish for the last two hundred metres!

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I looked down at my garmin, 1 hour 13mins and 40seconds, I was very pleased. Two minutes quicker than last year as I can’t complain with a personal best! I checked my chip time online and was the same as my watch. Overall I was twentieth woman (crazy) and eleventh in my female age group 20-34!!

race

I had a great race and I would highly recommend anyone to enter.

Jenwaar

Training Week Eleven

Training week eleven

 

Sunday 12th June doesn’t feel that far away…..  Eleven weeks in and only 8 weeks to go!! I completed three swims and four runs this week. The weather was bad so didn’t get out on the bike; I have no excuses for not going on the turbo trainer…… oops!

blackford hill

On Monday I went for a long run with my friend Katrina and fellow madwife. We ran eight and a half miles up Blackford hill and around the surrounding areas.  I really enjoyed running with someone else, it makes a change from running by myself. Kat had just finished nights so our pace was slow but I enjoyed the company and catching up.

running

On Tuesday I went swimming between my nights. I got to try out my new long hair swimming cap. I swam 3.5 kilometres in sixty one minutes and I only needed to adjust my cap once. The cap is much bigger and able to stay over my ears throughout the swim. This has made a massive positive impact in my training allowing me to swim continuously like I would in a race. I’ve now ordered more and would highly recommend if you have a big head and long hair like me!

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On Wednesday I was a little tired but still went out for a run between nights. I’m surprised I kept up such a good pace; it was a usual run of mine and my quickest time to date! I feel my running in the last couple of weeks has vastly improved. My times are quicker and I feel my legs are not as heavy during the run.

running

On Thursday I had a rest day. I was pretty tired after my three night shifts and sometimes you’ve just got to listen to your body. Sam and I went out to Oregano restaurant on Leith Walk in the evening and I stuffed myself with antipasto and Pizza. It was delicious!

pizza

On Friday morning I ran to swim training and back. In total I ran six miles and swam 90 minutes in the pool. As you can imagine my run in was a lot quicker than the run home, but also because it’s up hill all the way back home.

running

On Saturday I rested, preparing from Sunday’s race.

running

On Sunday I ran the Great Edinburgh run over 10 miles of hilly running through Edinburgh City centre. I have run this race for the last three years and it is a favourite of mine. I managed a personal best time of 1 hour 13mins and 40seconds, I was very pleased. The race day had perfect conditions, however it was little windy in places. I felt good most of the race, and even managed a sprint finish. Overall I was twentieth woman (crazy) and eleventh in my female age group 20-34!! My full race report will be in my next post.

race

Overall I’ve had a good week however lacking in cycling and brick training! I shall focus more on this next week.

Jenwaar

 

Training Week Ten

Training Week Ten

Ten weeks of training completed and now only nine weeks till race day, it’s slowly creeping up eeek! This week I completed four runs, two swims, one long ride, one turbo trainer session and two gym sessions. On Tuesday I accomplished my first brick session, I cycled an hour on the turbo trainer and a short run straight after.

gym

This is the first week that I felt improvements in all three disciplines. I am now enjoying training much more because of this. My swim, cycle and running times are all quicker and I can now push myself much more in training.

I am now keeping a much better pace on longer distances with swimming. My new long hair swimming cap arrived this weekend so I will be trying it out on my continuous swim session this week. Hopefully it will stay on my head!

swimming

I’m now managing at least one long bike ride each week. This week I went out with the triathlon club for 36miles after a swim session. I am feeling much stronger and faster on the bike. I also completed an hour on the turbo trainer. I need to continue increasing my time and mileage on the bike, especially now the weather is getting better.

cycling

I’m seeing my best improvements when running…. I completed four runs this week, one short 2.5miles, two medium 5-6miles and one long run 15miles. My short run was after an hour on the turbo trainer; I had that jellied feeling in my legs but after ten minutes of running it was fine. Both the five and six mile distances are regular runs of mine, I had one good and one bad run. My bad run was between nights and I didn’t have any food prior so I had no energy and was really slow and tired. The good run was the following day I ate a banana prior and ran my best time! (Lesson learnt).

running

On Sunday I went out for a group session with the triathlon club. We ran the seven hills of Edinburgh. This is in preparation for a race in June, seven hills of Edinburgh. We had a mixed group of abilities and we ran up each hill and stopped to admire the view at the top of each hill and wait for the others. In total we ran 15miles and ran up some steep hills including Arthur’s seat! My thighs were burning the next day!

running

Next week I’ll be continuing my regular training and increasing the distances during my brick sessions.

Jenwaar