A week on from Ironman 70.3 Staffs. Whilst being away in sunny Mallorca kit testing with HUUB I’ve had time to reflect on last weekend’s performance. Staffordshire last year was my first ever 70.3. Had you of told me then I would come back, improve my time by a total of 12 minutes and finish 4th professional I probably would have been extremely content with that. However I do always strive for more so last Sunday’s race has left me hungry and motivated to push on with my current training block.
If you missed my interview with Cup of Tri post Ironman Lanzarote and pre Ironman Staffs you can find it here: Cup of Tri Podcast
Leading into Ironman 70.3 Staffs I was hesitant as to whether it was sensible to race so close after my first Ironman of the season (Ironman Lanzarote). I knew I would still be caring some fatigue and I was already getting stuck into a heavy training block, focusing towards my races later in the season, Ironman Wales. However that a side, I always love to race, tired or not the chance to race a quality domestic race in the UK is hard to turn down. Not to mention the opportunity to race Lucy Gossage, someone who inspired me from very early on in my triathlon journey, a great friend and mentor. It was a no brainer!
Reece and I were lucky enough to stay with Dean Edwards and his family for the weekend, thanks for having us! On Thursday after travelling up to Staffordshire we did a practice swim at Chase Water with the Cannock Chasers, this was a great social swim and a nice loosen off after the drive up from London.
Once I racked my bike and Transition bags on Saturday I had a few media type things to take care of. This is all starting to become a little more normal and just part of the racing process, to be honest I do enjoy it. A motivational talk with Harry Wiltshire was on the schedule, chatting to the GTR100 team to calm any pre-race nerves and hopefully provide a little inspiration. Harry was a hard act to follow after his very thought provoking talk, it certainly had me inspired. I then went on to tell my story of how I got in triathlon and why I love it.
Following this I went and did a short Q&A interview at the Compressport stand with the lovely Joanne Murphy. Jo commentated on my first ever Ironman in Bolton in 2014 which brings back fantastic memories. She is always a pleasure to chat to so this was great fun. Once all the media stuff was out the way it was time to chill out before race day.
Walking up and down transition on race morning is becoming somewhat a habit of mine. Partly because Reece and I help each other with last minute pre-race checks. Normally forgetting to put several things on my bike and having to walk back again. Once all this is sorted and my HUUB wetsuit is on and zipped up I can get in the zone.
A quick start, head down and away. I was struggling to sight the first few bouys but after around 400m I realised I was heading in the right direction, this is always a relief. My aim in the swim was to catch as many as the pro men athletes as possible, they had a two minute head start so it was game on. At around half way I caught a small group of around 4 pro men and then proceeded to chase down the others. I exited the swim in a time of 23:36, this was 2 minutes quicker than last year and gave me the women’s lead out onto the bike course.
Bonus points for not losing a bottle out of Chase Water with the speed bumps and poorly filled pot holes. Once out onto the main road I was able to get onto the TT bars and settle into the bike leg. However not for long as the first 10 miles are fairly sketchy with gravel on the road, this was made worse from the rain in the days previously. I know I lost a lot of time here from being overly cautious, not sure if I’m more worried about bruising myself or scratching up my new Boardman TT bike. Once the road opened up I was able to put down some more power but was I struggling to hit much above my full distance Ironman effort. This may have been due to the flat tyre I was riding on my rear disc wheel. The problem is on fairly bumpy roads with a disc this isn’t always easy notice.
With around 20k left on the bike the rain started to come down, I was relieved to be almost at the end of my bike section and not one of the age groupers further back. By this time I was lying in 3rd place. I entered T2 with Nikki Bartlett who went into 3rd place as I moved into 4th. My bike split was 2:39:43, a ten minute improvement from last year, in much worse conditions and with a puncture.
I had little expectations for my run having not put in a quality run session since Ironman Lanzarote. Starting the run I didn’t feel too bad however I knew holding sub 4:30 km’s was going to be a tough ask. It was awesome to hear my parents shouting their words of encouragement out on the course, this never fails to make me smile. Truth be told it might not always look like a smile! They’d driven down from Windermere where my dad had been competing in the Great North swim. I think they were probably more tired than me by this point.
A fairly muddy and water logged course in places made for great fun, it brought back memories of the winter cross country series with Hoddesdon Triathlon Club. There is also a nice hill on the run course which you have the delight of running up 3 times, somehow the organisers manage to make it longer on each lap, very clever! On my second lap I was passed by Joe Skipper who was a lap ahead, a few words of encouragement gave me a boost for my final lap, cheers Joe!
I managed to hold my position and finished in 4th place in a time of 4:42.43, just in time to see the champagne celebrations from the top three women. Congratulations to Lucy Gossage, Kimberley Morrison and Nikki Bartlett. A truly awesome day for the British professional women!
After a post-race massage the highlight of my day was seeing my fiancé Reece Barclay storm down the magic red carpet to win his age group and take his qualifying spot for the World Championships. A truly deserved result for an extremely hard working athlete. Also delighted to see Dean Edwards take 3rd place and also qualify, another extremely dedicated individual. Huge well done guys! I look forward to supporting you both there!
Post-race reflections and take-aways:
- My bike handling needs work
- A 12 minute improvement on last year is pretty good
- British weather is rubbish and I’m glad I’m off to Mallorca with HUUB
Best Swim Centre Mallorca – Kit testing with HUUB
Less than 24 hours post Ironman Staffordshire Reece and I were on a flight to Mallorca. This was for a week of kit testing and filming with HUUB & Swim Smooth. A fantastic opportunity for some more warm weather training and the chance to meet professor Huub himself. It was fantastic to meet the man behind the technology, someone who is extremely passionate and knowledgeable. His daughter who is the same age as me will be racing at the Rio Olympics for swimming. Producing the fastest swim wear is all in a day’s work if Huub is to please his daughter!
Reece and I were excited to test HUUB’s latest innovation the M.A.D system (measurement of active drag). The simplest way I can describe this is a like a wind tunnel for swimming, measuring the amount of power and drag produced when the system is swam over. Video of me in action here: Lucy at the Best Swim Center MAD system
Having met Paul and Adam from Swim Smooth once before I was aware of how knowledgeable they both are and this was another great opportunity to pick their brains. I’ve swam for almost 15 years and lost my mojo for swimming back in 2013. These guys have added a complete new twist to swim training that I’d never imagined possible, this has totally reignited my motivation for swim training. Thanks guys! If you haven’t looked into Swim Smooth, I suggest taking a look.
Reece and I had a fantastic week swimming at the Best Swim Centre in their 50m pool facility, you can’t beat swimming in the sunshine. It was brilliant to explore a new place out on our Boardman Bikes, there really is no better way to see the world.
A huge thank you to HUUB for the opportunity!
Once again a massive thank you to my team managers Martin and Mark and my sponsors:
HUUB, Compressport, Boardman, Skechers, Moonlight Design, Lazer, Pedal Cover, Active Training World, Iprint Stuff, Hatfield Cycles, Tannus Tyres, Bedfordshire University Sports Science Department, Baker Pringle, Your Town, KAYMAC, GLL Sport foundation, Stealth Nutrition, Curranz.