What's it all about?

I decided to write a blog following my training and triathlon season. For me, I have always participated in sports for as along as I can remember, whether it was being one of the only girls playing football with the boys, playing hockey at numerous clubs or running around cross country circuits in the pouring rain. This year I plan to work hard on my swimming, cycling and running in an effort to qualify for the World Championships in Triathlon and represent my age group. I hope that you enjoy my blog or rather my ramblings and feel free to comment.

Kerry X

Monday, 28 May 2012

Some triathletes like it hot.... others don't!

Nantwich Sprint Triathlon

A weekend in Chester to race with my parents was on the cards. I had entered them into the Fun distance Cheshire triathlon as part of the Cheshire or Nantwich Triathlon as a Christmas present. Very funny I thought but rather was a bit mean according to lots of people.
This training week has been exceptional in terms of the weather and preparation for this event has been amazing. I have had such a good week of training and decided to take Saturday as a rest day as it also included travel up to Chester on the Saturday afternoon.
Sunday was expected to be one of the hottest days of the year so far, so I made sure I had plenty of sun cream with me and was ready to race. Being off at 12:40 meant that I would be running at the hottest part of the day. It was also a logistical nightmare with Will being off at 11:18, Mike, my step-dad off at 13:14 and then finally Mum off at 13:40. This wouldn’t have been too much of a hassle, but with a split transition, this turned into an additional issue of trying to work out who would finish where and where we would meet etc afterwards with the car keys.

Will and I registered and placed our running shoes in T2, then after trekking back to the car for the fifty millionth time, we took our bikes over to the swimming pool for T1. This race was a bit more plinky-plonky as being aimed at novices (fun and super sprint distances) it meant that there was no chip timing, and nowhere officially allocated to rack your bike and place your shoes. You also couldn’t rack your bike until 15 minutes before your official start time. There was also a 10 minute walk from the main finishing arena and running course (Barony Park) and the swimming pool.
Anyway Will and I finally got things sorted and talked about how disorganised we had been- not a good start. We had forgotten our track pump and it took 3 attempts to find one that would work well! I am glad that triathletes are a friendly bunch otherwise that would have been two DNSs for the day.

After making our way to the pool for Will’s start time and seeing him rack up, my parents finally arrived ready to see him off in the pool. I had marshalled at this event last year in May and was a helper in T1 so remember how small the transition area was and how many things could potentially happen, such as other people moving your bikes and helmets and shoes. The other issue was that you had been allocated a drawstring bag to fill with your bits and then it got shipped back to the finishing area post-race.
I watched Will start off in the outside pool, which looked really refreshing when stood in the baking sun and watched him navigate or rather fight his way through the slower swimmers. Having originally been scheduled to start at 8:30, we emailed the organisers to change his time, which meant he was with the slower swimmers. Despite this he still managed a very respectable sub 7 minute swim for 500m which included 4 lengths in each lane and having to duck under the lane ropes. This would be fun for my swim!
I then walked back to the finishing area- you can probably start to imagine by now that I was not in the mood to have to walk around again in the sun, but I wanted to get a drink and watch Will come in off the bike. He managed to come in quickly than I thought and then he spent over 2 minutes looking for his shoes in T2. Rather annoyingly they had been moved about and covered over; he was just about to leave his bike on the fence to look properly when he spotted them under a bag. Anyway after cheering him on with my parents for a couple of laps, I made my way back to the pool for my race. I was race ready, trisuited and suncreamed up. Having racked my bike under a tree to help me remember where it was, I spotted my Aunty Hilary and cousins and friend Clare there to cheer me on.
Having then made it to poolside, I was beginning to feel slightly apprehensive, especially given that I seemed to be surrounded by girls who looked very quick and fit!
Waiting on the poolside, I was stood next to Dominque Searle, a very fit and fast lady (*who just happened to win on that day) - I was aware of her speed and therefore would be a serious competitor but it was good just to chat with her to keep the nerves at bay.
Stepping into the water (oh that felt good!) there was a short countdown and I was off swimming up and down in the first lane for 4 lengths. The pool was 30m long, but before I knew it the wall was fast approaching. I seemed to settle into a rhythm before having to duck under the lane ropes and continue my way. Dominque had tagged onto my toes, but I was not too worried as I was pretty sure that she would be the overall winner anyway and just kept plugging along. I was pretty pleased to have passed a few girls and had to negotiate my way through small gaps and past the breaststrokers, but soon I was climbing out of the steps and running down to T1 with Dominque not too far behind me.
Glancing at my watch I was super happy with a time of 8:25 (official time was 8:38) and made my way to my bike, glasses on, helmet on, shoes on, race belt and bike and I was away. I normally would leave my bike shoes on the bike, but with a very narrow bike mount area (it was coned off) I felt that I would have been slower and also more likely to fall off if the shoes were on the bike. I managed to propel myself quite strongly along and out of the housing estate. Soon enough after a couple of hundred metres, Dominque was hot on my heels. I wished her well and put my head down. I don’t really know what I was expecting out of the bike section. All I knew was that it was lumpy, not hilly, but certainly not flat and I soon came out onto the main road passing a couple of girls. Setting off with the girls was a bit of a new experience for me as usually you see lots of men on the course, but they had long finished. Approaching the first roundabout I was keen to get a gel down me as I have been experiencing stomach cramps and sickness on the run, so choosing to use electrolytes instead of a carb drink, I drank some liquid before the gel shot out all over my face and arms. Oh well, get it down and get going. The first roundabout was somewhat rather dangerous, and then into a lovely main road with a heavy crosswind as I approached the second roundabout. I began to pass quite a few competitors and noted that from their numbers, they had started some way off before me. Keep going and keep smashing it I thought. Head down, on the tri-bars and in the big chain ring I seemed to get into a good rhythm and was going for it up the hills and powering away up out of my seat.
The only real holdup was around a corner where they had coned off the traffic for the traffic lights and unfortunately I got stuck behind a very nervous girl, but once out of the cones, I powered on up the road ahead of her. I think in total I passed around 20-25 ladies, which is awesome and only got passed by Dominque right at the start. Another girl tried to come past me right at the beginning; however I wasn’t going to let that happen and surged up the hill past her.
It was useful to have mile indicators on the bike course, something which I have not seen before, and was useful as I don’t wear a Garmin or have a speedo, so was super happy to see at the 10mile marker I was on 29:30- a pb by absolute miles! I kept a massive grin on my face but my head down and powered on through. Coming back into Nantwich I was held up by lots of traffic on the roundabouts and a huge crosswind sweeping across the road, but I kept at it and made my way into T2 in a time of around 40 minutes. (Officially I did it in 41:50 but this included T1 as no chip timing!)
Super pleased with that effort I hopped off my bike (shoes still on the bike) and legged it into T2. Remembering where my shoes were was not a problem for me, but suddenly I felt that my glutes had completed seized up. This was not going to be a pleasant run I thought, also with the blustery wind and baking hot sun. Picking up my cap I made my way into the first lap feeling strong but also very aware about the stitch I could feeling creeping into my stomach. NOT AGAIN!!!!
I took two cups of water, one for my head and one to sip quickly before running on. I was pleased to pass LOTS of ladies on the course; however I kept a steady pace and tried not to let my legs get the better of me. Lungs were on full capacity and I just kept on going. I was then feeling the stitch worsen and on lap two it was pretty bad. I just kept it going and only stopped on reaching the water station, which was an absolute lifesaver. I kept on wishing that someone would put a hosepipe out- but there again we do have a water shortage and hosepipe ban don’t we?! :)
I kept on encouraging some ladies who were walking and kept them going by shouting keep on going to them, which probably helped me along mentally. Lap three was pretty gruesome too, and I just kept on going. I glanced at my watch and knew that according to my lap 1 and 2 times I was on course for a 25 minute 5km, however lap 4 came around and the cramps started as well. I spotted Will just coming over from the swimming pool and he was cheering me on. I shouted that it was my last lap, and seeing a girl in a Manchester Trisuit, she was my next target. I passed her on a corner and kept the pace going. On the final turn she wasn’t too far back, but I kept it up and she never passed me. It was then that with my cushion of distance, my stomach started to cramp and cramp and nausea set in. Oh no……. Unfortunately I was a bit unwell, (or in other words was sick down myself- rather nasty!). It was extremely unpleasant, but I kept running and kept on going for the final push of 200m. I just wanted to finish now and get some water down me.
Final sprint to the finish and it was all over. What a race!
I had a medal and Will to congratulate me on my finish of 1:16:28 a personal best for a sprint tri by absolutely miles. I know that the distances are not the same, but for me I have always struggled to finish under 1:30 so this was brilliant. I was pleased with my run, despite the cramps and sickness and now am determined to figure out what is going on.
This has happened at both Grendon and now Nantwich and I think it has something to do with eating prior to the events. I was totally starving prior to starting and having such a late start time was unusual and thus disruptive to my normal eating habits. Having switched from energy drink in the race to a gel, this still hasn’t solved my problem and I need to trial something else before Woodhall Spa this weekend. I think that I might try and eat a larger breakfast and then sipping a smoothie or something liquid that will fill my stomach. Having hunger noises coming from your stomach prior to racing is not goo- any suggestions greatly appreciated!
Anyway, I was really pleased overall and super chuffed that my bike split was the 6th fastest lady on the day, with only my run time letting me down. I came 13th overall out of a field of 205 ladies, and 3rd in my age group. Dominque won the race- great effort and well done to her!
I was then able to watch my step-dad Mike finish his event and run the final 200m with my Mum for their first ever triathlon. It was a super way to finish the day.
I was extremely proud of them for taking part and joining in with something that not everyone would do.
It was great to have us all their competing together and experiencing that race high you can get.

This week for me is all about trying to be consistent with training, although it will be difficult as I have much more work away this week. I am racing again on Sunday at Woodhall Spa which was entered a couple of weeks ago as I decided that I wanted to do something else prior to Dambuster. Being a sprint distance meant that I didn’t need much recovery time after Nantwich and could train right on up to the race.
I am getting nervous for Dambuster, but my performance at Nantwich has installed so much more confidence in my ability as a triathlete and I know that the training is finally paying off. It was shame not to win my age group completely but there is always another race and I am sure that time won’t be too far off!

Finally I want to say a big thank you for the support over the weekend to the Howell family and friends and well done to Frances and Mike Gibbs. Mike has now got to train for the Bedford Mini Classic (which I am doing as well) on the 29th July. Another fun family day out then!

Happy training :)


Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Qualification for me...... Team GB not so much

A quick update on the triathlon related world of Kerry Rough.

Last Saturday I found out that I have qualified for my age group for the ETU Triathlon Championships for the Sprint Distance. I was totally made up with this news over the weekend whilst I was away with some good friends at Centre Parcs in Nottingham's Sherwood Forest. It was certainly a reason to celebrate. I was really pleased with my efforts at Grendon and I now have a full year to think about the race and get myself into good enough shape (it's not until June 2013) for Turkey. I have already made a couple of friends through this and look forward to getting to know more people in the run up to the event.

This last Sunday also saw the culmination of some hard work towards my BTF Level One coaching course. Sunday was made up of a 5.30am start to drive from Sherwood Forest and abandoning my friends to take an exam in St Albans and then stand about (or rather cycle about) for three hours in the bloody cold (why couldn't this warmer weather come earlier!) and then complete my workbook. I was pleased to find that I had passed the assessment, having completed a 15 minute session on cornering, which was pretty nerve racking as I have not had much cycling coaching experience. It was good though to take part on the course and again I have met some lovely people and hope to spot them again at some races soon! I am now just awaiting the final results of the exam which I took.

Having some good news in my own triathlon world is great, however these past two weeks have been pretty testing for the GB Triathlon Squad. It was great to watch Helen Jenkins and Johnny Brownlee last weekend testing themselves at San Diego, one of the original homes of tri and it was brilliant to watch the other athletes be blown out of the water. However it was a shame that not having made the podium, the criteria for the GB athletes meant that they will now play a part in the Olympic teams as domestiques rather than actual medal contenders in London. This to me seems a bit unfair, however that's the criteria that was set for them. Even worse is that they have yet to finalise the teams, again making this rather stressful for all of our guys and girls wanting to make the team. Surely they all need to start working and training together in order to figure out their strategy?

Anyway, in other tri news it was a shame to hear about Hollie Avil's retirement at the age of 22. I have been following her progress since |I began triathlon and it seems quite an abrupt end to her career. That girl has bags of talent and to have a coaches words play such an influence in her mind and to play a part in the end of her career in sport has really shook the tri world. Having listened to her brave and painfully honest interview yesterday, I had to give her credit for coming out and admitting her problems> it has taken the media world by storm though.  
Good luck to her in what she chooses next, however I think a return to tri in her latter years is not entirely off the table yet being so young.

Whats next for me then? Well a return trip to Chester this weekend to visit my parents and to participate in the Nantwich Triathlon, of which it will be their first ever triathlon too! It will be exciting to watch and support them through their first ever event. I hope that the weather sticks around, it has been so lovely this week so far.

Just about to get on the bike now, training is going well and I think that this year will defiantly be a successful year. Fingers crossed! :)

Happy Training


Monday, 14 May 2012

A training weekend and Europeans 2013 Qualifier Grendon Sprint Triathlon

Having not posted for a while I have quite a lot to talk about this post! I have been training really hard, having had a weekend away with Chester Triathlon Club in Malham, Yorkshire, have been ill with a cold and have done my first open water event of the year!
The beginning of May began as April ended weather wise, with lots of rain and plenty of wind. Not the ideal training conditions, but Grendon was fast approaching and so had to pile on the training and keep on plugging away. The training weekend in Malham took place over the bank holiday weekend and we were blessed with the best weather. I finally arrived in Malham at the Youth Hostel for around 5pm to a well earned half pint of Leffe. After the greetings and general merriment it was off to bed for an early start and a 8 mile off-road run behind the Youth Hostel and up towards Malham Tarn, the highest lake in England and a glacial lake. The group set off steadily, often walking at times and then split off with myself, Rob and Alison heading off for a shorter route back home. We decided to then head down the aptly named Gorsdale Scar, with warnings of a steep descent, but also with Alison and Rob's advice that the road back down was pretty steep and therefore this would be much more scenic. We wern't to know HOW much more scenic until we realised that we had to pretty much scramble down a waterfall. The picture below shows you exactly what we had to do, but in reverse, we were coming down, and I have to credit Alison with her knowledge of Rock climbing, as there was no way I would have ventured down that alone! So some pretty extreme off-roading adventure was had! The gentle 1.5 mile run home was full of the sighs of relief at having scaled down the waterfall!
Saturday afternoon was a pleasant enough ride with Alison and some of the lycra lads. It was only 40km, but I had to push my bike up the hills twice, with two 20% ascents being quite hard for me, and having already run in the morning it was fair to say that the last climb back from Settle to Malham was a pretty tough one. Sunday was a bigger ride which involved 9 of us ready and setting off at 9 am (or just after- thanks Tony!) and then onwards and pretty much upwards for most of the morning to Slaideburn to enjoy some rather lovely lunch. a great days cycling with lots of adventure, with 52 miles and over 1600m of climbing, that was quite enough 10-20% gradients to make me realise that really Rutland is quite flat!
It was a shame to end the weekend but I really enjoyed it, and I learned a lot about the hills of Yorkshire. It was great to get a 16 hour training week in, although my legs were absolutely shot to bits on the bank holiday Monday.The week following ended up with me sniffling and sneezing my head off on the Wednesday (after a tough training day on the Tuesday) which thus resulted in no training for Wednesday and Friday (a quick 5km run on Thursday night). I badly needed the rest and having a cold is certainly no fun. However by Saturday it began to lift and I found that Saturday's ride around to test the tri-bars was well-needed.

Sunday's race would involve an early start of 5am and a dip in Grendon Lakes. We had been warned earlier in the week about a potential shortening of the swim course if the temperature dropped, however the weather was quite fine over Friday and Saturday, so the course was still 750m for the swim. We had been told about a shortening of the run to 4.2km due to rutting and waterlogged ground, which did please me somewhat!
Pulling into the familiar sights of Grendon, I was quite excited and not really nervous at all. Having entered my name for the 25-29 female age group to try and qualify for the Europeans in Turkey next year (June 2013) I just wanted to go out and have a good race and try my hardest. I wasn't sure whether I would do well, I just knew that I wanted to beat my previous time set there in 2010 of 1:39 with a 17 minute swim. This was just something I knew I had to go out and beat. I also knew that I wanted to beat my bike time of 52 minutes and try to run as hard as I could.

Having 150 Ladies in a swim start is quite a lot really, however I was quite unperturbed and entered the (not-so-cold) water. In actual fact, lots of people were calling out how cold it was, but having been in Tallington the week before, this was positively tropical! I managed to work my way to the front of the main pack and was absolutely amazed when I exited the water (through the reeds) to see my watch display 12:25. I was gobsmacked that I had pushed that far, and I hadn't even gone really REALLY hard! A 200m run to transition taking the wetsuit off with the sunshine was a vast change to Lincoln. I managed a relatively quick transition and off I went onto the super fast (apart from two really smallish climbs) course of 23km. I was again really chuffed to come back off the course in a little over 46 minutes, again another time beaten, I was onto a winner!
The run had to be my least favourite part of the event as two laps totalling 4.2km, you can see the other athletes and try to chase them down. I was pleased to see that I was keeping up with certain girls in my age group, however the first lap came and the second lap started with a massive stitch in my side creeping over to my stomach. NOT GOOD! I was trying to keep the pace, but could tell I was slowing up a bit. It was soooooo painful, but I carried on, checking my watch periodically and to run into the finish line with Will and Stamford Tri supporters cheering me on.
I was totally made up with my time of 1:23:57- even though the course was 800m short, (probably an extra 3:30 on top of my time) I still had managed to smash my previous time on the course. I was utterly delighted (after a quick vomit on the finish line!). I did learn a lot from this race, and it was great weather, really good to be racing with friends and was lovely to catch up with people from my old club.
I defiantly learned that I need to find a drink that works for me- sloshing sounds coming from my belly on the run course was rather disconcerting. I was starving right before the race even though I had had breakfast, so I need to sort that out too. I need to still work on my biking, but having cut off what I did manage I was pretty made up with that one!

Well done to all of my friends who competed, I am now (not very) patiently awaiting confirmation of my qualification place from this event for the Europeans next year. I worked out that I was 4th fastest that had registered intent, and I was even more pleased that I had beaten two girls from my age group who had registered. It shows that things are improving and hopefully this year is the start of something good!

Thanks for taking the time to read.
Happy Training.