Nantwich Sprint Triathlon
A weekend in
to race with my parents was on the cards. I had entered them into the Fun distance Chester Cheshire triathlon as part of the or Nantwich Triathlon as a Christmas present. Very funny I thought but rather was a bit mean according to lots of people. Cheshire
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
on the Saturday afternoon. Chester
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 (
) and the swimming pool. Barony Park
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 :)