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

Sunday, 29 July 2012

My First Win!

With a fair few of my friends competing at Bedford Classic Triathlon, I thought I would put my oar in and compete in the Mini Tri due to take place on the same day.
With my step-dad also trying his luck at his first ever open water event, it was to be a rather good affair with a couple of friends also attending to watch.
What blighted the atmosphere before we had even raced was the fact that registration needed to be done on the Saturday which meant that we needed to do the trip twice over the weekend with Bedford over 1 hours drive away.
Aside from the grumbles about the registration, there would be a very very early start (4am!!!!) in order to get up and head to the race for my 7am start. Will wasn't to race until 8:20am and so would need to wait about, however a couple of good friends (Zim and LJ- Lean Jake) were there in support as well as Jono as his girlfriend Kat was also racing.
Having a late start however led to a bit of a stressful start for me. I needed to be racked by 6:45am (when transition was closed) with a short walk over to the swim start. I had also decided quite a while ahead of this event that I would be swimming without a wetsuit, whatever the water temperature would be. It was an option for those completing the mini-tri as at 200m, this wasn't to be a qualifier and also would not really make much of a difference.
Anyway I managed to rack in time and get my stuff together to walk over to the swim start with Mike. It was good to spot so many people racing that I knew and was nice to calm the stress of the earlier situation.
Anyway I picked out the buoy to swim to and getting in the very temperate water, I made my way to the middle of the pack. I tried to get a bit more confidence and try to make my way forward, and when the hooter went, I was kicked a few times and tried to get clear water for myself. I was surprised that the water was so warm and felt that if I had been in the longer event, some people might have found it rather warm! Anyway before I even knew it, it was time to turn around and I was shoved to the side after being kicked in the ribs and was soon in the shallow weedy bank. I made my way back over to the line of swimmers, also straight into the sunshine so i was partially blinded and then finally got my way to the swim exit.
Being a scaffold meant that they needed to haul you out of the water, however it did mean that there was a kind of queue developing and I had to wait for two others to be lifted out before me.
However those two places were soon made up as I sprinted past them to T1. In fact I passed three people as I ran into transition and was soon donning the helmet, race belt and grabbed the bike for the off. I had noticed only a couple of bikes had gone ahead of me,so was thinking that I must have been well placed.
With the sun shining and the course description as 'pancake-flat' i was keen to get pushing the gears as quickly as possible. the route soon took us out to a couple of villages and it was exceptionally flat.
Soon enough it was bringing us back to the city again. I had three men come past me, but no ladies and I managed to hold on the two of the ones that had passed me with around 100m between us all.
The roads were marred by rather a lot of holes and breaks in the concrete which made for a bumpy ride, but I was soon coming back into the roads leading to the river.
I was quick to hop off the bike with a rather good dismount according to my Mum. It had been an interesting ride as I normally am passed by LOTS of people. I know that I was doing a rather smaller race with a field of 60 or so, but it was still strange to only see a couple of guys on bikes on the route.
As i ran into T2 and got my shoes on for the run, I was soon out of T2 with shouts from the boys that I was the leading lady, 2nd being only a minute or so behind, which really stuck a rocket up my bum! I didn't want to push too hard although I had the incentive of one of the guys who passed me on the bike only literally a couple of yards in front. I managed to keep with him for a majority of the run, and then on the home straight managed to overtake him and put the pressure on finally losing him in the closing stages. I was unsure where the run finish took me, as it went round the back of the park, but soon enough I was on top of the finish. I had won!
being only a 200m/15km/3.3km race meant that it was pretty much a training event for me, but I was still really pleased with the result. I had even managed to come 8th overall ahead of lots of guys which was rather pleasing. I didn't manage to catch Chrissie Wellington's time of 43minutes set a few years back, but I do believe that her record was broken today by one of the guys.
I had finished in 51:47 which was really a good achievement. Mike managed just over the hour and was really pleased with himself, as was I, as he came first in is age group. A great first start!
It was then I wanted to watch Will and my other friends racing. Unfortunately Will ended up not even doing the bike and had a DNF- his first of the season. An unlucky flat tyre meant that he couldn't even start the ride. it was a real shame, especially considering it was the only European Qualifier we could go to and he is in really good shame at the moment. it was good however to cheer on the rest of Stamford Tri Club. I also got to meet another fellow blogger that I follow- Sam Anderson. It is always great to meet others that you chat with over the Internet. I suggest you check out her blog too:-
I was super pleased to end up with my first win and my first ever prize. It is a good continuation of my Worlds Campaign. I probably would have ended up doing the Olympic distance had i known that I had qualified before I entered this race, but it is always nice to have some silverware!

In other news regarding the Worlds, I have managed to secure prizes for a raffle due to take place at Picnic in the Park in Oakham on the 19th August. Sara Mickleburgh and I are both trying to raise funds to head to NZ together.
I have to say a huge thank you to the businesses that have been ever so generous in donating prizes so far:-

Beyond Whitening and body Beauty

There are many more prizes on offer, so please get in touch if you would be interested in donating a prize, or any sponsorship to my cause.
I want to also thank my main sponsor, Pearson Assessment who have been amazing in helping me to achieve my dream of competing for team GB in triathlon!

Happy Training and enjoy the Olympics! Go Team GB!!!

Rutland Chandlery
The Osprey Project
Gearbox Gifts
Braunston Sports Clinic
Castle Cottage Café
Anglian Water
Rutland Water Sports Centre
Rutland Cycling
Horse and Jockey
Windmill Wheels
Paul Brewster

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mud, Grass, Rain and my first ever Off-Road Tri experience

As promised here is the race report for what was my first ever (not my last I hope!) off-road triathlon experience at Box End lake in Bedford.
I had been feeling really down the week before last about training, but with my qualification for the Worlds, I was feeling brighter and more motivated than ever. In my down dreary week I had decided to find something fun to take part in that was local and that would be smaller in competitors and short in distance.
I stumbled across the Box End Off Road Evening Tri series which was taking place over the summer. I repeatedly kept checking the information about the race which would be an enter on the night job, and would involve a 750m swim in one of the boating lakes, a 10km off-road bike course which would involve 2 laps around the lake and would be fairly bumpy, and then to finish off a lap of the bike course as the 5km off-road run.
I decided that it would be good to aim for a top 5 female finish, not considering times, as I have never raced on a mountain bike before.
Above is my beloved Boardman mountain bike which I bought myself last year as a present to myself after breaking my wrist! It didn't end up looking this clean after finishing the race last week I can tell you!
So after loading the car and checking the weather for the millionth time that day (it was forecast showers at 8pm) I made my way down the A1 for the race at Box End park. As I approached Bedford, the blue skies were becoming more and more grey and before I knew it, it was raining (5.45pm was the time noted that this started!).
I arrived at the watersports centre to register and then took a look around the site. It soon started to rain a little bit more so I decided to place my bike on the racking on the other side of the bridge over the boating lakes and then go and get myself ready and keep warm.
The race wasn't to start until 7pm, and as I was already mostly ready, it was a case of keeping out of the rain and chatting with a couple of ladies who were also getting ready in the changing rooms. I wasn't really that nervious, just more annoyed that it was raining and I hadn't raced much this year in the dry or warm!
Soon enough it was time for the race briefing, and making my way back over the now very slippery bridge, I finished putting what I would need out next to my bike (just my running shoes) and was ready to go.
Slipping into the water I was really pleasd that the water temperature was really pleasant and in fact much warmer than the air temperature. I had been deliberating whether to wear a jacket for the bike, but in the end I decided not to wear it (and it infact got totally soaked laying in transition!).
The starter went and we were off. I settled into a nice rhythm and got plenty of feet to draft from. It was easy enough to spot the feet and with a straight out and back around two buoys, it was easy enough to sight and keep a good pace up.
I exited the water in 12:43 (which I have since seen was around 12th place overall and in fact I was the first lady to exit the water too) and managed to get the wetsuit off in super quick time. I was then FREEZING! Grabbing my shoes and helmet I was then onto the bike and I was really really cold. I hadn't realised that it was going to be this cold! Anyway I was then passed around 1km into the bike by a lady who looked on a real mission and then another one hot on her heels. I wasn't too bothered about this (at the time I had not idea I was in 1st position) but I was there to enjoy it. Another issue was the fact i didn't have clips or MTB shoes and my feet kept slipping on the pedals. I am sure that I would have gone a bit quicker if I had clips on. So the bike took me around the lake on the flat initially and it was quite grassy, but this grass was painfully slow and I was really trying very hard! The route then took you up and around the back of the lake and up some steep inclines. One particular section was so muddy and steep I had to jump off the bike and run just to get up the hill.
Having made it round successfully once, I was pleased that only a couple of bods had passed me- it was fairly difficult to pass anyone anyway as the track had a definate easier line of travel which soon developed into a muddy line upon the second lap.
I was pleased to see that there were still a fair few people behind me as the course often switched back on itself, but then you could also see who was up ahead of you!
I hadn't a clue of my bike split as I forgot to push the lap button on my watch, but there again it was probably a good thing! Just coming into T2 a lady came past me and was absolutely caked in mud up her back (my legs were totally covered in grass, but not mud) and I shouted to her 'Does my back look as bad as yours?!' to which she replied- 'It's ok- you can tell me that I look as though I am covered in sh*t!'.
Laughing into T2 I then managed not to fall over and grabbed my cap after racking my bike. Even though the sun wasn't shining, I decided that it would keep the hair out of my face. Out of T2 and I thought, Wow- that lady has ran really quickly as I can't see her anymore! Turns out she had clips on and so was a bit longer in transition than me. She was gaining on me however and it wasn't long before she managed to catch me up on the first incline. It was an interesting run which saw me pass three ladies still on their bikes (poor girls!) and nearly stack it twice. It was a slippery affair which was kind of fun at the same time!
It was great to finish the run on the flat and just sprint my heart out for the final 200m or so.

Coming over the finish line I was quite relieved but also pretty darned pleased with myself. I had managed to come 4th lady which was a huge achievement. I had also managed to come 29th overall out of a field of 60 people (15 ladies were racing). It was a tough old course and with the bike split coming in around 38 minutes and run at 27 minutes (nowhere near my best times) it just goes to show you how the terrain, conditions and equipment can make a whole world of difference. I managed a pretty good time of 1:20:08 in total which was only 9 minutes behind the leading lady. Obviously my swimming is a real strength, but I need to work on the bike strength if I am to try and hold onto a lead of some sort!

A real challenge and tough weather conditions. I have to say that the state of my bike was a real reflection of what we encountered. In fact it is still sat in the shed waiting to be cleared of the grass tangled around the tubes!

Anyway for now happy Training! :)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Qualifying for the ITU Worlds Championship Auckland

Its just a quick blog today.....
Having found out that I have qualified for the Worlds ITU Championships in Auckland for my age group, this week was spend deliberating whether or not I realistically could afford to go. Not only in monetary terms would this be expensive, but also on my body as it would be then another 4 months of solid training up until then event.
However after much discussion with family, friends and even a Facebook vote I have decided to go! I have the fantastic support of my company Pearson who have helped me before when I went to Budapest, and also the support of my friends and family.
I hope to make this my best race this year and hopefully it will be one to remember.
I can party hard afterwards!

Hopefully I can update you further on my Off Road Tri later this week.

Happy training guys!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Doing what you like as and when

This past week has been about enjoying some well deserved time doing what I like and when I like. It finished off with a break to the Norfolk coast with my lovely girlfriends from university days. I had raced my absolute heart out at Chester triathlon (Deva) and felt really deflated afterwards as I knew that my two main goals for the racing season had been achieved. I had raced hard at Dambuster and Deva and last Monday I was feeling really down about things. I then decided after discussions with some good friends and Will that it would be good to just do what I felt like in terms of training. Also with a weekend away coming up I knew that I would have little opportunity to train anyway. I did however manage a run on Saturday morning which was glorious in the sunshine and around the country roads of Blakeney. Anyway after my run I was pleased to see that the British Triathlon website had been updated with the latest people to have qualified for the World Triathlon Age group Championships in Auckland. My name had a Q next to it! Just that little bit of news was encouraging and even though I am unsure as to whether I will even go, it was the best news for me and greatly cheered me up and gave me my mojo back!

Today was the start of another big block of training and began with an early morning swim. Getting into the pool again was great and I have the motivation now to train hard and enjoy myself with a few more goals on which to focus on before the end of the season. I have outlined these below- 1) Take part in an Off Road triathlon and try and smash it to place well. 2) Bedford Mini Triathlon- come in the top 5 female category. 3) Beat my previous records and times from the past club relay events. 4) Beat my previous London Triathlon (2010) times Having evaluated what I have already done this season I decided that I can focus on these goals, even if they are smaller than my other ones as it gives me more motivation to go for it. I think I want to make October the fun month of doing what I want as and when I feel like it, so if I go to New Zealand then that means extending my season above and beyond what I think my body can cope with. I am just about managing with the help of will's coaching plan and my great sports therapist Cheryl who keeps my body in check. I have done so much more than what I expected of myself and I am pleased to bits with my efforts. I have also been looking forward to 2013 and what I feel will be my major goals. I know that this is far off yet, but having qualified for the Europeans and gained a coveted London marathon place, I have a couple of events to aim for which are my main priorities. I think that it is good to have in mind what you want to achieve and have goals for your season as well as goals for your individual training days and training weeks and blocks. Had I trained last week, I would have felt even worse and I think I needed the break mentally and physically. Giving yourself the chance to take a step back and evaluate is a good thing. I didn't feel guilty about not training as I made a specific point knowing that I wasn't going to train to give myself that rest. I wasn't going to lose any fitness but if I had another few weeks off then certainly I would have lost form.

So this Thursday is my first ever go at an off-road triathlon at box end in Bedford which I am really looking forward to. I think it will be a challenge but I am fit as I will ever be! I will let you all know how I get on! Happy training! Kerry PS Sorry the font has changed, I can now update you on the move with my new IPad courtesy of my job!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Sleep, Eat, Work, Train, Eat, Sleep- the life cycle of a triathlete.

I haven't blogged in a wee while and thought that I would update you all on my current daily doings as well as a race report for the weekend's activities.
June has been a VERY busy month for me with work. I cover the east of England with my job which I love very much, but the travelling can seriously disrupt the training I intend on doing.
In the run up to the Dmbuster I managed around 4-5 hours of training including no swimming that week.  It wasn't all that bad due to the fact I was tapering for the race. The following week involved a trip to Edinburgh for work, and this resulted in 3 days of no training. I managed to pack it all in the first half of the week before I went but having 4 days in total free of training did a few things to me. Firstly it made me feel incredibly guilty for not training, secondly I was stiff as a board come Sunday watching Will race at the British National Championships at Ellesmere. Lastly I felt that my fitness would drop off. Well I was mainly concerned as I had the Deva Triathlon in Chester coming up and I did not want my fitness to dip. Lots of people reassured me that I would be fine and I wasn't going to lose anything. But what mostly concerned me was the fact that I had not ventured into a swimming pool in over 2 weeks. The main reason being that the pool's opening times are quite restrictive and with getting up some mornings to leave for work at 7am, I couldn't even make the early starts!
So all in all, the life of a triathlete was seriously at risk of dropping off in my case. I had managed to fit in some longer runs to build me up for the distance and also doing some chainganging on the bike with Stamford Tri and Rutland Velo Club members, but I felt that this wasn't really enough for me!
Cue the weekend....... I had entered the Deva Divas ladies only triathlon with my Mum as a kind of tradition we have been following for the past few years. However this year would be on a Saturday, and the Saturday was preceeding the Deva triathlon. I then decided that Mum would need to find another runner (I ran for us last year) as I wanted to avoid injury at all costs and I would swim instead.

The Team after all the action (me, Claire and Mum)
Saturday morning was rather windy but not without sunshine, and so we turned up to Chester meadows with Claire Allen (a friend of the family) rearing to go.
I think I was the least nervous of the trio having done lots of races before and was ready to put my head down in the swim and try and exit the water as near to the front as I could.
Walking down to the start line with Will it was lovely to see lots of ladies smiling, plenty of them here to do their first triathlon. This is what I LOVE about this event, ladies only, really friendly supporters and marshalls and very encouraging to introduce people to the sport without the intimitation of strong burly men around!
Anyway, I entered the water with the other pink capped ladies in my wave and struggled to stay behind the start line. We would be making our way down the river with the current and this presented problems in trying to keep behind the line! I was then thinking about the next days race in which I would be going upstream for 350m, and so warmed up by swimming upstream. That would not be pleasant! But thinking about the task in hand, I got myself as near to the start bouy in the middle of the river as possible and waited for the hooter. Having missed the lame siren start, it was only when pushed forward I realised we had begun. Not wanting to waste such an opportunity, I surged forward and kicked hard and swam hard for the first 50 or so strokes. I was bashed somewhat and kicked in the face, but that didn't deter me and soon enough I was in clear water on my own in the middle of the river. There was a crowd of 6 or so ladies to my left swimming along the bank, however I didn't want to swim over to them as I would lose time, places and I was in the fastest part of the river.
Soon enough the finish was coming up fast and I drafted off some feet before moving in front and swimming up to the red bouy and in and up the slippery ramp into T1.
I was running hard to find my Mum and hand the timing chip over to her. Soon enough she was off and onto the bike.

 Left: Mum waiting for me
Right: Mum running out of T1
Below Mum heading up for the race.

What a swim! I was told I came second overall in my wave doing 750m in 11:23. My best ever time! I was pleased to bits with that as it beat my PB and last years time of around 13 minutes. Mum came in slightly off her time for last year, but literally only around 30 seconds or so and considering how windy it was she did really well. It was then onto Claire for the 5km run around the meadows.
Claire running to victory!
It was a great race all round and I think you can see from the photos, it is one to put in the diary for the next few years!

Sunday's race was to be an entirely different affair. It was a World's Qualifier which basically meant it would be of the same caliber as the Dambuster with the same competitors present at this event. I was again at an advantage knowing the bike route and the swim as well as the run having done them numerous times when living in Chester. It was also good to know the wind direction and where it would assist me and where it would be good to hit the bike hard.
Another early start (after finally switching off Andy Murray the night before) and breakfast at 5am (sneaky half an hour back in bed) meant we were all ready and prepared for the day's event.
There was a serious car accident which delayed the start by around 15 minutes, this delay did help us a little as we were having had to wait in the toilet queue for longer than I cared to.
Wetsuit donned, and parents found, we walked the 10 minutes or so up the race start. I was feeling rather nervous at this point in time, as you can see from the photo below.
Feeling rather apprehensive about the swim, I was just trying to steady my nerves. Will was off ten minutes before me in the preeceeding wave, and so I could watch him swim past, I can now pick out his storke quite easily and therefore identify him in a crowd of neoprene. I was pleased to see him up with the top lads in the top 10. Then it was time for us to get in the water. Again it was a slightly cooler feel than I had been swimming in, but certainly not as cold as Dambuster. I warmed up before trying to find myself a place near enough to the bank, so as not to swim in the full current pushing against us. The siren sounded and this time, unlike yesterday I managed to push my watch to record my time. It was a mess of bodies and lots of pulling and groping again. I was pleased to get to the turn around bouy and finally swim with the current. I then worked my way through the swimmers. It seems to be that I am able to push through when the swim is slightly longer as I think others tire a bit more quickly than I do.
Anyway finally out of the water in about 30th place (according to the parents) and running into T1 I glanced at my watch and saw it read 20:30..... NO WAY! I was shocked but then pleased that I had swam so well. Kicking off the wetsuit in a record time, I then grabbed my helmet and glasses, then the bike and I was off.
The mount line was halfway up a slope and I could forsee lots of people falling off, so I made my way a little bit further up the slope and onto the grass before setting off.
The bike course is pretty good, although lots of turns which means that you often have to slow down and break your rhythm before settling back into it.
I saw Will around 30 minutes into my bike ride which was encouraging, although I spotted he was in a kind of pack, and thought that he would get done for drafting (which he unfortunatley did and got a 2 minute penalty). The heavens did decide to open up on us and the rain was pretty cold, but  I was over halfway and over the bike course by that point so I knew I was on my way home. It was an uneventful ride for me, getting passed by the quicker men from the wave after me and some ladies, but mostly I managed to pass around 10 people although  probably lost more places.
I was pleased to clock a 1:24 for my ride of 25 miles (or just over) and although not much quicker than the Dambuster, I felt good for it and pleased that I had the legs to carry me through. I had spent a considerable amount of time on the tri bars which felt really comfortable, however coming into T2 I lost my place on the racking AGAIN, which lost me around 15 seconds or so and then grabbed my shoes and cap before exiting onto the run course.

It was 2 laps of 5km each around the meadows and Chester's Grosvenor park. It was not really flat or hilly, except for a couple of short sharp uphills which took it out of you and I had to slow to a walk once or twice and got rather dizzy.
It was great though as I was running with a girl from my age group and we kept exchanging places throught the entire run course. Sometimes I would be in front and she was on my heels and then she would move in front. I was determined to beat her. Anyway on the second lap at the water station, just after one of these short sharp inclines, I lost her and she moved around 50m in front of me. I thought then that was it and game over just to concentrate on my own run. We then moved across the suspension bridge into the park and I could just about see her still.
It was then in the park that I managed to find some legs and move a bit more. It was good to have someone to chase.
The final stages of the run I managed to keep up with a guy in front of me and we were then right behind this other girl. The the final downhill followed by the finish gantry. I pushed past her and sprinted for my life to the finish. I had done it!
I was pretty pleased to see that I had outsprinted her and done myself proud. It was a fantastic race and really well supported. I had struggled on the final parts of the run however with a really sore back, and my back was playing up as I walked around the finishing area. I think it was the amount of time on the tri-bars which did that, I will have to work on that for next time!
What a race! Chester Triathlon club knows how to do it well and I have to give them credit for organising a fantastic weekend of racing and having some great goody bag bits too!
It was a great way to finish off 6 races and now I have only a couple of fun short races to look forward to.
I decided to enter the Bedford Mini Classic which is on at the same time as the Bedford Classic as I didn't really want to do another Olympic distance (I am still relatively new to all of this) and I wanted to enjoy some training for a while without racing. It will be a good event as Will and a load of Stamford tri Club are doing it too (I have also convinced my StepDad Mike to come and do the mini version). It is a 200m swim, 15km Bike and 3.3km run. Something of a training event that I can go and smash!

I am happy just doing some solid training for a while. I have the Bedford Mini Classic on the 29th July, then the club relays in Nottingham Bank holiday weekend in August before the final race of the London Triathlon in September. It is a good finish to a solid season.

I hope that everyone has had a good week of training and racing!

Kerry x