4th at Ironman70.3 Pays d’Aix
Returning to Aix en Provence this year in the Women’s PRO Field.. I am so grateful to my wonderful family for making this possible. My timeline building into my second race of the 2016 season..
5 weeks to Go
My coach, Mark, and I debriefed post our win at Ironman70.3 Buenos Aires and it was evident this race was won on the bike with a 4min gap on the rest of the field. The run not so competitive which we were well aware of as the appropriate training was not in the legs yet. We did not push run speed or mileage over the winter because of soreness in the heel. This had cleared up significantly so our focus was now the run starting with a 10km in Richmond late March. I ran a PB of 39.52 and picking up the women’s trophy. A little confidence booster, now to work on run speed and speed endurance..
4 weeks to Go
Not neglecting my strength I have seen on the bike I entered the Eastern Region 10mile TT on Easter Friday. When you enter a cycling Time Trial you know it is going to hurt.. it is ‘all out’ pain for just over 23minutes that day. It won me a little prize money as I took the women’s title but most importantly it gave Mark and I a new (better) FTP (functional threshold power) to work to (4.2watts per kg for those interested in numbers)
3 weeks to Go
Tri Sports Lanzarote is where I got some excellent work done pre my win at Ironman70.3 Buenos Aires in February this year so I decided it was worth another trip pre Ironman70.3 Pays d’Aix. The ‘perfect training paradise’ is such a treat for any athlete looking for a welcoming, comfortable, friendly and relaxing training environment. Lanzarote brings its challenges with strong winds to contend with whilst out cycling. Debs and Daz run the villa, just up the road from the Ironman swim, and Debs cooks perfectly delicious home cooked meals and Daz has the resources to cope with any request.. I have definitely found my perfect overseas training spot.
2 weeks to Go
Training in Norfolk and working for the family run business at Wensum Pools.. everything was feeling tough. I really had to remind myself how close race day was and how important is was to keep ticking the sessions off. Slow swim splits and poor power on the bike only held me back for a couple of days.. I soon had some much needed rest and squeezed some strong sessions out battling with hail, wind and rain. I am fortunate that Ben likes to join most run sessions by my side on the bike, thank you. It is also very rewarding to come home to such a loving Malamute, when Suka is a little older we plan to do all my run training together.
10 days to Go
Nutrition is a key focus at this stage. Nothing ridiculously processed enters my mouth and I keep on top of all the good vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. A typical day would start with porridge oats made with 1/2 water and 1/2 whole milk, sprinkled with cinnamon, seeds and Manuka honey (berries too if I have been shopping). Post morning training I will have ‘dippy eggs’ with a side of avocado. Lunch a simple bowl full of rice, tuna and green veg topped with olive oil and cayenne pepper. Afternoon smoothie post training is full of fat yoghurt, berries, macca powder, almond butter and cocoa nibs. Ben and I will have Salmon, celeriac chips, hallomi and broccoli for diner with a glass of red for me (beer for Ben in his wedding tankard!)
Ben and I enjoy our favourite Thai meal at our local pub, The Crawfish, with Mum and Dad. The alarm then set for 2.45am to catch our Ryanair flight out to Marseilles aircraft hanger (not the most glamorous place to be). 2 hours + sat on the tarmac at Stansted and I put my eye mask on and luckily slept right through.
We enjoyed a drive around the 90km bike course and I popped out to familiarise myself win some of the roads. Unfortunately my Di2 battery decided to drain and I had no gear changes. We quickly decided that the technical descents could still be practiced and Ben patiently drove us back to our hotel where I picked up the spare battery. Back out to the race course and I completed the final 20km leading into T2.
We relaxed, slept lots, ate lots and I did one key run session which included 2x5min run at race pace.
24hrs to Go
Mum, Dad and our family friends arrived in their cars (all the way from Norfolk) and the atmosphere was lovely. Ben and I met some really great athletes we have met before at races an enjoyed lunch with the Livesey’s and family as well as Craig (sorry Craig didn’t recognise you with your clothes on, usually at Intellitri swim sessions!)
We arrived downstairs at 5.15am where the family were waiting, we then drove 20km to the swim start. Our Citroën hire car was being blown across the road and I looked at Ben and we both thought the same “perhaps the disc wheel was not a good idea!”. We arrived almost first to transition and we sat patiently in the car until we saw a little more activity.. we had overheard perhaps a cancelled swim as the air temp at 4c was too cold. I didn’t react to this speculation and thought this would make minimal difference to my race. Yes perhaps I would have had a little head start on some athletes however some others may have had a head start on me.
Shortly after it was confirmed swim cancelled and those with disc wheels were advised to change them. So we popped the 60mm on the back and I prepared to go off 12th in line in a TT style start 20seconds apart giving me the motivation to try and chase down the 11 girls starting in front of me.
Nikki (a very kind competitor who helped me in 2013 when I took on my first middle distance race) and I spent time chatting, laughing and just enjoying the pre race buzz. We laughed about my lack of organisation and the fact that I would be racing in one warm glove.. Nikki went on and had an awesome race and I was so thrilled for her up on the podium, hopefully next time we will be up there together!
8.20.20 soon arrived and I was in my trisuit, a jacket and my one glove ready for this 90km blustery ride with 1600m+ of climbing followed by a half marathon run around the beautiful town of Aix.
The first 25km of the bike were fast and I felt strong and confident. I moved up a few places and enjoyed the feeling in my legs.. They were feeling good today. I decided that the jacket and the glove were not helping me so I lost them at an aid station helping me to become much more aero. (the kind volunteer smiled as I passed over my much loved Lululemon jacket) At 45km the family were all there at the “bakery roundabout” Ben let me know I was 3mins down on first and 30seconds for 2nd. I was hungry to keep moving forward.
The last 30km were tough, super windy, very chilly and a nice climb to really finish off the bike legs. (Later I heard a fellow athlete got blown off, it really was silly out there!) I came into T2 in 3rd position with no idea how “safe” I was in this podium spot. I therefore just ran my socks of to the finish line soaking up all the fabulous atmosphere along the way.
I crossed the finish line knowing perhaps I had slipped to forth? And yes Ben was there to confirm 4 fingers in the air. I was content with that, however when Ben let me know my run split I was ecstatic.. after many races trying I have found some running legs. A brilliant PB for me however I have been told to ‘not get too excited’ the run may have been short! Please let me enjoy this moment…
I may pop an extra race before Ironman70.3 Staffordshire next month.. To be confirmed
Thank you everyone for taking the time to read my preparations and feelings towards Ironman70.3 Pays d’Aix. I love to read other athlete blogs and I hope I pass on some excitement to others too.. the support means everything to me, I would struggle to get out there ‘solo’ xxx