Bassetlaw Sprint Triathlon race report by Sarah Lakeland

Bassetlaw Sprint Triathlon race report 06/08/17

Last year I achieved something I never thought I would, I really did not believe I could after many failed attempts. Little did I know that 2017 would be better than 2016.

I was a long standing supporter at marathons and triathlons and I’d become quite skilled at picking out my Husband, Andy’s running style or cycle kit as he raced and I watched, cheered and photographed him. Around 2010 I had a go at a couple of sprints but I dreaded going out on my bike, I complained bitterly to Andy who was like a spaniel on a lead desperate to go faster but cycling and running just seemed so hard. I wasn’t very fit or in good shape and I gave up. I didn’t enjoy it, it wasn’t for me.

Fast forward to September 2015 I was still there supporting at Epworth end of season Triathlon, Andy and my mum were racing. I had a 2 year old and a 9 week old baby in tow by then and as they were both finishing, I was so proud of my mum, almost 60 and doing her first triathlon just because it went past her house and she could! I thought “I’m doing that next time.” I meant it too so I made a plan to loose weight as at a clothes size 18-20 I wasn’t going to find it easy. I told Andy my plans but I didn’t expect him to believe me as I’ve had many failed attempts at “sorting myself out.” I’m not really sure I believed I’d manage it myself but I was going to try.

In April 2016 I was on that start line, 3.5 stone lighter and I’d done enough training to know I would finish. I felt on top of the world as I finished that race, cheered on by my own little self made support crew, Sam, my baby, was only 10 months old and I had achieved so much in his life at that point. I was back at work, full time, 2 kids and feeling amazing. I had really transformed my life. I went on to do 2 more sprints that year and lost another stone.

For Christmas, Andy bought me a swim in Steve’s Endless Pool, I hadn’t asked for this present and I strongly suspect it was a present to himself in disguise as he came and swam too! I was looking forward to it though as swimming is my thing. My mum is a swimming teacher and spent a lot of my life up to 15 at the pool as a result.

After that swim, I looked at OTCF’s instagram page and saw a post about one of his clients who was achieving her goals and she wasn’t a superhuman, just a regular looking woman. I needed a bit of motivation to exercise so I emailed him about personal training and booked in.

I have been having weekly sessions with Steve and run, biking and swimming between. I can honestly say I love it! If I can training regularly then anyone can. I have 2 preschool children, Andy and I both work full time, we have a dog and a life outside of triathlon. The dog doesn’t have walks now, he has runs and my training is usually squeezed into a 1 to 1.5 hour opportunity when I am child free. We tag team it some nights, I go out on my bike first, Andy puts one child to bed, I get back, he goes out and I put the other child to bed and sort tea out. For us to both race the same race we need childcare and when your mum also races too, Grandma isn’t an option! We call in favours, pay for babysitters etc. Most people get babysitters for a night out but I get one to swim when Andy’s on an afters shift! Your kids make the best supporters and there is nothing like hearing “that’s my mummy” being shouted as you come into transition.

So to finally get to Bassetlaw Triathlon, this was a good test of how the training was working, I did the same race last year but this year I had 3 months of personal training under my belt. I felt a bit of pressure to perform, which I had never felt before when my only aim was to finish. Having made a significant effort to improve, I wanted to see an improvement. This made me a bit nervous. There isn’t much time to procrastinate though when you have to load two bikes on the roof bars, two kids into the car, a pushchair in the boot and all your kit. Before you know it we were there, we deposited the kids with Andy’s Mum at transition and were pool side.

I was in lane 3 and Andy was in lane 2 in the same wave which was very distracting, swimming next to not only someone you but are married to is quite strange. The swim went well and before I knew it I was in transition, and heading off on the bike. Andy overtook me at the mount line so off I popped chasing him out on the bike. The conditions were pretty good, it was a bit windy but nothing much. There were road works and I had to stop at temporary traffic lights which frustrated the hell out of the bloke in front of me but I saw it as a good chance to have a drink as the time would be deducted later anyway.

I felt great on the bike, I overtook people, which is a new experience for me and that feels so good (sorry if I overtook you and that made you feel slow, I know how it feels, I’ve been there). The undulations felt good as I was so much stronger on the bike that I had previously. Out on the run I worked hard but in a good way and I was still over taking people! I was amazed at myself, I remember thinking “I’m racing, not just completing this race” I pushed myself and I that was something I couldn’t physically do before, I didn’t have the capacity. Getting around was all I could do in the past.
As I finished I was excitedly greeted by Andy and the kids. He was surprised I finished so soon after him as he was accustomed to a longer wait!

And the results… 11th woman overall, 4th in my age group, 8 mins 17 seconds faster than last year!!!

When I first met Steve I told him stats don’t interest or motivate me, well the right kind of stats and results definitely do motivate me! I’m excited to see what’s to come. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and continually surprise myself. I have cancelled a facial because the sun was shining and I would rather ride my bike, I rush home from work to maximise my time to train before collecting the kids from nursery, I ride when the weather is good and I run when it’s not. I have been known to get the turbo trainer on the patio when Andy’s working the weekend and I have no chance to get out on my bike. Am I even the same person? Yes, a much happier version of myself who is making plans for bigger things next year!

My IRONMAN Journey 2017 Steven Johnstone

My IRONMAN Journey 2017

 

Steven Johnstone

It all seems a little strange being asked to write a race report for a flippin IRONMAN! Up until 2013, I had spent the majority of life donning the cricket whites or perhaps spoiling a good walk by hacking my way round a golf course. Yes, I did the London Marathon 2 and a half stone ago, but very little time and energy had been devoted towards individual pursuits.
Apologies in advance if you get to the end of this report and realise that you will never get that time back, but I do hope that I can pass on some seeds of contemplation, inspiration and action to others, similar to those which I benefitted from having read race reports in the past.
In late 2013, my nephew Charlie, then 2, developed Neuroblastoma (childhood cancer) and as you can imagine it had a huge effect on family and friends. We arranged numerous fundraising activities including a Coast 2 Coast bike ride as well as deciding to take on the ‘Bomber’ Quadrathlon. This for me was the first significant step up from the sprint distance which I completed for the first time in 2013. Charlie taught me so much during his recovery (yes, he is now 2 years into full remission), that despite how hard triathlons are, you are not fighting for your life! I saw Charlie a few days before the big day and asked him to write his name on my arm, so that I could glance down at any point and remind myself that things were not as hard as they sometimes seem. He was and continues to be my inspiration!
Hitting the button
Lucy, the kids and I were abroad in August 2015 when the registration opened for Staffordshire 70.3 2016. I remembered that we had just got back from the pool and I asked the question….Can I go for it? Lucy’s reply was ‘yes’, so I hit that button before she asked the next question ‘how much is it?’
The confirmation of entry appeared on my phone with a couple of seconds to spare…I’m in!
Fast forward 10 months and Staffs 70.3 is complete, got the t-shirt, medal etc In the build up to the event Ian McBride had given me a 15 point advice guide on completing a 70.3. Point 15 said….
‘BASK in your well-deserved glory, contemplate how the hell do people do a full then a few days later start looking for a full’n ’
I remember thinking during the 70.3 that this was my Everest. While Ian’s guide was really useful and much appreciated, point #15 would not be followed through! Lucy was more than happy with this as she was not at all open to the idea of going long!
Four weeks later on a Sunday morning I turned to Lucy and said ‘I think I want to do a full IRONMAN’. Oh shit, that wasn’t the response I was expecting, lets just say that she did not share the same excitement as I did. Looking back, I realise that this was just because she was anxious about me taking on this sort of challenge.
In August 2016, while Lucy was on a girls weekend away, some of the lads and I were enjoying a couple of beers in the garden when the subject of a full IRONMAN came up. Cut a long story short (thank goodness I hear you say), within 3 hours I had received ‘a sort’ of approval from Lucy via text (she must have had a few) so I hit that button!
I then set about making sure that the house was absolutely spotless, dishes done, washing out, kids fed etc before Lucy arrived back from her weekend away!!

The ‘so so’ Training
Despite making sure that I recovered ‘very very’ well following my 70.3 which was now over 2 months, I took the decision to get the family summer holiday out of the way first before getting into the ‘serious’ training. While up in Scotland, I did go for a couple of 3 milers and my goodness, did I drag my arse around that loop! I was out of shape and I knew it. How the hell was I going to complete 140.6 miles of torture?
After spending the next 4 weeks considering the answer to that question, I decided that I best get cracking. Up until Christmas I decided to get back into enjoying my sessions again rather than focussing on data and what Strava said!. I started getting into a training routine and set myself a goal of getting through the storm that is Christmas, with minimal waistline and multiple chin damage. I borrowed a Watt bike from work for the festive period and can honestly say that no clothes were hung over it!
This is when I suggested to Lucy that I get a coach, to basically guide me to the start line. We had a chat about it and agreed that this would be a good idea all round. I just felt that this would be the right option for me, making sure that ‘Big Brother’ was watching and that there was nowhere to hide. I had followed Don Fink’s programme for the 70.3 but it was too easy to adapt the sessions or skip one or two here and there.
I contacted Steve at Off That Couch Fitness and met with him just before Christmas to go over a few things and find out how it would work etc. We agreed that I would start a formal training programme at the start of February and before then to concentrate on base fitness.

The Training
Ok, here we are at the start of February 2017, I have 23 weeks till race day and after work I will be meeting up with Steve C for an initial meeting and bike test! The first 10 minutes confirmed that I had made the right decision in taking on a coach. While Steve asked me for details of any planned events (Paul Kirk and C2C in a day), he made it very clear what he wanted me to do alongside them and when…..excellent I want someone to tell me what to do!
By the end of that weekend I had test results for all 3 disciplines and Steve had indicated relevant HR zones and paces depending on the aims of each of the sessions to follow. Now I just had to wait for the sessions to come through on the web based application ‘Training Peaks’. I remember being sat on the couch (ha ha, unintended pun) one Sunday evening waiting patiently for the first week of sessions to come through – ‘they’ve been uploaded’ I shout to Lucy, she’s just as keen to know so that we can start thinking about how we are going to start juggling all the plates. Ok, 9 sessions, 3 of each and a total of 8 hours for week 1 – I’m buzzing with the excitement of starting this programme.
The Training Peaks software requires you to upload your training data before giving you a RAG rating. Basically, you want the screen to go green, anything amber or red, suggests that you have not fully met the training goal. This was just what I needed, no place to hide and even the most simplistic form of colour coded feedback fuelling my determination.
In fact, there was one particular Sunday night where we had returned home from a busy weekend away, and yes, a few bevvies had been consumed, often used to wash down plenty of fast food. Given that it was a Sunday, I knew that I did not want to push forward my 6 mile run to the start of the following week, and I certainly did not want a red flag against the session. I remember that run as the most difficult session of the whole programme, dragging my sorry backside round with a sore head and indigestion. I gave myself the biggest bollocking that night, but made damn sure that I got that green light!
Throughout the training journey, it was inevitable that I was going to think about possible timings on the day. While I gave this some considerable thought, the only real target was to give myself what I referred to as a ‘buffer’ time, just in case I happened to have a puncture etc, I did not want to go into panic mode. Each time I met with Steve C, I was interested to see if he would mention predicted times – he didn’t, and while I initially thought that this would help with confidence, I’m pleased he didn’t as it helped to take pressure away and focus on the enjoyment of the journey.
Despite the pressure that the training placed on the family routines, I was to lucky to have Lucy and the kids 100% behind me every step of the way. I loved the little things they did for me at various points during the journey.
In mid April, things took a couple of steps back.. During a running interval session with repeated 30 second sprints, I was half way through the penultimate effort, when I felt like I had been shot in the back of my right hamstring – ‘bugger’! At first I thought it was a disaster, but soon realised after a couple of days that I could still bike and swim with the use of a pull buoy. This is where I benefitted from having a coach and a voice of reason. Steve C text me and reassured me, making it clear that I should stay off the running for the next 3-4 weeks and that we would build again in good time for the day.
Throughout my training, I had the pleasure of sharing swimming lanes, open waters, and roads with others. The Coast to Coast in a day was not just an incredible experience but one which gave me that increased level of confidence on the bike. It was a long day in the saddle but a pleasure to share the route with Steve, Stu and Neil. I would certainly recommend it as a training ride.
The week before IRONMAN, I was fortunate enough to be able to swim the Lincolnshire Edge as part of my final preparations. It was just before we set off that I bumped into Steve Cannings. He commented on my ‘numbers’ being good (Strava) and that I had done the hard work. This sort of feedback is like gold dust to a newbie. He was right, I had followed my programme pretty much to the letter, having swum over 70 miles, biked 2500 miles and run approximately 450 miles…surely I was ready. This really helps to know and remind yourself of in those final days of preparations when the irrational thoughts try to creep in.
Steve Cannings also gave me that final piece of advice which stuck with me right up until the start line and throughout the race ‘Steve, don’t wish it to be over, enjoy every minute’!
The Morning
My vision of it lashing it down on the morning came true, but ‘trust the weather forecast’ I kept telling myself. A quick Face Time call to my brother in Auckland, although I’m sure he couldn’t see me given that it was pitch black – it was just good to hear his voice and get that last minute encouragement from him. I went to see ALF and check his tyres were ok, filled the food bag up and made sure the aero bottle was topped up. Bumped into Steve Clark on the way to drop off my bag, quick hello and handshake was just what I needed. Steve Clark has an effective way of keeping things simple, no fuss, no drama.
Right, wetsuit on and white bag handed in, bugger still got my cap on, best go back and hand that in too (never got that back though). The next thing I remember was saying cheerio to Nick and Steve and finding my position in the self-seeded line up. I decided to go for the 1:15 marker. Then it arrives, AC/DC and Thunderstruck, ok, shit…its real now! I find myself rubbing my palms together and doing small jumps on the spot…I want this to start.

The Swim
We nudge towards the start, the crowds are amazing and whether they know you or not, they give you that look as if to say ‘go smash it’ which is most likely intended to be received as ‘you silly bugger’. I press the button on the Garmin, quick check to make sure it has started and then before I know it I’m in the water and off, off, off! Thank goodness for that, I can have a wee now! I go to the left in the hope that everyone else is going in search of room out to the right – good call I tell myself, as I find space and get into a good rhythm from the start. Not much to talk about in the first lap, other than the corners were ok and I didn’t get a bashing. Shortly after the second turn I can see the exit and I feel myself putting in a bit more to get there. Out of the first lap and start the short run to begin the second lap, quick glance at the watch and it reads 35:00. Back in and I start again. This is where I start talking to myself ‘ok, don’t be an idiot and think you can beat that time, you can afford to go steady and still come out with a respectable time’. The resident demon on my left shoulder is responding with ‘nah, get your arse into gear and smash it, you could go sub 1;10 here’. The resident angel on my right shoulder won that debate with me exiting the water at 1:14. I take my cap and goggles off and start wrestling with my wetsuit before stopping to give Lucy a kiss as I go by.
Bike


I find ALF and tell him that he best be on his best behaviour. I had made up a peanut butter wrap and left it on my handlebars, having taken Steve Dolby’s advice and stick those up my tri-suit legs for later on in the ride. I’ve mounted and on my way with a yell from Nick Fish to ‘have good ride’. Over a couple of speed bumps and at the third I lose my aero bottle, ‘hmm, that’s never happened’. With only 14 miles to the first feed station, I decided to just have my aero bottle so unless I go back for it I’m scuppered. I recover the bottle and as I try and re-position it I realise that the frame has cracked and there is no way it is staying in place. Ok, so I have no fluids for the first 14 miles and yes, I could do with a drink after that swim. Don’t’ panic, I tell myself, it’s not as if I have dropped a pint or anything, it’ll be ok – and it was!
My best man comes from Adlington, where the famous Babylon Lane or COLT Alley is, so I have fond memories of the place and was excited to get there first time round. Just as I was thinking that COLT Alley was a bit of an anti-climax, this guy on the bike next to me just said ‘next time round, it’s going to be bloody jumping’. He was absolutely right, exactly as the photos suggest, people spilling out on to the road with cow bells, banners, whistles and more. You file through the narrow gap in the crowd, feeling a million dollars.
At about 20 miles, the tummy started to rumble in ways that you would prefer it not to. This wasn’t the norm and I wondered whether the peanut butter wrap had been a bad idea. I had read the warnings about trying new things on the day and this was the one example of where I had fallen foul. Thankfully my stomach and all that is connected to it looked after me and after about an hour things started to settle down.
Looking back, with the exception of the bigger hills, the bike course has now become a bit of a blur – I guess that is a good thing really! Two things that do stand out are firstly, the times when I saw family and friends, especially coming back into the village of Adlington. I remember counting down from about 20 miles out, looking forward to this extra special treat. Seeing Lucy, the kids and close friends was just incredible and very emotional. I knew how Lucy was about this whole journey so I made sure that she was reassured with massive smiles. That high five from Jack was all I needed to get me to T2, thanks mate!
The second stand out memory was the words of encouragement received by spectators on the second lap. Instead of the usual cheers and shouts of ‘well done’ issued on lap 1, they were now starting to say things like ‘you’ve got this’. This was a massive boost to the confidence levels and with a little bit of thought, I was thinking ‘yeah, I have got this, I can bloody do this’. For me, it was a balance between getting excited and also remaining calm and measured about the fact that I still had a couple hours on the bike and then a marathon to do.
Everyone talks about Sheep House Lane and Hunter Hill as the real obstacles to overcome. Yes, they are hills and somewhat more challenging that what Lincolnshire has to offer, but they are ok. Having completed C2C in a day, I knew that if respected, these were not going to spoil my day out!
So, I passed Adlington for the final time, enjoying the carnival atmosphere taking place on Rawlinson Lane. Had it not been for the ruling about ‘outside assistance’ I may have accepted the pint offered by my best man Mick! Ok, so I have about 6 miles to go before T2, enjoy COLT alley for the last time and then go steady, don’t do anything daft and you will soon be at the Macron Stadium.
I hit the dismount line, got off the bike, albeit in instalments and somehow managed to work my way to the cycle racks. I’m sure at one point I would have preferred to get back on the bike. My initial thoughts were obviously directed to my lower back and how stiff it was, knowing that it would take a few minutes for me to straighten up, and I did. What was worrying was this new and sharp pain on the outside of my right foot, never had anything like that before. Oh well, with a total of 9 hours on the clock, I knew I had 8 hours to complete a marathon, and while I would not let complacency creep in, deep down I knew that there was a good chance it could be my day!
I didn’t rush in T2, in fact I was pretty calm about things as I knew if I hurried myself, I would forget something. Bit of food, washed my face and arms before slapping the sun cream on. One piece of advice that I would pass on to others is to take a lightweight flannel with you to tuck in your trisuit pocket during the run – just a simple thing like washing your face helps so much. Passed on the sun cream to a couple of other lads and made my way out of the tent and onto the run.
The Run
Ian had told me about the first hill on the run, which turned out to be a different hill to the one I had been expected. While this one was shorter, it was steeper. I took his advice and used this as an opportunity to straighten out a little more and have a little bit of an extended recovery from the bike.
As soon as I hit the main road I was into a run and for the first 4 miles I was able to keep to a 10 minute mile pace which I was quite happy with. Then I hit this period where I can only describe my mood as stubborn, fussy and diva like. While I had a couple of gels, they were not the ‘right’ flavour or I could not be bothered getting them out of my pocket and even if I did want to, I didn’t want to risk getting it all over my hands.

I was pleased that by the time I had arrived at the main loop my Kevin and Perry episode with myself had passed. I was now on the scalextric track as I referred to it, just 3 laps of this circuit and I’m over the line. Ok, reminder to self, 3 laps is 26 minus the 8 I’ve done, which equals 18 miles….bloody hell! Thankfully, I was in a strong place mentally, and just reminded myself that this was my longest run in training, but in this case, I get fed, watered, sprayed with water hoses and get to see family and friends along the way…you don’t get that on the Brigg, Scawby, Brigg, Bonby, Worlaby etc route!
Just as I entered the loop, I heard my name being shouted, it was Steve Clark aka ‘coach’…shit..stand up straight, get a stride on, look busy, smile etc. Steve shouted to keep going and while this was over in a second, my gosh did it help to refresh the focus and spur me on. It didn’t take long for me took me to realise that Steve was in fact 2 miles away from the finish line!
I was so lucky to have friends dotted about on the run course, some whom I had not seen for years and it was great to stop and have a quick chat with them before moving on. Lucy, the kids and the rest of the gang had positioned themselves in the town centre and it was absolutely amazing to pass each time to check in and have that time with them to assure them that I was feeling strong and for them to give me that much needed boost.
I was fortunate to speak to a number of people on the run, all of whom had an amazing story to tell and some who by simply knowing their chosen charity gave me some insight into their motivations and drivers. There were some amazing people out there and it was a privilege to share the course with them. The other people who are incredible are the volunteers who just keep going and ensure that they dish out the same encouragement to all athletes. The army cadets were particularly impressive, ensuring that they were so well organised with their refreshment feed station. They took particular delight in pouring water over my head!
While on the topic of feed stations, one bit of advice would be to not eat the tortilla crisps after you have left the feed station and no longer have any water…do you remember the cream cracker eating challenge? You know what I mean then!
I must say that I did warm to the volunteers who were issuing the lap bands. ‘Band envy’ is strong when you are on the course and the feeling of going through that final checkpoint and receiving your red band is amazing, you literally feel on top of the world, knowing that you are about 6 miles away.
The roads are now not as busy as they were when I first joined the loop. I had programmed my Garnin to just display running pace on the main screen, knowing that this would keep me on track. I figured if I was watching the seconds or distance tick over this might play with my head a bit. The overall aim was to get somewhere between 14 and 15 hours and I was confident that I was going to be close to the 14 hour mark.
It was at about the 23 mile stage as I turned back towards the town centre when I knew that I was pretty much there and that the next time I saw Lucy and the kids I would be running down that carpet. My pace started to pick up as I felt a new bounce in my stride, working my way into the centre of Bolton. This is where you can sense the well wishes from total strangers, noticing that you are the owner of 3 bands and that you have less than a mile to go. I realise that I’m grinning from ear to ear at this point, enjoying the various turns as you weave your way through the final stages of the run.
Bloody hell, I think…..that is the turning point to run down the carpet…..I check over my shoulder to see if anyone else is there and the announcer confirms that I have it all to myself…. “I’m on the carpet, I’ve only bloody gone and got to the carpet”.
This is it, just a few seconds of the journey left…a quick look to the clock which displays 14 hours and 6 minutes as I aeroplane my way into the finish line (I have apologised to Steve Clark for pinching his celebration) with a massive smile on my face and feeling amazing. As I cross the line, and this was not pre-meditated, I jump, clenching my fist before driving towards the photographer shouting ‘come on!’ (not sure where that came from, totally out of character), I’m buzzing, totally pumped, I am an IRONMAN!

I receive my medal and tin foil before being ushered into the tent for a jacket potato with chilli, which to be honest I’m not really too fused about. I collect my finisher t-shirt and head out of the tent to meet up with Lucy, the kids and friends. It was great to see them all and to also receive some outside assistance in the form of a bottle of Black Sheep real ale!
Looking back, would I do it again, absolutely, it was an incredible experience and a great day out!
I would not change anything about my personal journey. For those considering the challenge themselves, if you believe you can do it and you want it, then hit that button!
I decided to seek support from Steve at Off That Couch Fitness – best decision, he got me to that start line in good shape and with the mental mind-set that the hard work had been done. It was a pleasure to represent OTCF!
Thanks to all those who also helped with advice and support along the way. Thanks to those who trained with me at various points during the journey, you know who you are.
Thank you to all those who turned up to support on the day, especially the Fish and Hayton families, as well as the Moore gang from Adlington who made everyone feel so welcome and hydrated!


Finally, thanks to my wife Lucy and my kids Jack and Millie, your patience and commitment throughout has been amazing. Lucy, you put your fears and anxieties to one side so that I could realise my dream of being an IRONMAN. I am so very grateful for the selflessness you showed during the times where it must have seemed that ‘it was all about me’.


Time for me to focus on new and exciting challenges, but most importantly, to look forward to the enjoyment of watching others with their challenges. I will be back at Bolton next year as a supporter, watching a score being settled!

Amy’s Adventures – The season so far – Amy Grocock sponsored by Britcon

 

There have definitely been some highs and lows this season and some valuable lessons learnt on the way.  My ‘A’ race was right at the start of the season, the European Standard Duathlon for GB age group in Soria, Spain – I’ll come back to that one!

My first events were all warm up Duathlon races in preparation for Soria. At the start of the season I was a little concerned about two sore Achilles, so I transferred my first race, Rother Valley, over from a standard duathlon to a sprint distance to be safe.

In true duathlon style, it was super cold and windy and the race nerves were kicking in. The bike course was very hilly in parts and thankfully I had done a course recce the day before. I came in a second behind the first female but was out of transition before her and didn’t see her again on the bike. The 25k bike course was tough but I held my own and knew at this point I should win if all went plan; thankfully no disasters and I got off the bike in a good lead coming first and my Achilles survived.

The next race would be far more competitive as it was a National GB Qualifier Event this time being a standard (10k run 40k bike 5k run). I was familiar with the course so I knew what to expect. I settled into the first run middle of the pack. I knew I couldn’t keep pace with the front girls so ran my own race, then on the bike leg I picked off the girls In front and made up places coming into 3rd place as I got off the bike leg, unfortunately just getting pipped on the last run placing 4th overall. Great result as the previous year I came 16th overall and I had slashed over 10 minutes on my overall time. Automatic qualification for the Euros for next year in the bag – chuffed!

Next came a local sprint duathlon at RAF Scampton; I had won this the last 2 years running so always under a little pressure to do so again. The weather was very hot but thankfully not windy as on the air base it can be tough on the bike with crosswinds.  I came in after the first run in 4th but very quickly overtook on the bike and achieved first lady overall.

Spain – Unlike the weather at Scampton one week previous the weather in Soria was horrendous, in fact the worst I’d ever raced in! I had looked at the forecast the day before, 40 mile winds and hail! So the disc wheel was a definite no. The first run was like hill reps but I was in a good position from the start, the bike leg is normally my favourite, sadly it turned out to be my worst. It hailed, blew a gale and most of the time I felt out of control, however, at this point was in silver medal position for my age group, and knew if I continued would hold position on the last run as I was stronger than the girls behind me.

Then it all went wrong. I was just finishing the last part of the bike leg when I slid on a white line on the roundabout and before I knew it I was on the floor, I had, up to now, never had an off on my bike. Thankfully as the weather had been so bad I had layers on so got away with a nasty gash, road rash and what I thought a torn calf. Thankfully it was just badly pulled but enough to stop me from finishing the race. Feeling very disappointed missing out on a medal and the race I’d been working towards, I returned home and entered the London Marathon ballot, and then a local half marathon at Sleaford which was meant to be a training run but got 3rd lady and a PB.

Next was my first triathlon of the season at Woodhall Spa and back on the bike after the fall. Always feels a bit rusty first triathlon of the season, but it was hot and an outside pool. The run was super

hard and was grateful of the locals with sprinklers on the run course. I came in 1st female and broke the course record which boosted my confidence after Spain.

My next challenge was open water! Having only done sprint triathlons I had not ventured into the murky waters, so decided to enter an Olympic Distance at Ripon. I was very nervous about the mass start and having only been lake swimming twice this was a different ball game. The start was fine, then I got tangled in so much weed the man in the kayak had to rescue me as it was dragging me down!!  I pulled myself together and got back swimming – I was happy to get out the lake. Cross winds on the bike leg was tricky with a disc but by the time I got on the run I was flying and felt great realising how much the track sessions were paying off. My overall time 2 hours 30 which after such a poor swim I was very happy with.

After the open water experience, I thought the best way to improve was to enter an Aquathon. The start was more brutal then Ripon but I settled into the swim, controlled my nerves, and nailed it. Transition involved rolling around on the floor to get the wetsuit off, but made up time on the run, sprinting round the circuit and coming in 3rd lady.

It’s been an eventful season so far; more open water practice and longer events in the pipeline. I have my eyes on a half Iron Man and who knows maybe the full distance! Watch this space.

 

Britcon OTCF RT member Steve Grocock’s mid-season Race Report.

Having had a busy 2016, racing at Kona was always going to be hard act to follow. So this year was never going to be a big (Ironman) year. This year hasn’t been my typical slow start to the season, no, this year has been even more pedestrian than usual. Decorating, illness and the Wife’s London marathon seemed to take up the first quarter of the year. First up was a few Time Trials, both with Lincsquad and at Gainsborough and quite deservedly I was a fair whack off my previous pace. I Kidded myself on that a minute off the pace and a bit of ring rust was to be expected especially as last year’s TTs were a non-starter due to weather and roadworks. In all honesty, this was just an excuse for partying a little too hard since Hawaii. Having your ‘A’ races in October like the previous two years (Barca 2015, Kona 2016) allows you to build up through the season at a more relaxed pace. The drawbacks of this of course mean you’re not really firing on all cylinders mid-year. When October comes and you are at your peak, all lean, mean and raring to go, the season has all but finished!

A good day for the Britcon OTCF Race Team. Nick Martin and myself winning both Lincolnshire Edge races.

As the year’s progressed, my TT times have slowly improved and several wins have come my way. Still a way to go to get back to PB potential though. In early spring the Race Team, yet again received great news that Britcon were sponsoring us for another year. Coach & Captain Steve Clark recruited two new additions in Nick Martin and Amy Grocock who have further bolstered the team. I can’t say how much this support means to us all and we’re proud to be wearing the Britcon colours and have Steve’s support.

With this in mind I thought I’d better enter a few events and hopefully return Britcon’s favour. I entered the Lincolnshire Edge sprint and also tried to get in the oversubscribed Cleveland Steelman, but to no avail. I settled with another local event (Hatfield) a half Ironman distance event called the Leger Man run by ‘Race Hard events. I certainly had no regrets.

First up on the agenda, was to cram a few long rides in as I found by chance and rather last minute an opportunity to join the Brigg Cycling Club’s annual trip to Seascale for the ‘Coast to Coast in a day’ Sportive. This is an epic day of riding, some 150 miles of beautiful countryside with some testing climbs. This trip was made all the easier by some top class organisation from John Collingwood. This event could have been both the hardest and most stressful day due to the logistics of getting from one side of the country to the next. In fact, it turned out to be quite a pleasure. The weather was ideal, not too hot and not too cold but with a decent tailwind. John’s organisation and the familiar faces along the route made for a memorable weekend. Myself and Wingman Rick Stenton were happy with a riding time of 8 hours and 8 minutes but left us wondering where the best part of an hour had been spent that made up the overall time of 9 hours & 2 minutes? Punctures could only be partially blamed, the food stops were our weakness. Porkpies, baguettes, soup, sausage rolls and cakes to cobble dogs with. If I did it again I’d do exactly the same thing, it’s a long day in the saddle to just live off gels.

Hardknott Pass the first big climb in the Coast to Coast in a Day Sportive

I would recommend this event not only for the fish & chips in Whitby and the drunken tales in the pub at the finish. But It is rewarding, you do earn that finishers medal. The mileage and hills are enough to test the strongest riders, but with a bit of training can be quite achievable for most.

I couldn’t resist the Lincolnshire Edge again this year. It’s a great event and as the crow flies is only a couple of miles from my house. Like last year, I banked on getting a decent lead on the swim and bike as I knew I hadn’t done a great deal of run training. Luckily it went to plan and I came away with the win by a couple of minutes It was a good day for the Britcon OTCF RT as Nick Martin also won the standard distance.

Second place overall at the Leger Man half Ironman distance.

As mentioned earlier I found myself in the Leger-Man quite by default as my first choice, the ‘Steelman’ was full. Nevertheless this local Half Ironman was a great substitute event and one for all to consider for next year. For the second event on the trot I found myself leading the swim and bike which I can’t grumble about but I must remember to listen more carefully at race briefing to what the route involves and which buoys to swim to and roads to bike down. The 2nd lap on the bike was tough. The wind picked up and my average pace dropped by a couple of mph. This left me questioning if I’d gone out too hard? I carried these negative thoughts into the run and despite an 8 minute lead I was overtaken after 5 miles. I couldn’t complain I hadn’t done nearly enough run training and even on my best day I was no match for the winner. Fortunately I was able to run comfortably and hold on to my 2nd place overall to find myself on the podium for the second time in a fortnight.

 

 

Race report 70.3 Jönköping by Per Svensson

TAPER WEEK

I entered the taper week somewhat tired, felt like i was prone to injury everywhere. My shins hurt, left shoulder started to give me trouble and motivation was going down because of it all. I did not feel in shape. I think this was 90% in my head though and i was actually pretty ok. As the week continued and i started to eat food but more often and more snacks, i started to feel better. Skipped a few sprint/speed sets to save the shoulder and legs.

And on the Thursday before the race i took a 60min sports massage and it did wonders! I’m for sure going to go back to SPORTS MASSAGE WHEN FEELING STIFF/SOAR AGAIN. Never done a proper sports massage before so was really surprised of how much difference it made.  

I took the Friday of from work, packed and did some final adjustments to my bike. We took the car to the venue (5hours) and was there in time for registration on Friday evening. Had a big pasta at the hotel and went to be early.

SATURDAY

On the Saturday morning at bike checking I snapped a brake wire and had to in panic get help from the on-site mechanic. Luckily he also found a pin from the chain sticking out and it would most likely have snapped the chain a few km into the race unless he had fixed it. In the future i will ALWAYS DO A PROPER BIKE SERVICE BEFORE THE RACE at a bike shop, at home, so I’m 100% sure it is in mint condition and i don’t have to worry about that. Apparently when i do a service myself before the race i have to much going on in my head and its easy to miss stuff.

On Saturday lunch (13:30) i had a big Subways sub with turkey and ham, easy on the veggie and with chips and a coke. I could have sipped a sports drink during the day but the bike panic from earlier threw me of a bit. I had a water bottle with me later on and so hydration was fine.

On the way back to the hotel we went to the local super market and bought breakfast and salad from their buffet. I had some pasta, chicken and melon. Ate it at 18:30 together with sports drink and electrolyte tabs.

RACE

Pre-Race

Wake-Up 5:45 and had breakfast.

Low residue, nervous stomach style. 

 100gr Rice Krispies

    ? gr Apple sauce (no sugar)

3*30gr Peanut butter

750ml  Sports drink

Total about 800kcal

Left me feeling “full” but not weight down. Good pre-race breakfast!

07:00
Went down to the venue, checked all bags and did a dry run so i would find my bike etc. Felt good, not to nervous. 

08:00

Changed to swimsuit at transition area tent, said hi to my parents who just arrived and headed over to the swim start. Again, did not feel to nervous, was more focused. Did not do a swim warmup, to bad area for warmup, a lot of people in it and i rather just stay and gets pumped up on land. 

Swim

I entered the water in the 32min group. That was a mistake since most swimmers in the 30min group was more like 35min swimmers. So I ended up passing about 50-100 swimmers in the first 50% of the race. It made me feel pretty motivated and strong, i also dropped some nervous respect to the 7000€ bike owners in the pits who acted like they were Kienle all of them pre-race. I also swam faster than 32min so next time i will STAND IN A FASTER SWIM LANE and don’t be so humble. No one else is. 

I held back on the swim, i did not was to blow everything there like i did in Gothenburg a couple of weeks earlier. So on swim exit i still felt ok and in control. Think i hit a nice level, right below threshold. Nothing to add on the transition, was quick on the bike. 

Bike

I ate 3 gels/hour and also had some sports drink at the aid stations. Totally i had about 2,5liters of water but hard to tell since i took from aid stations. I packed to much water on the bike, next time on IM event i WONT CARRY TO MUCH WATER and fill up at aid stations instead. The front torpedo water system worked excellent and having the gels in the shirt pockets also worked great.

Muscular i felt good throughout the bike set. Pulse was also ok, I charged, paced myself with 5-6 other riders but did not push to hard, did not want to push to risk stomach upsets. Stayed below 155 in pulse. 

Run

That amazing feeling of entering the transition area and being almost alone. I will never forget that feeling, i almost stopped and wondered what i had done wrong. I was expecting chaos and 2000 other riders there but i was almost first on my entire rack. What a feeling.

Transition can go faster with better shoes/laces.

Once out on the run i felt drained of energy, i knew it would be really tough. Stomach felt fine and i was worried it would start making problems so i took it easy the first few km to see how things unfolded. Really tired, out of energy, at first aid station i got some sports drink and was amazed that my stomach took it. I was having problems keeping the pulse up, i was running around 145. At the half marathon a few months ago i was running at 160 so energy was really low. I decided to forget about the stomach and just fill up at every aid station. I had coke, energy drink and sports drink (one or the other) at every aid station. Hydration was fine, i started the run well hydrated from the bike so that was never a problem. I pushed as hard as i could in the end and managed a “ok” time but was so out of energy. 

Summary

Taper week was good, i should worry to much though. Bike needs to be better prepped (perhaps a new bike next time!). Even though they all look like World Champions in the transition area i should not respect the competition to much, I’m strong and i beat most of them, i finished top 10%! 

I could have pushed harder at the swim but at what cost, same with bike, i could have burned a little bit more but at what cost, muscle fatigue, cramping? In the end i burned all the energy i had so i think a different energy distribution would have resulted in about the same finish time. I think i did a well distributed race with low risk for stomach upsets etc. and with no big mistakes. And therefore there are no bigger things to change, its simply just more training, better fitness that counts here. Possibly fine-tune the energy intake but that takes more experience on the distance with load as well. For my first race i give myself an A+!

John Chambers City to Summit – a race not for the feint hearted

Late 2016 it seemed like a good idea that Simon Griffin and myself would enter this monster of a race. An iconic journey between the historic heart of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, and the summit of Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis and finishing in Fort William. Starting with a half marathon of road running from the centre of Edinburgh Castle and culminating in a crossing of the famous Forth Road Bridge to North Queensferry, it continued with a stunning 180km road bike leg snaking its way into the Highlands. Then transfer back to foot for the final marathon-distance off-road assault on The Ben and a finish line set in spectacular Fort William – It was never going to be easy!

Preparation for the race wasn’t the best. I had completed Manchester marathon in April but had a slight glute strain mid-way through at around 13.8 miles which resulted in a slower result than I would have liked as I was bang on my target pace up until that point. Work commitments in May also meant very little or no training for the best part of 5 weeks which also didn’t help and to top it off, my race partner had to pull out of this challenge a few weeks before the race due to injury – it was going to be a long, tough and lonely day!

It was a long slow drive to registration at the run to bike transition at the community centre North Queensferry, with this completed we actually decided this would be as good a place as any to park the motorhome. We had an early tea followed by an early night as the alarm was set for 0130!

 

I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t switch off. It was gone 2300 before I finally went to sleep and when I awoke my stomach had other ideas about being calm – I will leave the rest to your imagination! We arrived at Edinburgh Castle at 0330, with the race starting at 0400. It was quite overwhelming. I have been to Edinburgh Castle a few times, but on this occasion the grandstand was there ready for the Edinburgh Tattoo and the race started from here.

My initial plan was a steady half marathon, aiming for around 2 hours – no point chasing to gain 20-25 minutes on what was going to be a very long day. We set off in groups of around 20 athletes, I was in the 3rd wave. The run itself wasn’t too bad, more off road and trail than I expected through some stunning areas of the city. It was dry but very windy. No major dramas on the run apart from

when I got to the half marathon distance and also at the 2 hour point, I along with everyone else still had the Fourth Road Bridge to Cross:

and about a million steps to climb to the run-to-bike transition as you had to go down steps to sea level to cross the bridge then back up to bridge level and up again to the top of the cliff to transition

 

– Just what you needed after a half marathon! The finish line couldn’t come quick enough after these as I had clocked 14.6 miles (as did everyone else).

Transition was a full change of clothes. I thought due to the differing terrain and expected poor conditions, proper cycling apparel was in order – this was a good move! The cycle turned out to be 144 miles (I think they need a new ruler!). The first leg, 28 miles to the first feed station was tough going. It took me an hour to cover 13 miles – it was obvious this was going to be a long day in the saddle. My legs were like lead from the off and straight into a 1000ft climb didn’t help. The weather at this point wasn’t too bad, dry but very windy. The weather played a big factor in the remainder of the day. I stopped at the feed station to top up my water bottles and a quick cup of tea. I didn’t eat anything because as quick as it went in it was coming out! The first leg was a bit cat and mouse with the people who I had left transition with. 2 people passed me, never saw them again. When I left the feed stop I was basically on my own for the rest of the bike leg, I managed to keep picking people off one by one as the day went on and apparently I was in 5th Place with about 15 miles to go on the

bike according to the tracker. It seemed like Scotland was just one great big hill and the route had been especially picked to go up it – well it seemed that way to me as I was chunterring to myself. It started to rain…. and it rained and rained and rained. It was head wind for the whole of the bike – it was brutal. There was a downhill section after the feed stop, but you know it’s going to be a long day when it was that windy you have to pedal downhill. From about mile 35 to 100 was nearly a constant climb, the odd downhill stretch but no respite due to the wind.

 

The clouds were almost at road level, visibility was poor and I don’t think I have ever been so cold or wet in my life – this is without doubt the hardest ride I have ever done! I stopped at each food stop for tea and fluids but didn’t manage to eat anything until the 3rd feed stop at around 80 miles. I imagine on a nicer day, the decent through Glen Coe would be stunning – not today I am afraid! The end of the ride couldn’t come quick enough in Kinlochleven. Full change of clothes (again), a bit to eat, soup, sandwich and anything else I could get my hands on as I was starving at this point! My support crew were on hand to assist and once I was sorted and ready to go they collected all my wet gear.

The final leg was undoubtedly going to be the hardest. I set off from transition, the first few hundred meters were on flat public footpaths going away from the National Ice Climbing Centre, then it

came! Running off the bike is never easy, but when you have a 1100ft climb to contend with within the first mile, this is in a completely different league:

There are no other words for this part of the race other than horrendous – conditions underfoot were shocking, it was like running on a river bed – rocks, stones and to add to the torment, it hadn’t stopped raining all day and was now flowing down the footpaths – great. I kept ticking off the miles, again on my own in what can only be described as a lonely, desolate and bleak place. A few people passed me – they must have been related to some sort of mountain goat! I soon realised it was going to become much colder. I had initially started in T-shirt, windproof jacket, waterproof jacket, shorts and calf guards but due to the volume of water flowing towards me and every step generating a massive splash and flood of water on me I took the decision to put on my waterproof trousers, not just to keep me dry but to keep me warm also. The miles kept coming, as did the rain and wind. Fort William couldn’t come soon enough as I was now getting cold and my legs had started to seize up and my Garmin died just after the last feed stop .

When I arrived at the finish I was truly broken on what was most definitely the hardest challenge I have ever done – asked if I wanted a beer or a cider the only thing I could think of was sleep! I later learned that less than 50% of athletes made it to the last feed stop, some stopped after the first run, some never completed the bike and others called it a day at Kinlochleven. I later learned, out of the 160 athletes who started, only 52 made it to Fort William!

4 days later, my appetite still hasn’t returned fully. I did manage 22 miles on my bike last night so my legs still do work, albeit tired!

As usual, big thanks to Coach, Steve Clark at Offthatcouchfitness , David Heath-Drury at Paragon Cycles and Jo Findley for ironing out my poor legs when I got home.

Undoubtedly, I could not have achieved this without the assistance (and mockery which they called motivation) of my support crew – Dave Jackson and Vic Fellowes, who I have already booked for next year’s crazy adventure – not sure what yet!

Would I do his again – most definitely, not this week though and I would hope for better weather next time – something that unfortunately Scotland isn’t renowned for………. Next stop Ironman Wales!

 

The Wall by Gemma Scott

Race Report – The Wall 69 Mile Ultra Marathon


The night before the Ultra we went to register & collect numbers. After a mandatory kit check they wished us luck & sent us on our way! Race strategy was talked about over the evening meal whilst tucking into Spaghetti Bolognese & a cheeky glass of vino! I could feel the butterflies growing inside but why I don’t know.
The amount of training both craig & I had done prior to this running 11 marathons in different conditions. Smashing PBs in shorter distances and the 2 ultra training runs of 33 miles & 40. Still the unknown of surpassing 40 miles was eating away at me.


That night I slept pretty poorly for me. I kept waking every hour thinking I’d overslept and missed the start. Nerves always get take over but once the gun goes my race game is on.
Walking to the start we were all nervously giggling apprehension of what we were due to undertake sinking in. The start was full of all types of runners all welcoming each other not eyeing up the competition. Something far different from a normal road race.
The gun sounded and a mass start was underway. A lot steadier than anything we have done before. Some runners chose to walk the start & some were plodding a long in single file like us. We walked the hills and plodded at a comfortable 9.5-10 min mile pace. Pit stop 1 Lanercost was at 15 miles . We arrived 45 mins quicker than expected but felt good at this point. The sun was getting hotter and we consciously ensured the water was topped up. I ate a Bakewell tart after struggling to eat anything. I’d managed a gel at 8 miles but knew I had to try and eat through the race. Miles 15-27 were tough the climbs began so more walking was undertaken. Temperatures soared at the point as we made the way past midday. Feet began to get sore so we decided to change the trainers at Cawfields Quarry Pit Stop 2 27 miles in. Due to walking the hills my feet rubbed at the heel something I’ve never had which ironically didn’t hurt when I ran but did when I walked. I managed to eat some sausages before we moved on. This later turned out to be my downfall as they repeated on me for the next 20 miles.

By mile 36 I was not good. The temperature had soared to 28 degrees with no opportunity for shade. I had to lay down as I was so hot my chest was tight and I struggled to run. My diaphragm burned and the pain was making me feel sick. This was when craig and emma force fed me haribo tangfastics & made me read messages on my phone. My head instantly picked up and I continued at a steadier pace til we got to Pit Stop 3 Hexham. People were amazing along the route from one man leaving a running hose pipe with a sign saying please help yourself, to the elderly couple who begged us to stop and have a glass of water as we ran through their back garden.
Here I had a sleep for 30 mins to try and recover my body going into shock shaking. I managed to eat some ready salty crisps drink coffee and Coke!
An hour later I felt more human and was more upbeat. We managed to run the first 4 miles comfortably then my energy just zapped. I’d been running and walking for over 12 hours and had barely consumed anything let alone enough calories I’d already burnt.
We then had to continue run walking. I attempted to take a gel at mile 56 which was my undoing.
I threw it straight back up until I had nothing left. In a way it was a relief as I’d felt sick from about mile 50, but it just led to me throwing up for the remaining 13 miles. By mile 58 we were running continuously through a wooded area that went on for miles. I was delirious and with the head torches on I began to feel dizzy and disoriented. I was being sick every couple of miles which the retching was cramping my stomach muscles. But I kept thinking how I have to finish I cannot get a DNF!!!
We got to the last Pit Stop Newburn 62 miles at 2am and I had another lay down to try and preserve energy. I drank coffee and tried to eat more haribo.
I was asked if I thought I could continue and I said I’m not giving up it’s just a 10k to go.
We were then informed 500 people of the 1000 that had started had already dropped out.
So I walked the flats & ran down the hills for the last 6.5 miles it was hard I was still being sick but I wouldn’t give up. When we got near the millennium bridge adrenaline kicked in and we ran the last 0.5 miles to the finish.
I’d done it I was an ultra marathon runner and I finished 4 hours before the cut off and in front of 565 other people.
Would I do it again? Hell yeah just one request though….less heat please!!

 

Triathlon X

THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST TRIATHLON

THE FULL X – VOTED THE WORLD’S TOUGHEST ‘IRON MAN’ BY 220 MAG 2016 – 140 MILES WITH ALMOST 17,000 FEET OF CLIMBING. FOLLOWING THE RENOWNED FRED WHITTON CYCLE SPORTIVE ROUTE AND FINISHING WITH A RETURN MOUNTAIN RUN TO SCAFELL PIKE SUMMIT, THE FULL X PUNISHES YOU LIKE NO OTHER TRIATHLON.

This is how the event is described on the website and from racing it on Saturday I’d say they’re not wrong!

This event certainly has the extreme factor to it and attracts a certain type of racer. Whilst registering it was evident by the T’shirts this was a hardcore event, everyone displaying their proudest achievement whether it Norseman, Swissman, Celtman, Marathon de Sables etc etc. Wow, I’m not sure but I don’t think my Brigg Sprint Tee had them quaking in their boots. Like I say….it attracts a different kind of racer

It’s a very early start as the swim in Windermere sets off at 04:30 so you feel like a Zombie when racking your bike at 3am. The swim is interesting it’s an out and back 2 lap with no sighting bouys just 2 bouys 1km apart there and back twice. So on the return section you have swimmers swimming both ways. I must have swum into about 10 swimmers coming the opposite way each time. They must be blind, I thought, or was it me? Luckily the water was calm and not too cold at 15.5 degrees!!. I exited the water in 7th place which I was happy with as I took the swim steady knowing this race was never going to be won or lost in the first 3.8km. It was the dreaded bike and run that followed that would decide who would win. Oh yes, I forgot to say, despite it’s fearsome reputation I wasn’t here to make the numbers up.

Out of T1 still in 7th place you’re pretty much immediately into the first climb, this is aptly known as the “The Struggle”. I didn’t go mad just set a nice tempo on the Paragon Aero and slowly overtook a few. At the top, my trusty support team were waiting and shouted that I was in 3rd and 10 mins behind the leader. 10 mins was a big gap but with so many climbs to come I knew this could easily come down or likewise go out further if the leader was a mountain goat. I hoped for the former.

It was amazing on the bike having team Dobbers follow me, giving me encouragement and timing checks all the way round I can’t thank them enough as driving that course is probably harder than riding it.

 

The Course wound its way through every type of terrain and roads. Flats, rollers, climbs, fast downhills. The roads would go from a main highway to one lane country roads that seemed more like back alley’s than roads. The country went from open graze land to full on forests, to pine trees, to lakes and everything in between. At times, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere. It was beautiful and fun riding. At mile 90 the course transitioned from a fairly flat section into the base of Hardknott pass. This is the hardest climb on the course and one of the top 10 hardest climbs in the world. Its only a couple of miles, but grades hit 33% and requires a hard effort to get up without walking. As I started, for the first time in my life I was actually intimidated by an uphill gradient and had genuine concern about getting up it. Getting up took way more effort than I would normally put out in an Ironman, but I did it without unclipping. I was tired at the top and out of fluid and although I had 18 further miles of riding and a mountain marathon to do, I was happy that the worst of the bike course was over. The bike ride wasn’t all plain sailing though and I did have some mishaps. 2 punctures, one whilst descending Wrynose, a front wheel blow out which was pretty scary. A few near misses with sheep in the road and points where I was riding on roads with cars and tractors coming the opposite way. Here the roads were only wide enough for one vehicle so I was half up against a stone wall or in the bushes and half on the road. I suppose this all adds to the race and what makes it ‘extreme’, as just getting around safe is an achievement.

Into T2 still in second but only a minute or so behind as I saw the leader running out of transition as I was riding in. “The race is on”. Just 26 miles of up hill and down dale including England’s highest mountain Scaffell Pike.

Onto the run and as I’m running out 3rd, 4th and 5th are coming in so the punctures had obviously brought us all closer together, Damn! Luckily for me the run is normally my strongest point in long distance races and I soon caught the leader at 3 or 4km we exchanged a few kind words and then I pushed on wanting to try to distance them all before transition T2A. This was a second transition on the run at about 7 miles just before the mountain section begun. Here I changed from my road trainers to my Trail shoes as I knew these would deal with the terrain a lot better. Onto the trail and mountain section and I went as hard as I could thinking ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and looking back I probably went too hard as I really suffered on the last 7 mile return leg from the same T2A transition. The scenery on the run was amazing, clear blue skies on what must of being the hottest day of the year. Checkpoints are scattered on the mountain section where you have to give your race number into a marshal to confirm you are still on the route and feeling ok. As I approached the mid Scar fell checkpoint Barry and Janice were already up there after taking an early morning stroll. It was great seeing them and to have someone I knew giving me encouragement, it raised my ebbing spirits. Barry ran up with me to the summit telling everyone what I was doing ….“this is Steve, he’s swam 2.4 miles in Windermere, biked 112 miles including Hard Knott etc and now he’s running up here”. All the ramblers were cheering me and giving me high 5’s all the way up, it really was an amazing feeling. But I still had to get back down to the finish line. At the top I clocked the time… 29 mins past the hour and then timed on my way down until I saw 2nd place coming up. “9 minutes” I thought, wow that means I’ve got around an 18-minute lead. Surely I couldn’t mess this up?! So I just focused on getting down quickly but safely as a trip or fall and the 18 minute lead would soon diminish. I must mention all the other Tri X racers here nearly every single one of them coming up gave me encouragement and congratulated me. This is the true spirit between racers in an event like this and huge thanks and Kudos to you all.

Once back at T2A again I just wanted the race to be over. I was cooked and barely able to keep up a slow jog. I was baking from the relentless sun. I saw my wife and friends again with about 5 miles to go and this gave me a huge lift. Coming into the finish was an amazing feeling to know I was going to be the winner of this race.

Looking back on this race it really was exceptional. Having to push myself to the limit, mentally, physically and skilfully more than in any other race I’ve done. Any other challenge in the future, after this experience will surely be easier and I’m so proud to have won.

As always huge thanks to sponsors Britcon, Paragon Cycles, Metres to Miles, NL Council and Off That Couch Fitness. Friends and family that came to watch Team Dobbers, Team Holmes, Jayne, my dad and most of all Emily who had to suffer all weekend in the heat whilst been 27 weeks pregnant.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Injury Rehab

Swimming Analysis
At OTCF endless pool swim school we use GO Pro HD filming to record the swimmer swimming both above and sub water from 14 different camera positions video showing 5 here  so absolutely every part of the swimmers stroke and style is recorded. The video is displayed live on our monitor and uploaded to a disc afterwards whilst we sit down and go through the footage together. Expert analysis is then given on stroke and technique corrections to help you improve your swimming in the water. Swim Analysis

A detailed take away swimming improvement plan can then be designed and discussed for you to go away learn, develop and improve your technique over a period of weeks with constant contact available with OTCF in this period

Swim Coaching
with us puts 100% focus on you with no distractions like checking pool time tables, crowded lanes, 8 people in the lane been coached at the same time. With us its either 1 on 1 or 1 on 2 so all the focus is about making you a better swimmer. Swim Coaching
Swim Training
In our Endless Pool is similar to swimming in open water as you have no turns every 25 metres, no shared lanes like in your local pool and the option of no stopping. By eliminating turns you get a better understanding of your true open water endurance. Swim Training 

Underwater Treadmill

Our underwater treadmill offers low impact running for anyone wanting to reduce the stress put on the lower parts of the body by 50-75%.

Some of benefits

  • Initiates gait training in a low impact environment
  • Replicates the proper biomechanics of land-based movements to improve gait patterns
  • Increased healing and strengthening of injured tissue
  • Improved cardiovascular stamina
  • Impacts muscle strengthening
  • Increased flexibility
  • Increases ability to perform a wide range of plyometrics
  • Reduces blood pressure levels
  • Reduces joint stiffness
  • Allows injured runners to run
  • Older adults with joint and muscle pain may find relief with underwater treadmill therapy

Aqua Running

2017 Race Team Line up

Britcon Triathlon Team expands for 2017

Having recently published news of their athlete search, the Britcon Triathlon Race Team grows from three athletes to five this year.


Scunthorpe firm Britcon are once again helping local athletes compete in Triathlon events around the world. The Building, Civil Engineering and Structural company have further bolstered the team by welcoming two more members, Amy Grocock and Nick Martin.

The two successful applicants will be joining Steve Clark, Steve Grocock and Jordan Skelly who have already had a close relationship with the Lincolnshire firm in 2016 and have been thrilled with the support they’ve received. 2016 results for the team – as well as winning many local events – included competing at the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii, a Gold medal at the European Duathlon Championships, sub 9-hour Ironman times and being the fastest British athlete at the Norseman Xtreme triathlon in Norway.

Introducing Amy Grocock

Amy Grocock joins the Britcon Triathlon Race Team
Amy Grocock joins the Britcon Triathlon Race Team

Amy, who lives in Gainsborough is a self-employed Fitness Instructor and keen runner and since teaching group cycling/spin classes for several years, Duathlons seemed the obvious step. Ironically Amy hadn’t ridden a ‘real’ road bike since being a child. After borrowing a bike from her nephew it wasn’t long before her gym fitness transferred to the outdoors and her talent for the multisports was obvious.

Seven overall wins in both Duathlons and Triathlons at regional events in 2016 earned her a place in the GB squad culminating in the World Champs in both Adelaide 2015 and Spain 2016.

Amy is looking to compete in open-water Triathlons this year with a bid to qualify for Great Britain once again. That said, she still has unfinished business at world level in Duathlon. Unfortunately Amy fractured her toe a month before making the trip to Australia so wasn’t in a real position to execute her best race.

Introducing Nick Martin

Nick Martin joins the Britcon Triathlon Race Team
Nick Martin joins the Britcon Triathlon Race Team

23 year old Caistor athlete Nick Martin returned to Britain after spending his childhood in Australia. In a sports mad country Nick couldn’t help but find himself embroiled in anything exercise-related. Nick’s strong interest in the Aussie dream of surfing saw him start at ‘State’ then move on to ‘National’ before having several successful seasons at ‘World’ level in ‘Surf Life Saving’.

After spending the last three years back in England, the Road-Haulage worker has concentrated on his running and is a familiar name on podiums at many popular running events. With a strong swim background to accompany his running and now cycling, Triathlons have been his recent focus.

Relatively inexperienced, Nick entered the Keyo Brigg Sprint in September and proved his potential by coming away with the overall win and champing at the bit for more success.

Nick is looking forward to representing Britcon in 2017 and openly admits he’ll be gleaning advice from the rest of the team in his bid to qualify in his Age group for Great Britain in the World champs. As well as multiple running events.

We’d like to wish Amy and Nick all the best for 2017 and look forward to working with Britcon and the rest of the Team.