The weekend of 10th-11th June was the Keswick Mountain Festival, a weekend packed with sporting activities and a festival feel to the whole town.
All Racepace athletes were to compete over the weekend in either the short triathlon on the Saturday or in the long distance on the Sunday. Unfortunately I missed the racing on the Saturday but to hear how strongly my team mates, Mark Egan, Robert Cassidy and Rodger Wilkins, had competed in what were difficult conditions was very inspiring for my race on the Sunday.
Luckily we were all staying in the wonderful Keswick Country Hotel which meant we only had a short walk to the race venue this meant it wasn't too early of a start to get to the race venue for the 8am start on Sunday morning. There had been some very strong winds overnight so unfortunately the organiser had to make the difficult decision to close the festival site and also make some drastic changes to the original course for the safety of both the competitors and marshals. The original course had us swimming 1500m in Derwent water, a 36km ride including Newlands and Honnister Passes and a final 10km trail run over Walla Crag. With the severe wind and rain the course was altered to become a 200m swim, the bike would be 2 laps of the short triathlon course from the previous day and the run would also now be 2 laps of the same course from the previous day. Obviously this was not what I was expecting but as with every race you have to deal with a lot of unexpected events, and still be able to put in your best performance for that day.
Luckily, for the 200m swim the race official didn’t hold us for too long and we were soon away for a sprint to the turnaround buoy. The conditions in the lake were nothing like I have experienced before with plenty of large waves to contend with, thankfully for me it was over quite quickly and I was soon on my way out to transition to collect my bike. The bike leg was extremely windy where I had to work hard to stay in the aero position. For me the bike is a time to really focus on my race, ensuring I am in my ‘sweet-spot’ not pushing too hard but at no point letting off the gas.
Into T2 and out of the wind, the run course had been changed to a relatively flat circular route. Thankfully I knew the majority of the route and knew where all the major junctions were and it soon became apparent this would be a blessing. Unfortunately for the organisers one of the main junctions on the return had a signpost tampered with and with no marshal there were plenty of runners going the wrong way. I must admit seeing people running the wrong way did have me worried thinking that someone may actually beat me by going the wrong way but I stuck to the route I knew was right and hoped that the organisers were able to correct any discrepancies. After a strong run I crossed the line in second place behind Preston Harrier’s Nichola Jackson who put in a great performance in tough conditions.
The highlight of my weekend however has to have been spending time with the other Racepace athletes and coaches, being with likeminded people who all have the same goal athletically, to perform to our absolute best on the day and not be fixated on finishing positions or individual split times, is just the best and very inspiring to be a part of.
I competed in the Keswick 'Long' Triathlon as my first tri of the year, meaning I'd had plenty of time for focussed preparation specifically for the event. This included course recces during a Racepace training day, and a good quality massage from Jane in Longridge a few days before the event which I felt got my body in great shape to deliver come race day.
I thoroughly enjoyed the competitive, positive team atmosphere amongst the group throughout the weekend. It was great to be able to all stay together at the fantastic Keswick Hotel, and hear race day stories from those who had competed on Saturday whilst we had our evening meal the night before I would race.
Race morning arrived and the heavy rain which had struggled to clear all day on Saturday had been replaced by strong winds. Having registered on Saturday I arrived at the race site early on Sunday morning and set up my transition slot and checked the ins and outs to be sure where I'd be going when I arrived during the race. The weather conditions caused the organisers a fair few headaches with the result being a heavily shortened splash and dash swim of just 200m, and two laps of the short tri bike and run courses to give a similar distance to the planned event but much flatter terrain. I embraced the challenge of receiving those curved balls at the 11th hour and still executed the things we'd practised and planned. I swam fast but controlled, had slick transitions without exerting more than was needed, rode the bike hard but smooth and then built through the run to finish fast with a quicker second lap then my first. It all came together well and I was really pleased to win the race overall to top off a great weekend.
Arrived at transition early and racked my bike, twice actually as someone moved it whilst I was checking out the swim. No issues as there was plenty room, so I racked next to fellow Racepace athlete Mark Egan. Got everything set as usual, but added a bag and towel over my trainers to try and stop them flooding with water – yes the heavens were open and it was like that throughout the race. The bike in/out was right next to my bike and positioned myself there for that reason. I wanted to give myself more time running from the swim to try and warm up if it was cold, in the past clipping my helmet has been a problem. The water temp was fine though so no issues on that front. A 400m dash with a shallow start, got myself to the front and in a direct line with the first marker. ‘GO’ were the words from the banking and off we went. At the first buoy I was 3rd and already catching the wave before, just had to pick my line and occasionally a few red caps got a battering – all is fair in love and war. Swim went with no issues, sighted fine got my lines correct and came out 3rd and up the banking into transition. This was a long run of which I ran at intensity, struggled a little getting my wetsuit arms off but due to the distance to my bike I was all sorted when I got there. Helmet on and off over the line, carried on a little to get passed stragglers from the wave before. Feet in and in rhythm, now for the bike leg.
1 lap and it was a wet affair, creating the breeze and being wet is always a recipe for cold extremities and towards the end my feet and hands were feeling a little numb. Executed the bike well making the most of the recce I had done a couple of weeks before. The weather conditions meant you had to be a little more conservative or ready to break – same for everyone though. Decent bike and dismounted well again – at intensity, possibly even a little too quick – wet wheels and breaking equals longer stopping times, I need to remember that.
Trainers on which took a few extra seconds due to my hands and feet being cold – just did not get the left trainer right. Run went to plan and was clearly marked, passed a couple of guys too which is always a nice feeling. Came over the line in 1hr 1min 15sec and 13th overall. No hanging around as I was wet and would start to feel the cold, so straight back to transition, collected all my stuff and back to the hotel. Full breakfast and hot cup of tea.
Good outing again and improving each race I have entered this year. 4 triathlons down and a few more to come. Happy days!
Well it was a wet and miserable weekend for racing, but all the same I was looking forward to getting stuck in. It was a good team atmosphere as virtually all of the Racepace group were competing across several disciplines over the weekend, so spectating was going to be good fun also. We had carried out recce’s of the course a few weeks ago and therefore I was familiar with the course and had pre-planned my race strategy. My aim was to get out with the first group on the swim and go hard but not too hard, ride hard but smart on the bike and then execute a fast controlled run.
The race panned out pretty much as I had hoped. I came out of the swim in Second place in my wave. The run to transition was uphill and I took it steady as I pulled my wetsuit down on the way to transition, I got passed by Rodge and Rob (Bob) on the run to transition, so I knew they had also had good swims. I had a good smooth transition and exited just behind Bob. The bike leg went well but as I am not a great climber I lost time on the climb up Catbells. I did gain several positions back on the descent from Catbells and felt fast and controlled. I hammered up the final climb and took my feet out of my shoes ready to dismount. Another smooth transition and I was away on the run course. It was a fast trail run with several gates which disrupted the flow a little as you had to stop and open them. I felt good during the run and finished with a strong sprint. I came in 10th Overall in my age group and 29th overall out of the 330 entrants. Even better though, was that Rodge had taken the overall win and Bob had come home in a very strong 13th position.
I definitely feel that I am improving more and more with each race and I am focusing on executing the lessons I am learning through the coaching during the race. This clarity and direction is definitely assisting in my progression with the sport. A very enjoyable weekend with an excellent bunch of people!
At 42yrs of age and many years of racing under my number belt I'm lucky I'm still in good enough shape to compete overall in age-group triathlon. As all races I compete in, I prepared well and knew what I was asking of myself from the start to the finish.
Every race is different so having lots of experience to call on can be very beneficial. If you class yourself as a competitor, you obviously need to physically prepare but it's just as important (if not more important) to mentally prepare. Trusting yourself is key to performance, so if you prepare appropriately there's every chance it will go well. This includes visualising potential scenarios (positive and negative) and how you'll deal with them if they arise. Post race it's easy to give ourself any number of excuses why we didn't perform when in some cases it was simply down to lack of preparation.
In the lead up to any event my main focus is to help set the athletes up to know exactly what it is they're asking of themselves during the race. Clarity on how you want your race to unfold is often the best way to achieving it (this of course takes time to develop). Over the two triathlons in the KMF all Racepace athletes produced performances that highlighted their desire and ever improving understanding of what it takes to put a great triathlon race together. I'm proud how well everyone including myself performed and it's early days with many of their journeys into delivering consistent quality performances.
Racepace also entered a female only relay team as this fitted in really well for all those involved. On the swim leg was Victoria, Wendy on the bike leg and Amy on the run leg. All performed superb to claim the overall win amongst the relay teams. All our individual efforts were rewarded with not only an enjoyable and productive weekend away but the KMF Club Cup, we had the strongest four man mixed team over the two races - with 2 overall wins, a 2nd place and a 13th place (17points) - something we're proud of considering we were up against some very strong club teams.
Momentum in sport can be very important and as we come to the bigger races carrying it bodes well for the rest of the season..