This is a local race which I have never done before due to my adverse feelings towards trail running, however I have been around the course and it feels good, I think I may be getting less adverse feelings for off road running, maybe.
The weather has been amazing in the weeks before the race and so the water levels in the lake were so low, I have been swimming many times recently in Derwent and it’s warm, weedy and not great to get out of over the slippery rocks.
Race morning arrived, incidentally my birthday too, I got up early, packed up the car, woke the kids and as we were about to leave realised the dog had run off. Not a great start to the day, and we were late, decision made, leave the dog. Off we go.
We arrive on site and as I registered the day before I went straight to rack my bike. Seeing team mate Bob and a few of my close friends are racing too, I begin to relax and focus on the race. 1/2 an hour before the race I get a phone call, the dog has returned home after over an hour running around the town. Breathe.
Race briefing took place with everyone being told it was a 750m swim, which is not what was advertised, there was a nervous laugh among the crowd..... but if it is, that’s better for me.
The first wave heads off to the water, I want to watch to see how they manage getting out, it took ages for them to set off, apparently over swim course confusion again. Bob was in the first wave and third out of the swim, the water looked muddy with lots of people walking because it was so shallow, but they seemed to be coping over the slippery stones, ok let’s be having this.
Another wave sets off, then it’s my turn. We enter the water it’s so muddy and full of weeds. This is the worst water I’ve ever seen. It’s grim. I put my face in. It’s mud. Standing on the start line, everyone is packed close. I’m concerned that I won’t get the smooth start I usually do in the swim. So I get down and scull to get some space. It works as the hooter goes I’m off, and in the clear very quickly. I check myself, I’m going a bit fast so I calm down and settle into a rhythm. The water is clearer a little further out but as we turn back in it soon becomes muddy again, and weeds everywhere. There’s some one ahead of me I use them to sight towards the swim exit. I’m passing people from the previous waves some are walking. I can touch the ground whilst swimming so I grab the weeds, stones, logs and anything else that wil get me into shore fast. All whilst trying not to think of what else is down there or the smell.
That’s it I’ve done it, I’m out, run to transition. It doesn’t go well. As I get my wetsuit off my number belt comes off too, I have to go back for it, what a waste of time. Stay calm, belt back on, off to the mount line where I’m told to get on my bike before the line.... urmmm no, and you know me I tell her that as well!
Onto the bike leg, legs turning fast, feet in shoes and relax, I’m going well using all the skills I have been learning, concentrating on everything. I’m flying along past lots of the earlier waves. Past a lady who was in my wave, through the winding roads, no cars to fight with and a smooth ride, every uphill the lady passed me again but on the flat I get her back, as we start the descent I know if I can catch her again I can get her on the descent as she’s not looking confident. And that’s exactly what happens. Turn left after the bridge. (A bridge that’s 100m from my crash site).
The rest of the road is flattish and I know I can push it now, whilst keeping it smooth and keeping control. It’s brilliant riding this bit, I’m loving it. A man keeps drafting me putting in an effort up hill over taking me then blows up. It’s rather annoying but also a bit funny. So I just ignore him. Even when he try’s talking to me. That ain’t happening.
Dismount, into transition, find my tree look for my shoes.... where are they... there’s stuff everywhere... what’s my number... oh that’s it, got it. Rack and into run. Settle into it fast and enjoy the pace, the drafting man is just ahead, try to keep him, but not to my cost. Let him go, I settle well and push my run as far as I can with out going to far, about half way the girl overtakes me again and she’s going fast. There she goes. Stay strong, here we go. I’m heading into the path to the finish, I start to visualise the finish, pick up the pace a little, prepare for pain. Turn right. WHAT? UP THERE? Yes says the marshall.... oh crap that’s not what we recced. Collect myself, sort my thoughts again and settle. I head into on coming runners on a path wide enough for one. I have bushes wacking my face, pulling my hair. What is this?? What a crock. Ah transition I can now prepare for the finish. Another girl passes me, she’s looks fast, but I try to pick up my pace but I’m just not quick enough. I keep pushing right to the end. Turns out she beat me to second place by 11 seconds. Time I most definitely lost in transition, I have to up my game there.
It was so hot and a hard race. I loved racing and my two little girls watching with the rest of Racepace. It was a great day, with fantastic support, I placed third lady, 11th overall in a time of 1.06.31.
I couldn’t do all this without the amazing support of my daughters and family. And especially my coach Rodger who is supportive and teaching me so much.
I did this race in 2017 but under very wet and windy conditions. This year though it was the complete opposite with warm and sunny weather and an optional wetsuit swim which is pretty much unheard of at this event. The race is part of the Keswick Mountain Festival weekend with lots of outdoor events taking place. I was competing on Saturday in the sprint triathlon with fellow Racepace athlete Samantha and my other team mates Beau and Sarah were doing the long triathlon on the Sunday.
I was nice and early down to rack my bike, in fact I was the first bike but within 10-15mins transition started filling up. There were just under 300 competing in the event and there were 3 waves, I was off at 8am in the first wave. Obviously, I had to race as fast and smart as I could but being in the first wave meant I was in a race. If somebody passed me then they were in front of me, never mind the other waves setting off (who also might set quicker times). I was focused and clear on what I wanted to do right from the start (even the night before). Treat each discipline as its own race, swim hard, bike hard and run hard.
The swim was eventful and there was a mix up as to which buoys we were swimming around but once that all got sorted we were off. Only a short 400m and I undertook it like a time trial and if I happened to get near any feet (for drafting) then great, but this was not my number 1 priority with it being so short. I had a good swim and came out of the water 3rd, with a long run to transition I got my wetsuit down to my waist and then entered transition and located my bike. Rest of the wetsuit off, bike off the rack and over the mount line all in a controlled manner and then I was off on the 20K bike leg.
On exiting Keswick, I shouted (at speed) to a marshal as to where I was, and he said 2nd bike (must have moved up a position in T1). I knuckled down now and got on with time trialling the bike leg. Conditions made it perfect and at this time in the morning the traffic on the roads was minimal. An undulating ride but I never spotted the athlete in front of me, nor did anyone pass me so as I entered T2 – which was a little faster than usual (pumped up at this point) I was still in 2nd.
Super quick in T2 and out on the 5km run with first place in my wave somewhere in front of me. My legs felt good and I ticked off the kms under a warm sun but never caught sight of my target. Having done a recce of the course I was surprised when a marshal sent me back into the woods when I thought I was on the home finish. Now an extra couple of minutes running to do but I kept the legs ticking over and entered the field for the finish. Getting every bit out of my legs I went as hard as I could up the hill and under the finish gantry. I finished 2nd in my wave and then waited for the other waves to complete to see where I had placed overall. My time proved to be a good one and I finished 2nd overall giving me my first podium of the year. Samantha also came 3rd female so a great start to the weekend and now we could relax and look forward to the long triathlon on the Sunday…………..spectating!
In 2017 the Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) standard distance triathlon had to be severely altered across all three disciplines because of the bad weather. Fast forward to this year and conditions for the race could not have been much better.
The KMF is a festival weekend including many sporting events like trail running races, bike sportives and a sprint and standard triathlon. On Saturday team mates Samantha and Robert raced the sprint distance event and put in fantastic performances to both finish on the podium, 3rd and 2nd respectively. It’s always inspiring to watch team mates race so well and just makes me want to put in my best performance the following day.
We had all put in plenty of time recceing the routes for the event so felt well prepared. However, with most races you always have to be ready for a curve ball, and looking at the run route being displayed the return had been changed for this year. It’s always something I’ve been taught through coaching and something which I’m now passing onto my athletes, expect the unexpected and control the controllable.
So race morning came and it seemed like conditions were perfect, flat calm lake and very little wind for the bike and run. Due to the recent warm weather the water level in the lake was extremely low which meant the deep water start was more waist deep and I was able to get a good push off the bottom to start. Starting next to Beau I was able to get a draft off him for the first 50m which really helped get me clear and then I settled into my own pace. I soon found a group of 4 or 5 other swimmers swimming at a similar pace so decided this was the group for me. From this point until the end of the swim I found it I was having to concentrate 100% on staying on feet and making sure they were going in the right direction. Out of the water and there was quite a long run into transition, stay calm and forward think about what there is to do in transition to keep it quick and concise. My T1 went without a hitch and I was 4th overall out onto the bike course.
The bike route for the standard distance is not to be taken lightly with both Newland and Honister passes included. I knew I had to put in a strong performance on the bike, taking advantage of my power to weight ratio on the climbs. I really enjoyed the bike leg and feel it could be the strongest I have ridden my bike in a triathlon. Coming into T2 however I made an error and nearly went the wrong way. I like to pride myself on having clean and quick transitions so although this happened I couldn’t allow it to affect me in the moment so I put it to the back of my mind, found my transition spot and got my running kit on as quick as possible.
The run for the standard distance is all on trail, and includes the climb up to Walla Crag before descending to Ashness Bridge. The trails up to this point are all fairly straight forward, nice and wide with few technical points. Upon reaching the bridge the new trail for 2018 started and this is where the run got technical and I feel I came into my own. The section was undulating and narrow with lots of rocks and tree roots to contend with and I loved it even though I had to keep pushing myself. The end of this trail joined the path alongside Derwentwater, a fast, flat finish.
Coming into the finish it was great to have friends and family there, shouting and cheering me all the way, I crossed the finish line 7th overall and 1st lady and very happy with the execution of my race. I have a few weeks now away from racing before returning on the 15th July to compete at Ironman UK in Bolton.
The standard distance triathlon was the second of the triathlon events at the Keswick Mountain festival, taking place on a sunny Sunday morning. I had the opportunity to watch the sprint distance race the day before which gave me a chance to see the specifics of details such as the transition area, mount and dismount lines, swim exit and finish chute. It was also great to be able to watch and support two of the Racepace athletes who put in great performances to take two podium places.
I arrived at the race site in good time and racked my bike and ran the first and last sections of the run routes with team mate and fellow coach Sarah as a warm up and to gain as much knowledge as possible about the course. Due to the recent warm weather spell Derwent Water was particularly low meaning it was difficult getting in and out of the water.
Everyone got away cleanly and I soon settled into my race pace for the 1500m swim, building up a lead by the time I arrived at the challenging swim exit. Thanks to support with Arena UK kit from Solo Sports my wetsuit felt good throughout the swim and was looking forward to getting out on the bike. As planned I executed smooth but quick transitions and was soon out onto the tough but scenic bike course. I focused on keeping hydrated, maintaining as consistent a intensity as I could, and riding smoothly and quickly, maintaining speed and momentum wherever possible. The two passes of Newlands and Honister were challenging but having done a course recce a few weeks ago there was nothing to take me by surprise.
I arrived back into T2 having extended my lead and was quickly out onto the run and aiming to work at an intensity that I could maintain for the duration of the hilly 10km trail run. There were definitely parallels between this run course and that of my last race at the Slateman Triathlon, but with much warmer conditions adding to the challenge. Once I had ascended Walla Crag I really tried to pick up my leg speed and used the agility I have built through regular trail running to cover the ground quickly and efficiently. The route gradually descends to run alongside the lake for the final couple of kilometers and I worked hard to really empty the tank just in time for the finish line on the field at Crow Park. Just because a race went smoothly throughout, it doesn't mean it was easy, and the challenging course and hot conditions meant I was right on the limit by the end of the race. I was unaware of how close any other athletes were and the game plan was to race to the best of my ability so I pushed hard all the way to the line and was chuffed to win the event. It was made more special by the presence of such a big Racepace support team and family and friends to enjoy the day with. My generous sponsor for the season, Mark Egan of Egan Associates was also at the event in support so it was great to put in a good performance. Before long Sarah had also finished, convincingly winning the women's race to top off a great weekend for Racepace.
The whole weekend was a very enjoyable one for me for several reasons. Aside from the race going well for all the athletes I appreciated the hard work of Rodger bringing everyone together to create such a strong, positive team spirit which is an important part of the Racepace ethos. Thanks also to the fantastic Keswick Hotel which was our base for the weekend, the brilliant staff made our stay comfortable and relaxing.