5th race of the season and one of my favourites. Brilliant event within a bustling city environment that is very well supported with lots of enthusiastic people cheering you on, plus the small matter of a river swim which always make the event one for the calendar.
I arrived in Chester the day before, so I could register and get an early vibe for the event. Luckily for me I have a friend in the city so was able to lodge there, so did Samantha (fellow Racepace athlete) and our coach Rodger. We had a relaxed evening where I cooked up my famous Spag Bol and we discussed the finer details of the race. All of us went to bed feeling well prepared and ready to race.
8.45am swim start for me and I already knew where I wanted to be, supposedly there is a bit of an art to river swimming, so I took heed and started closer to the edge on the out leg and toward the middle on the return, all to do with the flow of the river. Not sure on the science of this though but I went with the flow – excuse the pun.
Countdown from 5 and I am off. I always start at the front and after looking at some footage from my coach I’d say I was in the first 15 swimmers as we went under the bridge and out to the first buoy. I was on the lookout for feet from the off (not that I have a foot fetish) as I wanted to draft off someone quicker and let them do the work whilst I just sat in. This is always a battle for me and I can tend to spend large parts of the swim on my own or with someone on my feet. I did do better this race but would still say for 65% I was on my own. Out of the swim in 24th place and into T1, quick as I could and out with my bike to the mount line. On the bike and off we go, 40KM ahead!
Got into a rhythm and settled down early for the bike leg. I have been putting lots of work in with my coach on the bike and I wanted to execute the best ride I could. I wanted to keep a high cadence, high intensity and concentrate on what I was doing. I passed lots of other athletes as they were from the middle distance which set off earlier in the day. To clear a path, I was barking orders and letting them know I was coming through, it was a little bit like a slalom course in parts. The bike leg shot by and I came into T2 feeling good for the run. 1hr 6m 45s for my bike leg which I was very happy with.
Out of T2 quickly and into the run. The run is a 3-lap course and having done a good time the year before there was no reason I could not do the same again. Straight from the off my legs felt good and I got into a decent rhythm picking off runners one by one. Lots of targets to focus on at Chester which helps keep your concentration levels high. As I entered the last lap I just tweaked the pace accordingly so to scrape every bit out of my legs and leave me with a fast feet finish.
Over the line and hands on knees, as I looked up the first thing I spotted was the digital clock. Absolutely knackered I was still able to work out my overall time was slower than the previous year. Instantly I was disappointed and could not figure out why as I felt the performance on the day was a good one. On looking at the results it looks like many people went slower that the year before and I was 16th in Age Group where as I was 30th the year before. This just proves that no races are the same and you can only race the course and the conditions on that day. Top race and an enjoyable day, it may already be on the calendar for next year!
This was my first standard distance tri of the season and given my last standard distance race in 2017, when I said I’d never do another, I knew I'd have to work hard.
Having done a very fun recce with team mate Sarah I was felt ready and was looking forward to it. Thanks to team mate Bob’s friend we stayed over the night before and woke up to a calm, sunny day, it’s going to be a great race! The race venue was all set, I racked my bike opposite Bob, we were very relaxed and ready to go!
To the swim start, and I get in the water which was a cool, calming relief and brown opposed to the nasty, scummy green we swam in on the day of our recce! We assembled on the start line; the waves were mixed sex’s in age groups so all the men and women aged 35-39 were in the water. As I take my place at the front I look around and see men everywhere.... umm is this the right decision? Hell yes! Do not be put off by the men!
The gun goes - I’m good, swimming well, not in any bother, and at the turn point I was with two men and we turned back up the river and then I felt one was slowing so I took my own line, However he followed me, swimming on top of me, hitting me, well this has never happened, there’s loads of room what’s he playing at? I keep calm and stand my ground until the swim exit!
Out we get, up some steps, nice and steady through the transition and out on the bike. Rodger had lent me some wheels and thanks to Pete's fettling the bike felt really good. Wow let’s have this! I cycled with control and enjoyed the course, which was fast. Thanks to Sarah I knew every corner, when to drop a gear and where I could push on. I knocked 3 minutes off my previous bike time! I make a cool controlled, dismount and back into transition.
On to the run. I set off controlled and focused, and soon see the drinks station - yes please, all over my head! I was passed by two women towards the end of the bike and another 1/2 way through the first lap of the run. About that time I could feel I had settled into a good rhythm, and just tried to keep it up. Jesus it’s hard and it’s hot! I’m fading, by the third lap I’m pushing so hard but I’m focused and trying my best!
When I finish I’m elated, then I get the results.... 49 min run!!! What happened? Maybe it was the heat, maybe I tried to hard on the bike? Maybe I just couldn’t give any more. I had a great race overall and I’m happy with a finish time of 2:26:26 making me 23rd lady overall and 7th in my age group. Turns out it wasn't the fast day we all thought it was going to be ...
Huge thanks to everyone who helped me get prepared for this race, especially my family who always support me and help at every turn