Sprint Distance race-report Sarah Jepson:
Sunday 25th June saw several Racepace athletes and coaches heading down to Llandudno on the Welsh coast to take part in Xtra Mile events sea triathlons.
I was there to compete in the sprint triathlon, which for the second year running was a qualifier for the Age Group World Championships to be held in Rotterdam later this year. As with last year the bike leg was to be draft legal so tactics can play a large part in people’s results. I was off in the third wave, which was a female only wave, so unlike the mens wave I knew who I would be racing and would know my finishing position as soon as I crossed the line.
The start of the swim saw the organisers holding us at the shore line in the water for what felt like an age before we were then lead out to the starting buoys. Unfortunately we were once again held here for sometime so both my hands and feet had already started to feel the effects of the cold water. When the starting horn was eventually blown I was quickly away but was soon getting hit by what felt like large waves. As with recent races the swim felt hard to me and I never felt like I got into any rhythm with either my stroke or breathing so I was grateful to be back on dry land although the long run into transition from swim exit was difficult with such cold feet. On my way out of the water a spectator was counting the women so I heard I was in 7th which after the swim I felt I had I was pleased to hear. A quick transition and I was out onto the bike course which was 2 laps of the Great Orme, with a climb to start and then a technical decent back down to start another lap or return to transition.
When I exited transition I couldn’t see any other women in front so I had to make the decision to either try and form a pack with other women behind or to push on and try to catch those in front. Knowing myself and how confident I am on my bike I decided to push on to see who was up in front. I caught and passed two women before the top of the climb on the first lap, as I started my second lap it was hard to keep track of who I was passing as other women were now on their first lap so all I could do was to ride smart and hope I had made some in-roads into the leaders.
Coming into T2 I still thought there could possibly be at least two women ahead on the run so I set of controlled knowing that I would have to push on if I were to catch the leaders. The run course at Llandudno is a simple out and back route so you can gauge who is in front when you pass them going the opposite way. As I got to the turnaround point I realised I was the first place woman but couldn’t let the elation last too long as 2nd and 3rd were close behind. I continued to hold my form, increasing my pace the closer I got to the finish knowing that either woman behind could put in a fast finish and pass me close to the line. As I came down the chute I could hear all my family and friends cheering and then the announcement came that I was the first placed lady, a great way to finish a great event. Congratulations to Camilla Kipling and Helen Mason the 2nd and 3rd women respectively.
Next up for me is my first attempt at cross-tri racing with an Xterra in France on Sunday 2nd July.
Middle Distance race-report Beau Smith:
Having focussed my recent training on endurance and steady state riding and running, there was no better time to attempt my first middle-distance triathlon. Xtra Mile Events' Llandudno Sea Triathlon was the chosen Middle Distance race out of many other quality events available, mainly because there'd be a great Racepace team atmosphere with four other athletes competing in the various races offered. While I would compete alone it's always positive to feel part of something bigger, and whilst heading out of T2 I even managed to hear that teammate and Racepace coach Sarah had raced brilliantly to win the Women's Sprint Distance event.
My race started with a 1900m two-lap sea swim in choppy conditions; being longer than I'd ever raced before I had prepared myself to swim steadier and more relaxed than I was used to. I executed as planned and emerged from the water with a good lead over the other athletes. With the Middle Distance race being the first of the day there were plenty of other athletes and spectators supporting as I made the lengthy run to transition, but I again stuck to my plan and carried out a smooth but relaxed transition, making sure not to raise my intensity or push too hard - I now had an 88km bike route to contend with.
I was once again profoundly appreciative to Pete Jepson who's bike mechanic skills never cease to amaze - he had made some last minute tweaks to my bike so it would be ready for me to tackle the challenging course. The weather was breezy and drizzly which made for tricky conditions in the early part of the route. The course first included a lap of The Great Orme on closed roads before heading out into the countryside on open roads. The rest of the route included a combination of three decent climbs, some flatter roads, great time trialling on, and some smaller country lanes which I navigated correctly having done a course recce the previous day. The plan was to ride smoothly and steadily at an intensity I could comfortably maintain for the full distance. I managed this well and occupied myself by thinking about fuelling - drinking regularly and having my gels and two mini mars bars at my premeditated times. The bike took me just under 2hours 40mins which I felt passed surprisingly quickly, during which time I further extended my lead in the race.
I arrived back in T2 and put my socks (new to me in a triathlon) and trainers on, had a quick drink and jogged out of transition. As I headed out for the 20km run it was great to hear shouts of support from the Racepace gang who had all completed their events while I was out riding. I eased into the run feeling surprisingly good other than a bit of tightness in the back and neck from maintaining my aero position on the bike, and I ran at a pace which felt maintainable. The run course followed the road over The Little Orme to Penrhyn Bay and back again twice, meaning four testing hills to negotiate. My legs were definitely starting to feel the day's exploits but onto the second lap I knew I was far enough ahead that victory was very probable barring an absolute capitulation. I finished in 4hours19, comfortably winning the race.
As a coach it is very satisfying to execute a pre-race plan pretty much to the letter, as this is what I advocate and work on with my athletes. So it was pleasing to do this and taking the race victory was an added bonus.