Thursday, 30 June 2011

Pondevedra European Championships

Gosh, what a fantastic competition! It was amazing to be cheered on by so many Brits, in Pontevedra competing as age groupers, plus the Spanish crowds shouting bravo in my first International and only fourth triathlon!
My personal challenge was the steep hill on the run where a lovely man walked beside me every inch of the way shouting encouragement, twice. I couldn't even look up to see his face, but he approached me in town the next day to ask how I got on. I recognised his voice instantly and thanked him profusely.
I had a great swim and bike, beating the current European champ into second place, but the run was a bit beyond my current experience in a race chair. Still, only 6:30 minutes to improve on and there are a few months to go before the Worlds in Beijing. I think I definitely earnt that silver medal though as it was a tough course in 43 degree heat. It's just a shame that there are no other Tri1 women competing internationally, as surely if I can do six months of training aged 46 and compete for GBR, other women can. We really need to push the standards up too.
I had time to watch the elite men running through the historic streets of Pontevedra whilst enjoying a couple of celebratory cervezas, then cheekily asked Alistair for a piccy after the awards ceremony. When they play the National Anthem and you're wearing GBR kit, it's a very special moment, one I won't forget in a hurry!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Paratriathlon Performance Camp

The weekend started early with a 9:30am open water swim at Watermead Country Park near Loughborough. Luckily, I stayed with a friend in Lutterworth overnight so the drive was easy.
The water was surprisingly warm-in patches. I'm fourth from the left with my Swimsmooth cap on. The leech on my right ankle when I got out was a bit off putting...
Just time for a shower and coffee at the Hotel, then to the indoor track to be coached by Ian and Tanni Grey Thompson!! Awesome session, working on position in the race chair, gloves, pushing technique and flexibility. Increased my top speed out on the track straight away with a better pushing technique. I'm looking forward to improving with time.
Kevin Currel gave a Nutrition seminar centred around competing in Beijing and then dinner rounded off Saturday.
The good weather lasted until mid morning on Sunday. We set off-tandems, recumbents and bikes-to a marked four mile route for race pace practice. After a quick recce of the course, which included a horrible short steep hill, but a fast downhill section, we were timed over two separate laps. It was a bit like the loneliness of the long distance runner for me as everyone sped away on the first lap. Getting in the right gear for the hill without dropping my cadence was difficult but I have now moved the gear shifter so I can continue to pedal. My coach, Steve Casson, joined me on the second lap for a 'technical' ride. I could just see his knees in my rear view mirror. It was fortunate that he stayed with me as I tipped the bike over cornering too fast, just before the finish. A horrible metallic scraping noise on the tarmac resulted in a shredded footrest, some missing paint, a scraped hand crank and rear tyre. Not a scratch on me.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

QE2 Ashington Tri, Northumberland

Travelled up to Northumberland yesterday for the second competition in the British Paratriathlon Series. Registered in the afternoon, then watched Haseeb, Alan and Jane play in the Lake with Penny doing water handling training for volunteers. It was freezing and I didn't want a soggy wetsuit for today, so I decided not to take a dip.
Went into the Pub by the Lake for a warming cup of tea and ended up having a Pub meal with Jane. Neither of us fancied being billie-no-mates later. Left the Pub about 9:30, got to the Holiday Inn 11 miles down the road, only to be told they'd double booked. Sent off to find the alternative by SatNav, arranged breakfast for 7am and went to bed.
After very little sleep and no breakfast, I arrived feeling quite ill to set up my hand bike and race chair in transition. Just enough time to put on my wetsuit and the third wave was called-over 80 women and 7 Paratriathletes. The whole lake was choppy with swimmers and I had to stop twice to compose myself. I kept swallowing water every time I took a breath, very disconcerting. I didn't have any energy in my arms at all.
Penny and her crew stripped my wetsuit off and I felt dizzy again, but was expecting it this time. Gill helped me in transition and out onto an undulating, windswept bike course, with hardly a soul in sight. Alan passed me and then I was on my own, trying to distract myself as I huffed and puffed up the hills.
Back into transition still wet and cold, but soon warmed up on the run. Interesting bumpy and gravelly run course round the lake negotiating bollards, railway tracks and cobbles and some slight inclines which I found hard.
A nice crowd still at the finish was very welcome and instant feedback from Trihard timing showing all my splits was handed to me by Chris from Spalding Tri Club. A disappointing swim but a good bike section, so things are going in the right direction generally.