May 10th, 2013 by Clare
Hey everyone, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve last updated my website blog properly, apologies for that. You might have noticed that with most bloggers they only really update when things are going well for themselves! I try not get into this habit as everybody has good and bad times this but this time I failed!
I’ve been on a bit of a journey the past few months and I feel like so much has happened. I’ll do my best to update you!
Things were not really going that well for me since my crash on my winter training camp in South Africa. It took my ages to recover properly. For a start I didn’t want to get my wounds infected in dirty swimming pools and burnt in the scorching sun and I also had some repercussions like a bruised rib so I tried to look after myself sensibly rather then dive back in and come into problems later on. I’ve been there and done that and it’s not much fun so in the end during this month I lost a fair bit of fitness.
Luckily I did manage to get in some decent training though but it was certainly far from the winter I’d have liked. Once home from South Africa within a week we were on another flight to Boulder for more preparation and some racing. After heaps of deliberation I decided to go ahead with my plans to race Galveston 70.3 anyway. If anything for experience and a bit of a form finder. I had a howler, I wasn’t that fit, I was in-experienced and I had done way too much travelling to get there in the first place but still I was pleased to go and race another one and I feel I learnt a lot about what it takes to be successful in this distance.
We then went back to Boulder for 2 weeks more training. It was the first time I could work properly with my coach, Mat Steinmetz so that was really useful. I learnt more about Time Trialling and how I need to be training for this distance. Boulder is an awesome base, many awesome roads to ride and it’s a really good atmosphere to be around for a Pro. I could see why it’s so popular here. The training wasn’t ideal though because we had 3 big snow dumps lasting pretty much the whole trip so it made it very tough to put the hard work in the bank. However I think we did a decent job in the end and I went into the next few races with a bit more restored faith.
We raced two more races on the way home, the Sprint classic St Anthony’s in Florida and also the main one I was looking froward to St Croix in the Caribbean. The moment we touched down in Florida I never really felt that great. I was tired from the hard training at altitude and I really wasn’t getting along with the position I was riding on my bike, I felt pretty fit but it wasn’t showing, I struggled to put down the power in the Time Trial position and I knew something needed to change. Therefore I was off the pace all day, my swim was pretty poor, my ride was really terrible as I kind of expected however my run was actually fairly good all things considered. I got totally smashed by the guys at the front though and it was kind of depressing! Other then the race we had a great time in Florida.The people were super friendly and helpful and our home stay hosts made the trip really amazing for us.
We left the day after the race for the Caribbean and the race I’d been really excited about as you can imagine. It’s a shame that I had such a bad run of things in months before because I struggled with confidence all week but once there I realised how lucky I was that my job brings me to places like the Caribbean and I was determined to make the most of it. We really enjoyed the hospitality from our home stay hosts Fred and Lisa and their 16 animals that live in the house. 3 dogs, 8 cats and 5 birds. I didn’t train much in the build up to the race because I knew that the fresher athletes would prevail because the conditions are so brutal here. Race day was like any other day out here, very tough hilly course and very hot and humid. My swim was decent exiting the clear blue ocean in the front pack of athletes. Onto the bike I quickly realised that my Time Trialling was still not up to scratch to ride at the front so I just concentrated on riding my own pace, pacing myself well but making sure that I’d have enough energy to make it round the run in one piece. My ride wasn’t without it’s problems. I went slightly off course at one point and I was over cautious on the descents opting to not to risk crashing. The roads were a state from all the rain the night before so that added to the challenge as well occasionally having to bunny hop over mounds of rubble spread across the road. Unfortunately I hit one of these head on only 5 kilometres into the race bouncing my best friend today, my Isotonic Bottle out of it’s cage!
All in all I got round surprisingly well and got onto the run in 5th place and within striking distance from the podium. However after 2hr45 of racing I soon realised that the race had barely started yet. It was now 10am and the sun was beating down on us and the humidity was super high as the rain evaporated off the roads. 13 miles is a long way to run in these conditions and I knew that anything can happen even if you feel great (I didn’t). I set off running at a good speed but had to keep reminding myself to calm it right back down. I caught 4th place very quickly and was closing in on Clark Ellice slowly but surely. After 10k all of a sudden I hit a bad patch, I was over heating, grabbing any nutrition I could get, labouring up the hills and I started to wonder if I was even going to make it round. Then the little voices start to creep into your head. Just how nice and easy it’d be to just step off the race course and walk home, or how fun it’d be to stop running now and join the spectators drinking beer cheering on the other athletes! Just up ahead though Clark was struggling just as much as me. You always think it’s just you that feels like this but the truth is every athlete on the course feels like crap, this is Ironman racing!
As the race went on I started to feel decent again and could still run quite fast, especially on the descents. I soon caught Clarky and we ran together for the next 5k. An official came along side us informing us that Ben Collins who had an incredible 9minute lead off the bike (riding 3 mins faster then Lance Armstrong the year before) was now in an Ambulance and we were now racing for 2nd and 3rd. My good friend Clark gave me a real fight all the way to the finish but fortunately I could produce a decent sprint at the end to take 2nd place.
All that pain I just experienced was gone within a minute and it was the best feeling in the World to have a good race under the belt again after so long, especially on one of the toughest courses on the circuit. The best thing about a good hard 1/2 Ironman is that afterwards you can’t really do much apart from R&R and what better place to do that then at the Caribbean? We went on boat trips, Scuba diving and hung out at some amazing beaches and had a great last few days of our trip.
Now back at home I’m getting into the groove again with my Loughborough buddies and we’re working nice and hard. I’m not quite sure about my next races as I might change it around a bit so i have more preparation time. Quality over quantity. We’re also making some other changes to certain aspects of the sport so hope to see some big improvements very soon.
Thanks for reading and I hope everyones seasons are getting off to a great start!