A for effort, F for execution

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My last blog talked about making your own luck when racing. This time it was my turn to draw the short unlucky straw. Totally jinxed myself there then.

The National 10mile TT championships on the K33/10D tested my adversity (and anger) management skills to the MAX!

Feeling good but admittedly not razor sharp for the race, I was excited to toe the line with some of the best time triallists in the country for my last TT of the season.

 

MISTAKE #1

Eating tuna 2hrs before the race. Why? WHY did I do this? Bad snack admin skills…

RESULT: Regurgitated tuna vomit down my skinsuit by mile 5. Disgusting but not at all race threatening.

 

MISTAKE #2

Pushing off the start line in the small chainring then changing up to the big ring while stomping hard on the pedals…

RESULT: Dropped chain. Dismounted bike.  Puzzled “blonde” look at chain. Mounting bike. And back on with the race. TIME LOST

 

MISTAKE #3

Somehow upsetting the puncture fairy.

RESULT: Punctured tub at mile 7 of the race. Luckily it was rideable to the finish line and no damage done to the wheel. Took the edge off my closing speed though.

 

3 mistakes. Adversity management and some half decent riding in between…

RESULT: 9th place at National 10mileTT champs.

 

Which has left me thinking “what if…”

 

My “Garmin time” (actual moving time minus the pitstop) put me on the podium. But “Garmin time” doesn’t count. No one cares about that. So for now I have to be satisfied with reality. Black and white results.

And in reality if someone had told me I would finish in the top 10 at the National 10mile Time Trial Championships this season I wouldn’t have believed them. Not even on my best possible day. So to have done it with possibly my worst ride of the season should satisfy me. But it’s funny how the goal posts move… Left feeling hungry.

Thank you all for making my first TT season so full of progress, lots of lessons learned and laughed at – Drag2Zero, Rotor bike, CoachJB, NoPinz, Southfork, Blake Pond, North Devon Wheelers.

In 2015 I better pull my socks up as I will no longer be able to play the “novice” card…. Might almost be becoming a proper cyclist.

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“The more I practice, the luckier I get…”

photo(1)“Good luck” was the last thing I heard before plunging my head into the River Ouse at the start of Sunday’s Monster Middle Triathlon.

Which got me thinking… How big a part did luck play on race day?

I was “lucky” to get a good, clean start, find feet to draft off and avoid too much of a beasting during the swim.

But I’d practiced mass open water starts, I’ve worked on my pure swim speed and practiced drafting in the pool and lake. I’ve learned open water skills to manoeuvre my way out of trouble. I positioned myself realistically on the start line…

I was “lucky” that my wetsuit felt comfortable and not restrictive.

But I’d taken the time to pull it on properly, unhurried, and flushed the suit through with water before the swim start. I’d done shoulder mobility warm up drills…

I was “lucky” to climb out of the swim with a clear head and no dizziness.

But I’d endured countless SwimForTri special “vascular shunting” sessions – involving swimming hard then ungracefully climbing out of the pool and standing up several times per session…

I was “lucky” to remove my wetsuit easily and find my bike in transition quickly.

But I’d lubed up well and had been regularly found stripping off speedily after lake swims all summer long…! I’d familiarised myself with transition and done a pre-race run though…

I was “lucky” not to have a mechanical.

But I’d looked after my bike getting it professionally serviced regularly and doing  pre-race check of tyres/chain/bolts…

I was “lucky” not to fall off.

Yes OK maybe luck does come into this a little. But so does judgement and making the decision to ride cautiously and having the confidence to adjust my riding intensity in changing conditions, to relax, dial back the effort and change the race plan mid-ride with the goal of a safe, clean ride, despite seeing sub-optimal power numbers urging me to ride more recklessly…. The stability of the ENVE 6.7s in the cross winds definitely helped too…

I was “lucky” not to suffer from an upset stomach.

But I’d practiced my race day feeding plan many times in training and worked extremely hard to change my mindset about fueling around training. I’ve come out of my comfort zone of mentally safe foods and eating habits and embraced a new way of fueling which is having a positive impact on training, racing and (most importantly) everyday health.

I was “lucky” my legs felt loose and light on the run.

But I’d traveled 6 hours on the Friday before the race to get my “pre-race reset” and alignment session with Caroline Kremer. As I have been doing all season…

I was “lucky” to have a strong overall performance and finish 2nd female and 7th overall amongst some very classy competition.

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And YES, sometimes shit does happen. Of course it does. But if you’ve controlled all the potential hiccups along the way, when adversity does strike, it’s less likely to be quite so catastrophic…

So I guess… “The more I practice, the luckier I get…”

“National Time Trial Championships?” “Why not?”

 

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Thanks Alex Taylor

“National Time Trial Champs?” “Why Not?” was literally how the conversation went between my coach and I early on this season. I’d started doing the local North Devon Wheelers Thursday night Club 10s mainly as a way of getting in a high intensity bike session and REALLY learning how to ride my new TT bike HARD in a controlled environment. With all good intention I can feel like I work “hard” in a solo bike HIT session BUT I know I’m competitive, and only a race environment will squeeze out my very best effort. There’s nothing like pinning a number on your back and knowing your result will be up on a board to arose the ego! I got a buzz out of seeing my times tumble, taking the course record and then breaking it a few more times for good measure. I tried out new courses, “faster” courses, and rode one of the SEWTT league events (South East Women’s Time Trial www.sewtts.co.uk) – safe to say, I was hooked. I started to appreciate time trialling as a sport in it’s own right, not just a convenient training session for triathlon.

 

I wasn’t even sure my entry to the National 25 would be accepted, having only ever ridden one 25 before, a 1:02 at the North Devon Wheelers Open. I put my entry in anyway and my brazenness paid off – I was given a start at the national champs. My preparation for the race still revolved around my triathlon season, and I wasn’t going to fully commit to riding until the week of the race. My “A” race of the year was Ironman UK which fell on July 20th, 13 days before the National 25. Even with a turbo charged recovery strategy, how your body pulls up after an IM is always a bit unpredictable. But 4 days after the Ironman I was back out testing my legs at the Thursday night club 10 and while it wasn’t my fastest time ever, it gave me the thumbs up that given another week I would be ready to go. GAME ON!

 

Race day itself presented a new challenge, working out how to attach a bike rack to my sisters car. A few comedy blonde moments later and we had it secure enough to risk the trip down the M6 to race HQ. Maybe two blondes and a bike rack do make a good combo after all! Despite an inclement weather forecast and several warnings of potholes and traffic on the course, I was really up for the race. The weather conditions/the course/traffic are things you can’t control so I figure there is no point stressing about them – just get out and do your best with the hand you are dealt on the day. After an unstructured warm-up and pre-race Powerbar Charger I rolled down to the start. As it was all a bit last minute I took a gamble of not riding or driving the course beforehand. Several twitter friends (@NapD @rebecca_slack @oldtrotter @Steve_Berry @CQuin) had given detailed local knowledge of the course and along with the race map, I could pretty much visualise what I would be riding.

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J2/9 course

 

My race plan was 15miles hard and then 10 miles FULL GAS! The first few miles felt easy and after a convenient little rest (however slightly frustrating at the time) sitting in a bit of standing traffic on the approach to the Chelford roundabout, I decided to use it to my advantage as I began to build pace round the course. A halfway split of 29:36 indicated I was in Personal Best territory. I had no idea of what a good time for the course was but I felt like I was riding well and would close out the second half faster than the first – which is exactly what I did, putting down a 58:24. I arrived back at HQ and then there was THE WAIT. They were posting the results on the board as riders finished, including halfway splits. Having been seeded on my 1:02 entry time, I went off relatively early, so my 58 was the leading time… for a while. My 12.5mile split was only 9th fastest so there was no guarantee I’d even finish in the top 10 overall especially as the best riders were still out on the course (albeit in deteriorating weather conditions…) THEN BOOM – the final results were up! I did a double take when I saw the overall standings – I’d finished 5th in my first National Championships, in my 2nd ever 25mile TT, in my first season of time trialling! I think I’ve found a new sport crush.

http://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/Events/Results

 

At the start of the season I didn’t even own a TT bike let alone have the audacity to have events like this on my race radar. While time trialling is still very much training towards triathlon, there may come a time when I start doing specific training sessions for this “training session”. Hmmm

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Drag2Zero, SMART, ENVE, NoPinz, ROTOR