September 29th, 2017
My 2017 season did not quite go to plan but just as sport is – I’ve had some highs and some lows. The season started better than I expected. After a very unusual and new winter block of training my WTS Abu Dhabi result was totally unexpected, and a race I loved! Not just because of the result, but the course, the support and sprint finish with Andrea made it quite exciting. It proved to myself that I’d had a consistent winter in my new environment. However, from that point on things started to go downhill. A week or so before WTS Gold Coast and my Achilles became a problem. However I was too absorbed in wanting to qualify for the Commies to duck out so I risked it…bad idea…no qualification gained (yet…), and my season was wiped out. Looking back now it looks like my Achilles had been silent all winter, which resulted in a stress response in the opposite shin – which basically took me out of the season, until I was able to race again in WTS Stockholm.
Dealing with this injury was so difficult. I felt all kinds of things – frustration, anger, jealously of all my friends being able to race, but I’m proud of what I did during this time, and with the help of a great team around me I worked on what I could, and happy to say I’ve made some much needed improvements on my swim. This is not an easy thing to do when all you want to do is get back to running and racing, but I had no control over that. I knew the only thing I could do was as I was told and put trust in my coaches and support team. I’m not going to lie – I think I had many people close to me pulling their hair out, and wanting to slap me round the face. I just wanted Dorothy to click her heels together and get me back on the start line, but my return to racing just kept getting pushed further and further back – but that’s injury for you!
I went into WTS Rotterdam Grand Final ranked number 27. Not the number I was hoping for at the beginning of the season, but I was on that start line – happy to be healthy, albeit not race fit. For me, I just love to race. Put me on the start line of any competition and I thrive off the challenge, the inevitable hurt locker and the support I get. But whenever I do get on the start line I want to be there fully fit and able to give it my all. Going into Rotterdam it was a team lead race, with the outcome to get a GBR lady on the podium. I wasn’t in form and Jess had proven in Stockholm that she was the lady to accomplish that. My swim I was chuffed with – it showed me that Stockholm wasn’t just a fluke, however I wasn’t quite quick enough to jump onto Jess’s pack, so I had to play it smart. The girls in my group were great cyclists, with Jo Brown, Kirsten Kasper, Alice Betto, Taylor Spivey, just to name a few. These girls did a great job on the course in Rotterdam, and I didn’t want to interrupt their routine or their race plan, so I sat at the back and let them get on with the race. Most people who know me will know how hard this was for m. It’s not my style – I’m an aggressive racer, but I had to think of the team and Jess up front. Going into T2 the gap had gone to 90 seconds – there was nothing more I could do on the run for Jess, so it was each for themselves. I’m happy to say it was an improvement on Stockholm and I crossed the line 8th with Jess getting 3rd – the plan was a success this time. When I crossed the line, I was initially upset and annoyed that I hadn’t finished higher, however upon reflection, to finish 8th after the year I’ve had, in a stacked field, I’ll take it, and ready to build on it for next year.
As usual I’m hungry for more in 2018…! As far as Commonwealth selection goes there are 2 slots left for Team England (Vicky gets automatic qualification for medalling at Rio), and it is now in the hands of the selectors. I’d love to be able to defend my Commonwealth title, albeit it in a very different race to Glasgow with it being a Sprint distance race in a very hot country, but I would welcome the challenge with open arms. As soon as I know, I’ll let you guys know.
To finish off my 2017 season I was out in Jersey for the first women’s Super League Triathlon! Not the best preparation after racing Rotterdam the weekend before and catching a stinking cold from the cooler conditions but it just meant an ever tougher 2 days of racing for me. But I was thrilled to have been asked to race, excited at the new format, and gave it my all. And what an amazing 2 days and 6 races that Super League Triathlon put on. It was the first type of event like this and it did not disappoint. The first day was swim 300m, bike 5k, run 2k with a 10min break (which started as soon as leader crossed the line) then into another run 2k, bike 5k, swim 300m with a 10min break then into the final leg of bike 5k, run 2k and swim 300m.
There were a few rules to keep in mind…if you fell more than 90 seconds behind the leader you were out and however many seconds you crossed the line behind the leader after each stage that’s the deficit you started with going into the next leg and wow this was hard! I was in 8th going into day 2 which was again a different way of racing. Day 2 was an elimination style so it was 3 x swim bike run and you had to finish in the top 15 in stage 1 to go through to round 2. And then top 10 to get into the final. With the year I’ve had I just went into the weekend wanting to race – just to swim and bike as hard as I could and get rid of as many people as I could to give me the best chance to make it through each stage. While I didn’t have tactics going into to the race the biggest highlight was being able to wiz around the course with training partner Sophie Coldwell! What wicked hard fun it was! Going into the final I was finally finding my run legs and was able to stay in the race for the podium until the end and crossing the line 5th I will take for sure, so over all after the first super league weekend I’m in 6th after the 2 days and I’m so so happy to be able to end the season on a high! Now I can relax and enjoy some time at home before the build into 2018. This year has been super tough but I’m ready to face the 2018 season already – well after a well earned 2 week break!
As always I’d like to thank my family, friends, supporters, coaches, support team, and my sponsors for their continued and crucial support. I truly have the best team behind me. I will be back in 2018, stronger, fitter and ready to find a new level.
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Finally… I’m back on the start line!
September 4th, 2017
So it was great to be out racing in Stockholm WTS at the weekend. I am so glad to be healthy, albeit not quite fit yet. It has been such a tough few months for me. Since racing Gold Coast 4 months ago I’ve been being stuck in rehab, not able to run until around 6 weeks ago, and only coming off the Alter G 10 days before racing. I knew it was going to be a difficult race coming into Stockholm, not only because of the lack of running, but also with how technical and tough the course it. I had a plan coming into Stockholm – I wanted to race. I was so desperate after being out for so long, so my plan was to put in a hard swim bike as best as I could and just leave the run to see what happened. I had no expectations, no pressure and it was actually just great to be back on the start line injury free.
Leading into the race I felt excited to be back. I’ve found it so hard to sit and watch the last 5 races unfold. I know I don’t have to watch them but I just can’t help myself, I find myself glued to the TV, shouting at the screen for my friends to do well! It’s been such an entertaining series so far, I’m so happy to be back and part of it. I arrived on Wednesday and what a stunning location to have a race. This was my 4th time in Stockholm, and arriving back seeing all the athletes was a great feeling. The sun was shining but that didn’t last on course recce day, where the black clouds rolled in and it basically rained for most the day! But come race day the sun was back shining with not a cloud in the sky – the perfect setting for my first race back.
So, if you watched the race you’ll have realised how excited I was to race! So much so that I got a tad ahead of myself and did a flyer! Oops! As I dived in I thought ooooooo that was going to be close, but I quickly put it out my mind and got on with the race. I felt terrible in the water, but I think this was mainly to do with the very choppy conditions. It was certainly a tough swim, and was so fast from the start. Coming into the last bit of lap 1 I had no idea where I was. The chop was that hard I could barely see in front of me, let alone where I was in the pack. Out of lap 1 and diving back in I found myself in a great position, I clocked there was only a few girls in front of me and I thought, “Holy cow I’m in the lead pack!” I couldn’t allow myself to get carried away, and knew I still had another 500m to go and the pace was not letting up. I got halfway around the second lap and saw Carolina Routier next to me and I thought, “What on earth are you doing next to me…I must still be going okay”. On the exit I came out on the feet of Alice Betto, but then ran to my bike and there was a marshal stood there holding a yellow card – 15 sec penalty – s**t!!!! I looked across to my right and saw Flora, Jess, and Lucy, I was right there watching them leave T1. Those 15 seconds seemed to last a lifetime as the girls just flew past me. I had no choice but to take a breath and stay calm. The penalty was a game changer.
Off I went and I just had to think “game on”, lets go. I reminded myself what the aims of this race were – to make the swim and bike as hard as I could for myself, mainly because I knew my run wasn’t there, but also because I wanted to see what I could do. The penalty didn’t change my plan and just made me more aggressive and determined I suppose. I found myself in the 3rd chase pack, I put my head down and rode as hard as I could and I didn’t give up. I managed to bridge the gap to the first chase pack but knew who was up in front. It was almost the perfect pack of 3 strong women, Flora, Jess and Katie. A pack of 3 is perfect to get away on this course, because of how technical and fast it is – I knew they would be difficult to catch. Coming into the last 2 laps I was happy with how I rode. I literally red lined for 30km to bring myself and a few others up to the main chase pack and then 2 of the girls decided to try and launch an attack on me – I was on edge and thought “no way”. I let them carry on, focusing on not getting dropped and get to the end of the bike in one piece.
I’d heard about Katie and I knew the exact place she came down, it’s a nightmare of a corner that one and you have to be so careful. I hate to hear of anyone coming down on the bike, and I send her fast healing vibes ready for Rotterdam!
Into T2 and the gap was blown out to 2 mins, I thought “wow girls, just wow” – nothing I could do about it now, I just had to concentrate on the 10k that was ahead of me, and my God, 10km is soooooo long!!!!! Well it is when you haven’t run that distance since April! Each lap going up that hill in front of the palace killed me, and running out of T2 I knew it was going to be long and hard. I just felt like I couldn’t hurt myself, and was stuck in 3rd gear, not able to move. The lungs were okay, but the legs were screaming at me to stop. I crossed the line in 13th (unlucky for some). Of course I’m not happy with that at all, not even close, I want so much more. But on the other hand I remind myself things could be a lot worse than 13th place, like not being able to race at all!
I realise that going into the last few races of my season I’m not quite at podium material – I’ve simply ran out of time to be back in peak form for this season, however I’m glad to be back and I’m still looking to make some kind of impact on the races ahead! That is all I can do and I hope my supporters understand that. Next up was the British Mixed Relay cup in Nottingham at the weekend. Repping the Loughborough Colours was great fun. What an amazing race to be a part of and being able to race with the people you train with day in day out was a special and unique thing to be able to do. We finished the day in 2nd after fighting for the top spot with Leeds Team 1 and 2 and also Canada. Thank you to every one who came down to watch and support the race it was truly a great day thanks to the amazing support that covered the course.
What’s next…? On to Rotterdam for the Grand Final of the WTS and then the weekend after that sees the first women’s race of the Super League in Jersey! With only a few races left for this year I’m going to race hard and enjoy whatever my body allows me to do. I’m hungry for more. This season may not see me back on top form, but I’m certainly back!
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Diving into the deep end!
March 10th, 2017
My first race back after 7 months consisted of:
1) The first race of the WTS circuit
2) a sprint finish
3) 2nd place
Talk about diving into the deep end!
So 7 months away from racing is the longest time I’ve been away. Needless to say, as you’re all aware, it’s been tough. Having been given the all clear from my injury late December I knew I had to sort my stuff out sharpish to be ready for the 2017 season. Although my winter training started a little later than normal, it’s been quite consistent. It was a completely different build up to what I am used to as recovering from injury it felt a lot slower, but I had to be sensible and think about the bigger picture. You’re all aware of my recent changes, which again was another spanner in the works for me, a new (colder) training location, a new training programme, new routine, new coach, I felt like a rookie again. Mentally I would say that it was more demanding, physically my body just seemed to react to the training, it’s work in progress for sure.
The first race of the year is always challenging, I normally like to get a little race done beforehand just to see where things are, but there was no time this year, so WTS Abu Dhabi it was. As always WTS Abu Dhabi was set to be an exciting one, with the main focus being the new course with the technical bike section! I have to say, I was really excited; short inclines, fast twisty descents, sweeping bends it was a playground for the bike on a F1 circuit, which is pretty cool. I really miss the likes of the Auckland and Kitzbuhel, bike courses, so was looking forward to something a bit different. Firstly though, the swim – I’m always conscious of the USA girls, they brought a big team here so I knew along with Carolina (ESP) that the swim was going to be fast. As I expected, packs formed, I felt like a had a better swim during this race, but was still 40 sec down leaving T1 in the 3rd pack (work in progress still).
Onto the bike and for me it was head down and push. I knew the gap, I knew what I had to do, so I just went for it. I got help from Andrea (Hewitt) and between the 2 of us we managed to bridge the gap across, with most of the pack happy to stay behind for the ride. To be honest, I know how hard me and Andrea were pushing, so I don’t know whether the girls just couldn’t take their turn or not, but either way, we caught the lead group. I knew I’d had a solid winter on my bike, and I haven’t been able to race the way I wanted to on 2 wheels so this race was a bit of a test to see how much I could do, and I was happy. I raced aggressively on my new Specialized S-Works Amira, I was happy to push the pace throughout the 40km, it was nice to put the pressure on a bit and feel good on a smooth bike course! The pressure came off on the last lap which is where the gap decreased a lot to the chasing pack, but I got into a good position coming into T2, with me and Gillian Backhouse on the front line. A clean T2 and I had no idea how I would run after such a hard bike.
The run started and I found myself at the front which is not where I wanted to be, after having no confidence in my run, from a combination of a delayed winter build block and new training routine, the plan was to just feel my way though the first 5k, but this didn’t work out, with the pace being just too slow. So after the first few km I went to the front. My mentality changed then, and I just thought; well lets just go for it then! I wasn’t silly for the first 5km, as the conditions also came in to play, especially with the heat!! My first winter in the UK (as you can tell from my ghost tan), means I was conscious of the heat. After 5km I was pushing the hill slightly as I could feel this was Andrea and Saras weak points on the course, but I couldn’t shake them. Then coming back into the finishing area there a long flat which Andrea was the most dominant. Still running together into the last lap, again up the hill I put the pressure on, but still the doubt of running in the back of my head came into play. Coming onto the flat with around 350m to go until the finish my Coach on the sideline shouted at me to go for it. So I did and managed a small gap as I looked behind. My legs were going as fast as I could make them, I had no idea where Andrea was. I was using every part of my body to get to that finish and then out of the corner of my eye I spot a tiny black tri-suit and there was nothing I could do. I was at full stretch and we crossed the line within 1 second of each other with Andrea getting the Gold. 2nd place in my first WTS race, back from injury – I’m happy. And more so that Andrea got the win – I know how much this race means to her, and she thoroughly deserves it, she is one tough cookie both physically and mentally. As for Sara, wowza, such a young talent and 1st time on the WTS podium! Bravo!
Looking back now, I’m still over the moon with my performance on the day. Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a lot of work to be done, and another 7 months of racing to be had. But my worry has now turned into a bit of relief that things are going in the right direction. The first race is my starting point for the 2017 season and I’m looking forward to building and seeing what’s to come. I’ve been inundated with messages – there are too many to reply to, although I have read them all, so will say thank you to you all now. Your support is incredible, and knowing you guys are all behind me makes me want to push on more and more. I cannot thank you enough! Good luck to start of the season for you all. See you on the Gold Coast!
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First birthday in the UK for eight years!
February 9th, 2017
A massive positive about being based in the UK this winter is having my first birthday at home for eight years, yep… eight years! On Wednesday 8th I turned 28 and ever since my 20th birthday I have never wanted to say ‘it’s my birthday’ until I can celebrate back in the UK with family and friends. This year I actually got to celebrate my birthday on the actual day with the family!
So what have I done…I’m still in a big training block in Loughborough with the first WTS literally round the corner, so no foot off the gas, and Wednesday was no different. With a 6.00 am swim start, about 5.8km total swim, it was over to the gym with Mr. Ian Pypes, then back home to grab some food before heading out on the bike. Afterwards I loaded up the Peugeot and drove home to meet Mum from work where we went on to my birthday meal – I had a nice steak at Miler and Carter – TREAT ME!
For the rest of the week I will be staying in Birmingham to spend a little time with the family, as well as putting myself through it at a local duathlon in Wombourn: a 5k road run followed by 29k on the bike, where I will get to test out the new Brotherton Cycles Specilized Sworks Amira for its first time, before a 2.5k final run. I wanted to do something before the Abu Dhabi race and this seemed like the perfect challenge! Then it’s back to Loughborough for the final prep going into Abu Dhabi.
I’m not going to lie, this has been really challenging prep for me with such big changes in my