Getting 2018 off the ground.

Well, what can I say? My first 2 races of 2018 are memorable.


First off, challenge Roma.

In a word, chaos.Planned as a ‘business trip’; namely fly out, blow off the winter cobwebs and fly home straight after (quite literally straight after with an evening flight after a lunchtime race start). Turned into a ‘tourist trip’ with a race as a semi-afterthought at the end.

The weekend in a nutshell.
Challenge Roma. A race that goes nowhere near Rome
Given accommodation in a box room quite literally in the airport 13km from the race start.

A wonderful day sightseeing in Rome with mum. Far more red-wine, pizza, pasta and gelato than normal. Emergency car-rental at extortionate price (with replacement car-rental when tyre flatted)

Race start time of 1.15pm. Flight departure time of 8.15 pm.

The most chaotic race imaginable. The organization was so bad it was hilarious. Swim buoys completely different to briefing and virtually invisible. Who knows where we all swam. Rules and instructions changing quite literally every few minutes. ‘Go here, go there, no GO BACK HERE’. 9 miles short on the bike because ‘the volunteers didn’t turn up because of the weather’ – nobody was told it would be short. A transition on a car park roof. Extra-slip mats to make the swim exit extra-challenging. A bike course that could have been a cyclocross course for the first few miles, with the added obstacle of tape blowing across the single lane to trip up cyclists. Pedestrians/dogs/volunteers all over the bike course. No draft busters and a lot of drafting. An out and back turnaround point with no timing mat so that people could cut corners as they wished. A T2 that wasn’t set up before the race (with a 1.15pm start it wasn’t like it was an early start!) so we just had to dump our run bags on the ground for the volunteers to rack. Mine wasn’t racked on my number. Only water on the bike aid station. Who knows what was on the run aid station but there were definitely no gels – I think it was being set up while we were running.

Camaraderie between athletes that I’ve rarely seen – we all knew it was going to be chaos but somehow it made it more fun.

A sigh of relief from me when I realized the bike was short as it gave me an extra 20 mins to make my flight (in normal circumstances I would have been fuming)

Amazing races from Sarah Lewis and Alice Hector and a distinctly ‘less than average’ performance from me.

Finished race and was on a flight home 3hr later.

Overall verdict for the weekend: performance 3/10. Fun weekend with mum 9/10. Giggles and banter between everyone racing 9/10.


Next up, Ironman 70.3 Aix en Provence. In a word, cold!

I’ve always wanted to do this race but for various reasons have never got round to it. The bike and run courses suit me well being hilly and technical and it’s in a stunning part of France.

The weekend in a nutshell.
Failed bike recce take 1 when tub exploded 5 km in. 3km walk barefoot to bike shop to buy new tub at extortionate price, expensive taxi  home. Stunning bike recce in glorious sun over the Thurs and Friday. The course is a corker.

Sunburn from a 30min run off the bike

Decent first 800m of the swim, sitting comfortably on the drug cheat’s feet. Metaphorically patted myself on the back for being so clever, lost concentration, swam off to the side a few meters, lost pack. 90 seconds down on the drug cheat at the end.

Smashed the first 80 minutes of the bike working my way up the field
Started to rain. Really rain. Like cold power shower rain. Mmm, this extra-thin skin suit is really extra-thin.

Started to get cold. Really cold. Like shaking all over, can’t move fingers, teeth chattering, jaw spasms, cold.

Hallucinating about hot chocolate and warm clothes in T2.
Got even colder. Controlling bike was difficult. Got scared. Very scared.
Somehow made it off bike into T2. Involuntary groaning, shaking and teeth chattering. Couldn’t undo helmet. Sun visor and glasses were redundant. There was no hot chocolate. I had no warm clothes. Only option was to run.

Made my way out of T2. Saw mum. ‘I’m so cold’. ‘Well you’d better run faster then. And eat’. ‘Sensible advice’ said a guy running behind me. There wasn’t a choice.

Started running. Still raining. Still cold. Still really cold.

Made it to the end. Cold. Still really cold.

4th across the line. Once again I didn’t beat the drug cheat. Cracking race from another Brit, Fenella Langridge who finished 3rd in her first pro IM event. Impressive.

Still cold 24 hours later. Have now warmed up.

Overall I’m proud I finished. 25% of starters pulled out. It would have been very easy to call it a day in T2. Touch wood, I have a zero DNF record in triathlon.

I’ve got a hectic few weeks coming up until July. Next weekend I’ll be complaining I’m too hot in Lanzarote…. I randomly decided to add an early IM into my planned schedule. No particular reason – just because I felt like an IM. I have nothing to prove any more and am in the fortunate position that I can pick and chose races at whim. Work is pretty hectic at the moment and I’m also trying to find some time for exam revision and some exercise oncology projects in my ‘free-time’. Racing lots makes training around work easier and it’s certainly far more fun. And for me, each race seems to boost me one step up the fitness ladder. Wonder how high I can climb….

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