• Nikki Bartlett

First race after 13 month injury: Cotswold 113 Half Ironman

What can I say, it’s been a tough year through injury, had many MRI scans, physio sessions and lots of rehab. Quite a lot of my rehab has been through trial and error, testing the foot out, and generally listening to my body, no matter what ‘x’ injury process/period of time should take. I have held back a lot getting back into running especially, but have done a lot of bike miles and learning how to swim. I have had about 5-6 weeks back into running since last May, but even before that I didn’t have any running training behind me. So I’m essentially getting into my first running patch of training. I’ve been quite cautious doing about 2-3 runs a week, building up the mileage. So this race was my first insight into getting into triathlon since coming off of the World Class Start rowing programme in the summer last year to start my journey into long distance triathlon. Previous to this I have done two triathlons whilst I was rowing; Little Woody in 2010 and Ironman UK in 2011 with little/no specific prep.

The Cotswold 113 was a ‘tester’ to see where I am in training, more on the swim and bike. So I started my taper, and within two days I fell ill, typical, but I can’t complain as my last illness was summer 2010, so think it was my turn to be ill, just very bad timing. So I had 4 days off of any training, trying to get rid of the illness before race day. By Friday I was feeling better so thought to give the race a go. The organisers are lovely and it was displayed through such a great event, course and marshals. Unfortunately no one can help the weather, and a wet start to the day with a lot of wind, was a nice treat on top of getting up at 4am after little sleep.

So for those unsure, a half ironman is swim (1.9k), bike (56miles), run (half marathon). First up the swim, and I was aiming for 32/33mins, which I was pleasantly surprised to come out at 30.29mins. So into transition, and in the ironman I took 8mins, so my aim was not to be so slow! New transition pb of 2mins 30, which is still very slow. I even heard my Aunty shout ‘common Nikki hurry up’ haha! Onto the bike and the course was very wet, and the wind was a treat, made it that little bit more challenging. So time to put my hours of biking into practice, and was very pleased to come off of the bike in first place in 2hours 33mins. Was a beautiful course, but not much time to take in the scenery.

A quick(er) transition and onto the run which again was a lovely course, around the lake, through a lot of muddy trails, which was challenging to stay on my feet, but it’s quite fun getting nice and muddy. I felt fresh and good for 40mins, cracking out some 6.30-6.50min miles, but my legs haven’t got the mileage, and my running has been predominately around 40min mark in training, and it showed as I started to struggle a lot through the second and third lap. But I’m pleased with a 1hour 36min half marathon off of a windy bike and little training. My overall time was 4hours 43mins, 16mins ahead of 2nd place.

I cannot thank enough my family, friends and sponsors who have got me through this last year. Words cannot begin to describe the rocky road I have been on, it’s been tough mentally and I have had many dark places, but it’s great to nearly be out of the other end of the dark tunnel. Thanks for those who have sent wishes and were there in person on race day. I had a great support crew and it produced my result today. Thanks to my sponsors; Matrix cycles, extremely fast great quality bike. Fetish bike company for top quality bike kit. Both of which came today bright and early for a 6am start, legends. A1 multisport for all of my nutrition, which I had a lot of today for sure. Compressport for my compression gear and Siyona Tech for financial support for physio treatment, MRI scans and help towards training costs. I feel very privileged to be part of a great team. I’m looking forward to plugging in some consistent training, and getting back to competing again, this is my dream, passion and everything I want from life, and hopefully my upcoming MRI scan will give me the all clear so I can crack on with some running training. Hopefully, if all goes well through the next two weeks, I will be doing the Big Cow British Half Ironman Championships on 8th July. For now, I’m a happy chappy who is excited for what the future may bring.

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