• Nikki Bartlett

British middle distance champs

So two weeks after Cotswold 113, I find myself on the start line for the British middle distance champs. Just two weeks between two half ironmans was quite tough, a recovery week, then essentially a taper week, but I felt that I didn’t have much to taper on, so was a strange two weeks for sure. I felt okay on race day, legs felt fine, or by fine, it meant that I wasn’t walking like a penguin anymore like the 3-4 days after the Cotswold 113. However, as soon as I started the swim something didn’t feel right; I certainly didn’t feel racey, which is highly unlike me. Competition, racing and training are probably three of my favourite things in life. So, to the swim…

I had a good start, got to the front of the ~500 people wave, but found myself amongst a lot of people at the first buoy. So there was quite a lot of time spent being dunked under the water and trying to lift my head up for some form of breath! After about 500m I got into some kind of rhythm, but found myself just going through the motions rather than actually racing it, if that makes any sense… 32mins later and I could finally get out of the water and into the bog of transition. Due to our lovely British weather, just to add in another little challenge, the grass had certainly turned into a mud bath. The race organisers did such an amazing job, but sometimes there’s no getting around what the British weather delivers, in July. So into and out of T1, in a much quicker time than usual, and onto the bike.

As soon as I got onto the bike I didn’t feel like me or me racing, just depleted in energy, couldn’t get a nice rhythm. Within the first 5miles my chain came off, and well timed; down a bloody hill! Not cool, so I literally jumped off at the bottom to find my chain was properly rammed and I couldn’t get it out, after several minutes of faffing around and loads of athletes zooming past down the hill, I was back onto the bike. Quite demoralising that. So I hopped back on, and back to chasing down, however, this didn’t go to plan, as my body had quite frankly said no from about 10miles into the 56miles. My legs felt fine, but I had no gear change in myself, so I mustered on, my chain came off a further two times, and my rhythm was disrupted a lot. However, there seemed to be quite a lot of mechanical issues going on with some of the other girls. Most frustrating part to racing; the uncontrollable.

So after having a jolly up and down hills in some lovely countryside, 2hours 47mins later, it was time to hop off and get on with some running, probably the last thing my depleted body wanted to go through; a 13.1 mile run. The run course had to be changed due to the weather. Otherwise we would be running/swimming in a mud bath. So the course was slightly short at 12.7ish miles, but on road, thankfully. But this would be a real tester for my ankle, to see its response to running this distance on a hard surface. I came in 10th woman off of the bike, and wanted to keep it this way. My mind set was in a place it hadn’t been before; I would usually go for the chase, hunt some girls down, but today wasn’t to be, you get those days, and have to go through them to make you that little bit stronger. So the run focus for me was to improve on my style, get into a rhythm, and be bloody minded about finishing and improving on my time.

Now, comparing times, overall and times in each discipline in each race, is pretty impossible, each course is different, even the same race from year to year is different; weather can play a massive part. However, I wanted to go for a sub 1.30 split for the slightly short half marathon. I had to take away a positive from this race, and I had decided that the run was going to be it. So I relaxed with it, and funny enough, I found a nice rhythm and felt alright and produced 1.25.03. Not bad considering my now 6 weeks into a running programme and feeling drained to say the least.

Overall I came 10th, 4th in my age group, 9mins behind the overall leader. At first I was quite disappointed with this result. However on reflection, it’s not all that bad. Mechanical issues happen, they will, and they will disrupt your race, and play a part on your mentality. However, I just wasn’t my Nikki racey, hard arse mentality on race day. My body wasn’t there, and I can be sure to say that two weeks wasn’t enough recovery for me. This is my 4th triathlon and after 13 months of injury I need to be realistic on how race fit I am, and that my body will take time to recover. For now, I’m going to recover well and make a plan for the rest of the season. At the moment, I’m on a thinking process of recover, build up training, big training block, and some racing in September and October time, when I have got some running training behind me too.

The most important factor right now is that my ankle has successfully managed two half ironmans, so therefore I can now be confident that I’m injury free. And to say that, makes me the happiest person in the world. If someone was to give me the scenario of where I am now, 5 months ago, I would have taken it, and given them a big kiss. So, for now, I’m on a steep learning curve and looking forward to the next ‘stage’ of the year, especially with the Olympics around the corner. I luckily have some tickets, and can assure you I will be doing a lot of bikes & treadmill sessions with the TV firmly fixed in front of me. Well done to everyone who raced at British Champs, amazing athletes out there! Again, thanks to my ever so supportive family, friends and sponsors. My parents for watching and leaving with mud wrapped around their necks. And well done to Chris for his first half ironman and smashing it! Bet you will be entering another one soon ;-). Will be back with a cheeky update soon, for now, some rest is definitely on the cards.

Full results here: http://www.big-cow.com/public/results.aspx?raceid=1978

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