• Nikki Bartlett

Stowe Middle Distance

Since Henley Half 3 weeks ago (8th September), and finishing 2nd, my body has felt like its been wanting its end of season. I thrive on training and competing, but the body had other ideas. However, 2 weeks on and I changed my mind set and got ready for Stowe Middle Distance (29th September). Its been a crazy time at the moment with 99% of everything having moved to Scotland this week, and just having race stuff with me, literally, and Titch. Race day: You always know its race day when you don't sleep a wink, wondering/worrying that you wont wake up to the alarm. So no sleep and I gave in and got up before my 4am alarm. Drove from Cheltenham-Stowe and arrive at the beautiful venue. Stowe gardens was just stunning. Obviously helps a lot with the sun shining. Anyway the 'slower' wave went off at 9am and us a little after 10am. The swim venue was in a lovely lake, 3 loops in the cold water, we didn't get a water temperature reading but I wouldn't be surprised if it was 13degrees or less. Luckily the sun was shining to warm us up when we got out. Or if that wasn't enough, the 800m run uphill with our wetsuit to the bike transition would! I came out of the swim 2nd woman and up for the long 800m hill transition to my Matrix. The surrounding countryside was very pretty so the bike route was fab, went out pacing it well, but only really got into my cycling 'stride' at about 43miles gone. Unfortunately, whilst approaching the turn to go back to transition there was a nasty accident, with helicopter air ambulances, police, ambulances, never something you want to see, and you just hope and pray that person/s are okay. From this point there was a diversion on the bike course, to get back to transition. I didn't really want to get off of the bike, still had more to give, but up to T2 and to see my parents and grandparents shouting support :-). Onto the run, which was 5 laps around the grounds absolutely stunning, although this wasn't taken in fully, by lap 2 my body didn't want to 'tune in' and my stomach was playing up a lot (lets just say a little sick might have been displayed). The run was a TRUE run course, off road, lots of turns and corners, and hills!! Sharp down hills into inclines x5! Luckily I had gels from A1 multisport in my race kit, as there was only water and some SIS drink on the course. The run was brutal and challenged me mentally and physically. You couldn't really tell where you were position wise in the race. The 'slower' swim group had a super fast woman come out in 24mins! So obviously in the wrong wave, going off an hour or so in front of wave 2. I came off of the bike with the overall winner; Rachel Hallan who went off ahead in the run. So I knew at best I was in 2nd place. Battling through the run was hard, but with the support on the course and having family support, it was made that little bit 'easier'. You realise how amazing the sport is when your at an event, I ran the 4th lap with a lovely guy and we were talking and helping each other out whilst trying to maintain some run form. Didn't catch his name, but thanks so much for the natter on lap 4 ;-). On the 5th lap of the run the legs fully gave way and every hill, turn made my legs cramp and cease up even more so. I ran past a lovely couple near the end and they shouted 'your nearly there', little did they know I actually was as I was on my last lap, and kept a crawl motion up the last hill to the finish shoot. I was greeted by Jack at the finish who had just done his first half ironman and finished 5th! So proud! Was great to have him out on the course, gave me that extra 1%. Also for his legendary mum pushing all her boundaries out on the course, total respect to everyone who does the sport, everyone has a reason or story to tell :-). I met a lovely man before the race and he was attempting the swim cut off for 'x' number of times. I still didn't really know where I had finished so got changed and waited for the official prize giving. SO chuffed to have come away with a 2nd place finish to round of a great year of racing. The run definitely bought up the Q of, shall I just finish the race on this lap... but I couldn't let my family down who had come to watch, couldn't be more happy to complete it let alone 2nd place and 12th overall. Its now my season break, and I'm chuffed to bits with my first real triathlon season. Main results here I'm looking forward to the break, but I can guarantee that after 4 days I will be itching to get back into training. A big new change, as we move to Scotland tomorrow and start the new chapter of life. Cannot wait for the new season to begin and start training in such stunning surroundings. A big thanks to everyone who has supported me this year, sponsors, friends, family. Bigger better things for the future. Watch this space... ;-) x Sponsors: Nutrition: 9bar, A1 Multisport, Stowaway foods, Meridian Foods Swim: Aqua Sphere, Bike: bike box online, Matrix cycles Other: Compressport (pre, during, post training and competing compression), A1 multisport; all things triathlon, Natural Hero Big thanks to University of Birmingham sport department for selecting me to be an Alumni Sports Scholar, they have been absolutely fab and best support team and facilities in the High Performance Centre. Couldn't be more grateful :-).

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