First Pro year! So where do I start? Well I'm pretty excited to have my new website launched soon (through Wide Mind Studios), so I thought I would write a 'little' 2015 update, until this is ready. I love to talk, so bare with, I will try and make this as short and sweet as possible :). So going into 2015, I had planned to get my first Pro licence and jump right in at the deep end. However this confidence was knocked considerably when I sprained my ankle early December, for being a clumsy arse as per, and falling down a pot hole, 45min run away from home, 5.30am in the pitch black. This was 're-sprained' when I did the same thing. So I'm now banned from running in the dark. Fast forward to the end of Feb and I'm starting to run consistently again. March 14th - Alloa Half Marathon I did this race in a heavy 32hour training week, and was shocked to come out with a 1.21.11 PB. So with limited running, a little spark of confidence appeared. This however, didn't last long when I pulled/tore my calf at the Scottish Duathlon Champs in the first lap. Out of running for 5weeks, pulling out of my first Pro race in April. Between March and end of May life was a little rocky so training had the same hit. May 24th - Scottish Olympic Distance Champs - 2nd Female overall Considering my prep, and no taper, the result was okay, more a matter of kicking off the tri season! I wrote a blog post through Compete PR (where I work part-time), have a read here. First Pro race - IRONMAN Staffordshire 70.3 - 6th Female overall From end of May - this race, training had picked up a little, and started to feel like I could form my first Pro race. By no means did I feel race fit, or really ready to jump in. But you have to start somewhere right?! I was nervous, excited and wanted to get out there and 'just see'. The female Pro line-up was HOT, but my god did they make me feel so so welcome, thank you! Swim: With no swim warm up, it was a matter of getting in, swimming (about 25m) to the start, a little wait, then we were off! Honestly? Probably shouldn’t admit this now I’m ‘Pro’ - but we’re all human right?! Well I did have a slight panic, so much so it took me AGES to get going, then completely lost the pack - the swim (pre 500m) was a nightmare, then I was fine and got my ass into gear.
Lesson 1: You can’t afford to lose time whilst you’re panicking. Out of T1 and I was right off the pace (10th). Not showing how far I had come on swim wise - gutted!
T1-Don’t panic just race your own race!
Bike: Well I lost two water bottles coming out of T1, over the bumpy surface, not an ideal start! But managed to get into my own rhythm. It was great to have an 8min gap between Pro female swim start and AG men swim start. However, with losing so much time panicking over a stupid situation, I was in complete no-mans land. So much so, I didn’t even know if I was on the course at moments. Most probably the loneliest ride I’ve been on! However, I was on a nice new bike (Cannondale Slice), given to me by a new sponsor - Leisure Lakes Bikes (Cheltenham), so it was super fun testing this out in a race for the first time!
T2-8th Pro, still no idea where anyone else is.
Run: Out of T2 and I was like right, where the hell is everyone? Or like the swim and bike, is this going to be a lonely affair?! I stuck to my race plan - high cadence and rhythm was on the agenda. I soon forgot about the dead leg feeling and felt okay. I managed to chase down Jacqui and Alice dropped out, so left me in 6th going into the last lap. I could see Eleanor (Haresign) ahead, but my body was having other ideas - shutting down! It was the most painful slow motion run to catch her - as in it took about a mile to close a tiny gap. But then this became the most exciting part of the race - a head to head battle. I wish my body hadn’t shut down, to be able to hold it off right to the finish. But it was exciting to be in a battle, but with 1k to go, I stopped at the last aid station and didn’t even know if I could do the 1k home! After much humour of laughing at my body function, and the amazing volunteers throwing water at me. I plodded to the finishing shoot, which was quite emotional, seeing my family along the finishing stretch, and completing my first Pro race, 6th Female :) in a strong field. Tick box.
July 26th - Castle Howard I had THE BEST training block from Staffs to this race. So I decided to race this as a 'training race'. I've not done this before for a 70.3, so the experiment would be totally new to me. Castle Howard course hosts breathtaking views. This is how the race went: Swim: The swim was A LOT less complicated than 2014. So I positioned myself at the front, a pretty poor start, but managed to get into a nice rhythm about 300m into the race. I came out 2nd female, 3mins down on Sam Warriner. Bike: Onto the bike, well I failed at getting on the bike at first and stacked it. Little comedy moment for both myself and spectators. OMG - no taper (well I backed off two days previous) = shut up legs from the word go. I'm pretty sure my legs were on fire every stroke. This require much mental toughness as Sam was gaining more time on me, and my brain was like 'Nikki your not moving!' It is a lovely ride, two laps, so my parents and grandparents were able to track my position and cheer me on. Which, even though you see them for about 5 seconds, does actually give you the BIGGEST boost of motivation. Run: So into T2, and 8mins down on the lead. What I learnt from this race - it's never over until the finish line. So onto the run, and my shut up legs all of a sudden were completely fine. I can remember thinking, just you wait. This is probably one of the hardest 70.3 run courses I've run on, harder than Wimbleball in my eyes, so the pain will smack you in the face soon. The whole run is off-road and hilly - farmer tracks galore. The run takes you around the beautiful Castle and grounds, on a two lap course. I made up 3.5 mins in the first lap, and I felt so easy/way too good to be true. Gel one went down a treat 30mins in, and with 1k to go, I could see Sam in the distance. I chased, and it came down to just 3 seconds at the finish line, with Sam taking the win. Chuffed to clock a 1.24 (slightly short), on the hilly course. Killer Saturday brick sessions over the last few weeks paying off. Going into the run, my thoughts were, no way - 8mins gap. Even though I just missed out, it clearly shows that it's not over until the finish line. A great race, on a great course, organised fantastically by the Castle Series team. I highly recommend their series of races to all. The absolute STAR of the weekend was Bailey Matthews (8 years old), who has cerebral palsy, and completed his first triathlon at the event. Read the full race report here. This is simply what triathlon is all about, what a hero. *Photos courtesy of Colin Baldwin Photography and Daddy Bartlett Next up is IRONMAN Dublin 70.3 next weekend (9th August). Massive thank you to my fab family and friends who're always supporting me. And my awesome team of sponsors: Financial Fitness Lacey Thayers 9bar Leisure Lakes Bikes Cheltenham nuun A1 Multisport Yakult Aqua Sphere
Here is also a recent Blog I wrote for Marie Yates on 'Living your dream'