From “thunderstorms” to heatstroke: Qiandaohu 113 race

On Sunday, I raced my second triathlon of the year in the beautiful Qiandaohu region of China, a few hours away from Shanghai.

I hadn’t been 100% during the week; the combination of recovering from 70.3 Liuzhou the week before, where I pushed myself to the limit, food poisoning and travel. Less than ideal. Anyways, I  could tell in the couple days leading up to the race that the body wasn’t quite as fresh as I would’ve liked.

Not much I could do other than stretch, rest and eat as cleanly as possible – which was harder than you might think in rural-ish China.

So onto the race: it was truly beautifully organised by the Shanghai Triathlon Club, and in a pretty spectacular location.

Before the race, we had an announcement regarding the forecast thunderstorms, and how red flags meant seek shelter and the race is terminated.

I managed to get myself into the first wave of the rolling start (three athletes go off at once, followed a few seconds later by the next wave of three), and I got onto the feet of China’s legendary triathlete Dang Xi for the first half of it. The swim course was awesome, going around one of the islands off the shore and back again. I was first out the water, quite to the surprise of everyone including myself, and onto the bike.

The bike course was 45km out and back, and I spent 30km solo with a motorbike before Peter Wolkovic caught me. The weather seemed overcast, thunderstorms imminent, and I naïvely didn’t think to much about my hydration strategy. Peter and I had a nice ride for 10 or so km, before he broke away just before the turnaround point.

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Don’t tell Jürgen we had a chat

Then it was back the way we came. At least this time other athletes were coming in the opposite direction, and it was fun checking out the beautiful bikes of some of the other athletes. Yes, aero helmets on road bikes were spotted.

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Another misty Chinese landscape with some of 1000 islands

Off the bike, and onto the run. I had not anticipated the exposure and heat on the run. All but about 2 km of the 21km course were exposed in the midday sun. Yes sun. Not storm. Not rain. Not even the typical misty Chinese weather. Scorching hot 30+C sun.

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Coming into T2, 2nd overall off the bike

The run was 2 and a half loops, and when going out onto the 2nd loop I heard someone say “Oh that’s the first girl again. We haven’t even seen the second girl yet”. So I relaxed into it, and made full use of the aid stations. I was at a couple for so long that the ladies manning it shooed me away.

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Trying to relax into the heat of the run

Annika, who I had been staying with in the week leading up to the race was out on the course, reassured me that I had nothing to worry about, and could walk back in if I wanted to.

I was relieved, in a way, that I wasn’t the only one struggling on the course, and yet managed to still be overtaking people . I really just wanted to get over the line and lie down. And what a relief it was when I did.

I held onto 1st female by a fair margin, and finished 4th overall with Peter finishing first overall.

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Obligatory podium picture

It turns out that I really was pretty badly sunburnt and had mild sunstroke. I still have the outline of my race numbers inverse-tanned onto my calves.

But lesson learned/reinforced even further. Do not underestimate the half ironman distance, and prepare and hydrate for the worst of eventualities.

And wear suncream. Even if they announce thunderstorms in the morning. Weather forecasts cannot be trusted.

Thanks to the team Maserati China, White and Wong, Jiakina Customized, Revv Energy Thailand, Project Artisan, Z-Coaching Phuket and of course Jürgen Zäck himself.

Now it’s back to training in Phuket for the next couple of weeks, before hitting up Europe.

 

 

 

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Smashing out the 10.5km to take the Win

Cover Photo: Sprint finishing against the coach, Jurgen Zack. As they say….it’s not a honeymoon.

Last weekend I decided to mix up my training a bit by taking part in the 10.5km race at Laguna Phuket Marathon. Having been injured recently and not been able to compete in triathlons, it was the perfect excuse to get back on the start line.

The event was beautifully organized starting in the heart of Laguna, my local training ground.

Continue reading Smashing out the 10.5km to take the Win

How I ran a half marathon personal best 7 weeks post-op

On the 8th of March, I broke my collar bone in a rather silly accident. As all accidents tend to do, this one involved a certain element of human stupidity. Actually, quite a lot. Anyways, you live and learn.

I was in the Philippines, and it was 4 days before what was meant to be my first race on the Ironman 70.3 circuit as a Pro. As you can imagine a lot of time, energy and pain had gone into race prep, and I was devastated when I was told I had a broken collar bone. The scariest part was not knowing what to do next. Different doctors telling you different things from different corners of the world. When you’ve always just believed the first thing, it was unnerving. Luckily I had the incredible assistance of Subic Bay local Monica Torres who looked after me and got me to the various X-rays for 3 days. When I got on a plane back home to Geneva I felt extremely relieved, as finally it had been decided what the next step forward was.

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Subic Bay 70.3 underpants run/walk turned into priority race. Booked flights and flew back that afternoon. (P.C Madhu the Triathlete)

I got off the plane and was picked up, taken straight to hospital by an incredible friend, and within two hours of touching down I was out cold being cut open to have a plate drilled onto my collar bone.

For 2-3 weeks I felt out of it, and I think it was from the anaesthetic, and quite a bit of pain. Of course I tried doing things to fast; lifting things when I shouldn’t have been, not wearing the cast, trying to decrease painkiller intake too soon. This was put to an end after I had a back muscle spasm and had to spend 6 hours spent bolt upright on the sofa one Saturday, in agony on every inhale. Thankfully it wasn’t hay fever season yet as sneezing would’ve been agony.

I could get on the turbo relatively soon after surgery, within 4 days, but it took a couple of weeks to be able to hold the handle bars and to get running. The first 3 km I did was quite painful, and extremely slow. But I had run, and that was exciting.

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Zonked after my first 3km plod. P.C Lucy. S

Swimming was a different thing, at first I could only kick with my arms by my side for a week. Those were riveting sets. But soon I was throwing in a length of crawl here and there, not using any force in the arms.

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A momentous moment: getting my arm above my head

I had a training camp booked in Mallorca for mid-April, a month after surgery, and I was determined to be able to bike. So I did. There were times I cut rides short when I realised I had no more force left on my left arm and attempting another descent would be dangerous. But overall it was so liberating to be back on the road and training with the awesome and dynamic group that is Geneva Tri Club, even if it was largely one handed.

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Getting up Puij Major was easier than going down. Thanks to the boys for looking after me. P.C Random Cyclist

Whilst in Mallorca I had realised that running was in fact by far the least painful of the three sports to do, so the majority of my training consisted of running. Plus to minimise the impact and imbalances I had developed after protecting my left side for a month, I was doing a bit more work on form and back to basic conditioning.

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Couldn’t wish for a better running partner/ bottle carrier on a long run. P.C Shameless Selfie

People had been discussing the upcoming Geneva Marathon, and without knowing it I had been entered into the half marathon by my mother. Thanks to her I had a goal to focus on and motivate me through my self-pity: sub 1.26. With Jürgen and we mapped out a training plan to get me to the start line as run-fit as possible.

On the start line I didn’t really know what was possible, so I started off with a few of runners I knew from the Tri Club, going out perhaps a touch strong. I then realised that up ahead were a couple of the top girls so got on one of their heels and stuck with her for as long as possible. She was very strong, but ran reasonably consistently and I hung on for 16km. In the last few Km I faded a bit, and another girl came past who went on to finish 2nd. It all became very painful, and my legs were going but I plodded on not wanting to let my goal of 1.26 slip by.

The Geneva half course is stunning, running through the countryside then down and along both sides of the lake to finish on the Pont du Mont-Blanc. On the approach a couple of the boys from the Club over took me, and try as I did to hold their heels there simply wasn’t anything there.

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Attempting to hold Jo’s heels

 

I crossed the line in 1.22.46. Much better than I had expected, coming in 4th with the “medaille en chocolat”. The time is 6 minutes faster than my previous best, which was admittedly set a few years ago when I last did a half on “fresh” legs.

It’s an ok time but nothing spectacular. What it is to me is motivating though. It’s shown me that progress has been made, but also opened my eyes to how much I have to make still. Despite still having been incapable of lifting a gel to my mouth with my left hand during the race, I had managed to smash my PB.

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That finishing feeling

Congrats to everyone who ran or walked in the 10km, it was such a fun day and racing with friends makes it even more exciting. I even bumped into my surgeon in the finishing area!

There are so many people who have helped me to where I am now, and thank you to everyone from the world over for their kind messages. In particular, I’d like to thank Monica and Madhu who looked after me and got me onto the plane home, and all the amazing doctors and nurses at the hospital(s), whether I spoke your language or not. In particular the surgeon who stuck me back together. Hopefully it stays that way. Annie and Mathieu for their help with rehab and helping me get to lift a cup of coffee again. It’s the small things you notice. The coach Jürgen, for believing in me but also understanding my rather fragile state and when to push, when to hold back. All my sponsors for sticking by me, despite the slight miss-hap: Jiakina Customised, Revv Energy and Project Artisan. And lastly my mother who, yet again, has dealt with me and looked after me, driven me, fed me and just generally put up with me without any complaint.

Let’s be clear, there is a bit more drama and pain to come. I’m yet to have the plate out, and I’m still trying to be able to swim with some sort of force in my left arm, and be able to hold my handle-bars comfortably. Plus it’s me.

But now it’s back to Phuket for a few weeks of solid training before I attempt to make it back to a triathlon start-line.

“When life gives you lemon, makes lemonade”

Ride safe everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

2017 lesson #2: everything can change in a second

Last Wednesday, I arrived in Subic Bay pretty excited. It was the week before the 70.3, and also happened to be my birthday. I’d just come from a fun couple days in Hong Kong, visiting friends and family and having a bit of chill time between two races.

Continue reading 2017 lesson #2: everything can change in a second

2017 lesson #1: Listen to your body

2017 has begun. In fact, we’re well and truly into it. I couldn’t quite believe how February had snuck up on us. Mainly because it also meant that my first race of the year has also snuck up on me.

This weekend I will be racing at the Bangsaen Thailand Tri-League race in the “Master” distance: 1.5km swim, 75km ride and 15km run ( involving some monkey dodging).

I would like to say that I’ve been hitting it in training, but 2017 so far hasn’t gone 100% according to plan. I’ve had to adjust my training for certain periods of time due to a frustratingly long list of ailments/injuries I have managed to inflict on myself.

Continue reading 2017 lesson #1: Listen to your body

1 year on – how things have progressed!

This time last year, I had been in Phuket for less than a month. Fresh faced from finishing university, I knew almost no one in Phuket, but I had made the life-changing decision to throw myself into triathlon full time. I wasn’t deemed fit/acclimatised enough to do the Challenge Thailand race that happened at the end of November 2015, admittedly a more challenging course than yesterday’s inaugural Ironman 70.3 Thailand.

Well what a year it has been. I have certainly had my ups and downs. But I honestly did not expect to get to the level where I could race like I did yesterday. It was just one of those days where (almost) everything came together for me. It also marks my last race as an age-grouper as I make the jump to race on the professional triathlon circuit next year. Continue reading 1 year on – how things have progressed!

A step up in racing

A friend asked me yesterday how I felt about Sunday’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon: my first race racing in the Elite field.

It essentially marks the start of my professional triathlon career; as of 2017 I will be racing as a professional on the circuit.

I hadn’t really thought about it. In fact I’d kinda been trying not to think about it. But that’s not always the right thing to do.

So here’s my brief thoughts/feelings towards it all.
Continue reading A step up in racing