When Triathlon Scotland invited me to be on the
Scottish Stirling Team (there is only the one performance centre in Scotland!) for the Mixed Relay Cup after I won the national sprint champs, I was in two minds. I was very thankful they wanted me on their team, it would be really fun to compete against some of the best triathletes in the world, but I would have an iron distance triathlon 5 weeks later and should probably be training for a 10 hour race as opposed to a 20 minuter.
I decided to do it, provided I got into the elite individual race the following day, and use it as some speed training!
I’ve still got a couple lingering injuries, but training has been relatively consistent, and I had no idea how I would get on in a 300m swim, 6km bike and 1500m run! I was terrified of the transitions too.
Flying down after work on Friday was fun (although Flybe you need to make your mind up whether you can pre-book bike onto London City flights), flying over the centre of London (I haven’t flown into that airport before!). I was actually next to a lovely guy who tweeted me later on, after finding out who I was and wishing me luck! Great detective skills, if you are reading this!
I met the rest of the team, who were already at dinner, and built my bike around 10pm with a couple of the guys. Because I am the granny of the group, it is so refreshing observing the youngsters, and I remember my swimming days and how hyperactive and sociable I was(am!). They are always so fun and don’t make fun of me too much for being old!
The race wasn’t until 6pm the following day, but I never realised how much
faffing media commitments, briefings, route recces, warm ups, registering, UCI checks etc there would be! So we actually had to be ready for 1pm! For a 20min race!
My roomie, fellow relay teammate, and new friend, Hannah and I spent the day together, doing a wee jog, grabbing breakfast and coffee and sitting in the sun (36C people!!) and she was lovely! She didn’t race as well as she’d hoped, but she’ll smash the next one!
At the briefing, seeing several Olympians was pretty intimidating (and there was definitely a clique-ness environment…no one wanted to mingle until the race was over interestingly enough) but I saw it all as some fun (I guess it is most of their careers and speciality). Being introduced to the crowd and on BBC was cool, and soon enough the gun went off for the 1st female in each team to go.
Unfortunately, we handed over at the back of the pack to Cam who managed to work his way up a couple of places. I was in the pen waiting for him, when I saw Vicky, Rob and the kids, which gave me a buzz!
I got tapped, ran towards the ramp down to the Thames, and really enjoyed my running dive into the water! I kicked for an entire 300m (swim friends be impressed…you know I love a 2 beat kick!), and exited with the girl ahead of me.
Terrified of transition (after there were multiple falls in leg 1 on the slippery red carpet), I was dropped again however I time trialled my way back up to the girl in front within a couple of minutes (it was fun trying to hunt people down, like in the national time trial champs a few weeks ago!). Again, coming off the bike I was apprehensive, so took my time and would call it more of a falling dismount than flying dismount, but I did it, then struggled to get my trainers on! I didn’t get my right heel properly in my shoe, but I’m a bit of a toe-y runner so it actually didn’t bother me!
The run was over so quickly! I just remember breathing hard, aiming for the girl in front, and getting her at the last second, and handing over to Luca! I remember a lot of Scottish accents cheering me which was awesome, but even more exciting was finding out it was McDOOGZ!!! He moved to London about 3 years ago and it was so nice to see him, as well as the Smiths! We spent the following day after the race together catching up 🙂
Luca was awesome, but we ended up finishing 13th ish out of 15. We weren’t last, but there were definitely improvements that could be made. On my part, more run speed training and transitions, transitions, transitions!
Luca, Hannah and I then went for a very late Saturday night dinner at a very romantic pizza place on a balcony overlooking the Thames! Luca and I had the individual race the next day, while Hannah was done and was looking forward to meeting her girlfriends the next day.
The following morning, I wasn’t too sore, but I was drained from all the focus that comes with such a short race. We did a slow shake out and strides in the morning, I packed everything up to check out, and I headed to the Excel (a 2min bike ride from the hotel). Although I was there with a team, Luca and I went to my race ourselves because there was more focus on the juniors who were racing a couple hours later. I liked this, because it meant I could do my own thing (which ended up being talking to Mum about Amsterdam car hire!), but it was weird! I usually have Kyle, or friends I know competing, but I was Debbie nae mates, and Luca went off after me and was warming up!
I got speaking to double world duathlon champ, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, who was really nice, and we were both last minute prepping! We got to the briefing, was informed it would be full Olympic distance, but the run was being reduced to 5km (!), and there was a gasp from the girls! I had found out that morning it may be the case, but I must say we weren’t emailed about it, nor was it on the website, so if that were my “A” race I would be very disappointed.
We were announced to the crowd and, as a late entry, I was last to dive into the water. I picked a position and the gun went off after a couple minutes of sculling. I thought I could get on the feet of some of the names I recognised but my swimming shoulders didn’t get the memo that I was racing two days in a row, and I was dropped after about 50m! I genuinely thought I was in last place (the field was amazing), that all I could think about was how embarrassing getting out of the water would be. UNTIL, about 300m in I finally felt someone behind me hit my feet! Yass I didn’t even care that I was leading the chase pack and not drafting…someone was behind me!
And then a boat came towards me and shoved a camera in my face for what seemed like minutes! Do I look up more for air time (look for the green goggles when it gets televised!). No Debbie stop being so distracted and swim!
I kept my group lead the whole way and exited with a Czech girl and Sheedy-Ryan. They ran super fast to their bikes (I was sprinting!) and we took off together.
Within about 5mins, we caught an American who was in no man’s land (she told me later she got dropped in the swim at about half way and she too thought she was last and considered stopping!).
(no big deal…I’m just leading a pack with a Czech national champ, a USA athlete and an Ozzie world champ!)
I learned some real lessons here. I can ride with the best of them, but when it comes to corners, I am horrendous. Getting off and walking around the corners would probably be faster. So I had to play catch up every.single.deadturn. And there were quite a few! This lasted about 30km. Then at the last deadturn on the 3rd lap, I did something which made my brakes rub right onto my front wheel.
I made the stupid decision to just push harder after trying to fix it while riding to no avail, but really I should have stopped and started. I lost 3minutes in 10km and I was now in no man’s land. Hearing McDoogz and the Scottish team made me go from feeling like I was in a great position, to feeling utterly humiliated.
(I wasn’t a happy
camper triathlete here…)
Rolling into T2, I got my shoes on this time, and it was a pretty uneventful run to the finish. Although I didn’t know how many laps I was doing! I guessed each lap was a mile, but could it be a couple of km, and then a longer run once in the Excel? The latter was true, and to be honest I wasn’t pushing anyway. I didn’t want to aggravate my injury, I was never catching the group I was with on the bike, and the group behind us were pretty far back.
So, after seeing Doogz entering the arena, I apologised to him then jogged into 10th place.
Last year I was 5th and had a way better race, but this year the field was even more stacked, plus it was definitely good training with my TT effort for 10km 😉
(Protip: ALWAYS race for beer and cuddles!)
Next up is the Scottish middle distance champs, then the 100 mile TT champs.