Outlaw – Nottingham Full was my first long distance triathlon, having only raced up to middle distance. I was registered to race Nottingham Full in 2019 but due to injury had to pull out, then in 2020 with covid the race was cancelled so it felt like it had been a long time coming. I can’t believe I’ve finally had my debut in long distance racing, and I loved every moment!!
I was beyond excited to get on the start line, but of course, I was nervous. I think any athlete, whether they are age group or pro, gets nervous before a race, let alone a full distance race. I put my nerves down to being a natural feeling and didn’t let them get the best of me. Instead, I channelled any nerves into excitement. I kept reminding myself, this is what I train for and how much I wanted to achieve this goal.
My training leading into the race had been going really well, so I was excited to see what I could achieve and set a bench mark for myself in the longer distance race. When I look back to 2019, I was in and out of training due to injury and never able to sustain a long period of consistent training. Lining up at Outlaw Full I felt much fitter and stronger having been able to build a strong base over winter and have solid blocks of training leading into race season.
In the lead up to the Full, I raced two middle distance races (Outlaw Half and Holkham), which I felt allowed me to blow away the covid/lockdown cobwebs, get back into the swing of racing after 2 years and rebuild my race mentality, having confidence in my own ability.
You never know how race day is going to go in any distance, let alone a full distance but I felt it’s all about having trust in the process. I knew I had done the training, I had my nutrition of choice, I had a good taper and I felt ready to embrace the race, enjoy the day and take it all in!! Being my first Full distance race, I knew there would be take away lessons for me to learn from for future long distance racing.
Race day kit
- Orca predator wetsuit
- Orca 180 reflective goggles
- Quintana Roo prsix bike
- Asics meta speed sky run shoes
- Nutrition: mix of maurten gels/carb drink and SIS energy bars/electrolyte tabs.
I had travelled down the Friday evening so the day before I got up and had a 20 minute easy run. My sponsors Triharder had a stand at the event expo, so the day before the race, I spent most the day catching up with them. They are always a great laugh and they kept me nicely distracted. They also made sure I was all set to go. Carl checked over the Quintana Roo, Luke went over the kit list – double checking I had everything (after a catastrophic start to Outlaw Half when I forgot all my nutrition) and Dave did some final prep talk and well… paparazzi photos and some entertaining pre race interviews. Once I was ready, I racked my bike and went back to the tent to relax and eat!!
It was an early 3.30 am alarm clock for a 6 am go time. Eating is never easy at that time but I managed a porridge pot and carb drink. The butterflies were going crazy and I got myself to transition as soon as it opened to give myself as much time to, ‘faff’.
Faffing done and I actually felt quite calm, having plenty of time to get myself to the start line. But before I knew it, I found my self suited up and running off the pontoon diving into the lake. It was go time!! The swim route is probably the simplest route you could get in a full distance race with a one lap, up and down the rowing lake of Holme Pierre Point, Nottingham. I felt comfortable in the water, setting into a pace quite quickly. With the time trial format of the race, I found there was a steady stream of athletes in the water and I managed to always find a pair of feet to use as a draft. This was my main focus for the whole swim, always ensuring I was keeping on someones toes. With only one incident in the swim when we were swimming straight into a flock of about 6 swans, I soon found myself jumping out and heading towards T-1.
Getting changed in T-1 I could feel my adrenaline really kicking and I couldn’t wait to get onto my bike, my strongest discipline. I knew there were some strong female swimmers racing and that they would be well out the swim on the bike course. I knew I had to put everything I had into the bike to chase them down. So as soon as I got on my bike, I got my head down, focused and followed my coach, Perry Agass’ advice. There was no holding back, I had to be brave and give it my all.
I felt really strong on the bike and the miles ticked off nicely. I had trialled my nutrition in training, however I found that I was struggling to eat the solid food I had taken. I know the golden rule is to never forget or neglect your nutrition so I tried my best, however didn’t manage to have as much as I had planned and just made sure I had all my gels and carb drinks. This is definitely a lesson for the next one and I will be tweaking my nutrition.
I really couldn’t believe how quickly the bike went. Albeit, I was ready to get off by the end. I negotiated the tricky last 2 miles of the bike course carefully and got myself back into T-2. It’s always a relief to get back with no punctures or mechanicals. I was really happy with how my bike had gone and ended up taking the fastest female bike split for the day.
So back into transition for T-2, over half way of the race done and now it was time to run. I re-racked my bike and grabbed my running stuff whilst hearing on the speaker that I was second female. As I was getting my shoes on I saw the lead female run passed me, whilst also noticing my legs shaking uncontrollably. I was just thinking, ‘Please just get me round this marathon’ (little ask really). As I set off, I felt surprisingly good and again was on the chase for the lead female.
The run goes straight passed the main grandstand and I heard an abundance of support coming from the Triharder team and the rest of my friends and family who had come to watch. Having this encouragement gave me an instant spur of energy and I felt really positive. I then also saw Perry, which was the first time I was able to communicate with him since the start of the race. He gave me some reassurance on how the race was unfolding, and some advice on how to tackle it. I knew what I had to do…
Unfortunately, as I got away from the lake where there had been a nice cool breeze and onto the tow path, it felt like dead heat. There was no breeze and I felt my core temperature starting to rise. I pushed through the first lap with a relatively sustained pace, but by the second lap I felt really hot and my energy levels began to drop so I couldn’t sustain my pace. I think this was a consequence of my inexperience in the longer distance race and feeling the heat. As my nutrition hadn’t gone to plan on the bike, I felt I was paying the for it. The run turned into, ‘run for survival’ – one leg in front of the other trying to hold onto 2nd place. It wasn’t until mile 20 when I got over taken and dropped into 3rd. I was disappointed I couldn’t put up a bigger fight to get back into 2nd place, but when I was on the last lap of the lake it really was the crowds support that pushed me to the end. Just getting over that finish line was such an amazing feeling…. and such a relief.
All in all, I was really happy with how the race had gone. I have a lot of thank yous to everyone who supports me in my triathlon journey but in particular to my coach, Perry who has been guiding and developing me and Triharder who have been making sure I have everything I need from a kit perspective, so I feel in a very fortunate position as I work towards the next one!!