Zone3 in conjunction with the Triathlon Centre @ Advance Performance are sponsoring a triathlete throughout 2017.
Our Zone3 Local Hero for 2017, Kate Southorn, has been racing in her GBR kit. She shares some great info, both useful and emotional, that will help if you’ve never taken part in an International race in another country.
June was all about the European Championship in Dusseldorf – sprint distance.
It’s really interesting that although you’re used to racing, being involved in a race outside of the UK is a different experience entirely and I don’t really think I had fully appreciated how much goes into it, regardless of wearing GBR.
The usual pre-race run up just doesn’t cut the mustard when you’re traveling to Germany. I struggled moving from being a runner to being a triathlete, going to a running race the minimum you need are trainers, shorts, sports bra and top. You rock up, put one foot in front of the other for a bit and you’re done. Triathlon there is so much to remember, so much to take, so much to think about.
What Kit to buy? OK, so you need a GBR tri suit and you’re expected to be in GBR kit for the photos. Probably not the best to be wearing a tri suit all weekend but I suppose it would mean I am getting my monies worth. So, I need a t-shirt to wear and ooo, I like the jackets I need one of those too!
How do I get there? Do I fly or drive ? Does the cost of driving outweigh the cost of time getting there, and the stress? Driving a mini to Germany with a bike on the back doesn’t feel like it will be fun, so a flight it is.
How do I get my bike there? A bike may be less than your baggage allocation for the hold, but its going to cost you additional to transportation costs to get your bike on the plane, or you could transport it with a ton of other bikes arranged as the GBR Tour operator. Hmm, being without my bike for a week or so. Nope I still have to train. So on the flight with me it is.
What do I transport my bike in? Do I have to buy something? There are companies who rent, Bike Box Alan’s, and finding Big Bear Outdoor who deliver and collect and are based in Oundle, was a god send.
How do I get my bike in the box? My bike skills are poor at the best so the thought of having to take my beloved bike apart to pack …Nooo. Even worse how do I put it back together on the other side? Thankfully I bought my fantastic new bike form Gorilla Firm in Oundle, who serviced and packed the bike. But then this does also raise the question how do I get my bike all nicely packaged from Gorilla firm to the airport.
Well if you Google ‘can I fit a Bike Box Alan into a mini’ you will certainly find a picture that clearly shows you can indeed fit a Bike Box Alan in your mini. What you do need to consider though is how it actually did get into the mini and can you fit anything else in the mini at the same time, including people in the front!
After the rather uncomfortable drive back from Oundle I quickly changed the parking reservation to be my partners car rather than mine. Nerves were already becoming a little frayed I am sure this was going to be magnified on the trip to the airport at 5 am.
Have I remembered to pack everything? Even on the trip out there were post of other GB athletes that had forgotten bits of kit. I had written a myriad of lists so I was sure I hadn’t forgot anything, thankfully I hadn’t.
Arriving at the airport was such an experience there were a number of passengers in their GB kit, it was great to be able to speak to people you had never met before all with the understanding you were going to the same place and all mostly as nervous as each other. Every woman you spot in GB kit you’re trying to guess their age. Are they in my age group, are they competition?
You also learn at the airport that you should deflate your bike tyres before they let you check in your bike, thankfully mine had been deflated, I wouldn’t have known you were supposed to do it, you’re also not supposed to take the gas canisters to inflate tyres. I’ll be honest this wasn’t my problem, I am not sure I could change my tyre in less than an hour so I want concerned about taking anything.
Knowing that you can’t take gas canisters I probably should have remembered to check my bags, as I had left my deodorant in my Kitbrix bag from training and as a result had to have my bags checked and then had to run for the flight! It’s all a learning experience I suppose.
Saturday morning was race briefing. So whilst I know the rules you have to adhere to in triathlon it isn’t in the forefront of you mind! Until you go to a race briefing, this wasn’t the usual race briefing that you have 20 mins before wave time, there was a power point and everything. Being sat in a room with over 300 other GB athletes was daunting enough, but having penalties and disqualification drilled into you just filled me with fear, I could come all this was and be red carded! OMG this is serious!
The next hour was a bit of a blur, I took photos of slides where I could so at least I knew what time my bike needed to be racked the night before.
The course was lets say ‘interesting’ with 66 steps from the water to the top of the bridge, then from the bridge to my bike in transition it was over 500 meters and that’s my excuse for a less than speedy transition – ok my transition was twice as slow as the fastest in my age group.
Once the bikes had been racked I relaxed for the night… so you cover them? Do you deflate the tyres slightly? – these are all new things to me, I had no idea these were even questions. I retired pondering the most pertinent question on everyone’s lips – wetsuit or non wetsuit swim.
Race day in the run up to my wave looked like this – Eat breakfast, go loo, pack to go to transition, go loo, check you’ve packed everything you need, go loo, go loo, go to transition, go loo, check bike, find out its an optional wetsuit swim, go loo, decide on wet suit, as that’s what everyone else is doing. Decide to put a gel on the bike, as that’s what everyone else is doing, set transition up, check transition, go to the loo before you put your wetsuit on, check transition, put wetsuit on, check transition, go to start gate, go loo, get to the final gate before your wave start, listen to the briefing including a talk about this is your moment, have a little emotional moment/cry. Have a word with yourself and head to your spot on the pontoon!
The race. In retrospect the majority of the race is a blur to me, I remember the swim was brutal, the transition long, I nailed a flying dismount, even though I am not sure why I decided it was a good idea to do this as part of the Europeans I haven’t tried it as part of a race previously. The run felt slow but having a couple of Brits and Germans to chase helped focus, again you’re looking at everyone on the turn arounds of the run to guess their age group. My objective as I came into this as the final team member I just didn’t want to be last or last Brit on the run, the main bit I do remember was chasing one of the Brits down and with 2k to go passing her, this felt amazing. I was sure passing her meant I wasn’t last, I am sure she’s in my age group, I just need to keep focused so she doesn’t catch me back up and pass me on the line. After finishing she came up to me and thanked me for pushing her, I couldn’t string a sentence together to tell her I was just trying to keep in front of her – she was an older age group.
My final position was 25th out of 29 so happy that I have met my objectives set by Mary at Inspire2tri
I hope to be able to compete for GB in my age group again, this time it will be all about competing rather than learning about all of the stresses and strains of competing out of the UK with such phenomenal athletes.
What’s next? Next month is about moving from Sprint to Olympic distance in training and racing.
We look forward to hearing from Kate with more updates