Swim, bike, run, write.

The Training Diaries: ETU Championships and Ironman Copenhagen

Okay so we're almost halfway through 2018 and I'm only just getting round to penning my first blog post of the year. The last five months have passed in a whirlwind of train, work, eat, sleep, repeat - and I'm loving it.

2017 was the year of 'actually, yes I can' as I surpassed my own expectations and tested the waters with the completion of Ironman 70.3 Zell am See. I started 2017 scared and uncertain. I finished it feeling mentally and physically stronger, having achieved more than I believed I was capable of. With that in mind, 2018 has become the year of 'how far can I go?' Of stepping things up a notch and pushing my perceived limits - one swim stroke, one turn of the pedals and one running stride at a time.

I've got my sights set on two main races this year - the European age group standard distance championships in July and Ironman Copenhagen in August. Taking on the latter has been inevitable, ever since I got bitten by the Ironman bug spectating at Ironman UK and Ironman Wales in 2015. The former, the ETU champs in Estonia, was kind of unexpected. I entered the qualification race, which took place at the beginning of August 2017, as a pre-Ironman 70.3 sharpener. I'd only ever raced sprint distances before so I wanted to have a bash at the standard distance just to experience a slightly longer race before I did my half ironman. I threw my name into the hat for qualification with zero expectations - it was more a case of 'may as well, I'm there anyway'. Fast forward a few months and there I was feeling slightly hysterical having just received an email that said I - the girl who used to run away from the ball in school P.E. lessons - was going to have the opportunity to represent the country and go up against Europe's finest age groupers after being awarded a roll down slot. While dreams of getting on the podium may be just that - pipe dreams - I'm so excited to head out to Estonia and experience racing at that level. Plus I get to wear snazzy GB kit.

Ironman (consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon) is the main goal this year, so a steady build in volume and plenty of endurance work has been a big focus. Training is going really well so far. I'm running further than I've ever been able to, at a pace which less than 4 years ago was my 5km pace. The way the body can adapt and improve never ceases to amaze me and getting to go through that process is one of the things I love about triathlon. After a chilly start to the year, the open water season is finally upon us and I'm so happy to be back out in the lake again, especially now it's warmed up a touch. Sayonara chlorine and lane ropes, bonjour weeds and goose poo! The long winter turbo sessions have paid off (5hrs is my longest stint, involving several episodes of Riverdale and too many fig rolls to mention) and I've been having the best time out on the roads. New challenges justify a new bike, right!? I've been extremely naughty and treated myself to a Canyon Speedmax. I've named him 'the Beast' and we make a pretty good team. I never really thought a TT bike could be comfy, but after a great bike fit I feel stronger, more comfortable and more in control than ever on the new beast. He's speedy too - I repeated a time trial I did on my road bike in April on the new TT a couple of weeks ago and took a good chunk off my time. A good purchase - happy birthday/Christmas to me, love me, for the next 50 years...

I'm enjoying the training process so much this year. Motivation is at an all time high and every tough session ticked off feels like another link in the armour to get me race ready. 61 days until the ETU champs, 90 days until Ironman Copenhagen. But first, support crew duties for my other half at Ironman Lanzarote this weekend! I'll be the one with the annoying cowbells probably getting overly emotional at the finish because if there's one thing that makes me bawl like a baby, it's an Ironman finish line.


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