Kerry ED Sprint 2016

Kerry’s First Sprint Tri(Du)

Eton Dorney Srint Tri – 18 Sept 2016

My 1st sprint triathlon came at the end of a very stressful week at work. I am a teacher in a special school for children with profound disabilities and complex health needs.I love my job but sometimes it breaks my heart, like this week, when heaven acquired a new little angel from my class. This meant that I was not feeling the most emotionally stable on Sunday morning. To then hear by text that the swimming part of my triathlon was cancelled due to poor quality water in the lake, and it would now be a duathlon instead, I over reacted and went into panic mode! I knew Musty was busy race directing and I didn’t know what to do, so I put out a cry for help on the squad Whats App.

I need not have worried as with S4F being such a supportive squad, messages soon came through and Gerry, whom I’ve never even met before, called me to reassure me. He reminded me to stay positive and gave me some excellent tips, which made me feel much better and more in control again.

 

On arrival at Eton Dorney we got the information that the swim would be replaced by 2.5k run and everything else to stay the same.

I had a race plan that involved working at set heart rates and even though Musty was busy working he still managed to contact me to give me heart rates for the new 2.5 k run which made me feel more confident. (Such an awesome coach!)

The 2.5 k run was awful as everyone apart from 1 person (at least 50 people) overtook me, a lot  of them were puffing hard and out of breath as they went by, whilst I felt fine trotting along enjoying the scenery! It felt embarrassingly slow, but I’m quite used to being the slow one in S4F training sessions, so it wasn’t too difficult to enter into my own little bubble and just stick with it.

 

I entered T1 in 14th position out of 15 in my age category after my very slow run and I continued to try my best to keep my heart rate in check whilst on the bike. This again felt a bit on the slow side, but I was gradually overtaking those that had overtaken me earlier on which was good. By the time I finished the bike I had moved up to 8th position in my age group!

 

I felt good as I entered the final 5k run as I had plenty of energy left, so again I stuck to the plan and managed to run strong to the end moving into 7th position.

I’m pleased with my achievement as this was my first ever real race. I’m new to sport too, having only taken an interest in fitness and exercise a year ago.

 

I was disappointed that I didn’t get the opportunity to do a sprint triathlon, as I have been working really hard learning to swim front crawl and now I will have to wait until next season to tick that box. However, I can now say that I’ve done my first ever Duathlon, which gives me a good starting point for future events. Bring on the Ball Buster!!

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Gerry’s 2016 Vitruvian Race Report

The GB Half Ironman Championships

it was an early start. The alarm went off at 0330. First thought was ‘how fresh do I feel’ from the devil on my shoulder, counteracted by a more calming ‘give yourself a chance to wake up!’. Normal routine, downstairs, cup of tea! It was still pitch dark! I could make as much noise as I wanted as Katie (my wife) and Freddie (son) had slept at her parents as they live quite close by and were all coming to watch. I took advantage of the situation and started to sing – LOUDLY! Outside it was pouring with rain… I had weather checked all week and considered wet race conditions inevitable. I had already told myself, ‘whatever the conditions its the same for everyone’. Rain or shine it was going to be warm…

I arrived at race HQ at 0545 in good time for my 0655 start time but knew everything would take a bit longer to set up in the rain as it always does. I didn’t do my normal 10 min run to warm up as I figured the pace intensity would be slightly reduced for a half ironman distance and I’d be taking the start of the bike slightly easier. I got into my wetsuit in accordance with Coach Musty’s prescribed ’30 mins before start time’ and enjoyed the warmth it provided my muscles.

As with any long distance race the bigger the race the bigger the pre race jitters! Can I make it all the way around? Have I done enough training? Perhaps I will just take the swim really easy, and in this particular instance ‘WHY AM I DOING THIS”. Then with the timing of a top comedian my thought was met by the voice of another competitor who said to his mate, “do you ever ask yourself why am I doing this” to which I actually laughed out loud. My pre-race anxieties were tempered and I was ready to go. I almost shook his hand!

A beach start, the water looked choppy but it was the same for everyone. The music was pumping and it was my last race of six and I was seriously up for it whatever the weather.

Usual scramble at the start of the swim and once I had my adrenaline under control I settled into a decent rhythm. First lap 950m in 18 mins – not great but I had told myself sub 40 on the swim be ok so as not to put too much pressure on myself. The swim is my next focus for improvement.

By the time I got out of the swim (38 mins) I knew Katie and Freddie wouldn’t be there yet but I kind of pretended they would be to give myself a bit of an adrenaline boost to spurr me on for the bike. Yes! A one in a thousand chance of finding my bike and I did. 2 laps on the bike starting with an easy first 20 mins to allow my body to adjust. Then I opened the taps a bit and was pleased with the speed/heart rate I was sustaining. The only disappointment on the bike was the volume of traffic on lap 2!

I always like to think that every race has a special moment. This race had two. In this instance and ironically following a spurious marshall DQ at my last race was with a “draft buster” on a motorbike. As he pulled along side me I was in full aero position dripping with sweat and rainwater and I quipped “Alright there?” He tilted his visor upwards and responded “still raining out there?”
“Yes mate” I spluttered, “Any chance of a tow?”
“Go on then son” he said in as cool as Clint Eastwood kind of way.
So I jumped on his rear wheel and he afforded me my memorable moment with what was probably less than a ten second tow but made my race all the more memorable.

The second came in the form of my mobile fan club repeatedly driving by on the bike leg. Mother and Father in Law whom I adore and Katie and Freddie. ‘Come on Gerry’ in unison, gave me goose bumps! I thought of coach’s sound advice ‘Gerry keep your emotions in check until the last 10K’.

I was chuffed to bits with a 2 hour 28 minute bike leg and feeling relatively strong was looking forward to enjoying the half marathon that lay ahead. As I came into rack my bike I was shocked to discover there werent many bikes on the rail – wow I’d done well!
I was greeted by my son pawing at the transition fence shouting ‘go on daddy’ repeatedly. Freddie is three and with my wife doing the same my heart melted. More adrenaline.

The run:

People were flying past me, even at my best I wouldnt keep up with most of them, but they were much younger than me and I was in control of my own race. After about 20 minutes I managed to settle my pace at around 4.30per km in line with my aspirations and then I felt my legs come to life and I was running faster and faster, gobling gels but not water, I’d done that on the bike aplenty.

In the last 10k I allowed my emotions to speak out but not to the detriment of losing focus on the next guy I wanted to overtake and now I was over-takling thick and fast and it felt amazing.

In the last 1k I looked behind as I could almost feel a presence and was met with the stare of a runner from Team RAF picking up the pace behind me. Having lost my podium 3rd place spot in Cambridge by 20 seconds I wasn’t letting anyone past today. I upped the pace to within touching distance of vomiting! Crossing the finish line in just opver 1 hour 30 on the half marathon and a 4.42 race time cheered over by my family felt incredible. I grabbed my finishers tee shirt, screwed it up into my face and had ‘an emotional moment’. What a fantastic season, I’ve loved it. I’ve felt like an athlete!

14th in the National champs exceeded my wildest expectations. I can’t wait until next season!!!

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Finish Lines

As the 2016 Triathlon race season enters its last few weeks, it’s been another great week for the Squad with some fast and fun racing.

First off, Gerry Frewin’s race season just got better and better culminating in a very fast 4:42 at the highly competitive Vitruvian middles distance race. Conditions were pretty difficult with persistent rain so such a fast time is even more amazing. That marks a massive improvement from last season – next year should deliver something even more spectacular.

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Darren went back to the Hatfield Tri and went 5 minutes quicker than he did 4 months ago – that’s a great improvement. He was understandably over the moon.

 

Alice Travers did a great job of following Coach’s orders to run as SLOW as possible at the Medoc Marathon posting a time of 6:01. After an earlier season 3:28 at the Brighton Marathon it must have been difficult running so slow but with a final middle distance race coming up in 2 weeks a slow easy marathon was perfect pacing. Who says triathletes don’t know how to have fun:

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It was also the last swim session at the Merchant Taylor’s lake with the great folks from Hercules Events; it’s been a great summer of providing swim coaching there. It was really good to finish off helping the next generation of Triathletes with a couple of sessions for 10 year old Ibrahim who swam brilliantly and could be one to watch for on the Triathlon scene in 10 years time.

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A few more races to go over the next 2 weekends for the Squad so my focus continues until the last squad athlete crosses their finish line for the season.

With finish lines in mind, the picture at the top of this piece is probably the image that first brought the sport of Triathlon into the consciousness of millions of people and turned what was a niche sport for a few dozen crazies into the global phenomenon it is today. It’s Julie Moss crawling, standing, running, falling, crawling her way to the 1982 Kona Ironman finish line. She got second but her determination to get to the finish line made people realise that there is something very special about getting to that(any) finish line.

Whatever finish line you have crossed recently, make sure you spend some time really enjoying the magic of that very special place.

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The Beauty of 4th Place

I find myself on a crowded commuter train at 5:30 in the morning with tears streaming down my face reading from my lap top. Ok let’s back track a few weeks to understand what’s led me here.

The Rio Olympics were a strange affair for me the first Olympics I can remember that I felt somewhat distant from. A combination of being away on my family holidays (hey even coaches deserve a holiday sometime 😊) and a feeling of scepticism that had permeated inside of me from the drug, corruption and sleaze stories surrounding the Games. I do remember watching on catch-up the men’s and women’s road races. Both of which were amazing spectacles to watch. Both had characters that seemed on course to win only to find themselves overhauled on the finishing straight. The women’s fourth place finisher seemed particularly heartbreaking as Mara Abbott had raced a brilliant race up to the last 300m. Oh well that’s sad but another 4th place finisher alongside the hundreds of others that would be heartbroken including GB’s Non Stanford in the Triathlon (here’s a great blog by her – classy and humble). But beyond that I forgot about Mara until I came across her blog about her 4th place experience. And it’s funny how with all the glitz of gold and multiple golds it’s the words of a 4th place “loser” that have moved me to tears of joy. I really recommend you read her piece here: I’m sure it will move you to tears as well.

They say 4th place is the very worse place to finish but in this case we should all be ecstatic that Mara finished 4th because without that we may never have got the following beautiful writing:

“For the final race of a career, creating a performance that was truly your best. In which you were tactically exactly where you needed to be at every juncture. Where you overcame your errors of the past and superseded the weaknesses others ascribed to you. Where you took the layer upon imperceptible layer of learning acquired over a decade of wins and losses and embodied all the lessons. Those sorts of race days might be even rarer than pure victories.”

Rarer indeed and more beautiful than a dozen gold medals.