Category Archives: Kay Ball

Kay Ball is a newbie triathlete-in-training and Trigirl’s 2017 Brand Ambassador. Kay says, “Starting my triathlon journey was such an adrenalin rush that I wanted to write about it and ultimately I’d love to share it with other women. I hope that what I share will motivate others to do the same, especially women my age (I’m 47!), who like me, may have thought their competition days were behind them.”

Kay Ball – My First Sprint Triathlon

Whoopee I did it! I’m delighted to report that last week I finally crossed the line of the Pendle Sprint Triathlon.

sprint triathlonI’d been pretty chilled as I counted down to the big day. I was enjoying the training for the most part and loving being bigged-up by friends and family who were really proud of what I was hoping to do.

It was only the arrival in my inbox of the arrangements for the event itself, that made my stomach churn and gave me a bit of a wobble. The info I received was long and thorough with detailed instructions and timings of what I needed to do once things got under way.

Race day dawned beautifully and my husband, Dean, and I set off early for Barnoldswick – a very pretty village in the Pennine hills. Dean, who has been a star throughout the process, was there armed with his camera and best cheering voice. I was so glad to have his company and moral support.

My sprint triathlon race day tips for the newbie triathlete

  • Read through all the information you get about your race so there are no surprises on the day. See this as the final part of all the months of training you’ve put in. You owe it to yourself not to be sweating the small stuff, like where to park, when you should be focused on the race. Do your homework and be prepared.
  • Practice transition at home so that it’s second nature. Getting a triathlon belt and some elastic shoe laces will save you valuable seconds and make it less stressful.
  • Make sure your bike is in the right gear for the start. If it’s on an uphill hill you’ll need to be in a low gear or you’ll find yourself going nowhere fast.
  • If you live near enough, familiarise yourself with the course and get to know it’s profile and any idiosyncrasies.

Sprint Triathlon – The race!

I was incredibly nervous as I waited for the swim to start. At least having a kit-malfunction was one thing I didn’t need to worry about. My trisuit was by then tried and tested! I was sure it would serve me well and looking like a pro was a boost to my confidence.

It was brilliant to finally get started and the swim was over and done with before I knew it. Once I’d got through the first transition and onto the bike, I started to relax and enjoy myself. Heading off with people applauding, bells being rung and lots of words of encouragement from passers-by gave me a lift.

There were a few challenging hills along the way (that’s The Pennines for you) but I was soon in a rhythm, and able to enjoy the atmosphere. I reflected on what I was doing and enjoyed the climax of months of training.

As I came through transition for the second time with just the run to go, my legs were heavy. Regardless, I was determined to keep on trucking and make it round. Just before the finish line there was a huge hill and I didn’t have much left in my tank.  I dug deep and, spurred on by the cheering spectators, picked up the pace just enough to cross the finish line in style.

The finish

Finishing was an awesome experience – I was so proud of myself and knew friends and family would be too. I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few months and met some great people who’ve helped and inspired me along the way.

To any women out there who are thinking of doing their first triathlon I’d say “Go for it!”. Whatever your age and level of fitness, there will be a race out there for you. The sense of achievement you’ll get from finishing is priceless.

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Kay Ball – Triathlon Training: Breeze Group Rides

Breeze Group Rides – A night out with the girls, with a difference

Breeze Group RideLearning how to fix a puncture and give my chain a bath weren’t the only useful things I learned on my bike maintenance course. Chatting to one of the other ladies there, she told me she was about to become a Breeze Champion.

I’d not come across Breeze before but she gave me the low down and it sounded great. As soon as I was out of my overalls and back in the comfort of my own home, I checked it out.

The Breeze initiative was set up in 2011 by British Cycling. Continue reading

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Trigirl Spice Trisuit Review

Spice trisuit reviewKay reviews Trigirl’s latest one-piece trisuit

With my race only a few weeks away, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on my new Trigirl trisuit. I wanted to start to put the individual events together and understand what it feels like to do the cycle leg straight from the water.

So, I opted for the Spice trisuit in Paradise Bay. It’s a lovely electric blue with a contrasting turquoise on the front zip and back neckline. It’s lightweight and breathable, with mesh panels on the back and lower legs to keep you cool and speed up drying.

I was itching to test it out and wasn’t disappointed. The chamois was comfortable, low profile and super quick to dry. The legs didn’t ride up, and I have had no chafing. The rear pockets held gels safely in place.

It’s a flattering fit – you can tell these girls know what they’re doing! The legs are a good length and I was relieved to see it wasn’t see-through when wet. It’s very comfy, too, with no digging in around the armholes or straps and the whole thing dried very quickly.

In conclusion, this is a lovely piece of kit. I’m confident it will perform technically and comfort is one less thing I’ll have to worry about on race day. I think I feel the part now too. I’m less like the novice and more like a woman who means business – bring it on!

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Kay Ball – Clipping in to Clipless Pedals

Clipping in to clipless pedals – what’s that all about?

In for a penny, in for a pound. As the proud owner of a fancy new road bike there was now no avoiding the mysterious world of cleats and clipping in.

Clipless pedalsSome useful basics for the novice

• Clipless pedals are a two-part system. The pedal has a metal locking mechanism on it and there is also a metal or plastic cleat that attaches to the bottom of your shoe. This means that with a little practice you can connect rider and bike via the pedal which increases efficiency.

• The “clipless” term is potentially misleading. Though they don’t have “toe clips” as such, the action by which you connect shoe to pedal is still called “clipping in and out”.

• There are essentially 2 types of system – road or 3-hole (SPD-SL, sometimes called Look-style) and SPD or 2-hole (also called MTB, as they are typically used for mountain biking). The road shoes are Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Triathlon Run Training

Triathlon Run Training

triathlon run trainingOn the back of recurring joint problems, I’ve had the last couple of years off running. Consequently, I decided to enlist the help of my physio to get me back in shape for the run leg of the tri. The aim was to sharpen my performance while at the same time avoiding any further problems.

Dom* is a trained PRI (postural restoration institute) therapist. He is passionate about the potential to improve athletic performance (and avoid injury) by addressing our postural imbalances.

In layman’s terms, we humans are asymmetrical in many ways. Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Choosing a New Bike For My First Triathlon

Do I really need a new bike for my first triathlon?

Easing gently into triathlon training deep in the winter months, I’d been taking the softy’s option of starting my preparation for the bike leg in the gym. Training warm and dry with TV or tunes, the chance of a chat with friends and a coffee shop on the way out – what’s not to like?

new bike for a first triathlonA few weeks in, however, with the first signs of spring on the way and the clock now counting down towards the race, it was time to dust off my bike and head outside.

In the back of my mind I think I knew that my old MTB might not be up to the job. My first exhausting training ride confirmed this. The bike had served me well for many miles of recreational cycling, through several countries and for well over a decade. However, this bike just wasn’t built for speed!

My expectations for the race had shifted somewhere along the way from wanting to “just get round” to starting to think about getting some speed up. Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Sports Bra for Triathlon Training

Sports Bra for Triathlon TrainingTalking of getting the right support to get me through the triathlon ….. the lovely folk at Trigirl have asked me to test some of their gear over the coming weeks and I’ve started with one of their sports bras. They recommended the Anita Active Dynamix as the perfect sports bra for triathlon training and racing.

I have to say I’ve worn the same brand of sports bra in multiple colours and different incarnations over many years and have been very happy with it. The Dynamix bra that I tried, however, definitely gives it a run for its money.

It has a neat design which makes it easy to get on and off; especially handy when you’re hot and sweaty. The fabric is light and breathable and did a good job wicking the sweat away.

It’s quick and easy to adjust at the front and the padded straps fit snuggly. As you’d hope, it keeps everything in place even during a tough, high-impact training session but doesn’t sacrifice comfort at the expense of support.

I have to admit the Dynamix was way more comfortable than my regular sports bra. I’m converted.

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Kay Ball – Bike Maintenance for Triathlon Newbies

As far as bike maintenance goes, I’m afraid I’ve let the side down a bit over the years. I am much more likely to reach for my phone than my multi tool in the event of a breakdown. And while, on a good day, I might have taken a pump and an inner tube out with me, if push came to shove, I’m embarrassed to say, I’d have been struggling to know what to do with them.

bike maintenance course for triathlon newbiesWith many hours training on the bike ahead of me, not to mention race day itself, I thought a bike maintenance class made sense. Skilling myself up would, I hope, put an end to my “fingers crossed” days of cycling not to mention improve my performance and ultimately keep me safer.

I chose a beginner’s course at a local BikeRight Centre. I arrived on the day along with a small group who came with a range of different bikes and motivations.

We started with the basics and the first exercise of the day was actually to label the various parts of the bike. Beyond the fundamentals Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Improving Your Swim Technique

Swim Technique for TriathlonThe internet has been a great source of information during the early stages of my triathlon journey. I was beginning to think, however, that my swim technique would plateau if YouTube continued to be my only source of advice.

Ultimately, I thought, there was probably no substitute for a real-life coach standing on the poolside correcting my bad habits and fine tuning my stroke.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge (sorry) and get a professional on the job. I’d seen several teachers at my local pool but they were, in the main, young enough to be my children. I really wanted someone let’s say, more my age profile. I’d seen Hilary* teaching another adult and noticed how engaged and enthusiastic she was with them. What’s more there was actual laughter going on. It looked like the lesson might even turn out to be fun!

3 lessons of swim technique in Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Sprint Triathlon Training Starts

January blues? Not for me! My first month of training has left me energized and immune to the chill and gloom of the first few weeks of 2017.

Sprint Triathlon Training has StartedThe sprint tri I’ve entered is in May so I’ve 4 months to train and prepare for the big day. I found plenty of great information on the Trigirl website to get me started, much of which is geared towards the novice triathlete.

Although the tri is obviously a game of 3 halves, it’s the swim leg that loomed largest for me personally and I really wanted to gain some confidence in the water as quickly as possible.

I’ve been a regular at the gym for many years but have rarely ventured into the pool. I think it’s fair to say I did feel a bit self-conscious on my first visit but I kept my objectives realistic; don’t do anything daft and try to retain some self-respect!

I can only say I wish I’d got into swimming sooner. Though I wouldn’t have won any medals for style on that first day, even with my ungainly stroke and unpractised breathing, I soon got into a rhythm. After a couple of swims I was relaxing more and finding it a surprisingly peaceful experience.

Lessons learnt in those initial few weeks Continue reading

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Kay Ball – Toying with Big Ideas and Triathlon Challenges

I loved swimming as a child. Even now, one whiff of a pool takes me back to my childhood, sparking a pavlovian craving for a bag of Monster Munch and a Vimto which was the post-swim ritual.

Triathlon Challenges for KayI’m not sure when/ why I fell out of love with it. It’s true to say that swimming is the last form of exercise I’d choose now. In moments of madness when I have tried it again as an adult, I’ve found myself exhausted and embarrassed in equal measure.

With no style or technique to speak of and coughing and spluttering within the first couple of lengths, it’s fair to say I’m not one of life’s naturals. I should stick to sport on dry land I reminded myself; this swimming malarkey was not for me.

Except…. Continue reading

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