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Chene-For-Trigirl-Triathlon-ClothingIt started gradually. I was running with a group of friends in the woods, enjoying the fresh air and challenging myself to keep up, when I noticed a slight stiffness in my right knee. Slightly annoying – not serious.

The next time I ran, it was there again. Not immediately, but after about 2km, the same niggling feeling. Again I kept running…

A few weeks later I set off to do my regular 5km Park Run one Saturday at 9am – a timed run in a nearby park which I was running almost five minutes faster than when I’d first started.

Hello, my name is Rachael and I’m delighted to be a Trigirl Ambassador for 2013!

Rachael-Triathlon-Ambassador-2013So how did I end up on the pages of Trigirl? I have always been ‘the sporty one’ – kickboxing, lacrosse, tennis, kayaking, running, cycling – so I suppose it was inevitable that I would fall into multi-sport at some point. I raced my first (and only) mini triathlon in 2011 and I loved it. After an injury setback in 2012, I decided I had unfinished business with the whole swim-bike-run thing.

While my focus may have shifted over the years from pitch to river to trail, what has remained constant is my love of sport and competition. I work as a personal trainer so I spend a lot of time encouraging my clients to enjoy the benefits of sport and exercise, to set goals, and to challenge themselves. So I thought I would ‘walk the walk’ by stepping outside my comfort zone and into the weird and wonderful world of triathlon.

Until a few months ago I wasn’t sure what exactly a triathlon was and the idea of ever taking part in one was about as likely as winning the X-factor.

Chene-Intro-Portrait

As a 43-year-old mum of three, I’d resigned myself to slowing down, getting even softer around the edges and giving up on unmet dreams, of which there are many. I was doing Pilates, sporadic runs and the odd Zumba class – which had more to do with escaping domestic chaos and getting away from my home office desk than getting fit. I was as fit as I was ever going to get.

Then one of my friends started telling me about a local triathlon class she’d joined. I wasn’t interested, but as her shape and fitness levels started changing, I noticed a niggling little voice: “If she can do it…” Although I was terrified, I joined Jo’s tri-team for a few friendly sessions at first and loved it! Jo Lewis, in her fifties and a triathlon athlete in her own right who has represented GB, was a huge inspiration. Here was someone more than 10 years older than me, who clearly had no intention of slowing down, looked great and is still competing and inspiring men and women of all ages to get fit.

I’m over-the-moon and overwhelmed to have been chosen as a Trigirl brand ambassador for 2013.

Natalie-Trigirl-Brand-Ambassador-2013

When I heard the news I was delighted! Great company, great kit – recommended by my sister (a 2012 Blenheim finisher) – and, I confess, I shed a tear. This may seem overly emotional to you, but is quite a big deal for me.  I’m not very fit, you see. I don’t really do exercise.

Well, I didn’t use to do any. I do now. And it turns out I’m not as bad as I thought! This is a shame really, as I have spent my entire life avoiding being fit, or anything that might be construed as exercise. Being almost 6ft tall this came from a lifetime of, “You’re tall. You’re sporty. You can play/run/throw”. No. I’m just tall, you see. Now, at 36 years old, this seems a bit of a wasted opportunity. But – as they say – better late than never, so I’ve every intention on making up for my years of couch-dom by being an inspiration to my three daughters and a training partner for my husband and friends whose fault, I mean encouragement, got me to this fantastic point.

It’s been nearly  two months since my last update; the summer has just flown by and events are wrapping up for the season, with bookings open for next year already – how did that happen!?

After the Hillingdon triathlon in mid-July my focus turned to surviving the school summer holidays! Training became somewhat of a challenge, I accepted that it would be impossible to aim for 3 or 4 sessions a week and that I’d just take what I could get… I found myself running and swimming when we were on family holidays and I could leave the kids with my husband. I also dragged the kids along with me on their bikes, while I ran with the dog. If I could manage it, I’d also go out very early, before my husband went to work.

… and I did it!

Last Sunday morning (15th of July) was the date for my third triathlon of the season, the Hillingdon Series Race 3 in Harefield.  I had been quite anxious about it in the run up, as it was going to be my first lake swim of the year and the weather hasn’t exactly been kind!

I woke before the alarm and found myself squeezing into my new wetsuit at 5.45am.  I’d decided it would be better to at least get my legs into the suit before I left the house and finish off when I got there.  I’d followed advice and smothered myself in body lotion and then used an anti chafe balm around the points where the suit could rub.

I arrived at the venue around 6.45 and got in line for registration. Listening to the chit chat in the queue, I realised that this was different to other events I’d been to.  It was smaller and full of experienced, super fit men and women who were all raring to go! There were at least two triathlon clubs with a big presence, I wished I had some team mates to share some banter with.


We all have times when finding the motivation or time to train is difficult. Sometimes in season, you find that the adrenaline from one race doesn’t necessarily carry you to the next or that with all of summer’s festivities, finding the energy to fit it all in is a challenge! Trigirl ambassador, Katie Emery, shares a few of her mid-season blues with us; but ultimately she finds that if you fall off (your bike or your training program!) the best thing to do is to get back on…

Three weeks since my last triathlon and over three until my next one. I’m doing my best to keep up the training, but half term holidays and Jubilee celebrations have made things really tricky. I’ve had to get creative with my training sessions and accept that three a week will have to do for now…

I’ve been running with my dog through the woods and fields, nearly killing myself on the mountains of slippy mud that covers any woodland path (must treat myself to some off-road shoes). I’ve made a couple of 7am spinning classes that have really set me up for the day, though it usually takes me five minutes to work out how I got from bed to bike!

I’m sitting writing this looking at a very grey and miserable day… Exactly a week ago, there was glorious sunshine and I was about to start my second triathlon of the season.

The event was at Shiplake College, just outside Henley on Thames. It was in a beautiful setting and even though I had to arrive at the ridiculously early hour of 7am (a 5.45 alarm), the glorious surroundings managed to put a smile on my face! The event was very laid back and quite small really. I loved the relaxed feel and would highly recommend this as a first event – there were two distances: Tri a Tri with a 300m swim, 14.5k bike and a 3.2k run and a Sprint with 400m swim, 28.5k bike and 5k run.

Well, my first tri of the year came and went last bank holiday Monday at Hart Leisure Centre in Fleet.  On Sunday night I packed my bag, checked and re-checked it, then loaded my precious bike into the back of the car.

I woke with a few nerves on Monday morning, put on my lovely new tri suit which outshone the old and battered running shoes I’d decided to wear.  I predicted that the cross country run was going to be a mud bath after all the rain.

The venue was already really busy when I got there just before 9am an hour before my designated start time.  There’s a really great buzz at these events, it’s contagious.  Everyone is busying themselves, setting up their bikes and laying out their kit for the transitions.  It’s very exact, with gels, shoes, hats, gloves, all being laid out in a very specific manner.  I seemed to have more ‘stuff’ than anyone else and was very glad that I’d brought some big plastic bags to lay over and under my kit, as it was threatening to rain at any moment.

Raring-to-Go6 days to go until my first triathlon of the year, although if it continues to rain like this it may just be one big swim! I did the same event last year, my first ever.

I’ve dug out my times and really hope I can beat them for a number of reasons: I like to think I’m fitter (I’d only trained for 4 months prior to the event last year) and of course, I now have the added bonus of a decent bike to help speed things up. Also, the transitions should be quicker as I will be familiar with the process and will try to avoid the general faffing of last year. I know it really doesn’t matter if my hair looks a mess and not sure the face moisturiser was really necessary after the swim!

3 weeks until my first tri of the season. How did that happen? I had been totally geared up for full on training, great diet, cutting down the booze, etc. Then, the school holidays arrived and it went downhill rapidly from there! I usually have a well planned training routine which goes along the lines of: drop kids at school, have a run/swim/spin/cycle, walk dog, fit in some work…

… However, over the two week holiday my training consisted of one evening swim – Andy (my very tolerant husband) walked through the door and I walked out. I’m not used to swimming so late in the day and it felt like a real struggle from start to end.

Train Hard TriathlonSeven weeks until my first triathlon of the season… I think I’ve been in a bit of denial up until today!  Three workouts a week has seen me through the winter but I’m now starting to gear myself up for some more intense training.  I’ve been managing around two runs and one swim a week, this hasn’t been hard as I really enjoy both.  Cycling is a whole different thing – it’s my least favourite of the three disciplines, yet such an important element of the whole event!

I joined a spinning class last week and will continue to go once a week, it’s a brilliant workout – so hard on my legs that I sometimes think I’ll keel over in the middle of a ‘hill climb’, but surely it can only help to build those leg muscles up for the big event? 

We are very excited to introduce our new Trigirl Ambassador and blogger for 2012, Katie Emery!

Katie is relatively new to triathlon, completing her first races last May and June. This year she plans to expand her race portfolio with 4-5 sprint-distance triathlons. Katie has inspired friends and family with her new-found athletic feats… going from a child who ‘hated any form of exercise’ to discovering triathlon in her 40s!

Read more about Katie on our website here and follow her progress throughout the season on her Trigirl blog.

 

Already December. Crikey Riley.

I’ve done a couple of non-race-races recently, first was a sportive around Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey. Well it was named the Devil’s Punchbowl but it didn’t actually go past any of the view points of the geological feature and so on finishing the ride I did feel slightly robbed! Next up was Bath Hilly Half marathon which was a trail run in and around Landsdown racecourse which was STUNNING in terms of the scenery and pretty brutal in terms of the gradients!

So first off, the sportive.  For those of you who aren’t aware, sportives are organised rides, signposting and feedstations are provided and generally speaking they are timed events. However they are STRICTLY not a race… apparently!

Earlier in the year when I raced at Antwerp 70.3 I met with another Trigirl ambassador Maryvonne van den Berg and her recent blog was 10 Things I Love about Triathlon (or something along those lines – my Dutch is not great) and it got me thinking.  I often write lists and am constantly thinking of “10 Things” when I am out on my bike, in the pool or out running, (10 things I love about swimming, top 10 favourite adverts, 10 favourite dinners etc.) so it was amusing to see her doing the same thing.  Perhaps we’ll set a Trigirl trend; here are my latest “10”

Firstly I need to explain that I’m a fighter.  I don’t mean this in the sense of ‘not giving up’ or of the ninja variety*, I mean that I look like I’m battling my way though the swim, bike and run, even though I might be doing quite an easy session or feeling quite relaxed.  I look tense; I look like I’m using brute force to barge my way through the race.  Although it does me ok (!) it’s not particularly efficient and my first 3 technical corrections relate to trying to “relax” more in each discipline.

1.    Relax my shoulders on the bike. I have a tendency to hunch up my shoulders, creating tension in my neck and down my back, as well as restricting the function of the muscles that help to expand your lungs – thereby restricting my lung volume.  NOT HELPFUL!

2.    Relax shoulders on the run. Again, hunching my shoulders is not going to benefit my run.  Relaxed shoulders, relaxed arms, relaxed stride. BETTER!