30th March 2014
Sunday saw little me make my first step up to Elite racing. So what is different?
1) You are allowed to draft on the bike (huddle like penguins to avoid the wind)
2) Tactics (think/try to of how to best set yourself for the bike pack and whilst in it), which includes hammering T1 & T2 (no cups of tea/faffing Eloise!)
3) The competition becomes tougher and faster (well pretty obvious when using the word ‘Elite’)
So with those three points well in mind I was ready to go play with the big girls and give my debut Elite race the best possible shot I could. Well that was the plan until this time last week when things started going slightly less than ideal…
The week up to the event can hardly be classed as ‘perfect’ as I ended up seeing Pete (Kenilworth Chiropractic Clinic) most days to try and relieve some discomfort/immobility I was getting in my quads – apparently caused by training adaptions, well these adaptions could have waited one more week thank you very much! But the relief recipe of needles (acupuncture), knifes (graston tool – which I swear might as well be a knife – see picture comparison on the left!), massage and manipulations did get the legs slightly more alive and ready to go, so thanks Pete, you legend. Despite this inconvenient timing (stupid body!) I knew there was nothing I could change and so just had to refocus, wash the bike, do some of course preparation, pack all my kit, bit more foam rolling for luck and head off to bed after a delicious dinner with the Fam on Saturday evening (epic dairy and gluten free bakewell tart I made for pudding – will post the recipe ASAP!)
The 12.15 race start seemed pretty civilised compared to all the pre-8am starts I’ve been used to at Age Group level – Elites obviously need more sleep #lazyathlete! This also meant there was enough time to register, rack the bike, get my tattoos on (had a great palindrome number 151 – yes I am odd being obsessed with them, and it added up to 7 – yes another quirk I have with numbers!) and then of course warm-up before the race. Despite the quad having a bit of say while jogged around and did my drills etc, I tried to forget about it and just focus on the next hour.
After a last sip of the water bottle (the whopping double figure temperatures seemed like I was racing on the equator not Corby so hydration, hydration, hydration!) it was time to scuttle to the start line. Boom – we were off out on the first run. At first I was in the lead pack feeling pretty relaxed and trying not to think about the events of the previous week, maybe I had got away with my quad antics…?! However, this was short lived as at the 2km mark my quad stiffened up again and burning ache rejoined me – wheyyheyyy! So I adapted accordingly to ensure I could get the best out of my race given the circumstances, i.e. eased off the pace hoping it would relax a bit before the bike, but to be honest wasn’t the most enjoyable 5km I’ve run for sure. This did mean that my first run time was slightly under par (well a whole 45 seconds under – quite a bit for a 5km L) but having successfully nipped through T1 and having actually GOT ON MY BIKE in my new way (well did have a slight helmet doing up issue – stupid design I’d say!) it was time to try and work with some strong girls on the bike and close the gap enough to set me back up for the second run.
The drafting style racing was good fun and I got settled into a good pack made up of four girls after the first 2 laps. However, for the first 2 laps I did make a few untactful decisions for sure which lost me a pack that joined up with the lead pack, lesson learnt Eloise don’t try and accelerate out of a corner away from a pack or take the front more if you feel like you are not working hard enough when drafting (the whole point of it you idiot!) – CHILL! Once settled in my little pack by working together we were able to close a few seconds between the lead pack and us. However, moving forward I know there are many tactical aspects of the race I need to work on (yes comes back to “Eloise use your brain for once!”). This was a learning curve for sure and better now I suppose than later on when more may be at stake, still not ideal and no excuses!
Well this did mean I had to chase even harder on the second run to try and claw back some places so once out of T2 I gritted my teeth and tried to forget about the quads – nothing I can’t sort out later right?! (Thanks Pete I may be giving you a call again ASAP!). This mind over matter attitude did mean I caught a few people who had been in the lead group and meant I even won a little sprint finish. Had a bit of don’t look back going on and just lie down on the line if needs be. I ended up 12th in the senior women’s race and yup despite being slightly disappointed with my result I can happily say I enjoyed the whole experience and gave everything on the day. It has definitely given me many points to work on and so I am excited to continue working closely with my coach (Thanks Tyles for picking up the pieces on Sunday!), Mike Vaughan (loving my green and lean cycling machine) and Pete (the Quad/whole body rejuvenator Guru I swear!) to ensure everything is back on form for the Triathlon season, with my first race being the Majorcan Championships on 3rd May.
Also another massive Happy Mother’s Day to Mum who had a wonderful day driving me to and from Corby, putting up with a slightly on edge athlete can’t be the most enjoyable Mother’s Day ever – you star Mum. And of course FAB racing by my awesome housemate, C dog (AKA Charlotte Taylor), who despite getting slightly confused about a few lines (happens to the best of us – for example my parking!) had a great day of run, bike, running.
Happy racing my lovelies and good luck with everything – Happy April,
Lots of Love
P.S. Till my first Triathlon this season (33 days and yup I’m counting!) I am posting a training photo alongside my general foodieness on Instagram so if you want please follow (eloisedulu) my journey back to true racing form. Time to nail and learn from my first season as an Elite athlete – BOOM!