Mont Blanc Tri – Sprint distance – 20 August 2016 and Chateau de Chantilly Tri – M distance – 28 August 2016
by Kathryn Harrison
Training Camp and Two Triathlons in two weeks – had I bitten off more than I could chew?
Having spent the first three months of the year in Madagascar, I came back to Paris to find that the fitness within the Expatries team had greatly increased since I left at Christmas time, thanks to the focused training sessions of our new coach Sylvain. In my typical fashion, I wanted to get stuck straight in and be able to complete the training sessions with the others. However, having learned from experience, I knew this would be a sure way to get injured, going too hard too early. Luckily, I had Sylvain to remind me to be patient and to build up the training slowly and it’s really thanks to him that I’ve been able to get my fitness up with a focused training plan. The focus was to concentrate on events at the end of the season, using Versailles sprint and Torcy aquathlon as training events ready for Mont Blanc Sprint and St Jean de Luz Olympic in August and September respectively.
A key part to my training season is attending a training camp and I keep going back to Les Stables in the Dordogne. I cannot say enough good things about their camp; suffice it to say they are great people and they make a difference to my performance with the swim and run technique coaching and fast-paced cycling.
It was going to be a bit tight this year, as Mont Blanc triathlon was only three days after camp. Not ideal for recovery time, but at least I could try and put into practice what I’d learned on the camp. Despite the heavy legs, the camp definitely influenced my result in Mont Blanc, especially on the bike and run. Unfortunately, not so much on the swim – it was my first ‘beach’ start and I’d positioned myself badly and so got caught up in a mess of arms and legs for the first few hundred metres.
Mont Blanc is a really lovely race and I’d highly recommend it. It’s small, well organised, the water of Lake Passy is beautifully clear and inviting at 22.6o and you have the wonderful backdrop of the mountains. It had been beautifully hot and sunny the week before and would be again from the Sunday onwards, but typically it was race day and so as we prepared to enter the water, the clouds drew in, the mountains disappeared and as I left T1, the rain poured down. What would have been a great bike leg, with only 200m of climbing and fast descents now became a bit more treacherous. I held my nerve however and was able to pass several people more tentative than me on the downhill. All that was left was to put the run technique of high knees into practice and I was pleased to do my best 5km run-time to date in a race at 25 minutes. If it had been a dry race, I would have liked to have knocked a few minutes off the bike, but overall I was happy with my 1hr28.
Another great thing about this race is there are showers, hot tubs and massage tables waiting for you to relax those muscles afterwards; all of which I took great advantage of. A big thank-you also goes to Charlie Wilson, who was my personal cheerleader and coach for the day! Due to a recent back injury she wasn’t able to compete with me, but was a huge support during the race.
Instead of taking a rest now before the Olympic in St Jean de Luz, I’d decided I would enter Chantilly Olympic the following weekend, as it’s the big end of season club event and you don’t want to miss that picnic! Perhaps I will never learn, because I found it really tough and had nothing left in the tank. The swim was tough – you were blinded by the sun, which made the water seem even darker than usual. I was more exhausted than usual coming out of the water and despite having walked transition in the morning, I managed to ‘lose’ my bike in my delirious state! 6 minutes in transition of wasted time, I had a lot of work to do on the bike. I pushed as hard as I could into the wind, which seemed to be building throughout. It was also a longer course than the advertised 45km. My watch and mapping it on Strava recorded 48km. Overall, I was pleased with 1hr29 on the bike, but I was going to pay for it on the run. The first 2km were ok, but it was then that I experienced hitting the wall for the first time. At 3km, my legs just wanted to stop and the muscle I’d torn in Madagascar flaired back up. The run course is tough at the best of times – much of it is uneven trail running and you are exposed to the sun for most of it. Mental strength had to kick in and I knew I would get round the final 7km, just disappointingly not in the way that I had wanted to; especially given how much I had enjoyed the run the weekend before at Mont Blanc. Every time I wanted to stop, someone shouted “Allez Kathryn” thanks to the name on my tri-suit, so I accepted that I would need to run at a 6min/km pace and forget a PB on the run, which I was hoping for.
So in summary, I’ve had a great August vacation doing sport for three weeks, but perhaps I had bitten off more than I could chew. I would not advise doing a competition only three days after an intensive training camp, followed by cycling a 1500m ascent of the Col de Joues Vertes in the Alps two days later, finishing with an Olympic tri only 5 days after that. Needless to say, I’ve cancelled the Monday core circuits tonight. Time to rest up before St Jean de Luz in two week’s time!!