Kate Allan - 50 & 100 TT Champs
13th July 2017
Kate Allan – 50 and 100 mile National Championships Updates
What a fortnight it’s been!
Starting with the RTTC National 50 mile Championships up in Stockton On Tees on Sunday 25th June.
Preparation for this was pretty good on all parts, and leaving for the long journey up to Yorkshire, I felt relatively rested and ready to go. The day beforehand we drove around the course, and I did a pre race warm up ride around the local roads. It was gusty, so I pretty much spent the entire duration of this propped upright. But held decent power and pushed a good pace, so felt quietly confident.
Unfortunately we noticed in the afternoon that our little boy Finlay was starting to get a bit of a cold. This developed into bronchiolitis over night, something which he is very susceptible to, and meant calling NHS 111 to get hold of his medication for this, having left it at home with the complacency of the warm summer months now being upon us. He slept okay though, and despite being a little cranky in the morning, in okay spirits.
Race day – the wind had died down somewhat, which I was thankful of.
Riding down to the start my legs felt heavy, but I’m used to this on the morning of a race, so put it to the back of my mind and carried out my normal warm up.
Starting out onto the course I quickly found a rhythm, and kept myself in as low a position as possible, routinely sipping on my energy drink which I had positioned on my down tube. The road was busy, but smooth and wide, and the ‘lumps’ I had been so fearful off in our recce drive nowhere near as bad as expected and I was able to spin up them with relative ease.
The main part of the race was uneventful. I was caught up briefly at the second turnaround by two-way traffic, and a wayward cyclist who missed the turning for the start and proceeded to turn around in the road on the entrance back to the dual carriageway. But otherwise managed to keep a nice even pace, and was pleased with my ability to take the turns and corners with decent control.
I was able to push in the final miles, and although slowing down slightly in the second half, maintain a pretty even power level throughout.
I was pleased with a 1:52:11 ride and first place, but my elation was short-lived as Finlay had got worse, so we had to rush back to the hotel. He’s been hospitalised twice with bronchiolitis in the past, but we prefer to treat him at home where possible, as it keeps him more confortable and tends to assist a better recovery. However, being 200+ miles away from home, in a (overly warm) Premier Inn hotel left us feeling a little helpless.
We stopped back in for the awards presentation, but my head was elsewhere, and I was more conscious about getting Finlay back to the comfort of home. I felt like I was simply going through the motions, smiling when I felt like crying, not really engaging with what was going on around me.
All in all, it was a weekend of highs and lows, and I struggled a little bit with this in the following days. Thankfully Finn made a speedy recovery and was back to his old ways 24 hours later, but I found it incredibly tiring and went into the week feeling emotional and anxious.
But now that I reflect back, I can process it properly and give myself a big old pat on the back.
I’m a National Champion J
Onto the RTTC National 100 Mile Championships
This was more of a ‘step into the unknown’ for me. I have not trained for longer distances, 50 miles is not too dissimilar to the effort required for a 25-mile race, but 100 miles was completely out of my comfort zone. However, I determined that with a strong endurance base from my marathon running/triathlon past, I would be able to get around, and Matt set me a few long sets in the run up, to test myself on the Plasma for extended periods.
The night before, I slept appallingly. Up at 2am, I felt really anxious – nervous about how I would cope over the distance, not quite knowing how my body would respond to so long in the saddle. I ended up on my phone, looking up “First 100 mile Time Trial Tips” – there’s actually quite a few interesting blogs and articles online, the common consensus being that that they ‘hurt’, and that fundamental importance is on appropriate fuelling and pacing.
My pre race routine was pretty decent, we got to the HQ in good time, and I was able to get ready nice and slowly, and ensure that I had everything where I needed it to be.
The race itself – I started out at a steady pace, settling into a good ‘level 3-sque’ power level. It was instantly apparent that the conditions were fast, as I was flying despite my low power effort.
I found that time passed really quickly. I broke the race down to make it seem more achievable. At first it was two 50 mile races, and I determined that by doing this, once I got to the half way point, all I had left was a distance I know I can do, and I could afford to go a little slower than I would do over that distance.
Then it was a 25-mile TT, then two 10 mile TTs. I utilised this kind of practice when doing IRONMAN competitions, it helps keep you mentally occupied and means the task at hand doesn’t feel like such a daunting process.
I had dropped a gel at the start, which meant I had to stop to pick an extra one up from Rob, which followed with two further stops to pick up additional hydration. I had underestimated how much I would need with it being a hot day, and despite my best attempts to hyper-hydrate the day before, I found the quenching thirst pretty unbearable in the final miles.
Throughout the race, my legs were actually pretty strong, it was other parts of my body that suffered. The soles of my feet felt like they were red raw, I got really dizzy, especially on the final lap and my back felt pretty tight, meaning I had to stretch out frequently. I don’t put these all down to any one factor, just my lack of experience in cycling for long periods – it’s as simple as that. I was comparable to a 10km runner trying to give it their all in a marathon event. It wasn’t going to come without a certain amount of discomfort!
I managed to finish in 3:50:38, a ride that I am over the moon with.
My team-mate Alice Lethbridge rode an astounding 3:48:14, making her the very much deserved National Champion this time around.
Although I was obviously disappointed to come second, personally, this was my greatest ride achievement to date and I am so proud of myself. I was so nervous going into the ride – not having practiced the distance in training or racing, and unaware of how my body would hold out.
But I rode a controlled race, prioritised stopping to take on more nutrition and giving it absolutely everything I had in the tank. Sitting in the car boot after the race, knackered, chewing on a packet of warm biltong and guzzling from my 2litre bottle of water demonstrated this. I had taken myself above and beyond an effort level I thought I could do, and to achieve the time I did is a huge confidence boost.
Not that I’ll be taking on a 100 miler in a very long time. I’m happy to stick with the shorter distances for the foreseeable!