By Emma-Kate Lidbury, 14-Apr-2013 19:02:00
I’ve never stood at the start line of a race before and felt as though the hardest part is already over. When reaching the start line – not the finish – has been a challenge in itself, it suddenly changes the whole dynamic of a race. That’s exactly how I felt at Ironman 70.3 Texas last weekend. I shall let you read the wise words of my coach Matt Dixon, whose blog Emma-Kate Texas Triumph, sums up perfectly the rocky road that led us to Galveston, TX. As Matt says, winning the race was a sweet finale to an interesting and challenging few weeks and months before.
It is obviously down to the athlete to determine and control what happens once the gun goes and how fast they reach that finish line. It is me who must ensure I swim, bike and run strongly and intelligently and it is me who lifts the finish tape if I run down the finish chute first. But there are so many other factors – and people – who enable me to do that, without whom I simply would not have been in Texas on April 7 to take my fifth Ironman 70.3 title. Among these people are:
The aforementioned Big Daddy, Matt Dixon, of purplepatch: the past few months have been a time of huge change for me and Matt has not just been my coach through these times but my “go-to” man who has helped, advised and guided me on so much more than just triathlon coaching. This win is my way of saying a huge thank you for all of that help, Matt. I am so very excited for the road ahead. Your belief in me has changed everything.
Gerry Rodrigues and the Tower 26 family: since moving to Santa Monica, California, in January, I have been swimming with Gerry and have loved becoming a part of his Tower 26 swim programme. I knew Gerry before moving here and had the utmost respect and admiration for his coaching skills, knowledge and experience. Having been working with him so closely in the past few months all of that respect and admiration has multiplied a thousand fold. I have never met a swim coach like him and, of course, the added bonus is he has me swimming FAST! Tower 26 is packed full of great people, all of whom are brilliant fun both in the water and out of it. AROO AROO!
The Bird Family: when I first arrived in Santa Monica I had a homestay lined up for the three weeks before going to our purplepatch training camp in Kona. Caroline and Andy Bird and their two sons warmly welcomed me into their home and I instantly felt like I was another member of the family. I’ve since been adopted by them and, as Caroline puts it, I’m the first member of the Bird Family Adopt-A-Triathlete programme. The Birds have gone out of their way to help me and in the fortnight leading up to Texas when the going got tough, the Birds really got me going. Thank you!
Sarah Piampiano: PIMPSTAR! My purplepatch and Tower 26 team mate Sarah P has been nothing short of a little legend since I moved across the Pond. The day before Oceanside when I realised I would not be able to race, I called her and left a voicemail along the lines of: “I think I need a coffee, ice cream, beer and a hug, but I’m not sure which order…” She duly dispensed all four! She is a first class friend, training partner, team mate and athlete and there isn’t enough Sweet Rose ice cream in all the world to say thanks.
Lenny Mayzel and Velo Pasadena: Lenny Mayzel is a good friend of the Birds and when I encountered some fairly catastrophic bike issues, Lenny was an absolute superstar, finding me a replacement bike to ride (in next to no time) and putting me in touch with the guys at Velo. A great mechanic had been proving hard to find, but now I have one at Velo - thank you all!
Chris Pogson: as I stood on the pool deck a few weeks ago with my right shoulder refusing to go back into place, Gerry immediately called his physical therapist Chris Pogson for advice. Although we ultimately had no choice but to go to the ER, ever since then Chris has been “my man” on all things rehab. He is, for sure, one of the main reasons why I was able to get back into race pace swimming so soon and I am so glad I’ve found him. We are continuing to work together at his Santa Monica clinic, Pogson Physical Therapy, which gives me huge confidence for the future.
Of course, a HUGE thanks to all of my sponsors, without whom I would not be able to race at this level: Morris Owen Chartered Accountants and telecoms firm Virtua continue to be loyal and generous sponsors from my home town in the UK.
Smart ENVE Wheels, CycleOps Power, Rudy Project, Speedfil and ISM Saddles have all enabled me to do some seriously fast riding recently and posting the fastest bike split at 70.3 Texas was testament to that. I raced the Smart ENVE 6.7 carbon clinchers last weekend and I was astounded at their performance, particularly in the crosswinds. Riding to power with the CycleOps G3 hub and Joule was a great motivator - keep an eye out for a blog from CycleOps with analysis of my power file from Texas. It was also one of the first times I'd raced in the Rudy Project Wingspan TT lid and I continue to be impressed with it. I'm delighted to be working with Speedfil and ISM again this season and love their gear.
I'm currently in Vancouver on US visa duties and will be back in the States next week ready for the second purplepatch training camp of the year in San Francisco. Time to start working towards the next race, Ironman 70.3 St George on May 4. Bring it on!
By Emma-Kate Lidbury, 18-Mar-2013 03:06:00
They say you should do one thing every day that scares you. I can safely say that on March 3 I more than fulfilled the day’s quota. Diving into frigid, shark-infested waters for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon was one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done.
This is a race unlike any other and nothing can or will prepare you for race morning. Not even I knew how to calm my nerves as we set sail through foggy darkness towards the eerie looking Alcatraz Island.
Knowing the boat ride is a one-way ticket and your only way back is a 1.5-mile swim through water that’s barely 11C is more than enough to get your heart racing before the gun goes. With 15 minutes to go before the start, the pros were all gathered along the edge of the boat with a guardrail as high as my chest in front of us. “So, do they drop this railing when we start?” I turn to ask the girl next to me.
“Err, no, we have to climb over that then dive in.” Ah. OK. I have visions of me falling in before the race has even begun.
School trips to the Isle of Wight suddenly come flooding back to me where, on the ferry, teachers drummed into us: “You do not go near the railings and you DO NOT climb on them.”
Every logical, rational part of my brain is screaming at me: “You do not want to climb over those railings! Have you seen that water? And there are sharks in there!”
Yes, OK, I hear you, but this is a race and in less than four minutes I’m supposed to be swimming all out to that beach.
In a bid to silence the contrasting voices in my mind, I dare myself to look across to Alcatraz Island. That doesn’t help. Oooooh, it’s giving me the creeps… With barely any sunlight falling on it, it looks shadowy and menacing. I recall a visit there as a tourist two years ago which scared me silly back then.
I’m broken from this self-imposed pre-race torture by the race director’s voice: “Two minutes to start, pros!”
HELP! I look down at the water again. I look across the bay. And then “HOOOOONNNKKKK!” the starter’s klaxon sounds, just a few seconds after the two-minute warning. What?! What’s happening? We’re off!
I see a cluster of male pros dive in, followed swiftly by most of the women. Arghh! They’ve gone! I’ve got to go too. Oh. Help. Me. Arrrghhhhhh!
I’m suddenly splashing about. I’m in! One side of my goggles has filled with water, but I can just about see from the other. The water is as cold as I knew it would be but I keep telling myself I’m a hardy Brit and it’s no colder than Wimbleball Lake for 70.3 UK. Yes, you’re Great and British, Lidbury. Keep swimming!
I’m in a pack with some other girls but the current, wind and waves are so brutal that one moment you can be swimming together, the next a huge wave hits and you are thrown apart like fish spewed from a fisherman’s net. I am gasping for air. I try to breathe to my right. I get a face full. I try my left. Oh joy. The same! I remind myself I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was 10 and I have the skills to get me through this. Really? Yes.
Concentrating so intently on being able to breathe and not drink all of San Francisco Bay leaves little opportunity for sighting and sadly I pay the price. With less than a half-mile to go I realise the current has pushed me and another girl way too far to the right. I cannot see anyone else. I finally get a reference point on dry land and see I’ve swum off course. Let’s not worry too much about that at this stage. Let’s just get onto the beach. Land! I can see dry land!
With a little stagger, I make it to the next stage: being vertical. I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to my feet or hands but I can’t feel them. I remember my coach, Matt Dixon, telling me to run hard out of the water and keep my wetsuit zipped up in a bid to raise my core temperature.
With fingers like claws, I make a bad job of putting my helmet on, but am soon on the bike and am enjoying this 18-mile ride. The course is fast and technical with lots of climbs and descents that take you into Golden Gate Park. I pass a few girls, but am also passed by a couple of others, so I realise I have no idea where I am in this race. I concentrate instead on pushing the pace and trying to ride as hard as I can. As a 70.3 racer who’s used to a 56-mile ride, I only just feel like I’m getting my riding legs as we hit the final stages.
With a few miles to go there’s one last climb which rewards you at the top with a magnificent vista of Golden Gate Bridge. This is racing turned sightseeing!
As I come into T2 I soon discover I’m in 5th place after a 53-minute ride and feel good. The run is an eight-mile out-and-back course which includes trails, pavements, beach running and the infamous Sand Ladder (400 sand steps). The crowds lining the early miles are a lot of fun and by the time I hit the beach (just prior to mile 4) I’m grinning like a loon. Having passed a girl on the way out, I’m now in 4th place and just have to make sure I don’t blow up on the Sand Ladder. From mile 5 onwards it’s all downhill and I’m delighted to be running home with a top five finish at this prestigious first race of my season.
Having spent the majority of the 2 hours and 25 minutes of the race dreaming of hot chocolate and a scalding hot shower, I take great delight in doing both (not concurrently) within a few hours of finishing.
I’m pleased to report that I recovered well and am now back home in Santa Monica preparing for 70.3 Oceanside, near San Diego, on March 30. More from me after that!
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