Lake Zell is calling!

How quickly do six and a half months fly by? Rewind to the middle of March 2015, to a conference room in a hotel in a city in northern Mexico. I was the only British competitor there and I was shaking with excitement after accepting a roll down slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Austria at the end of August. It seemed such a long time away, almost too much time to maintain my focus, fitness and desire in order to compete against the best Age Groupers in the world. But somehow the end of August is upon us and in six days time I will be treading water in Lake Zell, no doubt peeing in my wetsuit, whilst trying to control my breathing and the inevitable nerves that come with any race.

Lake Zell, Austria

Lake Zell, Austria

My goal for the race is to out-smile everyone else. No easy feat. But I’ve spent a good couple of weeks dwelling on the fact that I’m going to be one of the slower ones in my age group, to the point of annoying myself.

Blinged up hand-me-downs. Love 'em. Can't match the speed of their former owner, but I will try to match the smile

Blinged up hand-me-downs. Love 'em. Can't match the speed of their former owner, but I will try to match the smile

So I’ve decided if I can’t beat them on speed, then I need to beat them on smiling. I want to enjoy this thing as there’s plenty to be happy about:

1. Training - It’s been consistent and 99% of the time, fun.

Rich and I getting ready to Ride to the Sun in Carlisle

Rich and I getting ready to Ride to the Sun in Carlisle

After Staffordshire 70.3, Rich and I did a 100m overnight ride from Carlisle to Cramond. We timed it to perfection, arriving just in time to see the sunrise.

The 1% not fun? That’s venturing into the world of 50m TTs. I wouldn’t put the A50 up there on my bucket list of rides, but as mental tests go... In fact, try a 50m TT one day and follow it up with a half marathon up ‘n down Snowdon the next. Racing on tired legs box ticked.

2. My legs appear to enjoy the challenge of getting faster

I’d like to think the art of running hard off the bike remains a work in progress for me. My stand alone running continues to improve though, mainly because of my amazing clubmates at Knutsford Tri Club who I try to chase down week in, week out at track.

Working on my smiling skills while in pain at Wincle Trout run. Yes, you win a trout.

Working on my smiling skills while in pain at Wincle Trout run. Yes, you win a trout.

I also won two races this summer – my first ever victories for the club. One was a run up Blaze Hill (definitely easier than cycling up it.) The other was finishing two minutes clear at the Wincle Trout run, a nice improvement on my 5th place from 2014.

3. I’ve got through the early shifts

Some people love shift work, personally I don’t. I thrive on a training routine and having that taken away from me in May when I had to return to shift work was a demoralising pain in the a**e. Finishing at midday after an 0345 alarm is fine if you like feeling hungover for the rest of the afternoon. It’s not so good for training and it’s been a fine balancing act. I slipped at times, but I’m chuffed to have got to the end of August without collapsing in a big tired heap.

4. My incredible support crew

Don’t let people tell you otherwise, this sport is a selfish one. You turn down social invites constantly, you miss good friend’s hen parties, you don’t see others for months at a time. I really wouldn’t be about to head out to race in a World Championships without the help and support of so many people. I just hope I can make them all proud.

I’m also absolutely thrilled that my Godparents along with this wonderful crazy pair will be out in Austria to support me:

They've been training since Christmas and have perfected the art of making lots of noise, looking daft and smiling. I've bought them a whistle each for Austria to add to their fun.

They've been training since Christmas and have perfected the art of making lots of noise, looking daft and smiling. I've bought them a whistle each for Austria to add to their fun.

My parents are simply awesome and I can’t thank them enough for coming to Zell am See as it’s a busy fortnight...

5. Mr supportive dude

Whatever happens in Austria I will finish with a huge smile as it's the start of a magical week. I will be getting married to my wonderful supportive dude Rich just six days later. Sadly he won’t be making the trip out to Austria as some of us have to be sensible... World Champs and a wedding in the same week. As you do. Yes I do.

Training with the best to nail that smile....

Training with the best to nail that smile....