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A weekend with Mr and Mrs Smith

A weekend with Mr and Mrs Smith We spent the first weekend of September taking on the triple-X challenge making up the series of events of the Big Woody weekend, in the forest of Dean. A great alternative for me to being in Hamburg, although judging by the number of texts I had from friends out there racing, it was clear that fellow club/ team mates were worried I'd make a last minute appearance to defend my WC titles from Lausanne 06. The best suggestion I received was someone borrowing a Planet-X Stealth from a GB team mate to rack in my position in transition, now that would have gone down well!!! Kona beckons and a weekend of racing, some quality long training and having a chance to run a few ideas by Spencer made for a fun few days! We arrived Friday evening in Coleford at the race HQ just about in time for the (well short) 5k run. Having set a new PB of around 16 minutes felt good as trying to keep up with Spencer did not feel so good… result - Spencer 1st - daylight second - me - then the rest of the field! Saturday morning saw the Big Woody (IM) competitors take to the water around 6.30am followed by the Little Woody competitors (half IM) half an hour later. Spencer gave them a head start of 15-20mins, and the Baby Woody (sprint) distance began last. I'd opted for the short course, as I'd entered the Vitruvian middle distance the week after. In hindsight I probably should have raced the Little Woody instead, as there aren't many opportunities to be in the same starting line-up as your coach and it would have been a great, tough course to do! I had a strong swim, getting in on the feet of the leading two fellows and exiting with them in 3rd. My transition went well, in contrast to fiancé Rob who might've still been there looking for his bag when I came out if he hadn't discovered his correct race number tattooed to his arm and leg! Those ever-patient marshals thought he'd lost the plot in the cold water or something I reckon… Once onto the bike, I felt great and quickly caught up to and passed the two leaders. One of them decided it wasn't a great idea for a female to be leading the male dominated sprint field, and we had a great cat-and-mouse ride along to race HQ. There was no way I was conceding the lead with Planet-X sponsoring the bike course! The small crowd gathered around transition were slightly bewildered to see us charging into T2 I think. No-one really seemed to be around, or know where we should be going. I ended up hurtling my bike over the fence as I'd completely missed the timing mat in my haste! I headed out onto the run course first, as I seemed to be the only one who knew where it began, having done it last night. I enjoyed the short 5k run and navigated the eventual winner to the turnaround point as he caught me up and paced with me. The absence of marshals meant he hadn't a clue where to go! The finish was low-key and fun, a reminder of why we do the sport no matter what scale the event. I then took the bike out for an extended recovery spin down to the lake and race start to suss out the action on the course, or rather to see how far ahead Spencer now was! Sure enough on one of the narrowest lanes of the course, Spencer caned past me in the opposite direction, with a grin from ear to ear. The 'Pink Beauty' was being ridden like he'd stole it…. Rob's antics out on the bike course never fail to surprise - not just me any more. Probably more impressive was the size of his right leg after riding some of the hilly bike course as a single-leg experiment and being able to run like a duck for the duration of a half marathon. Spencer again took a great, if easy win. He gave a great post race interview with Paul Groves, race commentator. On Sunday morning for me it was a return to reality and a nice steady 18mile run while the boys took on the local duathletes. This was the final event of the triple-X challenge, and Spencer again finished ahead of daylight for second. The most interesting part of the weekend was the return trip to London, the Renault estate loaded up to the hilt with the 3 bikes, luggage for 4, Mr and Mrs Smith and ourselves. Sunday eve saw us chill out once back at home and we had a great evening, good meal, Kona talk and plans for the road ahead to the IM World Championships in October. Stay cool Fiona

14 September 2007

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