Road to Kona - June/July
Posted by Matt Moran on Jul 12, 2012
It's the second blog in our Road to Kona series from Claire and Duncan Shea-Simonds. A big month for training and an even bigger month for results. And when they are asked why they are smashing it on the bike, the answer is, 'No secret, get a Wattbike'. Results mean they are now both selected for the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in October, congratulations. Focus now turns to training in July as they prepare for the Inferno Triathlon in Switzerland. Another fantastic read...
It has been a busy month for Duncan and I, seeing us packing in the racing and putting some miles on the clock of our VW T5! We started the month well with Dunc claiming the National Cross Triathlon Champion age group title (40-44yrs) at the British Cross Triathlon Championships in the Lakes and were keen to continue that theme through June and into July (see Duncan’s earlier report).
We stayed ‘local’ to home (Leicester) next for the Dambuster Olympic Distance Triathlon at Rutland Water, which this year doubled as the World Championships qualifying race for the GB Age Group Team travelling to New Zealand later this year and therefore attracting a ‘better than average’ age group field! Off the back of a BIG block of training and in the face of such strong age group competition we were delighted to BOTH win our respective age categories and automatic selection (top 4) for the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in October and Duncan stormed around the bike course to claim the fastest bike split of the day. It’s safe to say that Dunc’s bike strength did not go unnoticed by his rivals and a furry of interest in his ‘training secrets’ followed – “no secret” he replied, “get a wattbike!”.
Following the Dambuster we were both afforded a slightly easier week (mini taper) running into the ‘Day in the Lakes’ Middle Distance (half ironman) Triathlon in Ulleswater, Cumbria. The race has notoriety as one of the toughest courses in the country, but in the face of the inclement weather conditions (it pissed it down!), the organiser joked the race should be renamed the ‘Lake in a Day’ Triathlon! The swim (1900m) takes place in chilly, choppy but beautiful Ulleswater, it was 13 degrees on race day, the bike course covers over 56 miles and takes in Kirkstone Pass and Shap Fell and the run (13.5miles) course, well, see the profile for yoursef at the foot of this blog...
We were both keen to make a good showing at this race, Duncan keen to better his 2nd place in 2011 and for me, this race represented the focus the first half of my season and I wanted a podium. The swim provided the usual Shea-Simonds tussle with me exiting the water in front of Dunc (for the 4th time this season ;0)) and first lady, heading out onto the bike leading the race, Dunc was just outside the top 10 but his bike strength (and a speedy transition) quickly saw him power into the lead.
The conditions on the road were awful, lots of surface water and poor visibility, particularly on top of Kirkstone Pass. While I was gaining time on the climbs, the second placed lady (who happens to be a local and knows those roads) was gaining small advantage on the treacherous descents, I managed to arrive in T2 having maintained my lead but a bit of ‘local knowledge’ from the second placed lady had narrowly bettered my bike split making me second quickest lady over the bike course but still with a healthy 4 minute lead going out onto the run. Dunc had a similar lead over his rivals on exiting T2 having AGAIN posted the fastest bike split of the day (Wattbike works!!!). Sadly Dunc paid for his awesomely fast bike split and over the tough run course was overhauled to take 2nd, still an awesome performance in tough conditions on a tough course.
Meanwhile, I quickly settled into a good rhythm and, having shaken the initial jelly legs, quickly started to feel good, really good in fact! I was overhauling competitor after competitor (men!) and I knew I was running well. It was only when I’d finished that I realised how well I’d run, I’d posted the fastest female run and one of the quickest of the day and won the ‘Day in the Lakes’ Triathlon. I was delighted and it was great for us both to feature on the podium for the second weekend running. As a long course athlete I have gained a reputation for running well off the bike, the ability to do this is reliant on excellent bike strength, allowing me to get off the bike and run hard, my Wattbike strength and weekly Wattbike brick sessions allow me to do just that!
Next we headed south to Cornwall, primarily for a little holiday with our very dear friends the Lee Family… but this is the Shea-Simonds, we couldn’t resist sneaking in a cheeky race – the Bude Triathlon proved just too tempting! Supposedly a ‘low key’ race but it is amazing how much pressure a 7yr old and 9yr old can pile on when they expect to see “Auntie Luvie and Uncle Dunc” win! The sea, as it often is at Bude, was rough and the waves were huge, both the bike and run at Bude, although only sprint distance, are challenging and the strong wind on the coast road made deep section wheels and a disc (Dunc’s) made for a ‘lively’ bike ride. The rough conditions seemed to suit the physically stronger athlete and it was Dunc that took the coveted title of ‘first Shea-Simonds’ out of the water for the first time this season, although I salvaged some pride in being first lady out of the water! We both went on to claim men’s and women’s fastest bike splits and it was a Shea-Simonds double but most importantly we didn’t disappoint Oscar and Imogen, our awesome cheer squad.
So that pretty much rounds up our June, we have a quieter July planned to get some hard work done before we head to Switzerland to take on the awesome ‘Inferno Triathlon’ which boasts ascent of 5500 metres, is one of the toughest Triathlons in the world. It takes place in the Bernese Oberland in front the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and unusually includes both a road bike and mountain bike section, hence the introduction of some very tough simulated climb sessions on our Wattbikes this month.
Keep training hard and happy racing everyone.