Tuesday, October 2, 2007

British NPS round 5 :: Marathon :: September 23, 2007

Kate's race report. All photos by Joolze Dymond.

I entered the British marathon championships in an attempt to claim the marathon series title. The series win was my number one goal for 2007, and I’m delighted to have achieved my personal aim for this year. As I’m Aussie born and bred, I knew I wasn’t eligible to race for the championship title, but after a puncture the day before during the cross country destroyed any chance of a podium place, I didn’t take any chances and raced the marathon hard from start to finish.

This weekend has been quite strange for me. I have been suffering with the most incredible fatigue and cold like symptoms the last couple of weeks. In fact I really expected the worst form this weekend, even though my coach Matt Hatt reassured me that my power was high and that I would be competitive….but I wasn’t convinced. After two years of virtually no rain, or cold conditions, I found the heavy down pours on Sunday morning frightening. From the moment I woke up my brain was trying to talk my body out of racing. Fortunately for me I had an amazing support crew or should I say counselling crew thanks to Paul, Jane, Matt, Joolze, Dave. Who all convinced me that I would love the 100km race and not to let Mr Potter down. Ian wasn’t here on the weekend as he was guiding in the ‘sunny’ Pyrenees. He would have loved nothing more than to be at Coed y Brenin passing me water bottles all day….mmmm maybe.

I didn’t want to be in the way of any of the British girls racing for their marathon title, so I decided early on that I would race myself, and not think about the opposition, just take one lap at a time and get out of any British girls way if they were close by. As the gun sounded the mass of bodies with their own personal goal took off. I hung on to the back of the elite men hoping to find my own space and rhythm. However, I discovered early on that there was a certain person on course who wasn’t even female, who appeared to be trying to prevent me from riding past them. I wasn’t too bothered at the time as it just fired me up, and eventually I was able to ride by. Unfortunately, later on I found out that such tactics from this same person caused a friend of mine to fall and abandon the race. I’m not going to go into too much detail, but was it really necessary? In the spirit of these events, surely winning is not always the be all and end all, especially when it causes somebody to be hurt. In the end I’ve always believed in what comes around goes around...

Enough said. The race was as expected very challenging. My legs were strong and I tried to keep consistent laps, but I was freezing. Aussie blood and welsh weather are not a good mix. For the first two laps I knew Amy Hunt was close behind, but I didn’t want to be in her way as it wasn’t my personal goal she was after. However, Amy remained on my back wheel until I was forced to pull in to the side of the track to adjust my saddle pack. It had partly fallen off and had started catching the back tyre. I managed to catch Amy back up again on the next climb, and wondered if we were going to have another battle as we did the day before during the XC. However 100km is such a long distance that I simply focused on my own race goals and soon enough I was riding by myself. It was lovely to hear the cheers and encouragement from people on course or onlookers waiting in the pit area, even though I’m not a POM (sorry I had to throw it in). It always makes me want to ride harder and finish the race so that I can go and be social afterwards, as the race scene here in the UK is such a ‘loovely’ one. I actually forget I’m not British a lot of the time, even my new Nottinghamshire accent is starting to be accepted.

Kate Potter , Coed y Brenin

On lap 4 disaster struck. I had taken one sip of my water bottle when I realised it had fallen through the bottle cage. I still had over 10km to go until I could grab another bottle. I was a little concerned, but tried not to think about it. Lap 5 soon came round over 45 minutes later. I went to take a sip from my drink before realising the bottle had slipped through again. At this time I knew if I didn’t drink soon I would be really struggling to finish the race. Fortunately I was passed some bottles by fellow competitors and a very kind person in the pit area, but to no avail as I’m afraid I lost those bottles as well (sorry…please come and see me for a replacement). I started lap 6 looking for my bottles out on course so I could try and consume some drink along the way. I was starting to feel the effects of dehydration and brain wobble. Fortunately for the last two laps Paul found a bottle that remained in place, but I didn’t drink nearly as much as I needed to because I was worried about losing the bottle again if I took it from the bottle cage.

Marathon , Coed y BreninMarathon , Coed y Brenin

I had two more laps to complete 100km and to claim the series title, but I was growing weary and the wet conditions had worn away my brake pads. I considered changing them, but realised that little brake pad was making me ride faster on the descents. Scaring myself silly was actually keeping my mind off the fatigue I was experiencing. Until I realised I had too much speed to turn. I took a different line, a much smoother line in the air and into the arms of a tree. An interesting manoeuvre, but one I wouldn’t recommend if you’re pushed for time.

Marathon podium , Coed y BreninMarathon podium , Coed y Brenin

Finally, the 8th lap started and I just wanted it to end. My brake pads were singing the most dreadful tune, and I growled at every rock in case it dared puncture my tyre again. I refused to stop now, even if it meant riding on the rim. Only when I had crossed the line first lady home, and first out of the Aussie contingent of ‘me, myself and moi’, was I convinced that I had completed the 100km and won the overall series title. I had achieved my goal for 2007, and I could proudly say that the Cotic Soda is an amazing race machine that I will be riding again in 2008……thank you CY!

Well done to Liz Scalia who won the British Marathon Championships, and who raced her own race too. It was great to see you up there on the podium in your national colours, a deserving win to such a lovely person.

A special thank you to Paul Dexter and partner Jane for taking on the job of Mr Potter, who couldn’t support me this weekend. You two did an amazing job, and made my weekend a less stressful one at that.

Thank you to my coach, Matt Hart and TORQ for all your support this year, and for giving up your arm warmers Sunday morning.

Another special thank you to Clive from Climb on Bikes who ensured I had enough air canisters for the marathon to avoid another walk to the finish line.

As always, thank you to my title sponsors Cotic Bontrager and all my co-sponsors who have made it possible for me to race in 2007. Thank you for allowing me to use the equipment I wanted to use and for all your continuous support. Cy and Andy thank you for making it all happen.

Mr Potter can’t miss out on a huge thank you either, my number one team mate who taught me how to ride a bike and supports me in every way. I know you feel like you missed out this weekend, so I have two bikes waiting for you in the UK to fix :)

Marathon podium , Coed y BreninMarathon podium , Coed y Brenin

Finally, a sad farewell to Martyn Salt, TREK and the Inevent team who have decided to pass on responsibility of the cross country national series to another crew for 2008. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to the sport over the last four years. I have loved every event, even the muddy ones :)

1 comment:

John said...

Kate, well done, and another great report that made me feel (a bit) like I was there riding the race. Quite a tribute to your writing, since I haven't a single bone (including the wrist!) without "lazy" written all over it. Enjoy the rest until next season, John O'D