Race Re-Cap: Monster Standard Triathlon

Monster Standard

My 6th and final race of the season was the Monster Standard triathlon. This was another race which had been on my to-do list mostly because of the awesome medal design.

The race is set in the historic city of Ely and is part of a series of events organised by Monster Racing. We’ve tried to choose triathlons which are fairly local to avoid booking accommodation, but it hasn’t quite worked out and we’ve stayed overnight at the majority of our events. Airbnb has become our go-to website for finding an affordable pre-race accommodation. This time, we stayed in a lovely cottage in nearby Stretham, so there was only a 15 minute drive on race morning.

As well as the standard distance, there was also a middle (half-iron) distance which was set off earlier. After racking our bikes and getting set up, we watched the earlier waves start their swims.

Swim- 1500m?- 35:51
The swim course was an out-and-back in the Great Ouse River. We started outside a pub on the riverbank and swam downstream for 1000m before turning back for the final 500m. The current was very light and barely noticeable.

As I waited to start, I pulled on my swimming cap and ripped a big hole in one side of it. There wasn’t time to grab a new one from the registration desk, so I had to stuff as much hair as I could under the remaining cap and I hope it stayed on my head during the swim. These flimsy swimming caps really aren’t designed for thick hair!

I’m usually raring to get into the water on race day, but I felt quite reluctant about jumping into the Great Ouse. There was oil on the water’s surface and weeds floating past- it didn’t look like the cleanest body of water I’ve ever swam in. Someone next to me was coughing and retching into the water- I tried to move as far away from him as I could!

The klaxon sounded and we were off. It was quite a crowded start, with everyone bunched into the centre to avoid the boats at the edges. I had to shorten my stroke to avoid the legs of the swimmers in front of me. I received a few kicks and punches, but nothing too bad.

Monster Standard

Once the pack had thinned out, it became an enjoyable swim. I amused myself by looking into the windows of the riverboats as I turned to breathe. I saw a dog looking back at me quizzically obviously wondering what we were doing in the river!

The sunlight was strong and I really struggled to see anything ahead, I almost missed the point where we had to keep right and go under a bridge. I must invest in some better polarised goggles.

Getting out of the water was tough, I struggled to stand up and needed the help of several marshalls as I hobbled across the sharp rocks. My hat had stayed on, but still with half my hair hanging out.

Again, I found the swim course to be long- my Garmin recorded it as 1750m.

Monster Standard

Transition 1- 3:03

Bike- 44km- 1:37:18
There are two words to describe and bike course at Ely: flat and windy.

We headed out of the city into the fenlands on a single lap of 44km. The route was very straightforward with nothing technical and only one right-hand turn. Ely Cathedral dominates the skyline of the low-lying countryside, I could see it in the distance throughout most of the ride.

Monster Standard

The roads were very bumpy and uneven in places. My hands went numb from the constant vibrations, luckily my water bottles were secure in their cages. It was quite a slog in some places riding into a strong headwind with rough surfaces, I just kept pushing on aiming to catch and overtake whoever I saw in the distance.

I’m told that the bike route has been changed since last year to cut out a loop in the city centre, which definitely sounds like an improvement. It’s always good when race organisers take into account feedback and try to make the event the best it can be.

Despite being longer than a ‘standard standard’ distance, the bike course seemed to fly past. Soon I was back at the dismount line and ready for the final stretch.

Transition 2- 1:42

Run- 11km- 1:06:20
The run course was four laps which took us along the riverside, through city and the grounds of Ely Cathedral.

Laps but can mind-numbing, but I actually really liked the idea of breaking the distance down into smaller segments. I only needed to focus on running 2.75km (1.7 miles) each time which feels a lot more manageable than 11km. We received a wristband at the top of Cherry Hill Park to keep track of how many times we had completed the lap. Those people completing the middle distance needed to run 8 laps and their arms were loaded up with wrist bands!

Running around the Cathedral was really quite special, it’s absolutely vast and beautifully maintained.

Monster Standard

We passed through transition on each lap where the drinks station was also situated. The crowd support was brilliant and the music was pumping (although I’m sure the same song was playing everytime I came through). Glen had finished by the time I headed out on my 3rd lap, so I got to see him as well as Laura who was there supporting her boyfriend Phillip.

Despite trying to keep an even pace, I did get slower and slower on each lap. I found the Cherry Hill quite tough and resorted to power walking to the top. I still have a lot of work to do on my running.

Monster Standard

I was glad to pick up my fourth and final wristband and head back towards the finish line. I managed a sprint finish and picked up my one-eyed monster medal, which doubles up as a bottle opener. Definitely one of my favourite medals!

Monster Standard

I really enjoyed the Monster Standard Triathlon, it was a beautiful location and very well organised. The perfect way to round off a summer of racing. I’m keen to check out some of the other races in the Monster Racing series.

Thanks to Laura and Ian Green for the photos.

What’s your favourite medal? Do you like running laps or prefer a single loop?

8 of the best women’s trisuits

Back when I started out in triathlon, there wasn’t a great deal of choice around for trisuits. Everything for women was black, sleeveless with a few pink panels.

I’ve since designed and developed a range of kit for my triathlon club, which is what I now wear to race in. I love wearing my club trisuit, the colours are bold and bright- you can spot our members coming from a mile away!

However, if you are not a member of a club, you’ll probably be looking for a cool and comfortable suit to for race day. The market for trisuits seems to have really expanded in recent years, along with the growth of triathlon as a sport. There’s a lot of choice in terms of cut, colour, print and pattern. It may feel a little late in the year to be investing in a new trisuit, but the sales are now on so you could pick up a bargain ready for next season. I’ve rounded up 8 of my favourite women’s trisuits…

 

1. Orca Compress Short-Sleeve Race Suit
Flashes of camo/marble print on the side panels of this suit really liven up the design.

2. Zoot Ali’l Short-Sleeve Race Suit
Inspired by the place that Zoot was founded, the suit is covered in a Hawaiian tropical palm print. I love the colours!

3. dhb Blok Short-Sleeve Tri Suit
dhb have some fantastic prints, especially this fluro yellow and grey spotted suit.

4. Zoot Ultra Tri Aero Skin Suit
Another lovely Zoot suit in a geometric chevron design. I’ve seen several women racing in this suit this season and it looks amazing on.

5. Zone3 Activate+ Short-Sleeve Tri Suit
A little more subtle, this Zone3 trisuit features a graphic print on the side panels and back pockets.

6. Threo Hyde Park Tri Suit
Threo kit is designed with incredible attention to detail, I love the race-belt and pocket which comes attached to this trisuit.

7. Coeur Arrow Tri Suit
Another funky geometric print, this time from American brand Coeur which is exclusively stocked at Kyra Sports.

8. ellemenTRI I’m Possible Tri Suit
This chevron print suit has a motivational slogan on the back. Another colour combination which I love!

Trisuits

I was sent the Orca Compress Short-Sleeve Race Suit to try out at a recent triathlon. They say never to try anything new on race day, but I took a chance with this suit and absolutely loved wearing it.

Pros:

  • The waist opens fully at the front to allow for quicker toilet stops. I’ve seen this feature on men’s trisuits, but not on a female version as yet. Obviously you’d still need to take off the whole suit in the portaloo, but this feature should make it slightly easier.
  • Having been sunburnt in most of my races this summer, a trisuit with sleeves is a game changer. Keeping my shoulders and upper arms covered without needing to re-apply suncream in transition.
  • The stretchskin fabric on the legs, sides and shoulder panels is constructed to improve aerodynamics and offer muscle support. Now I’m not sure if I am more aerodynamic, but I did find the fabric incredibly comfortable and supportive.
  • The female specific chamois was also very comfortable. Whilst fairly thin, it did provide adequate padding and prevented any saddle soreness.
  • The trisuit dried quickly after getting out of the water, which is again down to Orca’s stretchskin fabric.
  • The two back pockets have a flap of fabric over the opening to seal them closed, keeping my race nutrition secure throughout the bike and run.
  • The wide rubberised bands on the legs keep them firmly in place without digging into my thighs.
  • The printed side panels and leg bands really liven up what would otherwise be a plain black trisuit. I love a bit of print and pattern!

Cons:

  • I’m not keen on the white mesh back panel, purely because it leaves my tattoo slightly exposed to the sun.
  • The end of the zip has not been finished smoothly and caused chafing to my chest. I had the same issue with my club trisuit which had to be sent back to the supplier for replacement.
  • The black fabric really shows up any white marks from suncream or chamois cream. It can look at bit grubby before you’ve even started the race!

Overall, a fantastic choice for both short and longer distance races. Millet Sports have quite a range of triathlon kit on their site, much of which is reduced including this trisuit which is down to £81 from £125.

Contains affiliate links- I earn a small commission on purchases made via these links which help towards the running costs of my blog.
Trisuit was sent for review by Millet Sports, but all opinions are my own.
Thank you for Laura for the photo.

What do you wear to race in? Do you prefer bold colours and patterns or something more subtle?

Dealing with your period on race day

Dealing with your period on race day

Alongside saddlesores and chaffing, dealing with your period on race day is one of those unpleasant but inevitable situations you face as female triathlete. It seems to be a frequent topic of conversation in triathlon Facebook groups, with women regularly asking for advice on menstruation and competing.

Having avoided periods for almost nine years, it’s been quite a learning curve in coping with my cycle alongside my active lifestyle. Fortunately there are options to ensure your period doesn’t interfere with your race…

Track your cycle

Get to know your monthly cycle so that you can anticipate when your period is due and plan races around it. There are several free apps to track your period, as well symptoms, energy levels, appetite and mood. After coming off Depo Provera, it took a long time for my periods to settle into a regular pattern- they would be unpredictable and last for several weeks. Using Clue helped me to make some sense of my erratic cycle.

Delay your period

Delaying your period can be an option if you are concerned about it’s impact on your race. If you taking hormonal birth control, then simply start the next pack without taking the 7 day break. Progesterone pills such as Norethisterone can be prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist to manipulate your cycle so that you skip your period. These options are best used as a one-off, rather than regular practice.

Try using a menstrual cup

Resuable, silicone menstrual cups are designed to collect blood rather than absorbing it like a tampon or pad. The Mooncup holds three times more than an conventional tampon and doesn’t need changing as often, making it a perfect option for an endurance race. It definitely takes some practice to get used to inserting and removing a cup, but I’ve found them to be far more comfortable and less drying than tampons.

Dealing with your period on race day

Trim your tampon string

If you prefer to use tampons, I’ve heard recommendations of trimming the string. Speaking from experience, chaffing on sensitive tissues whilst cycling is not pleasant! If you are racing a half or full Ironman, you will need to carry a spare tampon and plan in a toilet stop. However, for Olympic distance or shorter, you’ll be fine without needing to change tampons.

Avoid pads

Pads are not an ideal choice during a triathlon. They will absorb water during the swim and won’t stick securely to a chamois pad.

Go with the flow

If your flow is light, consider going without any sanitary protection. The chamois pad in cycling shorts and trisuits is actually very absorbent, plus wearing darker bottoms will hide any leaks. During the swim, the water pressure will actually reduce the blood flow, meaning that nothing escapes. Again speaking from experience, having coming on my period during a swim session!

Pack painkillers

Remember to stash some painkillers in your transition bag to ease discomfort if cramps come on during the race.

Have you ever raced during your period? What are your tips for dealing with your period on race day?

Triathlon training with a partner

Triathlon Training with a Partner

One of my favourite things about triathlon is being able to share the love of this sport with my husband Glen. I’m quite fortunate that he embraces a lifestyle of swim, bike and run as much as I do, and we are able to train and race together. Sharing our challenges and accomplishments has brought us closer as a couple. We’re both members of the same triathlon and running clubs, plus we plan our race season together so that we are working towards the same goal.

Endurance sports can put a strain on relationships if one partner spends more time at the pool or out the streets than at home. It’s a balancing act of fitting in family time alongside training. I often hear about ‘triathlon widows’ complaining that their husbands are never home!

Whilst we do still train alone, I generally prefer to swim, cycle and run with Glen- here’s why…

  • Training with a partner can make a huge difference to motivation and accountability. It would be tempting to skip training when I’m tired, but knowing that Glen will be there keeps me focused. Getting up for a 6am swim is far easier when I’m not doing it alone.
  • Glen’s much faster and stronger than me in all three disciplines, so it creates an extra challenge to try and keep up with him. When we cycle together, he tends to lead and I just aim to keep him in eyesight! It’s good speedwork for me, but an easier ride for him.
  • Riding and running with a partner also has the added benefit of increased safety. If something were to happen, at least I wouldn’t be alone to deal with it. Two sets of eyes and ears mean that you are more aware of your surroundings and any potential danger. Glen is great at repairing punctures meaning that I can leave this job to him!
  • Having my husband waiting and cheering at the finish line always gives me the boost to go for a sprint finish. It’s always an amazing feeling to finish a race and it’s made even better if you’re supported by your partner.

Triathlon Training with a partner

  • We celebrate each others success. On several occasions, Glen has won his age group or placed in the top three so I’m always incredibly proud of his results. Whilst I’m no where near as talented as my husband, I have my own small victories which he always he always acknowledges.
  • Training can be a chance to spend quality time together outdoors. We will often plan a weekend break or day trip, which involves swimming, cycling and running. We get to experience new places together which we both enjoy.
  • Triathlon is an expensive sport and to people outside the community it can be shocking how much we actually spend. It’s a long-standing joke that triathletes tell a little white lie to their partners about how much their bikes really cost. Fortunately I don’t have to hide my triathlon spending from Glen and I know exactly how much his bike cost!
  • The fact that we both do triathlon makes us more understanding and supportive of each other when things aren’t going as well. We both appreciate how frustrating it can be to have an injury or a poor performance in a race.
  • Plus Glen looks hot in Lycra- riding behind him is never a bad thing!

Hopefully we are proof that the couple who trains together, stays together.

Triathlon training with a partner

If your spouse is not into sport or you’ve recently moved to a new area, it can be difficult to find someone to train with. Sport Partner is a platform where people can create profiles in order to find a sport partner in their desired field. They’ve got over 100,000 members and cover 18 different sports including running, tennis, golf, dance and cycling. It’s also said to be the best UK sports dating site since 2007, so you might find a date as well as a running buddy!

Post written in collaboration with Sport Partner

Is your partner into the same sport as you? Do you prefer training alone or with a partner?