SwimRun: How the champions do it!

Team Sportextreme.com: Winners at LochGuLoch!
Team Sportextreme.com: Winners at LochGuLoch!

There must be something in the water up in Edinburgh as following hot on the heels of our last post, we’ve got an all-female team from the same Tri Club!  This time its the winners from LochGuLoch 2015 sharing their SwimRun story so far. They’ve got masses of endurance event experience between them and unfinished business at oTillo it seems.
If you’re hoping to learn anything from these interviews – THIS is essential reading!

So between mouthfulls of noodles at a post-swim Wagamama’s here’s what they had to say….

Team name: sportextreme.com
Team members: Rosemary Byde / Izzy Joiner

medals

How do you know each other? 
We met in 2012 a week before the Celtman triathlon at a reservoir in the hills above Edinburgh. We’re in the same club, and someone introduced us. Then we got to know each other in intervals of 10 seconds as we passed and re-passed during the race. But we didn’t meet up regularly or get to know each other really well until this year. This was our first year doing swimrun together, and our first race was in June.

What do you do when you’re not jumping into cold water with your shoes on?
IJ: Lie on the sofa / get warm! Cycle and run, but there’s not been much cycling going on this year. Sit with my cat.
RB: In fact, we do both have respectable jobs as well. But they keep getting in the way of training! I like to call myself a high tech crime fighter. I’m also learning Italian, so I keep looking out for teams from Italy, though I haven’t managed to talk to any yet.

You were 1st female team at lochguloch, and finishers at the Ötillö world champs, what else do you have on your cv?
RB: We came 3rd at our first swimrun race in Borås in June.
IJ: We both did well at the first Celtman event. I’m an Ironman addict and my best result was 5th in age group at Ironman France.
RB: I love adventure racing and have done everything from 5 hour to 5 day non-stop events in all weathers. I’ve managed to get on the podium in a few triathlons as well. Izzy’s finished an ultra run, which I’m a bit jealous about!

crossing the line at ÖTILLÖ 2015
crossing the line at ÖTILLÖ 2015

And how’s your calendar looking for 2016?
IJ: There are lots of things on the ‘want to do list’, but the calendars empty!
RB: It’s because we want to try and get into Ötillö again. What we do depends on the outcome of our application. We’re definitely going to do some more swimrun though.
IJ: I want to do another Ironman if I can, in the middle of it all!
RB: If we don’t qualify for Ötillö, we’ll be spoilt for choice with all the new races here. I’d like to do some more longer running events as well.

How do the swimrun races you’ve done rank against other endurance events you’ve done?
IJ: Hard! It’s quite tough and relentless because of the number of changes between swimming and running. It’s harder to break it down mentally.
RB: I asked Izzy on the finish line of Ötillö how it compared to an ironman, and she said definitely harder! There was something about the emotion that went into it, and the stress we had at times racing the cut offs. In some ways I found it more physically draining even than multi-day events, because of the intensity (speed).
IJ: I don’t think anything can quite compare to the first Ironman I finished, which was also my first endurance event. But swimrun is very different, it’s more wild, and the swims aren’t as sanitised and safe. There are fewer rules and you’re not going to bump into a referee on a motorbike! The fields are also smaller which makes it feel more intense.
RB: I like doing triathlon, but I prefer the way you feel as if you’re going on a journey from one place to another in a swimrun.

LochGuLoch - Stunning surroundings (photo Steve Ahsworth)
LochGuLoch – Stunning surroundings (photo Steve Ahsworth)

How does it feel being at the front of a race, rather than chasing someone else down?
IJ: I don’t like it! It’s stressful!
RB: In triathlon, if I start the run in the lead I feel under a lot of pressure as it’s my weakest link. But in swimrun, the disciplines are more balanced throughout, so I felt more confident. I agree it can be stressful though.
IJ: If you all have the same colour swim hats it is harder to identify who you’re racing against. I mistook one poor guy without a hat and with long hair for a girl at Loch gu Loch. I thought a female team was about to overtake us!
RB: She did apologise to him though!

Endurance races are about mental strength as much as physical strength, how do you help each other through the lows?
RB: I tried singing to cheer Izzy up a few times, but I might have made it worse!
IJ: When Rosemary’s having a low, I like to check she’s OK and chat to her.
RB: Yeah, that helps, I like some chat! The right food proffered at the right time can also work wonders.
IJ: In a long hard run at Ötillö, Rosemary broke the run into smaller chunks by checking how fast we were running every 8 minutes.
RB: I love thinking about numbers and statistics. I think Izzy might have switched off to my ramblings after a while though!

Which one of you breaks first?
IJ: Neither of us breaks, we might just have a little paddy and then move on!
RB: I agree, it’s a team event so you’re always working together and helping each other. It’s so long that you’ll both have ups and downs. I only chose to race with Izzy because I knew she was tough enough.

Before we go any further, I’d just like to point everyone towards these 2 articles you wrote for LochGuLoch. If you’re new to SwimRun and have any questions on kit or tactics or pretty much anything else – these articles have it covered.
http://lochguloch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/toptips.pdf
http://lochguloch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/toptips2.pdf

 

The tips articles you did for lochguloch are brilliant and I’m finding them really helpful for creating my own kit list and training schedule. Did you get much feedback from other swimrunners on those?
RB: it was funny as we kept bumping into people when we were out training who had read our tips and knew us!
IJ: At the start of Loch gu Loch we got loads of comments from other racers around us.
RB: I was surprised how many people had read them. It was great to get such positive feedback.
IJ: When we got off the boat that takes you to the start at Ötillö, one of the race directors told us he liked our transition video: ‘very British humour’, he said!

What did you have to learn the hard way?
IJ: To put superglue on the back of my neck! I was getting bad wetsuit rash. We worked out it was better if I did my suit up a certain way, but it had got so bad it never really healed. You should also be careful which tri shorts to use if you want to avoid chaffage!
RB: I stuck with running shorts. I don’t think we made any major mistakes because we did a lot of research into kit and spoke to people who had raced swimrun before.
IJ: It wasn’t as bad as I was anticipating!
RB: One thing we did learn is that if you’re going to race on rocks, you should train on rocks. We had a very tough time at Ötillö on some of the unfamiliar terrain. I’d also mention it’s a good idea to bring running shoes with you to a swim run training session …

Most racers at UK events next year are going to be first-timers. What are your 3 top tips for success?
IJ: Practice doing swim and run together, practice transitions, practice in your kit!
RB: Learn how to wee whilst swimming, make sure your food wrappers are waterproof, never give up.

You’re in a wetsuit for a long time during the race so you must be faced with 2 choices: do you wee on the run or the swim?!
IJ: On the swim – much easier!
RB: I tried to master that skill but I still need to practice some more 😀 . I mostly went for the in-between moments.

Does everyone around you think you’re mad?
IJ: Yes!
RB: It depends who’s around, but yes! We’re in good company though 🙂

 

If you want to read more about Rosemary’s adventures, you can follow her exploits at www.planetbyde.co.uk – it really is an inspiring diary of an endurance athlete.

Once again, if you made it this far then you must be keen! Give me a shout if you’d like your team featured in an article. Experienced or first-timers, we want to hear from you. We’ve had no-one who did the BrecaSwimrun race in 2015 yet, where are you? Get in touch!

If you liked this, you might like our other SwimRun Team Profiles

The Grande Rouge
Tri Energy Mums
Tuff Fitty

 

 

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