Claire Hitchings Coaching

A Triathlon-ish Blog

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  • World Champs - it's a wrap

    The World Cross Triathlon Championships in Denmark was a race of firsts for me! Unfortunately, my final position wasn't first but at a Worlds, second ain't too shabby and a result I'm pleased with!

    Let's start with the firsts that I hope are one-offs...

    1. Crashing badly on the bike. I'd settled in nicely behind a Danish girl and was hopeful this set-up would last the entire bike section. On a nice single-track straight section I must have not seen something and went flying over the handle-bars. Dazed and sore, I assessed the damage: a lot of blood down my left-hand side; saddle bag off; chain off; and a saddle at right-angles. No problem I thought, thinking the saddle was quick release. It wasn't and I was riding without alan keys (which I won't be doing again!). Despite numerous attempts I couldn't move the saddle back. Stress-central... and all the time athlete after athlete riding past; some with a token, "You alright?" Me muttering, "Do I look alright???!!!" I eventually sorted it...but 5 minutes lost and riding a bit more tentatively thereafter.

    2. Swimming with jellyfish - not just the odd 'oh look there's a jellyfish'; friggin' loads of the stingers. They got my face good and proper and during the swim my face and lips were morphing into Katy Price's after a boxtox special.

    3. Having my face shaved! Yep! At the end of the race I headed to the medical tent to get cleaned up and they suggested shaving my face to get rid of whatever it is that jellyfish leave in you. They assured me I wouldn't end up with a beard...fingers crossed!

    And the firsts that I hope won't be one-offs...

    1. Producing a race swim that isn't too far off what I can do in a pool. I swam in a pack, I didn't go off course or hate every minute of it. 

    2. Running off the bike - I had the best run I've ever had in a triathlon. 

    So overall a great experience. Frustrating about the crash given I'm riding better than I ever have. Next stop is the Europeans in Ibiza in October. Lots to work on but first a well-deserved break. Thanks to everyone that's helped: Hubby Hitchings, Jenny Copnall, Team Endurance (Mark and Tracey), riding buddies (Pete and John) and Chris Ball at Velocipede Cycles.

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  • The Story Behind the Claire Hitchings Coaching Logo

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    There's always a story behind a logo...here's mine! 

    For my logo I wanted something striking that represents what Claire Hitchings Coaching is all about. There's three inspirations:

    1. The swimmer, cyclist and runner represent my love of triathlon. Can you spot them? (there's clues below if you are struggling).

    2. I 'borrowed' from cycling the iconic world champion rainbow stripes they award to World Champions to represent the pinnacle of my triathlon career - winning the 2013 ITU Sprint Triathlon Age Group World Championships.

    3. I love butterflies...their transformation from a larva to a butterfly is magical and beautiful. The butterfly represents much of what coaching is about - helping athletes transform and spread their wings and fly!

    And so, the Claire Hitchings Coaching brand was born. 

    Clues:

    1. The swimmer: at the top, diving in. She shares her head with the cyclist's.

    2. The cyclist: look for the two black circles - they're the bike wheels.

    3. The runner: her head is the front bike wheel.

  • Cheaters to be cheetahs

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    I have a few pet-hates: people who litter; dog owners who don't clear up after their dogs; and people who cheat and by doing so selfishly rob other athletes of precious and magical moments. Think about crossing the finish line and knowing you've won a medal versus years after the event being awarded a medal after someone is disqualified following a sample re-analysis. The two things just don't compare.

    So most people like to win; they like to be as fast as cheetahs but some prefer to cheat rather than put in the hard work.

    Some just out-right dope, some get found out and then it just gets uncomfortable watching them try and get out of the messes they've created for themselves.

    Then there's the whole controversial issue of Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs). The Russian hackers Fancy Bears have revealed some stuff that I bet many top athletes so wish they hadn't. And there have been many debates that whilst no anti-doping rules are broken when the TUEs is approved, but what about the ethics of TUE use? I like the following quote from Geraint Thomas: "I would be quite happy to ban them [TUEs] completely in sport. I think sport is about pushing yourself and your body to the limits. If you have a sore knee or asthma or something, that is just part of it. It is a bit of a dodgy area, though, isn't it?"

    Then there's the weird and wonderful...Earlier this month a story that did the rounds on social media was ultra-marathoner Kelly Agnew who won his races by hiding in a Porta-Potty. The organisers discovered that he wasn't clocking in at a checkpoint halfway through the ~1-mile loop. Turns out, he was sitting in a Porta-Potty for 7 minutes and then jumping out to cross the mat at the start/finish at the exact time he needed to keep his 'mile pace' consistent. OMG! Who thinks to do stuff like that!? Porta-Potties are pretty vile places to hang out; especially when been used by nervous athletes!

    And it's not all about elite athletes. Oh no, there are occasional stories of middle-aged age group women like myself who seem to be quite comfortable cheating especially when slots for the World Champs in Kona are up for grabs!

    Canadian triathlete Kristen Johnson was disqualified from a triathlon after she let air out of the tires of a competitor's bike before the race. The bike owner's husband happened to be near the bike when he heard the loud 'pssssssss' of air being released from a tire, and saw Kristen bent over behind his wife's bike." Kristen's version of events was that she thought it was her friend's bike and was letting air out for her. Yeah right!!

    This was the huge profile case of Julie Miller, covered by The New York Times in an article called Swim. Bike. Cheat? It's defo worth a read: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/10/sports/julie-miller-ironman-triathlon-cheat.html In short, she seemingly often 'loses' her timing chip and goes and hides somewhere and then pops up at the end as the winner. This time the girls that thought they'd won and podiumed weren't at all convinced. At the medal ceremony the girl who thought she'd won confronted her. 'Where did you pass me? I was looking for everyone in the age group and I would have seen you.'

    Let me tell you when you are out on the run you know exactly who passes you! It's a horrible feeling. There's nothing you can do but watch them put a bigger and bigger gap into you.

    Anyhow, some people pieced it all together using photos taken on the day and other evidence and it didn't add up and she was disqualified and suspended by Triathlon Canada. As far as I know she's never admitted her guilt or apologised.

    So there you go! Actions have consequences. So stop cheating and get training!

    Onto my other news for 2018:

    I've qualified for the World Off-Road Triathlon Championships in Denmark in July. Whoop whoop!

    Yesterday I got the Strava QOM (Queen of the Mountains) for the road I grew up in Haywards Heath and where my parents still live. A 71 km ride to then blast the final 100 ms! Crazy, crazy!

    Hopefully by the end of this week I will have completed my Triathlon Level 2 coaching award.

    My Team Tri Hard athletes are smashing it in training!! Roll on race-season.

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