INTERVIEWER: So, congratulations on finishing 14th overall and 3rd in your gender! How do you feel about your performance in this triathlon?

COOKIE: It can’t be perfect all the time… The first race of the season is always entering the unknown. I was confident going into the race after a good spell of training. However, the lack of open water training was playing on my mind, a common phrase of the morning was ‘I hate swimming’.  When racking my bike and setting up my gear, I could see that it was a strong field of triathletes lined up.

INTERVIEWER: It sounds like the swim was a challenging part of the race for you. Can you tell us more about your experience?

COOKIE: Going into the swim, the water wasn’t as cold as I had expected… bonus, the atmosphere was on fire, to see 62 women get in at a local race is a great strong field. The hooter went and I was off… mistake 1… adrenaline got the better of me, and I started my swim faster than my best 100m pace, which after putting this effort in, I found I couldn’t catch my breath. I did a good section of the swim ‘head up’, switching from front crawl to breaststroke. With about 500m to go, I finally managed to find a comfortable, steady stroke. I had to have a word with myself a few times in the water, and even by the end of the swim I was very deflated. I was 10th out of the water, with a good pack around me. At this point, I felt disappointed and knew I had work to do.

INTERVIEWER: How was the transition from the swim to the bike, and how did you feel the bike leg went?

COOKIE: It was about a 500m run to transition, so I donned my crocs to get me there feet unscathed. Wet suit off, helmet on, got my bike and I was ready to go. The bike is my strongest discipline, and after feeling terrible coming out of the swim I needed a good bike leg. I headed off into the beautiful New Forest and I just wanted to work my way through the field as quickly and as comfortably as possible. The first half of the course has sections of climbing, nothing major, just undulating. I was able to pick people off both at this stage and further through the field. I tucked in, stayed as aero as possible, and used the power I knew I had to push hard. Did I cycle a little angry? Yes. Did it pay off? Mostly.

INTERVIEWER: It sounds like emotions were high, did you encounter any challenges during the bike leg?

COOKIE: The New Forest is beautiful, and it was a pretty issue-free ride, except having to stop for a few ponies. There were some super-fast sections, which I loved. When I got to the dismount, I saw my friends who told me I had managed to ride my way into 2nd position. I was pretty stunned by this; I knew I had worked hard. However, in having an aggressive ride, I didn’t fuel as well as I should have… mistake 2… and I knew this may hit me on the run. My average pace for this ride was 21.1mph, when I raced this course in 2022 my average pace for the same bike route was 19.9mph. I am really pleased with the improvement.

INTERVIEWER: Well done, that is a great improvement! Transitioning to the run, how did you feel, and what was your strategy?

COOKIE: Going out onto the run, I felt good but not great, so I wanted to get a rhythm and stick to it. It was an out and back run so I could see where I was in the field. At the halfway point, I was still in 2nd, and I could see that 1st place was far enough in front that I wouldn’t be able to catch her. 3rd place went flying past me just after the halfway point, I knew I had to stick to my own pace and not get carried away. She was running incredibly and I knew I could not match her pace, If I tried, I may well have blown up. I stuck to my pace and continued, knowing I was now hanging on for 3rd. With a 10k time of 44.16, initially, I was disappointed in this, then I realised it was a triathlon 10k personal best and still a very good run.

INTERVIEWER: Of course, and you should be proud. Finishing 3rd in your gender and 14th overall is impressive also. Looking back, how do you feel about this achievement now?

COOKIE: I am really pleased with this for my first race of the season; however, I know there are lessons to take from it. I have to focus on the open water swimming and controlling things emotionally. Having what I would see as a ‘bad race’ and finishing on the podium is a pretty good place to be in. In the first hours after the race, I stayed disappointed for a while, until I was able to look at my stats and realise that I had made some huge improvements, so need to focus on the positives. All in all, I finished 3/62 females in a strong competitive field and, upon reflection, finished 14/183 overall. I was 10th fastest overall on the bike, which I am really pleased with.

Follow the latest updates of Cookie's journey on the LendingMetrics LinkedIn page.