Kate took up running to lose weight and soon found her calling in the sport of triathlon. She talks to Sundried about life as a triathlete.
Have you always been into sport?
Not always, I took up running at the age of 21 in order to lose weight having been overweight throughout my teens. It worked and I became hooked! I started off running around the block and then that little bit further until I was comfortably completing half marathons. Not only did running help me to lose weight but it also had a massively positive effect on my self esteem and body confidence.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I entered my first triathlon when I was 22 ( a while back...). I had very little idea what I was doing (regular swimsuit and mountain bike) and I was not particularly fast but I finished really pleased with my accomplishment. I didn't do another race until after I'd had my daughter 10 years later when it really helped me to regain my fitness and lift my mood after a difficult period in my personal life. Triathlon took me out of a very dark place and gave me focus and the confidence to push myself and realise my own capabilities.
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
There have been so many! However, I really enjoyed the Nottingham Sprint ETU qualifier last year (2018). The swim was a bit like being in a washing machine but once I got on the bike course I felt strong and my run was equally strong meaning I finished 8th in an extremely competitive field. It was enough to give me a qualifying spot at the Glasgow European Championships which is where I first represented Team GB, a very proud moment in my life indeed.
And your proudest achievement?
Representing my age-group in Team GB obviously makes me feel very proud and privileged but it's the races and training that gets me there which makes me proud. Last summer, I travelled to Worthing to compete in the sprint distance race and knew I had to finish in the top 4 to qualify for the European Championships in Russia this year (2019). I pushed myself hard and finished in 4th, knowing I wasn't dependent on a roll-down place or on someone withdrawing was a huge relief and extremely satisfying.
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
Many! Disasters have come in the form of panic attacks in the water meaning I have to stop and have a word with myself, mechanical issues such as the chain coming off, punctures...and then there's falling off and flying over the handle bars resulting in a lie-down in a ditch until the initial pain subsided!
The toughest race I've done was probably the Slateman Full Distance Triathlon in Wales. The bike was particularly tough and the puncture I had didn't help (beautiful scenery though and great road surfaces!), the run however finished me off. A 7-mile run up and then down a slate mine. I attempted to run up the ridiculously steep parts but when the people walking were overtaking me I knew it was time to join them and save my legs for the few flat and downhill parts of the run. It was such a relief to finish and at the time I said I’d never do it again but as the saying goes ‘never say never’..
How do you overcome setbacks?
Around 5 years ago I was knocked off my bike by a driver not looking where he was going. At the time I thought I’d just suffered a lot of bruising but it turned out I’d actually torn the scaphoid lunate ligament thus dislocating my left wrist (typically I’m left-handed!).
Due to the complexity of the injury it was really hard to diagnose and spot on scans and X-rays but eventually I saw a specialist who operated. Overall I was in plaster for 3 months which obviously put a stop to my swimming and my outdoor cycling but instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do I concentrated on what I could manage including running, sitting on a spin bike and some strength training. It was mentally pretty tough and painful but I came out the other side and now look back upon it as something I’ve learned from which inevitably made me stronger.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
Be prepared to dedicate many hours of your life to training! I knew juggling three disciplines was going to be tricky but sometimes there just are enough hours in the day.
What are your goals for 2019?
This year I’m travelling to Russia for the European sprint distance championships, I’d really like to finish in the top 10 of my age group so that’s my goal. I’m also increasing my distance to try to qualify for the standard distance at the end of the summer in Brighton so plenty to focus on and train for over the coming months.
Who do you take your inspiration from?
Lots of athletes inspire me particularly the awesome para triathletes who have the strength and perseverance to compete. My inspiration comes in many forms though including seeing strong women succeed in all areas of their lives and being role modes for future generations.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love the Sundried brand for what it stands for and it’s values. I’m a big advocate of ethical clothing and very keen to encourage people to think very carefully about what they can do for the environment and our planet. Sundried have some fantastic pieces and I’m very excited to see the new cycling range.