Lilli dipped her toe in the world of duathlon but really got the bug after watching her husband compete at a high level. She talks to Sundried about her passion for multi sport.
Have you always been into sport?
Not always, but being active has been a big part of my life for the past 6 or 7 years. I started off with boot camp fitness sessions and slowly moved more towards running. Then more recently, I’ve been focusing on the world of multi sport.
What made you decide to enter the world of duathlon?
A few years ago, I did my first duathlon on my husband’s old mountain bike, which we added handle bar streamers to! It was my first taste of multi sport and I loved it. But there was a bit of a gap between that event and now. My husband started taking part in more duathlons in the last 3 years and qualified for the World Championships for the first time back in 2017, which was held in Penticton, Canada. We made the trip across the pond and had such an amazing time. He really caught the bug and we then went to Denmark the following year for the Worlds again.
While we were in Denmark, I decided I would have a go at attempting to qualify, leaving myself only a couple of months to get some bike training in before the last qualifiers of the year ahead of 2019’s events. I managed to qualify and haven’t looked back since! I represented GB as an Age Group competitor in the Sprint Duathlon in April (at the Worlds) and in June (at the Europeans)
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
I think it has to be the ITU World Championships in Pontevedra (Spain) in April this year. I’m not sure I’ve felt nerves like it before, and I knew it was going to be tough as the bike route had a nasty hill in it! But once the race started, all of my nerves turned into adrenaline and pushed me on. I ran a PB in the first 5km run, hit a maximum speed of 64.4 kph on the bike (on a downhill) and loved every bit of the encouragement we received from the crowd on the final run. It really was an experience to remember!
And your proudest achievement?
I think it was a 10km road race from earlier this year in Welwyn Garden City: I wanted to get a PB, and I was determined to do so. A PB would have been anything under 47m 12s…so when I saw my official time of 45m 50s I was absolutely over the moon! I don’t think I’ve ever been so determined to achieve something - I was even dreaming of the km split times I needed to achieve the goal!
Have you ever had any racing disasters/your toughest race yet?
My toughest race was probably the Ashridge Duathlon in January this year. It was freezing; I think the wind chill took the temperatures slightly below freezing in fact! Lining up on the start line, I wondered why I was there (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one!)…but then when we started running, my feet got wet and once I was on the bike, my feet got so cold they hurt. I couldn’t wait to finish the run and get back into the car to thaw out!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I think it’s always important to try to keep the big picture in mind, but not beat yourself up if something goes wrong. Getting injured is an unfortunate part of pushing yourself to bigger things. If I have to take time off training to recover, I tend to avoid some social media platforms, e.g. Strava, because it is hard to see other people doing what I so desperately want to do! I also keep busy with other things if I can’t train, e.g making some “me time”, or getting stuck into a craft project (like making clothes!)
Another thing that has happened to me is losing my “mojo”! Sometimes you just have to take it back to basics and go out for a run/ride with no targets/pace/numbers in mind, maybe even leave the GPS watch at home! It’s so important to love what you’re doing, and when you get stuck in a rut, taking a step back can help you fall in love with it all over again and makes pushing yourself in training a tiny bit easier.
What advice do you wish you'd been given before you started competing?
To always check what gear your bike is in before you get into transition…the number of times I forget to do this is silly!
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
My big goals for this year were the World and European champs which have been and gone now. I will spend the summer building towards a qualifying event in September which will then decide what's next for me in 2020! I’ve also entered a 10km race in December - I’d like to finish the year with another 10km PB!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
My husband. He is so dedicated and motivated to achieve his best in his training and racing. I love to watch him race and always hope that some of the grit rubs off on me! I’ve made so many friends through running and more recently on the duathlon circuit. Each and every one of them is an inspiration and I feel very lucky to have connected with them through something as simple as running!
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love Sundried’s values and commitment to making a difference, whether that is through charitable giving or through recycling materials. My mind is boggled that coffee grounds can be used to make sports kit! I can’t wait to try the Eco Charge and Eco Core range! At the moment, I love my Sundried Trisuit - it is so comfortable, I could easily forget I am wearing it!