Lucy Saxelby Athlete Ambassador
Lucy is an athlete who races full Ironman triathlons as well as challenging Swimruns. She talks to Sundried about racing highs and lows.
Have you always been into sport?
I have always been active and spend a lot of time outdoors. As a child and teenager I did ballet and tap dancing, gymnastics, and horse riding and competed in showjumping competitions on my ponies and rode a BMX. I lived in Cape Town in South Africa when I was very small and so grew up being very comfortable with water/swimming as we did so much of it.
What made you decide to enter the world of triathlon?
I met my husband Jon when I was 29 and at the time I was training for a few half marathons and marathons to raise money for charity. He never really encouraged me to run long distance and said it would be bad for my joints in the future and that triathlon would be less damaging. More to shut him up than anything else, I entered myself into a sprint triathlon. I then gradually increased the distance until I was doing full Ironman distance races and had got my marathon back! My joints are still fine and he’s now given up moaning...at least about running!
What’s been your favourite race to date and why?
This is such a hard one to answer, as I have done some fantastic races in some incredible places. I have raced Ironman Wales twice and it is without doubt the best supported race I’ve competed in and has the best atmosphere and “buzz” throughout the race and for the days leading up to it in Tenby. The course is also extremely challenging which I love, particularly the bike course, and the crowd make you feel like you are riding in the Tour de France each time you ride back into Tenby up “Heartbreak Hill”.
And your proudest achievement?
Probably achieving 6th place in my age group and 23rd overall lady in the 2016 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships (6 mile run – 90 mile bike- 18 mile run).
Have you ever had any racing disasters?
I’ve definitely had one or two...including doing the cycle leg of a duathlon wearing one cycle shoe and one running shoe, racing with my trisuit on backwards (even worse because it was a sponsored one and was used as the front page of an article online), or not tightening the skewer on my back wheel sufficiently and my wheel falling off 50 miles into the bike leg of Hever Castle Triathlon at 22 mph. Ouch!
What's been your toughest race yet?
The 2015 Alcobendas ETU Standard Distance European Championships (near Madrid). The weather was horrific – really cold with torrential rain and the course had 48 roundabouts with super-slippery white road markings at every one! I sat and watched so many casualties with horrific road rash being helped into the medical tent and I actually cried because I was so scared to race in such dangerous conditions.
The weather grew progressively worse for the standard race in which I was racing. My race went okay until my chain jammed going up an incline and, before I had fully unclipped, I was crashed into from behind by a Spanish athlete. Sore but not broken, I carried on and somehow managed a bronze medal in my 35-39 age category. Many athletes in my race pulled out with hypothermia and I was thankful that day for my extra layer of fat compared to some of the 7 stone whippets!
How do you overcome setbacks?
I’ve had my share of injuries over the years that have prevented me from training and racing in exactly the way I had planned at certain times and they are definitely frustrating! I’d say to always try to find other ways to train, avoiding stressing the injured area – so if you need to have time off running then spend more time in the pool and gym. After you begin to run again, you might find you are a better all rounder due to concentrating on those other areas, which you would usually neglect!
What advice do you wish you’d been given before you started competing?
That quality is far better than quantity! I used to over-train and injure myself! I have also improved my run speed by sticking to one interval session per week, one longer run and one or two shorter runs. Running every day for miles without any aim or focus doesn’t really improve anything, except the probability of you getting injured!
What are your goals for 2019 and 2020?
In 2019 I raced my 3rd ever ultra run, the Longhorn 60k and was delighted coming 2nd lady, as this was my first race back after a few months off following an operation in 2018. I am racing Equinox24 in September in a 3-person team, where we will be aiming for 80k each.
This year I have also raced my first two Breca Swimrun races – Gower and Buttermere – where I placed 9th and 12th in a mixed team with my fellow Lincoln Tri Club teammate Steve. We are racing again at Breca Coniston in October, but my aim for 2020 is to get fast enough for us to podium in Swimrun races and, I might not have mentioned this to Steve yet...but I’d love for us to qualify for the Swimrun World Championships!
Who do you take your inspiration from?
I run social media accounts for businesses for my day job so spend hours on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! I follow lots of sporty people online who compete in the same kind of events that I do and I am inspired on a daily basis by the training sessions and races that some of my friends and followers post about.
What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?
I love Sundried’s understated yet modern look and find the material perfect for long sessions as it dries so quickly and reduces chafing/increases comfort on really long runs. I love Sundried’s Grivola 2.0 training shirt, the Tour Noir Women’s Vest and the Women’s Performance Tri Suit.