Danielle Returns

Having had a miserable winter following a biking accident, TORQ’s Danielle Stewart showed that she was back in the groove with a series of excellent results – 3 races, with 2 wins and a close 2nd…

Two Castles 10k: I decided that my first race would be a low key – a local 10k road race, so I entered the Two Castles 10k that I had heard so much about. It was my birthday week, so I thought it would be a present to myself to get back on a start line again. I had heard that it was a slow course, which was ideal as it would take away any pressure that I would put on myself to run a good time. What I hadn’t realised was that there were 4000 runners and that it was all uphill from Warwick Castle to Kenilworth Castle!

I started the race steadily as the lead runners sprinted along the narrow, cobbled road leading out of the castle grounds. It was a hot day, which caught many of the runners out. Despite this, I found that around half way through the race I was still feeling good so I picked up the pace slightly and started to overtake more and more people. Before I knew it, I was heading in to the beautiful, if derelict, castle grounds that make up Kenilworth Castle. No sooner had I crossed the finish line, there was a local newspaper reporter ready to talk to me with a bottle of water for me in one hand and a Dictaphone in the other – turned out I had won the race!

It was a great way to start the season. The time still needed a bit of work, but the fear of getting back on a start line had gone. It only made me want to race again!

Silverstone Duathlon: Just three days after running the Two Castles 10k, I entered an evening duathlon as a last minute decision. I hadn’t yet included any brick sessions in to my training so thought that this would at least force me to do that! Once again, it was another hot day but there was a bit of a breeze on the bike, which helped to cool me down.

I headed off on the first run and decided to push a little harder than at the weekend. The only problem was, I had run a hard interval session the night before, so my legs were feeling tired. I was pleased with my first run and came in to transition as the first female. I had a surprisingly smooth transition, considering it had been a while since the last time I had to do one. I quickly put my feet in to my new Lake tri shoes and headed off. The bike was a 5-lap course on the Silverstone race circuit with a few twists and turns, but nothing too technical. The Wilier Twinblade was made for courses like this! I rode reasonably hard without going silly, but had recently changed the set-up on my bike so still needed to get used to the difference. My calf muscles started to tingle and I all I could think was please don’t cramp!

The moment I jumped off the bike for T2, that’s exactly what happened. I could not get my trainers on as every time I tried to put my foot into my shoe, my calf muscles cramped. It was slightly embarrassing, me whimpering on the floor in the corner of transition for so long – turned out that I had the slowest T2 of the day! Despite the many duathletes passing me in transition, I managed to get my shoes on and hobble my way round the second run to first place! Overall, I was really pleased with the race and it gave another little boost in confidence that I was getting some fitness back. Still work to do though.

Northbrook 10km – Warwickshire County Champs: A very last minute decision to race! I was obviously feeling a little restless this weekend as I had joined the local cycling club for a 100km ride in the Cotswolds on the Saturday and woke up on the Sunday looking for a running event to enter. The Northbrook 10k wasn’t too far from home, so I travelled across and entered on the day.

The course is described as undulating, which is definitely a term used to describe a vast range of profiles! There were one or two rises, what I would describe as, hills! The race seemed to attract a few solid runners and the biggest field ever, probably due to the fact that it was part of the Warwickshire Road Race league this year and, as I found out when I arrived, the Warwickshire County 10k Road Race Championships.

The first 6km of the race was uphill, but that didn’t seem to slow the start too much. The usual frenzy of arms and legs and trying to find space in the first half mile or so made it difficult to find a rhythm. Once I found space I settled in and tucked in behind a male runner for the first 5k or so. I could see the lead female just ahead of me for most of the race and found that I made up time uphill, but lost it again downhill. I had allowed the gap to open up just a little too much to catch her at the end, but I was feeling good and found some energy to pick up the pace for the last 400m. I was really pleased with a 2nd place in the County Champs and taking more than 90secs off my last 10k a month earlier (it was uphill one way) for a 36:34 finish. A genuine surprise. Fitness is slowly coming back!

As ever, thanks to the help of all our fantastic sponsors:

www.wilier.it – Triathlon Frames
www.ffwdwheels.com – Race Wheels
www.huubdesign.com – Wetsuits
www.zyro.co.uk/altura – Triathlon and Cycle Apparel
www.ismseat.com – Saddles
www.invisciddesign.com – Speedfil Hydration Systems
www.schwalbe.com – Cycle Tyres
www.limarhelmets.com – Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk – Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com – Cables & Housing
www.amphibia-sport.com – Transition Bags
www.lezyne.com – Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.fenwicks.info – Lubrication
www.kapz.co.uk – Custom Headset Caps
www.racewaredirect.co.uk – Custom Garmin Mounts
www.shimano.com – Groupsets
www.camelbak.com – Bottles
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk – Team PR
www.joolzedymond.com – Photography