blueseventy pro triathlete Lucy Gossage finished the 2015 season by achieving a massive life ambition in cracking the top ten at IRONMAN World Championships. Her finishing time of 9:28:36 capped off a stellar year for the cancer doctor from Cambridge. We caught up with Lucy to reflect on the performance and what she has been doing to improve her swim, and her plans for the winter break and beyond.
How pleased were you with 10th place in Kona?
I was really pleased with my finishing position - I couldn't have done more on the day and gave it absolutely everything I had. Having said that, I thought I'd need my perfect race to finish in the top 10. As it was I had a pretty average day so there is a little bit of me that is disappointed I didn't have the perfect day I had in Bolton (Ironman UK). But I know I couldn't have done more either in the run up or on race day so I'm definitely very proud.
What was the toughest thing about that performance?
I think fighting my demons from last year when I was walking the marathon with an Achilles injury. And keeping my head together after a very disappointing swim was equally challenging. And the run - well that was just a battle from about 4 miles in!
What strategies did you have to overcome the heat?
I'd being doing Wattbike sessions in the hot yoga room before I arrived, which definitely made a big difference. For the first week or so out in Kona I felt as though I was coping with the heat pretty well. Unfortunately it just got hotter and hotter before the race though - I knew I was always going to struggle when temperatures rose much higher. I think with hindsight I probably would have benefited from walking more of the aid stations to allow my core temperature to drop a bit more. The run was a pure sufferfest!
What did you think about during the day?
I felt pretty focussed. I guess if you're not focussed in the world champs you need to ask yourself why you are there! When it was hurting I kept reminding myself how hard I had worked to get there and how lucky I was to be there. I wanted a race where I finished empty and I certainly got that!
Lucy on the bike at Outlaw in July
What did you eat and drink during the day?
I use High5 - their Energy Source drink, Isogels and Zero tablets. And two mars bars on the bike.
You said you were disappointed with your swim, what do you think you could do differently to improve it?
I've worked really hard on my swim this year and know I have improved. They do a practice race the week before in Kona and I'd had a great swim which had given me lots of confidence for the race. Unfortunately on the day I messed up the start, got dunked, lost feet and ultimately missed the group I wanted to be with. I knew it was a bad swim - it was far too easy- but in a small pro field you're kind of stuck with the pack you end up in. It's very different to age group mass starts. Swimming is always a challenge for me - it takes so much work to make small improvements. Someone said to me the other day 'I don't think anyone has tried as hard as you at swimming Goss!' But I'll keep ploughing on! I think working on my start is one of the most important issues for me to address. And continuing to work on my technique.
You have been training with Cambridge Swimming Club, what difference has that made?
It's made me enjoy swimming! The people I swim with are all better than me but all love it and are incredibly supportive. Simon, our coach, is passionate about his job and makes us all want to work hard to do him proud. I think for me having a good group to swim with who keep it fun is far more beneficial than doing a slightly more specific session on my own - I will always work harder with a group and having technical reminders from Simon mid set ensures I don't just thrash when the going gets tough!
Lucy on the run in Kona. Photo by Dave Pearce.
You always look so strong on the run, how do you prepare for Ironman runs?
I certainly didn't look strong in Kona! I've done much less running this year than previously because of my dodgy Achilles. I think perhaps being stronger on the bike means I can get away with less volume. It's important to practice running off the bike, as that's very different to running fresh.
What does your off season training look like?
Red wine, later nights, chocolate and mountain biking. Sadly it's almost time to get my head down again!
Do you know which races you are going to do next year?
Not sure yet but probably Ironman New Zealand as a starter.
Lucy Gossage has been wearing blueseveny wetsuits and swimskins since long before she turned professional and won an age group World Title at Kona in 2010. She recently won British Triathlon Elite Long Distance Triathelte of the Year. Follow Lucy at lucygossage.com