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Exclusive interview with Nordic Oil ambassador Tamsin Lewis

by James Slade August 13, 2014

Here we have an exclusive interview with Nordic Oil’s ambassador; Dr Tamsin Lewis, who is one of the top-ranked Ironman 70.3 athletes in the world. She recently embarked on her first Ironman, with an impressive debut performance; crowned Ironman UK champion. Tamsin is a valuable Nordic Oil ambassador for her talent in triathlon but also in medicine. She studied Medicine & Surgery at Kings College London and also has a Bachelor of Science degree in NeuroScience and Anatomy.

 

(With thanks to Getty Images for the photos)

 We talked to Tamsin after her recent Ironman UK victory.

  1. BIG congratulations for your recent success in your first Ironman, and for being crowned 1st Female across the finishing line. Describe to us your emotions as you touched the red carpet towards the finishing line, surrounded by the crowds sharing the special moment with you:

 A: Thank you! It was a day I have dreamt of. Having an uneventful easy swim, feeling super strong on the bike and then running a marathon fairly comfortably - until the last 10k!

In the last mile I was running into the town centre - stifling tears and slightly breathless from the emotion. The noise of the crowds and the look on so many people’s faces - of sheer willing and awe - was just incredible. I kept saying thank you under my breath, as I felt so grateful to people for the support on the course.

The finish line video (tri247 women’s finish line) shows my emotions very well. A mix of relief, gratitude and elation.

I would love to relive this moment again and again and it still raises my heart rate thinking about it now.

  1. Many athletes race Ironman UK Bolton as their first Ironman, like yourself. Year on year the triathlon community is growing in participants from athletes to volunteers. Your performance will have inspired many athletes to take part in triathlon. What advice would you give to those deciding whether to enter Ironman UK Bolton as their first Ironman?

A: Like many I have often thought - if I am going to put myself through that much athletic endeavour - then I might as well do it in a glamorous location. I challenged myself on this thought and the idea of doing an Ironman abroad when I heard from last years’ winner Lucy Gossage, about the crowds in Bolton and the feeling you get from racing in a home race. I have raced internationally a great deal - but nothing is quite like racing at home with the home crowd support behind you.

Even on the bike there were areas where the crowds were 3 deep cheering. On a long day out - if you can externalise some of the discomfort the journey of the race becomes that bit more enjoyable.

Ironman UK suits me as a strong biker on technical courses. There is plenty of mixed terrain on this course - pretty typical of hillier areas of the UK. I would advise against a winter of turbo training only - as you need your bike handling skills on this course. The run is hilly and challenging too - so be prepared with regular hill running as the hills really sap the leg strength.

  1. At the start of Ironman UK, hundreds of athletes gather together, preparing to enter the water. Tension is high, crowds flooding the lake area ready to cheer on their loved ones. Tense, motivating music playing in the background, the commentator gearing up athletes ready to enter the water. What emotions are running through your mind at this point? How do you channel your thoughts?

A: I am super focused at this point. What amazed me were the hundreds of people queuing for the Portaloos when we were surrounded by forest. I would definitely not have the patience. On the morning of the race I am routine focused, which allows me to control my nerves (somewhat). Getting into the water I focus on the first buoy - breathing steadily and using my diaphragm, so low slow breathes. I then focus on feeling strong and let the music and the announcers words (thank @Kayeman ;) invigorate and charge me.

Bolton was incredible in this aspect. I clearly remember looking behind me and seeing thousands of people descending into the water with us as pros at the spearhead. I thanked all the people who have enabled me to get to this point in my life and remember where I have come from and the obstacles I have surmounted along the way. Still - I was hoping not to get swam over by hundreds of fast age-group swimmers!

 

  1. What tweaks in training have you done this year, to prepare for a full Ironman distance? How has it differed to preparing and training for a 70.3?

A: From week to week not that much has changed, as I have had to manage my medical work with the training demands. I have done some more long rides than previous years, but due to injury not much in the way of long runs. I averaged merely 30-40k of running - but due to working on my strength and stability - my body carried me through the marathon strong - until the final miles when my hip flexors ceased a little.

The mental game in Ironman is key - and I think this is where I potentially excel. Plus I have an ‘efficient’ engine from years of training in a relatively carbohydrate depleted state. The train low - race high approach - although I have modified this so that I have more carbohydrate in harder training sessions and when away on camp.

I also have stayed on top of my vitamin and mineral intake - particular B Vitamins and Iron and monitor these through blood testing 4 times a year (through http://www.curoseven.com).

Women generally need to do less of the long/volume training than men, as our engines are more suited to endurance.

  1. How do you recover from such a mentally and physically demanding race?

A: I spent 2 days in a Spa with my Mum and slept A LOT. I also drank a little more red wine than normal and ate chocolate and sweet potato chips like they were going out of date ;)

  1. Finally, what does the rest of the season have in store for you?

A: As sad as it might seem - now I have done an Ironman and seen that the distance suits me - this is my last season racing as a professional athlete. I am undecided as to what my last race will be as yet, but will race at one of my favourite races in France early September. (http://triathlonvalleedeslacs.com/ wordpress2/).

I have been offered a superb career opportunity working at www.CHHP.com and the focus in my life is shifting to one of a more settled, financially stable one. Living as a Pro does take its toll on relationships and the rest of your life. To compete at the top level you have to be all in. I struggled with this, as like to have many strings to my bow. I’ve seen what it takes to be the best in the world. Trained with these girls day in and out. I have learnt an unimaginable amount in these years and it fundamentally has changed me as a person - for the better. I will take these experiences and knowledge to help others to fulfil their dreams.

 



James Slade
James Slade

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