University Couple Qualified for Team GB in the Triathlon

Picture of Dr Vicky Chico and Dr Tim Chico in their Team GB kitDr Vicky Chico from the School of Law and her husband Dr Tim Chico from the Department of Cardiovascular Science represented Team GB in the 2013 European Triathlon Union Age Group Championships, for Sprint Distance Triathlon in Turkey this month. Dr Vicky Chico qualified within the 35-39 age group and Dr Tim Chico within the 40-44 age group which involved a 1500m swim, followed by a 40km bike ride and a 10km run (with no break!). As well as being members of staff, they are also University of Sheffield alumni and we caught up with them to see how they got on in Alanya…

Tell us about what happened in Turkey
Vicky: The atmosphere was fantastic. The race started with a sea swim, which I have never done before. It was great to start off in clear warmish water. The bike was a fast course on a closed coast road but I didn’t get much chance to look at the view. By the time we started the run at 8 am it was starting to get quite hot. After the race I felt as if I was a professional athlete with people bringing me fruit and leading me to the ice bath. I was 13th in my age category.
Tim : It was a three day event, with 1200 Elite, Paratriathlon and Age Group competitors. It was an amazing feeling wearing the GB kit with spectators shouting “come on GB!” I never expected to win a medal as there are some incredibly fast guys on the GB team, but I was happy with my position of 18th from 27 in my age group. Overall, Team GB won almost all of the medals, which shows how much we are ahead of the rest of Europe.

How did you both get in to Triathlon?
Vicky: I got into it in 2009 while I was pregnant. When I started trying to get fit again, I went with Tim to some of the running sessions with the Racing TNT tri club. Pretty soon running seemed strange if I hadn’t done a bike and a swim and a run first.
Tim: My previous Head of Department David Crossman suggested we do the London Triathlon in 2007 and even though I couldn’t run or swim and against my better judgement, I agreed. I still can’t swim or run very well!

What has been the highlight of your triathlon careers and your greatest challenge so far?
Vicky: We were both so pleased to have qualified for the European Championships in Turkey. The experience was amazing. The transition area was all laid out in blue carpet like in the Olympics. It was quite different to running out of the swim into gravel, as is often the cases in the local triathlons we have done. One of the biggest challenges is finding time for us both to train. Having two young children is the biggest training obstacle, we have to be quite economical with our time!
Tim: In 2012 I competed in Ironman UK (3.8km swim, 180km bike, followed by a 42km marathon). It was an amazing experience, and the medal ribbon says; “Anything is Possible”. That says it all; I never imagined I would ever get to represent Great Britain but the Ironman was the best thing I’ve done so far.

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?
Vicky: We do a significant amount of our commuting to and from work on the bike or running. It is all up hill on the way home from the University so quite good training. I usually try to get one or two swims in per week, two or three runs, one of which is fast intervals set, and a long bike. I need to add in some faster work on the bike but I’m not a big fan of doing this on a static bike and I’m a fair weather cyclist so it’s difficult!
Tim: I try to swim two or three times a week and run or cycle most days. Ideally, I’ll do two disciplines (swim, bike, run) each day. In the weeks leading up to the Europeans, our parents did a lot of babysitting, and we’re immensely grateful for that.

Do you both follow a strict nutrition regime?
Vicky: Fortunately I am addicted to nuts and avocados, unfortunately I am also addicted to the kid’s Haribos! I pretty much eat what I want but I think I might need to look at this if I want to improve further.
Tim: I only do sport so I can eat more cake! But eating healthily definitely makes a difference to my ability to train and race well.

Do either of you have any pre-race rituals?
Vicky: Caffeine and ventolin
Tim: listening to “lose yourself” by Eminem

Who inspires you as a triathlete?
Vicky: I love the way the Brownlee’s appear to have a relaxed but equally dedicated approach to the sport. I also think Lucy Hall was amazing in what she did to put Helen Jenkins In the position she did in the Olympics.
Tim: Chrissie Wellington. She also started as a GB Age Group Triathlete like us (though a lot better!). I’m also proud to be in the same club as Catherine Faux, Liz Bullivant (silver medallist and former World Champion) and Steve Judge (silver medallist and former European Champion). Sheffield has a lot to be proud of!

Were either of you in any sports clubs when you studied at the University?
Vicky: I wasn’t in any sports clubs whilst I was a student at the University but I have seen some fantastic runners from the University running club in races. I’m tempted to join the University running club now.
Tim: I took up sport as a midlife crisis, so no. If anyone who went to Medical School with me reads this, they won’t believe it! Neither would I!

Have you got any words of advice for people who want to start taking part in triathlons?
Tim: Join a club; we have some excellent local ones. I was terrified when I first turned up to train with Racing TNT (Sheffield based triathlon club) but was addicted after the first session. Everyone is very welcoming, whatever your level. I could hardly swim or run when I started; all you need is to want to improve. It’s been fun, I’ve met some amazing people and would never have imagined it might lead to a place on the GB team; it could for you too!

What next?
Vicky: I got third place in my age group at Rother Valley Triathlon a couple of weeks ago. This is a European qualifier event so my third place there has got me a place on the GB team for the European triathlon Championships next year which is in Kitzbuhel. This will be a very different race from Turkey. I’m quite strong on hills on the bike and the run so I’m hoping for a good place there.
Tim: I’m not sure I’ll qualify for GB next year, so I’m planning to work hard to get into the 2015 Europeans in Geneva.

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