Kimberley Barfoot-Brace reached out to let us know that she had PH in her bottles when she covered 278.49 miles to become the British National 12-hour Time Trial Champion and National Veteran 12-hour TT record holder.
We spoke to Kimberley, a self-confessed raver-turned-IRONMAN athlete, to find out how she's gone from buying her first bike six years ago to a record-breaking cyclist...
Hi Kimberley, we were stoked to hear about your success, although I understand your motivation for the 12-hour TT challenge stemmed from a tragedy close to home?
Thank you, I still can’t believe it!
Yes, my friend Tash Lewis tragically passed away aged 28 after being hit by a car whilst running in April. She was training towards Team GB marathon selection.
A foundation has been set up in her name to help aspiring athletes from Team Bath AC fulfil their potential.
Tash was a big source of inspiration and support. I’ve known her for such a long time, we both got into triathlon at the same time. We used to swim together every morning and she gave me much needed encouragement on my journey to becoming an IRONMAN athlete.
She also encouraged me to enter a 12-hour TT for the first time in 2020, so it felt appropriate to raise money for her foundation in my attempt for a national title this year.
I thought about her and my auntie (who passed away unexpectedly in February) a lot during the race. They were both tenacious and tough sportswomen.
How did you use that motivation during your training? And how have you adapted your training since turning 40?
I’m lucky to have been inspired by awesome vets at both my running (Team Bath AC) and cycling club (Bath CC). They’ve shown me you can still keep getting better and beat the youngsters if you work hard and look after yourself.
Ultimately you need a hunger to get better and more importantly enjoy the process. If you don’t, you should probably find another hobby!
I’ve learned the hard way, the older you get the more you need to focus on recovery - food, sleep, rest, and simplifying other parts of your life.
I’ve been a vegan for 7 years for ethical reasons but I think this has definitely helped from a recovery and performance point of view too.
Excellent, so what did a typical week of training look like in the build-up to the 12-hour TT challenge?
In the run up it became all about the weekends - a ‘pre-exhaust’ ride on the Saturday with punchier power intervals, then a long ride at a low heart rate on the Sunday. This peaked at 5 hours on the Saturday and 8 on the Sunday.
I vividly remember crumbling in front of the telly and watching Wimbledon one Sunday, literally crying with exhaustion and unable to do basic tasks.
On these weekends I would practice nutrition and hydration, park my car up loaded with everything I needed, and do loops near the car, ensuring refueling was as swift as possible.
In the working week I would keep my running and swimming ticking over, with a couple of short challenging power sessions on the bike. And of course lots of stretching in between.
Did you have fueling targets for the event and did you manage to hit those in practice?
For the 12-hour TT (and on the bike leg of IRONMAN races), I’ve learned that 350-400 calories (87-100g carbs per hour) is ideal for me.
Last year I did Ironman New Zealand and I suffered severe dehydration (I kept dropping bottles due to a thumb broken in the swim and was too determined to stop). I dropped a stone of fluid in the race, and wasn't in a good way… I don’t want to repeat that!
And what was your target power during the 12 hours?
My target power was 190ish at 135 heart rate, but I realised my body wasn’t on form early on (due to 'lady problems'...).
I only looked at my ‘entire ride’ twice, at halfway and 10 hours in. The rest of the time I was focused on hourly lap stats.
At halfway, my average speed was ahead of Alice Lethbridge’s national record but I knew that wouldn’t last based on how I was feeling.
In the second half I completely ignored my power and just focused on my speed, making myself as aero as possible, riding well and keep moving forward at the turning points for fuel.
In the end my average power was 171, quite a way off what I was capable of, but it didn’t matter, I got the result I dreamt of.
And what were your immediate feelings after you discovered you'd become only the second lady to beat the legendary Beryl Burton’s record of 277.25 miles in 12 hours?
I was so relieved to be in one piece, for it to be over and to have achieved my goals. But I couldn’t help feel frustrated at what could have been if my legs had shown up.
The next morning the organiser got in touch with me, pointing out I was only the second lady (Alice being the other) to have beaten Beryl’s record. I started to realise the enormity of what I’d achieved; me, an ex-raver who only got my first bike on the Cycle-To-Work scheme six years ago.
Hopefully one day I can tick off all of Beryl’s other records, although it feels a bit silly saying that when you think of how technology and performance knowledge has advanced. She really was a phenomenon.