Sunday 15 September 2013 was not only the final of the Elite Men’s ITU World Triathlon Series but was also the AGE GROUP World Triathlon Championships which was what I was competing in and not the Elite Women’s Race on Saturday which some people thought I was – never say never!
Arriving at Hyde Park at 6am took a little bit of logistical planning and “middle of the night alarm clocks” – but the SUN was shining which was not the forecast for the day so I was relieved! The other BIG relief for me as the “Runner turned Triathlete” rather than “Swimmer turned Triathlete” was that the swim distance was shortened, actually halved from 1500m to 750m due to rather chilly water and air temperatures and the risk of hypothermia. This was great news for me!
Whilst standing around in a wetsuit at 7am for 20 minutes in our “Holding Pen” waiting for the start my feet did turn rather like icicles and once sat on the pontoon awaiting the starters horn it was a relief for my feet to be in 16 degree water! The first 200m of the swim was COLD and it felt like my heart was in my mouth as it was a big shock to go from a near enough Resting Heart Rate to flat out sprint to get away from the mealy in rather chilly water. Once the swim was over I was back in my comfort zone but arriving into Transition 1 which was a good 400m+ run through a boggy field it was apparent that there weren’t many girls behind me left to come out of the water as my bike was very easy to find in Transition!
So, on to the bike and time to navigate the twisty turn course around Hyde Park and out through Wellington Arch, past Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, Embankment, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Square and round AGAIN. First speed hump I hit in Hyde Park and “SNAP” – the cable ties holding the water bottle on the front of my bike between my Aero handle bars had snapped…. What do I…1. Throw the bottle to Mum/Dad/Ian & Tom on the bike course or 2. Keep the bottle wedged using my forearm. I decided the latter as I didn’t have any other water on my bike and 25 miles without a drink isn’t massively advisable. However I paid the price with a nice bruise on my forearm! Despite all this I was very pleased with my bike split of 1:08:59 for 40km.
Coming into Transition 2, my biggest fear was my legs and feet not working as they were bitterly cold – however, the support from the crowd ALL the way around the 3 lap run route didn’t give me chance to think about my numb feet and toes but just to RUN AS FAST AS I CAN…having recently read Alistair and Jonny Brownlee’s “Swim, Bike, Run” I vividly remember a quote from Alistair that the person that wins a Triathlon is the one that runs 10km the quickest, may sound obvious but soo true and Jonny Brownlee found that out the hard way with a Sprint Finish against Jomez yesterday.
I knew I wasn’t in contention of winning my age group but I still had my three clear goals of:
1. Finishing in the top half
2. Finishing in the top 10 Brits
3. Enjoying it!
The run is where I am most comfortable and this was reflected by the number of people I overtook on the first 2 laps of the run. However, by the third lap the left hand side of my abdomen decided to “stitch” and cramp up and my legs started to feel lifeless so as much as I tried to keep the 3 GB girls who I knew weren’t far behind me, behind me – I failed…so ended up crossing the line in 30th position out 77
Goal 1 achieved – Top half of competitors
Goal 2 achieved – missed by 4 places – a minute quicker and I would have had it!
Goal 3 achieved – I DID ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE, especially sprinting down the finish chute with a Union Jack in my midst. I loved having my family and friends in the Grandstand supporting – it really does make a huge difference and there was no chance they weren’t going to let me hear them!
And then, when I summed up the energy to look at my phone – the messages of support on Social Media were AMAZING, thank you!
The afternoon was spent watching and supporting the Elite Men and refuelling and catching up with my secondary school PE Teacher, Sam Warriner (pictured below with my brother Tom who she also taught). Sam is a Triathlon World Champion, 2 x Olympian and one of only 3 women in history to have won triathlons at Olympic World Cup and Ironman distance and also runs her own very successful Triathlon Coaching business, Sweat7 in New Zealand as well as be a fantastic mum to Lola. An inspiration!
So, what next – well time to have a little end of season reflection time and enjoy not having such a structured training programme for a week or so. I am also really excited to be launching Reading Rascals Junior Triathlon Club this Saturday followed by Triathlon Coaching Master Class with Darren Smith who is coach to numerous Elite Women including Jodie Stimpson, Anne Haug and formerly Olympic Silver Medalist Lisa Norden.
I will also be dusting off my mountain bike off in preparation for the Triathlon England Off-Road Duathlon Championships at the end of October.
THANKS AGAIN TO everyone for your support and belief in me. I strongly believe that if you want to, you can achieve what you want with the right team of people behind you.