Can’t believe it’s only around a year ago since I became serious about duathlon and triathlon. It’s become such a major part of my life, from the amazing friends I’ve made at the club to the 20 hours plus training a week I now do, to the training holidays around the world – Lanzarote, Portugal, Mallorca and soon Gran Canarias and Australia (possibly). I’ve raced in the World Champs at Pontevedra, went to the British Elite Duathlon, I’ve got European’s in Spain in under 4 weeks, possibly World Champs again in Australia at the end of the year, and Ironman and Long Course Weekend in Wales (partially counts). I’ve got two new bike and lots of other new equipment and of course as everyone else is, I’m still buying. It’s been a truly amazing year. Seems like it’s been so much longer and I can’t thank everyone enough that’s been apart of it and helped me make it all happen.
This time there was a bit more pressure as I really wanted to qualify for the World Championships being held in Adelaide, Australia, in October (the same country my brother lives, yes I know it’s the other side, but still, it’s closer than here).
Knowing that this was my only chance as it was the only race I could make, it had to be good and I knew I just had to push as much as I could, whilst trying to prevent my knee injury from coming back.
I came home the night before, as the race is nearby and prepared all my equipment, only to find that I had a dodgy back wheel on my TT and air was coming out every time I pumped it up….NOT GOOD!!! Especially as they were tubs and I wouldn’t be able to fix them in time and didn’t have any spare wheels. Luckily with a bit of fiddling about, the air seemed to stop coming out. Still very cautious, I left it till morning to see whether it went down at all, thankfully it seemed alright. I therefore decided not to play around with it and just hope that it wouldn’t cause a problem during the race. Can’t think of anything worse than not being able to finish a race due to equipment!!!
After setting up the transition, I headed over to the start, where we set off for the 10km run. Even with the wind out to get us, I actually felt stronger than last year and just kept on pushing, knocking down the kilometres to go, focussing on my next stride and making sure my knee wasn’t going to play up. I was quite surprised and amazed coming back into transition, being so close to the front group. There didn’t seem to be as many people in front of me as I had expected. Coming in over 30 seconds faster than last year. Still feeling strong and amazed with my position along with the great support from Alfred and my family, I ran through transition, picking up my bike, helmet etc. and running towards the mount line. With a slightly unsmooth start, I was on my way. Knocking off another 13 seconds.
Unfortunately, after around 300m into the bike course, for some reason, I started to feel really ill, constantly throwing up. I know, really not nice and probably not something you really didn’t want to hear. It was just constant the whole way round…Sorry again. I couldn’t take any gels or liquids at all. I really didn’t know what was going on. The lead up to the race was the exact same as previous races, the same dinner the night before, same breakfast, same preparation, well apart from training and how much this race meant to me. I remember fighting myself and refusing to stop and to just keep pushing on and gain positions. I really wanted to go to Australia. Luke, I must admit, you pushed me on mentally a bit.
Due to being further up the field, after the run, than other races, I started overtaking other riders with a bit more difficulty than I normally do. Still, I kept on pushing, overtaking one by one. Progressing though the field and around the course, I found that all the sections that I disliked and found tough last year, all seemed to be fine. In fact, I didn’t even remember going past some of them at all. Whether that’s due to the training I’ve done and the improved fitness levels, being ill and taking my mind off it all, or the fact that I wanted to go to Australia. Somehow, with stronger winds against me I even managed to knock off another 2.5 minutes on the bike.
Coming off the bike, I was just hoping that I’d be able to push through and hoping my knee was going to be ok. I ran out of transition with cramp in both of my inner thighs…a new one I hadn’t experienced before. With another 14 seconds knocked off, I kept on pushing and heard over the microphone that it was going to be a close race and that I was in contention for qualifying. It spurred me on a bit and I just thought, ‘keep going, keep pushing, focus on the next stride, I’ve done well so far’ – my knee were fine in the first 10km, the wheel didn’t deflate, I pushed through the whole bike course whilst being ill. There was only 5km to go. I was going to complete it and finish off strong. Trying to keep my position. I felt slightly better than I was on the bike and I was now just fighting the cramp.
The last section, I continued to push myself, even though I was in dead man’s land. I crossed the line, finishing the 5km run, 51 seconds faster than the time I qualified with last year. Overall, knocking off 4 minutes 23 seconds. That’s whilst being ill, having horrendous cramp, recovering from a knee injury and the strong winds against me. I was pretty happy with that.
Even happier once I found out that I QUALIFIED … AUSTRALIA HERE I COME!!!
It really shows how much I’ve come along in a year. So I’d really like to say thank you to all my family, friends and training partners at uni for the endless support, the advice, the inspiration, the list really does go on, the club for being such a great backbone, my sponsors, ‘daysout.co.uk’ and ‘Apex Bike Performance’ for providing me with a lot of the equipment and the Apex Bike Test, and ‘Warwick Physio + Rehab’ for all the advise and help with my knee injury.