Wow can you believe that I’ve been at Warwick University for 3 years already and now I’ve graduated with a First. I’ve had an absolutely amazing time at Warwick and am glad that a year and a half ago I met some amazing people that helped me make the choice to take triathlon and duathlon seriously and be involved with the club a lot more.
Since then, with the support of my friends, family and sponsors (daysout.co.uk and Apex), I’ve been fortunate enough to explore the World doing the sport I love with the people I love. Only recently qualifying for the European Championships in Geneva, which is what this post is all about so I’ll cut to the race.
Previously I’ve had the luxury of getting to races about 4-5 days before the event, allowing me to settle in etc., however this time we could only get there for the weekend, a good test for future perhaps, so arriving on the Friday meant that I had to get everything ready for the race on Sunday fairly quickly but with my mum and Charlotte coming with me, it meant that I was in good hands and indeed I was very well looked after.
Sunday … race day had arrived and what a lovely morning it was, the sun was out, the picturesque, still and tranquil lake was ready for 100’s of athletes to take to the waters. I was so ready to get started. I’d done a course recce in the days leading up to the race and it looked like an amazing course. The beautiful clear and relatively calm lake made the swim a privilege to do; the bike route was also amazing, with lovely smooth, wide roads and breath-taking views around the lake and the run taking you into a park that backed onto the lake with water sprays to keep you cool. It was definitely one of the best courses I’ve done.
As we lined up on the bank waiting for the first whistle to blow and take us to the start line, we prepared ourselves for the race ahead. Looking out onto the lake, I was just thinking how fortunate I was to be able to go out there and race and how far I’ve come in just over a year. I’m so thankful to everyone that’s helped me get to where I am now.
The first whistle then went, we took our positions in the water and waited for the next one. We were soon off and the race had begun. We were only about 2-3 deep and about 20 wide, giving us each quite a bit of space and allowed me to focus on my stroke and push myself a bit more.
After the first 100m or so I was quite surprised that I was keeping up, especially as training had taken a hit from exams, but after the first buoy, as the field narrowed in and we had to fight a bit more for our space, the packs started forming and I had found myself in the second group, which I was rather relieved with. I kept pushing myself though to get that little bit more in front of the others beside me, and to catch up with the ones in front.
By about the second to last buoy, where we were to turn back on ourselves, the person to my left carried on and wasn’t sighting at all. I tried to tell him but he wasn’t responding, so I had to slow down to go round him. I tapped his ankles one final time to warn him but I suppose he just thought I was being annoying or something. He managed to take a couple of people with him and I could just see them veer off and go for quite a while. Anyway I tried. Now back to focussing on my race.
I made one final push as I passed the last buoy on the home straight, I wanted to make up a few places and get into transition before the others around me.
Not long after, I came out of the water and over the bridge with lots of spectators below, arriving into T1. Pulling down the zip of my wetsuit whilst taking off my goggles and hat, I ran straight down the aisle to pick up my bike, helmet and all.
I was finally off onto the bike, up a short hill to start and then pan flat for a good few kilometres before a sharper incline, being rewarded for my efforts after by a fast and relatively smooth decent before taking a sharp right at the roundabout, and coming back down again past T1. Now round to the other side of the lake.
The supporters were absolutely amazing, coming past T1, they lined the whole street either side. Along with the music and the lovely weather, I was absolutely loving it, making up position after position, I felt like I was flying.
As I reached the turn around point on the opposite side of the lake to T1, I could see where I needed to be and continued pushing myself all the way round.
Coming back past T1 I was excited to start my second lap, and increased the pace slightly, being motivated by the roaring crowds. Lap 2, back up the small hill, then the flat straight before the tougher climb, this time feeling it in my legs a lot more but as I accelerated to go downhill I overtook even more people…I knew the course and wasn’t afraid of the speed. I slowed for the corner at the roundabout before accelerating again past T1 and realising I only had 10km or so to go I wanted to make the most damage I could.
Coming off the bike and into T2 and with the four laps ahead of me, I was slightly cautious of the run ahead, I knew my run would be way off what I wanted it to be at as I still had a few problems with my knees, which I could feel coming off the bike, and the fact that I hadn’t done much during my final exams.
So I decided to take it a bit easier as I hadn’t trained properly to push myself as much as I could’ve done and I must admit, I paced the run a bit too much and was perhaps too comfortable but then I didn’t want to cause any other problems.
I thoroughly enjoyed being in Geneva and racing in such an amazing place with amazing weather and support from the crowds, shouting ‘Go Team GB’ or ‘Go Pywell’, along with having Charlotte and mummy there with me. I was very happy with my result given all the circumstances and came 23rd, which is a good benchmark to improve upon in triathlon.
Thank you so much to everyone that’s helped me. I’ve had an absolutely amazing journey so far and I’m only just starting it. Warwick Triathlon Club, you have been such a good foundation for all my training, the friendships that I’ve formed over the 3 years along with the amazing amount of motivation and support from it’s members is incredible. A particular thank you to Nick, Aaron and Tony for all the swim sessions and tips, you really have put the enjoyment back into swimming for me and taught me a lot over the years along with ‘ironing out’ some strange strokes that I’d made up. Thank you Elo for all your run and core sessions and a massive thank you to Charlotte and Alfred for making every session enjoyable and for making me get up in the morning or coming after a tough day of lectures knowing that you’d be there to train with.
Also thank you to all my sponsors, Apex and DaysOut.co.uk for the amazing bike and gear along with their continued support and backing, and to Warwick Physio and Rehab for their help in making sure I’m fit and ready to race and to the Stamford Endowed Schools for their help in funding.
Lastly a massive thank you to my amazing mum, who has made every European and World Duathlon and Triathlon Championship I’ve had, helping me with food, transport, and every other detail. Your support is amazing and you’ve really helped me get to where I am now. Thank you so much. Love you.
Till next time,