4am and there was a knock at the bedroom door. It was the hotel night porter ‘kindly’ bringing me porridge (ouch!). With a 6.15am wave start it made sense to stay overnight near Arundel the night before…
Second race of the season, another ITU World Championship Qualifier, another B race, this time Olympic distance. Based on previous races and current training I’d decided to take a couple of calculated risks. On the swim I would go a bit harder and hopefully capitalise on my strongest discipline and on the run I would look to go into it with less fuel than usual and trust I had the strength to still finish hard. The bike leg was different, although non-drafting I’d agreed with my coach to use the road bike recently bought for my forthcoming draft legal A race, a Cervelo S2 with Ultegra upgrade I’d picked up on eBay for about half price.
44 people in my wave. I positioned myself front and centre in the river and after the horn blasted chased the leader upstream to the 200m turn point. With a deep water start I wanted to focus on the first few strokes so didn’t bother starting my Garmin which was tucked under my sleeve for ease of wetsuit removal. I swam based on two factors; was I breathing hard but controlled and was my form still in tact? Coming 1300m downstream with waves only 3 minutes apart I enjoyed continuously passing a multitude of swimmers and exited 1st in AG by half a minute.
On the bike, my weakest discipline, and riding to power for the first time. Quite a challenge to stay disciplined especially going uphill where it’s easy to get carried away and over do it. I monitored power, heart rate and cadence and was glad not to have monitored speed as after the race I realised I’d been doing 72kph on a descent which for me is scarily fast, perhaps I wouldn’t have let myself go that fast had I known in the moment! As expected a number of guys in my wave soared passed me in the picturesque countryside. I was down to 10th.
I had a pace in mind for the run had the course been flat but with this course being 2 torturous laps up and over the big hill on which the stunning Arundel Castle sits I decided to run mainly by feel, occasionally checking pace on any flats. I used to monitor heart rate but now find I instinctively know how that’s doing in shorter distance events. Recent training strategies had paid off and I stayed strong throughout the run passing a handful of my AG competitors on the way. I was pleased with my mental strength and physical stamina on what was a very challenging second lap.
At the finish I was extremely happy to have ended up 5th out of 44 which I couldn’t quite believe. And incredibly, a couple of days later, an email arrived in my inbox from British Triathlon congratulating me on qualifying for the World Championships in September! So, in a year where I was focusing on Sprint distance it looks like I may have ended up meeting my stretch goal at Olympic distance instead! Apart from different tapering approaches it does make me wonder if it’s worth treating every race as though it were a B race…