The second triathlon of my season is one of my favourites, Chester Triathlon has to be one of the most well organised, friendly triathlons out there. The race is organised and ran by volunteers from Chester Tri Club and hearing about the loss, 3 days before the event, of one of their highly regarded club members in a cycle related accident must have made the job of running the event even harder so my hat goes off to those involved.
Leading up to the event I’d had a good block of training putting in some harder swim sessions, working on my run speed and working on my mental strength at the end of the event but as the event was a National championship, European and World qualifier I knew I would have to put in my best race ever.
The swim is in the river Dee and having done a recce before the event I was slightly nervous having experienced one of the fastest currents in the river a couple of weeks prior to the event. Luckily after a week of good weather the water level and current had dropped dramatically and on race morning the current felt almost non-existent. Getting in earlier than I would normally I had plenty of time to get a good position on the front of the swim start and with a good clean start I was well on my way. Overall the swim was (thankfully) pretty uneventful, I was using the people around me to draft off where possible and came out the swim 2nd in my AG.
Out on the bike and I made a conscious effort to push on more than I would normally. I was feeling good and felt like this was something I could do. I knew there would be some strong runners and hoped if I put in the work on the bike I may be able to hold a few of them off. The bike course at Chester isn’t overly technical, there are no massive climbs or descents but it needs a constant effort. I returned from the bike into T2 still in contention.
For me the run is where the race gets difficult, the mental turmoil I experience on the run is something I’m constantly having to battle. My body is telling me to slow down and I have to draw on my mental strength to keep going. Giving myself positive images and remembering why I’m racing are just a couple of the techniques I use. I know I’m not the only person that struggles with this but sometimes I find this the hardest part of a triathlon event.
Now for a little secret, I’m a real big lover of crisps, but I’m aware they probably aren’t the staple of many triathletes so I’ve tried to reduce the amount I’m eating. Today’s motivation, apart from wanting to qualify for the World Championships, was to race well enough to reward myself with a bag of crisps, it may not seem like much but to me it was what I had been craving. The first lap and half of the three lap run were hard going, my legs were feeling alright but I was getting passed by the faster runners I had tried to swim and ride away from. Half way round the second lap I remembered my bag of crisps and smiling to myself I started to push myself, recollecting treadmill sessions where I had pushed on past being ‘comfortable’.
I finished 10th in my age group and although it’s always hard finishing an event and not coming away achieving what other people may perceive as the ‘real’ goal, I go into each race with the mindset of doing my absolute best and from this race I can hold my head high and know that was achieved and I’ll tell you what those crisps tasted all the better for it.
I’m feeling really good ahead of my next event which is the 3rd and final AG World Championship qualifying race at the PaceSetter Events Dambuster Triathlon this Saturday. (Sarah Jepson)