Just six days after a hard race at Chester triathlon I was back on the starting line at the final World Championships qualifying event at a new event for me, Dambuster triathlon.
The few days between were spent recovering and just trying to keep my body ticking over. By this I mean not putting too much stress through it but not letting it shut off completely. Having never raced on consecutive weekends I must admit at the start of the week I was concerned, my body had taken a beating at Chester and I felt like there weren’t enough days to get it back to what I would say was ‘race ready’.
Friday was soon upon me and after a morning at work I was on my way down to the race venue at Rutland Water with both my husband, Pete, and coach, Rodger, for support. Upon arriving we took a drive of the bike course where the most used word was ‘undulating’. After a quick registration process and a feed at the on site bar we were soon checking out the swim course and the start/finish of the run course. Whilst walking the first/last 1.5km of the run course we got chatting to another friendly athlete who was racing in the 55-59 age group called Rachel Ward. The conversation really brought it home what a great sport triathlon is, people of all ages and abilities can take part on the same course and each be able to compete to their own level of success.
Race morning came and I got my transition area set up quickly and was soon getting in my wetsuit ready for a beach start. With a quick chance to practice my start I picked my starting point wisely and got ready for a quick start. With the hooter going I made a quick run into the water, dived in (only slightly touching the bottom with my fingers) and got into my swimming quickly. Much to my delight I got a very clean getaway and was able to swim the first few 100m without too many issues. From this point on I found the swim quite tough. I was being passed by people that I should have been able to use but it felt like they were passing me by. Digging deep and remembering a recent interview I’d heard with Rebecca Adlington I made a determined effort to stay on the same pair of feet until the finish.
Coming into T1 I knew this was somewhere I could possibly make up a few places. Coming out of the transition area and up to the mount line I put into action a pre determined plan. The mount line was on an incline and knowing my strengths and weaknesses the decision was made to run with my bike to the top and mount my bike there. This decision meant I was able to mount my bike cleanly, get my feet tin my shoes quickly and get into my riding.
As previously mentioned the bike course can only be described as undulating. There is nothing overly technical about the course but the descents are nice and fast, plenty of chances to overtake. Coming off Chester the week before I knew I was strong on the bike and luckily my legs were still good. I was able to stick to my nutrition plan for the bike leg and again was able to hold my own and came into T2 feeling really good and ready for the 10k run.
My second transition was super quick and I was in and out in 35secs. (I later found out I had the quickest transition times in my age group). I had been warned prior to the event that the run can feel like it drags so I had mentally prepared myself for this. Whether it was because of this or how good I was feeling, apart from cramp trying to get ahold, my run felt strong. After the turnaround point I used fellow athletes in front to work towards. Just past the 9km mark I passed a chap I’d been working towards since 5km, and so it was set for a sprint finish. I’m pleased to say I got over the line just in front of him.
My finishing position was 5th in my age group and whilst I’ve didn’t achieve one of the automatic qualifying spots for the Worlds I am over the moon at how I performed. I do find it difficult to explain this to some people who are just time/position focused, but at the end of the day only an athlete can honestly say whether a performance was a success or not.