Arriving in Stockton on Saturday afternoon, I registered to pick up my numbers and timing chip and had a little ride of the bike course; I was feeling good. I had raced the sprint distance last year and with several dead-turns and roundabouts to negotiate each lap I knew that the technical course suited my bike handling skills.
Race morning arrived and luckily the weather was on our side; the race site and transition area were already busy with a novice race underway on the closed road circuit by the time I arrived.
Starting at 11am was the draft-legal sprint distance event in which Racepace coach Rodger Wilkins was competing. For me, watching the race was exhilarating, being able to see and identify tactics being played out over the course of the whole race was really interesting, and how some people were using these to their advantage. Rodger had a great performance, working hard throughout and placing himself in the best possible position to execute his race plan which culminated in a successful sprint finish where he crossed the line just ahead of second place athlete Callum Stewart.
The afternoon saw the start of the standard race where Racepace athlete Wendy Drake, coach Beau Smith and myself would be competing. For many, including Wendy, the race was a qualifying event for the World Age Group Duathlon Championships in Penticton, Canada in August. Wendy put in a strong performance despite having to use her road bike rather than her preferred TT bike which was being shipped to Spain for the European Age Group Championships in a weeks time. At time of writing it appears that Wendy was able to qualify which is great news and will see her racing in Canada come August.
Beau always knew that the race was going to have some stiff competition but approached it with a solid game plan and was able to execute this well during the race to finish 7th on the day. For Racepace it's not solely about the finishing position but whether you are able to put together the best possible performance for yourself on that day, something which Beau was able to do.
As earlier mentioned, my goal was to race the bike hard, stay focused throughout the race and run well off a hard bike. For me, the race couldn't really have gone any better, which in my opinion is an accumulation of a 5 year coaching relationship and constructive personal coaching with Racepace. I have no doubt that I have improved physically in that time but for me this performance has come from continuously working on my psychological game. Being mentally strong before, during and after an event takes time and work, which some people don't often consider or appreciate when they swap from coach to coach each season looking for that 'special something' that will help them. Being able to post the fastest female bike split on such a technical course and then hold my own on the second 5k run to finish 4th overall is fantastic, although certainly not something that happened 'overnight'.
Best of luck to Wendy Drake racing at the European Age Group Championships next weekend!