There have definitely been some highs and lows this season and some valuable lessons learnt on the way. My ‘A’ race was right at the start of the season, the European Standard Duathlon for GB age group in Soria, Spain – I’ll come back to that one!
My first events were all warm up Duathlon races in preparation for Soria. At the start of the season I was a little concerned about two sore Achilles, so I transferred my first race, Rother Valley, over from a standard duathlon to a sprint distance to be safe.
In true duathlon style, it was super cold and windy and the race nerves were kicking in. The bike course was very hilly in parts and thankfully I had done a course recce the day before. I came in a second behind the first female but was out of transition before her and didn’t see her again on the bike. The 25k bike course was tough but I held my own and knew at this point I should win if all went plan; thankfully no disasters and I got off the bike in a good lead coming first and my Achilles survived.
The next race would be far more competitive as it was a National GB Qualifier Event this time being a standard (10k run 40k bike 5k run). I was familiar with the course so I knew what to expect. I settled into the first run middle of the pack. I knew I couldn’t keep pace with the front girls so ran my own race, then on the bike leg I picked off the girls In front and made up places coming into 3rd place as I got off the bike leg, unfortunately just getting pipped on the last run placing 4th overall. Great result as the previous year I came 16th overall and I had slashed over 10 minutes on my overall time. Automatic qualification for the Euros for next year in the bag – chuffed!
Next came a local sprint duathlon at RAF Scampton; I had won this the last 2 years running so always under a little pressure to do so again. The weather was very hot but thankfully not windy as on the air base it can be tough on the bike with crosswinds. I came in after the first run in 4th but very quickly overtook on the bike and achieved first lady overall.
Spain – Unlike the weather at Scampton one week previous the weather in Soria was horrendous, in fact the worst I’d ever raced in! I had looked at the forecast the day before, 40 mile winds and hail! So the disc wheel was a definite no. The first run was like hill reps but I was in a good position from the start, the bike leg is normally my favourite, sadly it turned out to be my worst. It hailed, blew a gale and most of the time I felt out of control, however, at this point was in silver medal position for my age group, and knew if I continued would hold position on the last run as I was stronger than the girls behind me.
Then it all went wrong. I was just finishing the last part of the bike leg when I slid on a white line on the roundabout and before I knew it I was on the floor, I had, up to now, never had an off on my bike. Thankfully as the weather had been so bad I had layers on so got away with a nasty gash, road rash and what I thought a torn calf. Thankfully it was just badly pulled but enough to stop me from finishing the race. Feeling very disappointed missing out on a medal and the race I’d been working towards, I returned home and entered the London Marathon ballot, and then a local half marathon at Sleaford which was meant to be a training run but got 3rd lady and a PB.
Next was my first triathlon of the season at Woodhall Spa and back on the bike after the fall. Always feels a bit rusty first triathlon of the season, but it was hot and an outside pool. The run was super
hard and was grateful of the locals with sprinklers on the run course. I came in 1st female and broke the course record which boosted my confidence after Spain.
My next challenge was open water! Having only done sprint triathlons I had not ventured into the murky waters, so decided to enter an Olympic Distance at Ripon. I was very nervous about the mass start and having only been lake swimming twice this was a different ball game. The start was fine, then I got tangled in so much weed the man in the kayak had to rescue me as it was dragging me down!! I pulled myself together and got back swimming – I was happy to get out the lake. Cross winds on the bike leg was tricky with a disc but by the time I got on the run I was flying and felt great realising how much the track sessions were paying off. My overall time 2 hours 30 which after such a poor swim I was very happy with.
After the open water experience, I thought the best way to improve was to enter an Aquathon. The start was more brutal then Ripon but I settled into the swim, controlled my nerves, and nailed it. Transition involved rolling around on the floor to get the wetsuit off, but made up time on the run, sprinting round the circuit and coming in 3rd lady.
It’s been an eventful season so far; more open water practice and longer events in the pipeline. I have my eyes on a half Iron Man and who knows maybe the full distance! Watch this space.