Season so far
This year so far has been full of excitement and challenges. My first event of the year was the Clumber Park Duathlon on Saturday 21st March. This was a big event for me as I was racing with the hope of qualifying for the GBR Age Group European Championships, so their was no pressure.
It was a very cold morning and I wasn’t feeling my best, probably a mix of nerves and the early morning start. I set up in transition and got ready for the race however, with not having much race experience I had only a few minutes to get to the start line.
We set off on the first run, which was 5k; I started off full of adrenaline and found myself running 5.20-minute miles. I then started to ease off as I didn’t want to ruin my race and I knew I wasn’t capable of keeping that pace up. The run course was fairly hilly and I found myself very dazed when running into T1. The transition area held a lot of people and I had a long run to my bike. Prior to the race I had been practicing my transition and I had no problems in T1, apart from that my vision was blurred.
Out on the bike it was very cold and it took me a while to get into a rhythm and to finally get a feeling back into my toes. At this point I wasn’t really aware where I was in the race or who in my age group was ahead of me. The wind was very strong and I finished the bike in 32:49 for 20k.
The final discipline was another run, which was 2.5km. I started off with the heavy leg feeling and heavy breathing. After about 5 minutes running I started to feel stronger and I found my rhythm. At this point I was trying to spot out who was in front of me as the run was an out and back course. I got to the turning point and it was mostly downhill back to the finish. I gave it all I had and came in at 1 hour 2 minutes and qualified for the team GB duathlon team by finishing in second position in my age group.
My next event which myself and my coach Steve had decided to target was the Nottingham Sprint Triathlon at the National Watersports Centre as this was a qualifier for the GB AG triathlon team. Before this event I had raced Grantham sprint, the Keyo Brigg Bomber (swim only) and the Belvior Castle open water sprint. I felt good about this event however the competition was tough as their were some top athletes in my age group. Me, Dad and Ali went up the night before the event and registered on the Friday, making the whole experience a lot less stressful and allowing me to get a good nights sleep.
I set my alarm for 5 AM so that I could get up and eat three hours before the start of the race (8 AM). We got to the venue at around 7, which left me stress free when setting up in transition. There were two transitions for this race: one for your bike after the swim, and then another for your trainers. This worked well as it meant it was more spread out and gave everyone more room.
It was a great morning, however the race officials announced that the water was only just 14 degrees but that didn’t put me off. I got straight into the water and let my body acclimatize to the temperature. I was in the first race of the day with around 250 athletes, which meant it was crowded. Previously at Belvior Castle I swam 10:35, which was a PB so I was looking for a time around the same.
As we set off, it became clear that it was very crowded and it took a few minutes for the bunching to clear but eventually people started to spread out. I felt confident in the swim however, I finished and crawled out the water to look at my watch and I swam 11:30, which was near a minute slower than my PB. Into transition I wasn’t happy with my time and quickly got my wetsuit off while putting on my helmet. I got my bike then started to run out of transition. After a few yards I realized my race belt was still on the front of my bike so I had to stop and, very aggressively, I stepped into the belt.
After not having the swim I planned for I wasn’t in the best of race moods and decided that I needed to push on and put in a good performance on the bike section. The bike route was 4 laps around the venue and was a fast course. I worked out before hand that I needed to roughly complete each lap around 7 minutes to get a good time, so each lap was a race against time.
Throughout the bike I seemed to pass quite a few people and over took athletes from my age group. I was 40th out of the swim and after the bike I was 10th overall as my dad shouted to me letting me know on my last lap. I finished the bike in 28:20, which was roughly my target time and gaining 30 places gave me a good chance.
At this point the weather was brilliant and the sun came out. I arrived at my trainers and I had trouble getting them on, as I had no feeling in my feet. I then raced out of transition with my bottle in my hand having a drink. I was still in transition when I placed my bottle on the floor out of the way of any athletes but when I got to the end of transition one of the race officials told me to go back and get it. I didn’t think I was littering because I would collect my bottle at the end of the race but I would rather have 20 seconds added to my time than 2 minutes from a penalty, so I went back and moved it.
The run wasn’t as bad as I thought however a few athletes did pass me, but I was expecting that anyway. The run seemed to go very fast, not because of my running but because you were able to see the finishing straight in the distance. I ran as hard as I could around the course, which was a flat course, and came to the red carpet for the home stretch. I saw an athlete about 20 meters in front of me and decided to sprint as fast as I could to the finish and over took him before the line. I finished the race in 59:57, qualified 2nd in my age group and placed 16th overall. Team GB triathlon team qualification secured.
I started training with Steve from off that couch fitness last November, and through hard work and following the training plan Steve set for me I have achieved my goals so far. I will be continuing my training and hopefully will progress further in the sport.
Thanks for reading Ben