My 2016 season has started well, back in March I travelled out to Florida to race a couple of CAMTRI (U.S. Equivalent of European cup level) races. I was using these races mainly as training and practising race craft – transitions, getting used to the bustle of the swim and reminding my body how it feels to race. I came away happy with two 3rd places and felt I was in a good position at the end of the winter and moving into the main part of the season.
My next race- Quarteria ETU cup didn’t go so well. Several mouthfuls of sea water during a rough swim, seasickness and subsequent vomiting of said sea water a lap into the bike meant I had to stop. Dizzy, dehydrated and frustrated was not the desired outcome.
My coach reminded me that, in the past, I’ve had some of my best performances when I’ve got a point to prove. I got back from Portugal annoyed that I wasn’t able to complete the race with a performance that was indicative of the form I’d been showing in training. Without dwelling on the negatives of a bad race, I used it as motivation.
I went to the ITU World Cup in Cagliari, Italy without any pressure or expectation, so when I got in the race and found myself at the front, I thought I may as well go for it. If I blew up on the run, I blew up, but I was definitely going to give it a crack on that hill. I had a 40s gap by the start of the run- I felt strong and actually enjoyed it. I couldn’t believe it- I won my first World Cup. A moment I will always remember.
Next up was the European Championships in Lisbon, it was my first full Olympic Distance race of the year and having deliberately forgotten how tough they are, it was a shock to the system. I have definitely never pushed the bike as hard as I raced with Lucy in Lisbon. Coming out of the water with a gap to the front group meant I Was chasing the pack for the first two laps, caught up, sat in and recovered a bit for half a lap, then attacked after a technical section. I caught Lucy after half a lap and she jumped straight on my wheel, for the remainder of the bike we worked really well together and built a lead of over 90 seconds going into T2. The run was tough, with the pack closing quickly over the last 4km, it got to the stage where I was literally just counting my steps up to 20, over and over, until I got into the stadium. The support on the course from the GB Age Groupers was amazing! There was hardly a quiet part of the course, it definitely made a difference. There were reports of me crying (lol) as I ran down the blue carpet to the finish, I was actually wiping two hours worth of sweat and gel off my face, not tears. Sorry for killing the romance.
It still feels odd that I won the European Championships, without a doubt the race of my life so far. The best part of my success so far this season is going through it with the support of my coaches and training partners. My coach, Nick Anderson, has coached me since I was 13 – over 15 years. He’s supported and believed in me throughout some tough years of illness in my late teens and disillusionment with running in my early twenties. Then the suggestion of trying a different focus in 2013 was the best decision we made. Having Nick there at both Cagliari and the Europeans makes it extra special -Thanks Boss!
Richard is probably the guy who gets the most grief from me. He’s swam with me pretty much every day for the last 3 years. My swim has improved a lot during that time thanks to Rich’s patience and perseverance with me. Even when I’m grumpy and frustrated by my self perceived lack of progress he is still there, lightening the mood. Sorry for all the abuse, mate.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, this weekend I’m racing my first World Triathlon Series race of the year in Stockholm, and in a couple of weeks Hamburg WTS. As I learned last year, WTS is a completely different beast to any of the races I’ve done this year. Last year I had the opportunity to race in Stockholm, Rio and Chicago – it’s fair to say it was a baptism of fire. Although we knew it was going to be tough, and it was – I was no where… we got a lot out of it. The difference between where I was and where I needed to be was made apparent and although we (Nick, Richard and I) didn’t change my training dramatically this winter, we knew that there was plenty of work that needed to be done. I guess I’ll find out this weekend if it’s worked or not.