The goal has been achieved – I competed in the World Triathlon Championships – wow! Really does go to show that if you work hard towards your goals they are achievable. I’ve put a lot into making this happen through consistently training, working on improving my skills and my nutrition.
We flew to Chicago on the Sunday as my first race was on Wednesday and I wanted to ensure that I’d acclimatised. We were allowed to swim in part of the swim course on Tuesday and jumping into Lake Michigan was a delight, it was fresh water, clear and a lovely temperature of around 17 degs and with the air temperature around 27 degs it was lovely and refreshing. The water was a lot choppier than I’d anticipated and it left me feeling a bit dizzy.
The Aquathlon was Weds morning with my wave going off at 11:50am. With a deep water mass start, I chose the ‘racing line’ after making the mistake at Bala the previous week of starting too wide and adding on minutes to my swim. The start was fast and I decided to go with everyone knowing that it would calm down and I was also determined to give this my all. I tried to draft but just couldn’t find anyone suitable so settled into my own thing, I think I ended up leading the middle pack as my feet kept getting tapped (I didn’t mind, it meant I wasn’t last!) and a group of 4 ladies came past me with about 200 meters to go. I wasn’t going to let them get away though so worked hard to hang onto them. The swim exit was hard as we had to make a 90 deg turn and I got swept back by the current and missed the exit steps and had to work hard to swim around the correct side of the bouy.
The run to transition was about 300 meters plus another 100 to my spot but it seemed to go without a hitch and 4 mins(!) later I was out on the run. By this point it was 30 degs but it didn’t bother me too much as I was still wet from the swim, it was only when I poured water from the aid station over my head that I realised how hot it was as the cold from the water took my breath away. I could see I was slowly catching the runners ahead but I just couldn’t close them down enough to overtake, the finish was great, on the blue carpet around Buckingham Fountain and past the grandstand. I felt like I’d had a good race!
My times were slower than I expected but according to those with GPS the swim and run were both longer than expected. I placed 24th out of 34 in my Age Group and only 30 secs between me and 20th. This was my best placing in a Worlds or European Aquathlon so far.
It was then a case of recovering for Saturdays race, fitting in some gentle training, attending the opening ceremony and race briefings and a bit of sight seeing.
We were due to take our bikes to transition on Friday evening but Chicago was hit by a thunderstorm so the park was evacuated, watching the local news and seeing the tornado warning was interesting but I just had a feeling that everything would be ok for the race the next day. My race started at 11:11am and I felt relatively calm all morning until I was getting into my wetsuit when I suddenly wondered what on earth I was doing there!! I started off too far back in the swim but only because the race started just as I got to the start line. Like in the Aquathlon the start was fast but I held back a bit this time as it was twice the distance. My plan was to swim steady and strong until I got back to the pontoon at half way and then to go fast to the end. This seemed to work and I passed a number of swimmers in the 2nd half but wow it was hard work! The lake was choppy and full of debris from the storm and the last 200m seemed to take forever.
Run to transition was the same as weds and I was soon out on my bike. The bike route was flat and fast with most of it being in underpasses in the dark. A 2 lap course, I loved it and even survived the 180deg turns without de cleating!! T2 was smooth and I hit the run and this is where I didn’t do so well. My plan was to take the first 2 laps steady then pick it up for the last 5k but I really struggled with stitch and every time I tried to up my pace it got worse and I had to ease back. I also took the decision to stop and drink water at each aid station as I had witnessed lots of athletes collapsing from the heat and didn’t want to join them. I put everything I had into the last 1k but my legs didn’t want to go any quicker – I crossed the finish line knowing I had given it my all on the day so no regrets.
I finished 61st out of 82 in my Age Group, convinced that I’d come last I was really pleased to see I didn’t embarrass myself – phew! This was my first time racing triathlon at this level and given that it was my 4th race at this distance, a distance which I wasn’t even training for, I am proud of what I achieved and know that it’s just the start and I’ll get better.
So, that’s it. Job done. Time to have a rest from racing and look forward to some winter training. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing this achievement with me and thanks to everyone for your kind wishes and support.
Massive thanks to all those people who’ve helped me out. Mark for supporting me with my training, driving me across the UK to races and coming to Chicago with me – it’s a good job he loves me!!
Adam at GreenlightPT for the coaching, answering my endless questions and believing in me when I announced that I wanted to qualify for the Worlds.
I’ve also had support with gear from David at Tri Crazy, Jamie and Max at Multisport distribution. Mike at Velomotion for the bike fit and lending me his bike box. Alex at Insight Nutrition for the advice and supporting my sudden change in racing distance.
And finally thank you to by brother Jason and my new sister in law Kathy for their understanding when I missed their wedding last weekend as I was in Chicago- congratulations x