Race report – Southport standard national championship triathlon.
So with only coming back from Majorca two days prior to Southport and having only just completed 70.3 a week ago I really did not have any high hopes what so ever going into this race. I felt tired and lethargic all week and typically Mother Nature payed me a visit which didn’t help things ha ha. I had taken it easy all week and planned a relaxed few days going into the event which certainly helped. In all honesty I was still in two minds the night before as to whether I should still be doing it but thought I would give it a go anyway and mentally prepared myself to stop if I needed to. I think my coaches thought I was a little bit nuts to still go ahead but hey you have to take risks and you have to be a little bit nutty to do triathlon anyway. One of the main reasons for still wanting to go was that this event was not only a qualifying event for the European championships next year but also a Triathlon England National Championship event so there was a lot at stake really so thought I had to give it a bash!
Even though Southport is fairly local to us it was still a 4 am wake up which didn’t go down well but off we went in the van, again with no expectations of what lay ahead of us. We did the usual registration and bike check-in when we got there, had my last comfort stop before squeezing into my wet suit and then tried to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the other competitors and the mental games that come with that. I was dreading the swim at Southport, it is never nice there and always tastes of duck poo, Not to mention the squishy underfoot feeling when you put your feet down errrrrrrrrrrr!!!! With all the ladies piling in behind each other at the start I tried to stay to the left hand side and out the way of them all which definitely worked and helped as we were soon set on our way. I still haven’t been swimming much recently due to my shoulder injury which still isn’t 100% but my swim felt strong to start with I struggled a lot with the sighting because my goggles had steamed up due to the cold water but managed to keep my eyes on one of the competitors Who I followed around this from course quite happily. I managed to come out of the water in the lead pack and started to quickly get myself in a good position going onto the bike course. I knew once I got on the bike I just had to get my head down and push hard. I was quite happy in my game plan for this race to push as hard as I could on the bike and make up as much time as I could as I knew this was one of my stronger areas. The course at Southport is as flat as you can get it the only issue is always with the wind. It wasn’t quite as bad as it has been in previous years but there was still a strong headwind on the longer portion of the course heading back to transition. At the first turn point I had managed to pass all of the girls except for two. One was quite a way ahead but the other was in my sights so I got my head down pushed hard and before I knew it I passed her, fantastic I thought, keep going hard, only one more lady to pass to set you up for a chance on the run. At the second turn point I have managed to catch up to the lead lady and I knew we were going back into the headwind, I dug deep, grunted and shouted at myself, got my arse in gear and very quickly managed to overtake her. Now my game plan was to create as much of a lead onto the run as I could as if I was going to suffer with fatigue in my legs it was going to be there and I’m not a strong runner. I managed to keep the lead going into T2 but as I was putting on my trainers for the run my legs started to cramp up and in all honesty I thought it might have been game over at this point. I managed to slam my feet into my trainers and hobble off. Coming out of the transition I was joined by a gentleman on a bike who lead me around the course, he didn’t say anything to me and he was far enough away from me that he didn’t influence my run whatsoever but just having him there as something to keep me going really helped. My legs cramped up quite badly at the end of the first lap and seeing Ian shouting his support at me got me a little bit emotional but I knew I had to push on and keep going, only one more lap to go! I always find the run course at Southport seems longer than what it is so I knew I had to pace the run correctly so that I could get round in one piece, I tried to break up the final lap into segments to try and help me mentally get round and once I could see the other side of the lake and the finish arch that really helped. By now my legs were really starting to hurt and my breathing has become more strained, I was really suffering at this point. I felt quite comfortable in the fact that if I got overtook I only had to come 4th to qualify for the European Championships, which was my only goal, so thought I could at least hold on and push for that at the very least if it did happen. Deep down though I was determined at this point and being so close to the finish i wasn’t going to let this happen and I was determined that I wasn’t going to get anyone past me. I wanted that gold medal, I needed this as redemption for Majorca, this was for those five seconds off the podium, this was for the four minutes off going under five hours, this was for all that hard work I had put in over the winter all those early morning sessions, this was for Ian who believes in me and pushes me to be the best I can be, this is for my parents whos love and support is just incredible, this is for my coaches who have put the time and effort into my training program and push me to my limits, I had to win this race! Luckily before I knew it I was heading down that red carpet and under the finishing arch I literally couldn’t believe it, my legs started to cramp up as soon as I crossed the line but I knew the pain was worth it and that I had given everything I could out there and it paid off. What an experience! OMG I’m English standard distance champion, WTF!!!!!!! I managed to find Ian and as usual we both had a good cry and hug, I phoned my parents to tell them the good news and they were obviously ecstatic, next up I had to call my coaches Russell and Paul who sounded as though they were more excited than I was about the result ha ha.
So okay I may have been a little bit silly to enter a standard distance race so close to completing 70.3 and travelling back from another country but somehow it paid off and I’m still in disbelief about what actually happened and how I managed to get round as I’m sat here in my pyjamas still in a tired heap ha ha. I am super excited for what the rest of the season now holds and again this has made me more determined to keep pushing on as there are still so many areas for improvement and that really excites me. 2019 triathlon season bring it on 💪🏻