Race report – Hertfordshire Sprint distance, national championship and European qualifier.

So I will be honest in saying that the last few weeks have been very up-and-down I think a lot of it had to do with my crash at Cardiff and then having a long break between that race and this next one.

I have found my training schedule tough especially over the last three weeks but I knew I had to keep my head down and keep focused with the main and last race of the season only a few weeks away in Lausanne. Luckily it all seemed to come right last week and training felt great both physically and mentally, although that didn’t stop me from feeling extremely nervous going into this race.

As usual I didn’t like to look at the start list for this event as I feel there is no point in me making myself worse nerve wise, by knowing who I’m up against as if I give it everything on the day and race as hard as I can it doesn’t matter who I’m against as that won’t affect my performance.

I think the long break in between races didn’t help with the nerves as well as I was feeling very anxious about racing on my bike again after Cardiff, I had hoped and planned to get to the venue early the day before so that we could do a bike recce in the hope that this would settle my anxiety but due to other circumstances we were unable to do this so drove the course instead which helped.

The venue itself was a perfect setting for a triathlon, the swim looked easy to navigate with lots of objects to use for sighting as it had wakeboard jumps in the water which we were to swim in between. We had already driven the bike course, I knew there were a few technical elements, a few little bumps and one area in particular to be cautious of other cyclists and road users. The run was more a grass trail run than road run which would make it interesting as in places I knew it would be quite hard on the legs. Overall the course looked good and I was eager to get the race started.

My usual race morning routine went to plan and I had a good nights sleep which is always a bonus especially when camping! Luckily the start time wasn’t too early and with only a few hundred metres to walk to transition I managed to have a lie in which was a huge bonus. I racked my bike and took myself away from the crowds to gather myself, get focused and put my wetsuit on.

Before I knew it we were being called to get into the water and make our way to the start line. I got in and did a short warmup then placed myself to the left of the group and started to think of what was ahead of us. The start gun went off and it was carnage! A washing machine is probably the best description of the swim start, arms, legs and white water everywhere. I tried to keep my head down and sprint as hard as I could for the first few metres, but with this I had my goggles knocked on my head and they started to leak. This coupled with the sun glistening in our eyes if breathing to the right, made for citing actually really difficult to the point where I had to stop briefly to fix my goggles and then get started again. This allowed me to get some open water and made sighting and my swimming a lot easier. I pushed as hard as I could and really started to settle into the swim and started to feel strong. I finish the swim, dragged myself out of the water and struggled out of my wet suit, nearly forgetting to take off my swim hat!

I grabbed my bike and run off to the mount line. As there were female waves of various age groups in front of us it was hard to know who was in my age group and who I was chasing down but I didn’t let this affect me and just knew I had to push as hard as I could but safely on the bike as this is my strongest discipline. I thoroughly enjoyed the bike course and took the areas of previous concern cautiously. This may have lost me a few seconds but as a confidence builder I was happy to do this. The big lesson I learnt from Cardiff was to be more vocal while overtaking and I certainly did this so apologies to anyone that had to suffer listening to my foghorn of a warning as I passed! I felt as though my bike leg couldn’t have gone any better really and I feel I made up a lot of time on the other ladies which I’m really pleased with. Coming up to the dismount line it was slightly congested but I made sure I was vocal so the other girls knew I was there. My T2 transition felt quick and I made up one or two places, which was good going onto the run. The 1st kilometre of the run felt hard which I knew it would be, the ground was more uneven then I thought it would be but I knew once I’d found my rhythm and settled into it I could just keep plugging away, which I did do. The course was definitely undulating and in short places very hilly. On the downhill sections I had my coaches words ringing in my ears of thinking of the bigger picture and not to get injured so I tried to take it easy in these parts. I managed to overtake quite a few ladies on the run which I’m pleased with but not knowing what age group they were in it was hard to know whether it was worthwhile or not, but as something to use as a target and drive me on, it was very useful. I did recognise one or two of the ladies that I passed I knew that they were in my age group and this gave me the confidence to keep pushing on especially when I had sight of the finish line.

I crossed the line in a heap and had to take a minute or 2 to gather my breath again, I’d given it everything I possibly could and I was extremely pleased with how the race went and this was before I knew any of the results. I managed to chat and catch up with some of the girls I knew from previous events and world championships which was great, it is definitely a family feel and very supportive sport after the race is done! It started to rain so I headed to the campervan to get changed and warm, grab my phone and head back out to watch and support Ian come in from the bike and onto the run. It was at this point I checked the results and couldn’t believe that I had won my age group! Such a confidence builder for the upcoming World championships in Switzerland!

Overall I am really happy with how the race went, I could have had a better swim but I’m not entirely sure how I would have rectified this. Bike wise I could have gone quicker on the areas where I was feeling a little cautious but who knows what this could have resulted in and the run I completely emptied the tank except for the downhill sections which looked slippy.

Whatever happens in Switzerland this year has been incredible, I have worked hard and the results have shown that. What is still exciting is that I still feel there are areas for improvement, especially with my swimming, which is something I am looking forward to working on in the off-season. I also have to reassess what distances I want to focus on for next year as the sprint and 70.3 are 2 which I am most interested in at the moment but you never know!!!

Next up the ITU world championships in Lausanne, Switzerland!!!

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