To say I was nervous for this race was an understatement! This was the final chance to qualify for the 2016 European Duathlon Championships, so obviously after finishing with a pretty bad time in the other race to qualify for Europeans, I was quite anxious to do well in this one.
Even after staying closer to the venue the previous night, I still had to get up at ridiculous-o'clock in the morning just to have time to set up my transition, warmup and prepare for the early race start. But at least there was no rushing around or panicking as we had registered the day before this time.
It was a mass start on the first run section (5k) with all sexes and age groups and I found myself pushed further and further back by the men, all trying to get nearest to the front. However, I had a good first run through the beautiful park of Grafham Water and found myself getting a good lead on the rest of my age group (U20).
I had an excellent transition but found myself weaving through a large group of mostly men coming out of transition onto the bike leg (20k). It was a lot less windy than the last race I did here in February when I found myyself being blown all over the road from side and head winds and this time I enjoyed the bike more and managed to get some good speeds up. The winter training I had done in Spain with Perry - my coach - and Seb Garry - my team-mate - helped me immensely and I knocked off around 5 minutes from my previous bike time here in February!
I came back into transition and out onto my 2nd run (5k) feeling good and managed to pass Seb 1/2 way out on the run when he was heading back into the finish. We shouted encouragement to each other and I realised that he had a massive lead on the rest of his age group.
I hadnt seen any of my age group for some time so I wondered what position I was in - but after running through the finish line I was told that I had finished in 1st place :) & given me the spot in the European Duathlon Champs next year :)
Also a big well done to Seb who qualified in 1st place too, after flying around the course beating most of the men as well as his age group. We are both off to the Europeans next year - think to say that Perry was happy coach is an understatement from the amount of texts he sent my mum from Spain!
Now comes the hard training, not only for next year, but for the BIGGEST qualification race to come - qualification for the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago. Fingers crossed both myself and Seb can make it into the GB team.
After only 6 months training with Perry I have qualified with British Triathlon to represent my country in the European Aquathlon Champs and the European Duathlon Champs. What a season so far but as Perry says - watch this space there's more to come!
After a week of warm weather training in Spain, I think I can officially say that it was the hardest week of my life!
The first day was a real shock to the system, as my coach decided to throw me in the deep end with two very hard training sessions. The first was an early morning swim, waking up at 6:30 to do a set of 20x100m sprints. I have to say, I have done that session many times before, but I still find it hard every time I do it!
The second session was a 3 hour bike ride over the mountains of Denia. I used to think that the hills in England were hard, but they are nothing compared to these mountains! We climbed 3 mountains in that time and by the end, I was knackered! We were told that at the top of one of the mountains we cycled up, on a clear day you could see Ibiza from there; that kind of sums up how big these climbs were!
The next day was a lot easier. We had a pyramid session in the swim which I quite enjoyed, although I lost count of the amount of times I had to ask my coach what was next! Then it was onto another 3 hour bike ride, although it was a flat course this time. I was starting to think that my coach was being nice on me with the sessions as the day before was hard, but that wasn't his reason. I was told at the end of the day that it was a preparation day for Wednesday, time-trial day!
Wednesday rolled around too quickly for my liking. I knew it was going to be a hard day with 3 time trial sessions: swim, cycle and run. The swim was 3x400m as fast and hard as I could go. It was quite a successful session ending with a 10 second PB on the last 400m. I was really happy with this session and it lightened my mood a bit (well, until the biking started!)
The cycling time-trail was more of a multiple time-trial! It consisted of 4x4 minutes hard and 3x8 minutes hard, with a major head-wind hitting us for the majority of it! I was struggling by the end of it (particularly struggling with my asthma in the dust, heat and altitude) but my coach and my new training partner Seb helped me along the way.
But we didn't stop there. We got straight off the bike and started the run time trial. This was multiple time trials too along the coastal road. It was 10x 1 minute sprints with a minute rest in between. My coach ended up on the floor at the end having run so hard (see the picture below of me and Seb still standing!)
Thursday was the recovery day, with a bit of transition training in it. Both Seb and I got a bit competitive in this part! We went to the beach after, as we had earned a well deserved rest in the sun!
Friday was the long bike ride day including hill climbs. For 4 hours, we cycled over a mountain so we were in the middle of the valley. What amazing views. Then a long climb that felt like it went on for ages until the second big climb over the other side of the valley and the long stretch back towards home. But instead, Perry decided to take us over another climb before finishing!
After, we done a gentle run, just to get the lactic acid out of our legs.
Saturday was the day Seb was going home, so we done a run session in the morning before we had a team meeting in a local cafe. We were in there for ages, going through the race season, our team, and all sorts of things. Once Seb was gone, Perry and I went for a gentle 1hour 45 minute bike ride before packing up for the day.
Sunday was the day I was going home, so it was just an easy 30 minute run and packing day, the part that I hate!
Overall, we worked out that we have done 230 miles and 12 hours and 45 minutes of cycling with 6000m worth of hill climbing! I would say that this week has been a real success and Ive loved every second !!:)