I know it has been a few days since the race, but I needed time to let the results sink in:
I AM 6TH IN THE WORLD!!!
Its still quite hard to understand now, and that is why it has been hard to write this blog as I don't know how to put into words how amazing this is!
The whole time we were there, it was raining and windy (I think storm Aileen followed us to Holland!) so the drive to Rotterdam was quite hard as my dad and I had our bikes on the roof. You could tell that people were quite nervous with this weather as it would make the bike course a lot harder than it already was (I'll get to that point later) and also make the already cold river even colder! There was, however, a very nice warehouse that had been converted into loads of small food stalls with comfy sofas dotted around, so everyone seemed to congregate there to escape the weather.
This race is unlike anything I have done before for multiple reason, one being that there were 2 transitions. For people that don't know, the transition is between each discipline, so when you exit the swim, you go to transition to take your wetsuit off, put your helmet and grab your bike to go onto the bike course, and then also once you have finished the bike, you go back into the same transition to put your bike back and put your running shoes on for the final discipline. Well, that is how it normally is. This time, however, they decided to have 2 separate transition, so our bike and helmet were in one transition, and our running shoes were in another. What made it even worse was that they were on opposite side of a huge river as wide as the River Thames, so it took twice as long to set everything up! My start time was at 7:45 in the morning, so I had to start setting up my transitions at 5am in the dark! So that was already totally different to what I am used to.
The swim was quite hard as we had the current going with us in one direction, but then against us coming back. As it was a 1500m swim (although calculated the day before as 1700m by officials), everyone was quite tired by the end of it and not many people reached their personal best times on this swim. It was also only 14 degrees in there at 7am with an outside temperature of 9 degrees which I suppose made it easier on the Europeans and harder on the hotter countries. Once we exited the swim, we had a 500m run barefoot to our first transition to collect out bike and helmet for the bike section.
This is where the problems started. Holland is known for its fantastic bike lanes in the cities, which are great for when you are poodling along at a slow pace. However, when 5000 athletes all going over 20mph are on said bike lanes that can barely fit two bikes side-by-side at the same time, mayhem begins. I saw many people who had come off from colliding with other riders, or had taken a corner to sharply and had fallen off. Apparently, the mayor of Rotterdam didn't want to shut the roads off so instead made all of us use the bike lanes to cycle on instead, which made it a lot harder to go fast and also not to draft. Once we were out of the city, it didn't get much better. Instead of shutting the quiet roads off, they instead made us cycle on brick paths that threw our bikes all over the place and gave many people either a flat tire or a buckled wheel! The course was 2 x 20km loops, so by the second loop you kind of knew what was coming, but it didn't make it any easier. It is fair to say that I was really looking forward to getting onto the run section!
At this point, I had no idea where I was in relation to the rest f my age group, so I just raced it as hard as I could. Coming into the second transition, many people couldn't remember where they had put their shoes, because after the swim and the bike along with the adrenaline, your brain is totally frazzled! However, from years of knowing that feeling, I decided to write which row I was in on my hand before I started, so I didn't have to try to remember!
Once onto the run course, I felt really good and was keeping a good pace. This was 2 x 5km loops around a park next to the river. The first lap felt really good and I managed to overtake quite a few people (although they weren't all in my age group). However, by the second lap, my legs felt like jelly! With about 2km left before the finish line, my legs started to cramp up from a lack of energy as I had pushed myself so hard in the rest of the race. But you can't give up, especially with only 2km left! So instead, I looked like an idiot running with straight legs to stop my legs from totally cramping up!
Finally I reached the finish line and my legs finally gave up on me; one of the officials actually came over to me and asked if I needed medical attention because apparently I 'didn't look too good'! Once I reassured them that I was fine and I was just knackered, I finally found my parents in amongst the crowd of people.
Although not everyone had finished their race yet, the results from age group had already been published, and when it showed that I had come 6th, I was in total shock! I mean, who can say that they have come 6th in the World at the age of 18?!
This year has been amazing: British Champion, National Champion, 3rd in Europe and 6th in the World! UNBELIEVEABLE!!
Thank you so much to:
Kris Whitmarsh, because without your coaching and support, I don't know if I would have done half of these things this year;
Sovereign Play Equipment, for helping me get to these races and also keeping me warm with the DryRobe before and after a race;
Pedal Potential, for you support and belief that I can do this;
Richardsons Cycles, because although it has only been a little while, your support is unwavering and the wheels were a God send for this race;
Chalkwell Redcaps, for gifting me with the best wetsuit ever that helped me stay up with the fast girls even with a dodgy shoulder;
and Rippleside Metalworks, for your support in getting me to the races.