Date: Sunday 22nd May 2016
Venue: Dorney Lake, Eton, England
Distances: Swim: 750m, Bike: 21.2km, Run: 5km
My season finally got underway (sort of) with the first of the ITU World Qualifying races at Dorney Lake, Eton. 750m swim, 21.2km bike and 5km run was the distance to cover - fast and furious as always. I've been buzzing so much lately and looking forward to finally starting my season after some good weeks of training under my belt. Arriving there, after the usual little sleep in the car, I felt refreshed and ready to go. Registration was easy, I racked my bike and everything was great! Good place, good weather it seemed like the makings of a good day! After a warm up I slipped into my nice new Zone3 Vanquish wetsuit, the first time I'd raced in it, and headed down to the start. The water could not have been warmer for this time of year, 16C I believe and I got in without any problems.
The horn sounded and we were off. I started on the inside so immediately headed straight for the first buoy keeping in some clear water. The first turn was carnage, legs, bodies and arms all over the place (and a little buoy - we had a nice head on meeting). The second turn was less brutal, but turning in that direction brought a new problem. I could not see a thing as we were heading directly into the sun and all I could see was white splash. Not ideal, but I managed to follow some sort of line and only in the last 10 metres could I finally see the finish arch. I exited the water in 10.56, a reasonable time, but a time I hope will be coming down quickly, after recently almost doubling the amount of swimming I do per week. T1 was fast, especially with the new Vanquish wetsuit, it came off in lightening fast time. I left T1 after only being in there for 52 seconds and was just behind a large pack of around 12-15 athletes. But they were just too far ahead and I wasn't gaining on them, but I was joined by two other athletes who worked with me for 3 out of the 4 laps trying to catch the group ahead. Unfortunately after a ferocious chase I was dropped. The other two caught the big group but I just couldn't make it. On the final lap I was caught by the second group of around 10 and recovered on the back of that group. However, in the last 1.5km I started moving towards the front to get some space going into transition and gave myself a little advantage going into T2, but as I was moving up the group I heard a noise from the back of my bike, I looked back and couldn't see anything. As I looked up one guy in the group said 'you're good', but just as he said that, all the air escaped and my tyre was flat. I'd punctured. I was cursing. I was livid. 1km from the finish of the bike! It was a slow and long disappointing walk back. I've had a good run until then, having never punctured in a race before, but I guess there's a first time for everything right? Better this week than next week too!
Which brings me on to next week. Only 5 days until the European Championships in Lisbon. My second race abroad and hopefully a successful one! Flying out on Wednesday evening after my C2 Maths exam it will be a short stay but I'm very excited!
Last but by no means least, a huge thank you to Pedal Potential who have been supporting me all the way through the off season. A great aid to my training and helping me to purchase equipment needed to race this year. My lovely new wetsuit came from Zone 3 this year and they have been great sponsors providing me with some awesome kit to race and train in the open water as well as in the pool! And Swim Canary Wharf! Ray has been a master swim coach spending the last two years transforming my swim stroke and helping me hugely to get to where I am now and will help me to get that swim times down even more!
I must also say thank you to the rest of my team. Excel Physiotherapy who have kept me in tip top racing condition after having a few niggles earlier in the year and also Max Curle. Max has helped me build my strength up and that has been key to getting me to where I am now. If you're near Canary Wharf and need someone for Strength and Conditioning, Max is your man! Finally Dermott Hayes, my coach, has been awesome putting together my training plans, coaching me throughout the year and helping me to succeed as an elite athlete. I am very happy and glad to have such an amazing group of people supporting me! I cannot thank you enough!
See you in Lisbon!
Bike: PUNCTURE ARGHH!!!
DNF (but please enjoy the pictures below, before it all went wrong!)