We arrived Wednesday evening staying with some friends in The Hague. First thing we noticed was the weather. Strong winds, heavy rain and cold. Bit different from Cozumel that's for sure. On Thursday the wind was even worse and when I went to do a swim practice the water was so choppy! Friday brought less wind but constant rain. I'd planned to maybe ride to the beach and back but that went out the window. Saturday was pre race day and even though the wind had died down the rain still wasn't letting up. I rode bits of the bike course to see what it was like and in the rain it was pretty slippery in the corners, but otherwise I liked it. Lots of people had complained about how dangerous it was but they were talking nonsense if I'm honest. I had my pre race chicken dinner and was feeling fresh and ready to race.
Sunday. Race day. It was different to a normal race day, mainly because I got to sleep in as my race start time was 4:05pm. I do like a late start so was happy with that time. We had to rack and set up transition around 1pm so I met up with some other GB U20's and did that together. The weather by now had dried up and the sun was shining, a complete contrast to the last few days!
Entering the water was a bit chilly, but once you were swimming it was perfect. The horn went and we were off. I got a good start, I was pretty close to the front and hung on to some guys feet. Rounding the buoys and heading back to the exit ramp I knew I was in a pretty good position, but a gap was opening up in front of me. I worked hard to close the gap towards the end and made sure I exited with the group in under 10minutes. Transition was almost a 500m run away, I pushed the run hard knowing that once onto the bike I could sit back and catch my breath. However, for the first time ever I couldn't find my bike! I was going crazy, I had no idea where it was. After a few seconds of panic which felt like minutes I found it and could finally get going. Those few seconds cost me the lead group so I ended up in the chase pack. We could see the lead group for most of the bike, but annoyingly we just couldn't catch them. We ended up losing time as the other countries weren't interested in working, they were skipping turns too much, but I was happy with how I executed it considering the lack of work and I really enjoyed the course!
There was one downside though...from about 5km in on the bike I knew I had a stitch and was feeling skeptical about how the run would go. With a minute between us and the leaders I knew I would be able to catch some people when on top form, but once I exited T2 I had cramps in both calf muscles. I spent a good few km's getting rid of those only to then get a stitch. With 1km to go I felt great, but by then it was too late. I settled for where I was and that was 21st.
Looking back I know there were positives, most notably the swim where I was 13th out of the water and 26 seconds off the lead. I know that a podium is not an unrealistic goal from where I was on the bike and I know that I haven't had a good year of running with 0 run training since March due to my knee. With some running under my belt, and a good year of training I think aiming for the podium next year is realistic and that is what I will put all of my efforts towards.
I'm really grateful for the continued support of my sponsors who have allowed my to race and train at my best through 2017. I would not have been able to achieve anything like I have without Pedal Potential, Sam Farmer, Excel Physiotherapy, Zone 3, Swim Canary Wharf, Vorgee UK & Max Curle. They all support me in many different ways but together they are the team behind me and together we can achieve great things!
So that is 2017 done. Time to put the feet up for a bit and then put in some hard graft through the long cold winter... or do I have something else up my sleeve? Keep an eye out for Part II which I will post very soon.