The London Triathlon.
This is an event I look forward to every year. It's one of the few on the calendar where I don't have to stay overnight in a hotel. You could call it a 'home race'. This was my first Olympic distance race of the year. A test race to see how I would handle the distance. I was feeling a bit heavy in the arms leading up to the race but the legs felt good. Arriving at the ExCel centre I was pretty shocked at how small this triathlon had become compared to previous years. It wasn't what it used to be for sure. Nevertheless, there was a race to focus on. Male Elite. The best of the best as they kept calling us. I discovered water temperature was 20.7C which for elites means wetsuits are banned. Not the best start. Going down for swim warm up it was pretty chilly and the water was cold. I'm not sure where they measured the temperature but it was cold, it was choppy and it was windy.
The horn sounded and I was off. I got off to a good start keeping on peoples toes for the first half of the swim, but suddenly I looked up to sight and everyone was a few metres ahead. I have no idea what happened but I lost a lot of ground and never made it back up. I exited and ran up to transition doing everything I could to latch onto some people ahead, but it didn't work. I started the bike on my own ready for a painful 40 km. Thankfully I was joined by two others who caught me up. I didn't have much in the tank and struggled almost all the way round. Coming off the bike I was feeling good but as soon as I got outside the ExCel centre I could feel the knee screaming at me. 1 lap or 3.3km into the 10km run I called it a day. DNF. It wasn't my day. A shocking swim, followed by a savage bike and a painful knee was a recipe for disaster. London just doesn’t seem to be my race. I've started four times and only finished twice. We will give it a go next year and keep trying to push for a good result. I’m determined to one day make the podium at this well established race. Onto a more positive note...
British Super Series SuperTri Junior Elite.
This race was six days after the European Championships. I'd been on a high all week leading up to the race due to the success of Dusseldorf. I hadn’t done much training either. I'd swum twice and cycled twice. Nothing hard so I wasn't expecting much from this race. When the klaxon sounded I immediately struggled to get into a good rhythm. About 400m into the 750m swim I finally found some strength and powered to the end to make up some places. As I was swimming I was noticing that not many gaps were appearing. I thought this could lead to some big groups and it did. Mounting the bike I was just off the back of the 2nd group. Unfortunately I just couldn't hook on to the back of that group so I eased up and let the group behind catch me. We worked well and kept up a furious pace closing the gap on what was now one big lead group. We got the gap down to about 15 seconds but just couldn't make the junction.
Towards the end of the bike leg I started to skip some turns on the front and save some energy for the run not knowing how my knee would hold up. By the time the bike was over the gap was about 25sec to the lead group. We entered transition as they were exiting. I knew I would have my work cut out to catch some of the leaders...but I set out on a mission. I said to my coach it was all or nothing. I was on my limit for the whole 5km, but I just keep catching people until I was overtaking some big names. Suddenly I noticed I was within the top 20 for sure, somewhere I had never finished in a Junior Super Series race before. I kept pushing and pushing trying to catch as many people as I could and praying my knee would hold up. Crossing the finish line I was absolutely spent. I looked over to my mum and she just smiled and said where did that come from. I had an absolute stormer. I'd smashed my 5km PB by a big margin and for the first time ever I had broken 16 minutes! Just to top off the day I’d finished 10th! 10th! I was on cloud 9. I was lost for words.
So there you have a bunch of mixed feelings. From the highest of highs in one race to one of the toughest ends to another. This weekend I am travelling up north to try and make qualification to the World Championships in September. I would obviously love to qualify, but if I'm completely honest I've exceeded every expectation I set myself this season and that’s before I re-adjusted them due to injury. If my knee was to play up and I was to miss the Worlds there is no doubt I would be gutted but that’s life. That’s racing and that’s being an athlete. You've just got to sit back and reassess your goals and that is what I will do. Times like this just make you even more motivated and hungry for more. Looking towards 2018 I've got some little and big targets in my mind which I will be sharing with you shortly.
A big shoutout and thank you to all my sponsors for their constant support and help to make sure I am able to do everything I do to the best of my ability be it equipped with the right kit or keeping me in tip top condition for racing and training.
Swim Canary Wharf
The Body Therapy Company
Keep an eye out for the next blog where I will hopefully have something very exciting to share with you. In the meantime you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@sammileham) for some shorter snappier updates.
Thank you for reading. All the best,