Date: Thursday 15th September 2016
Venue: Marina Fonatur Park, Cozumel, Mexico
Distances: Swim: 750m, Bike: 20km, Run: 5km
This blog was a tough one to write. Amongst everyone's congratulations for my result in Cozumel there was disappointment mixed with the thrill of the event and my first World Championships. Thank you so much to everyone for their kind messages pre and post race, it means so much, but if you're wondering why I was gutted then carry on reading.
First though let's start from the beginning. We arrived on Sunday, a few days before the race. Wow, what heat and humidity greeted us. It was welcomed, but it was hotter than I thought. After a long transfer we reached the luxurious Cozumel Palace Hotel where we were treated extremely well for the rest of the week. Way too posh for triathletes, but I wasn't complaining! After a few pre-race rides, runs and swims with my good friends Paul Suett and Morag McDowall, I felt acclimatised. The pre race swim had to be one of the highlights. Never had I seen or swum a course so stunning. Cruise ships in your sighting line, fish wherever you looked beneath you and you could always see the bottom through the very calm and clear waters.
Onto race day. Waking up early for the 8:55 start time I had my usual food and drinks before the race. Did a light warm up
so I didn't get too worn out or too hot and drunk a lot. I think I drunk a good 1.5 litres in 45 minutes! The other boys in the U20's all came in for a group photo and then we were called up to the starting area. We waited in our pen and an official came up to say something..."10 minute delay". We could see and had now been told there was a huge current in the water. The wave before us were the Over 50 women, and despite there being a half hour gap between their race and ours, this was clearly not enough. The current made it so difficult for them. We were called up again but were told another 20 mins! In this heat it was tough. We had water, but it was still a long wait. Finally we were called up again and us Brits all rushed to the front. We got the ideal spots on the pontoon and I managed to get the first spot. When we jumped in we immediately felt what we were told. The current pushed us under the pontoon. It was strong!
The hooter went after some laughing about the current and we were off. A ferocious pace was set straight away and I tried to go with the pace but it was too much. I kept a good inside line and exited in 11:30. I felt pretty drained coming out and running to T1, desperate for a gel and water as the water temperature was 30C! The air temperature was near 35C and humidity around 90%. It was hot!
However, jumping onto the bike I suddenly felt a lot better. I worked hard with an American to pull our group together and get it in some order. I had a scare, briefly getting dropped, but chased back on with a New Zealander and went straight to the front. I could see a group ahead which we were closing down and I dragged the group towards them and we merged. I was delighted to see teammates Christian and Ben with me and we then decided to sit in and enjoy the ride. The group was 30 strong and we only went back to the front for the sharp 180 degree turn halfway through the course to stay out of trouble. After that we sat in the middle and averaged a whopping 42kmh (27mph) for the 20 km, yet it only felt like an easy Sunday ride...just in the sun...with the sea to your left the whole time...and lovely views! To my surprise I also found out I had the 9th fastest bike split!!!
Coming into transition I worked my way to the front of the group and dismounted in around 5th place. There were a few small groups who were ahead, but I sprinted out of transition (with the 3rd fastest T2) to start the final leg. I felt good. Really good. I knew I was in the top 20, a result I'd be very happy with. I looked behind quite a lot but found myself in the lead of the bike pack I was in and I was putting in a gap. I then started to catch people ahead of me and pretty quickly! Soon I looked behind and had a good 200m gap on anyone behind and was still catching people. I had now moved into the top 10! I was told I was in 9th! I was so happy and kept pushing this pace. However, with about 1.5km things started to not go to plan.
I suddenly felt a cold chill. Now in this heat I knew that wasn't right. After this I don't remember much. According to video my mate took I had slowed right down, after but a few hundred meters and corners later it went from bad to worse. I blacked out. I was on the floor and was sick as well. I remember thinking I'm so close to top the 5, I could see 5th place ahead of me. Then I remember my teammate Ben asking if I'm okay. I was determined to make it to the finish line. I was not going to go down as a DNF! I jogged/walked the last kilometre and stumbled through the finishing shoot collapsing across the line. I was absolutely gutted. I was exhausted and devastated. I remember being picked up and dragged to ice towels and then made my way to the ice baths. I ended up with a medal around my neck but I have no idea when someone put it there. I was gutted. I have no idea how many people overtook me as I don't recall anyone ever coming past, but the results showed I finished in 35th.
35th in the world.
I am very proud of that and proud I made it to the World Championships, but also gutted because of what could've been and where I was. I know I gave it absolutely everything I could and couldn't have given anymore. I pushed myself to my absolute limit. The motivation it has given me and the drive because of this result to come back next year even stronger and finish in the top 10 at next years World Championships is huge. I'm determined to get the result I know I should and can get.
I'm not entirely sure why I blacked out. Yes it was hot, but I normally I like the heat. Perhaps it was sunstroke, as I was a little burnt from earlier in the week, or the waiting around for half an hour in the heat before the race started possibly could have affected me, but I just pushed myself to my max knowing where I was and what I could potentially have done. It is all a learning curve so I can come back next year stronger than ever but I'm glad I experienced this mini death because I know I left everything on the course so I can't go back and say I didn't push hard enough.
This year has had so many ups and downs. So many good results and some not so good. But throughout the year my sponsors Pedal Potential, Swim Canary Wharf, Sam Farmer, The Body Therapy Company and Zone 3 have been supporting me all the time helping me to get to where I am. It really would not be possible without all their help and I can't thank them enough. I look forward to continuing to work with them and get some good results in the future and hopefully a top 10 finish at the Worlds next year!
I also cannot praise my coach Dermott Hayes, S&C Coach Max Curle and Excel Physiotherapy enough for keeping me in the best shape possible for these World Championships and for helping me to have been up there in contention with the high places. Again I would not be performing where I am without their incredible support!
I guess this World Championships wasn't to be the result I wanted, maybe next year will be better, but like I said I gave it my all and I really had the best time on the island of Cozumel with some amazing people.
Thank you Cozumel.