I've mentioned in a couple of my previous blogs this year that one of my aims was to qualify for the World Age Group Triathlon championships in London this coming September. I missed out in the first attempt in Chester, didn't manage to get an entry for the second attempt in Dambuster, so this left the third and final attempt in Liverpool. (this triathlon was almost a month ago now, but I've only just round to posting the report)
My cycling has always been my weakest discipline so, given this, and a knee injury that has limited me to running only 15 miles a week, I’ve upped the mileage on the bike. Since the Chester triathlon at the beginning of June, I’ve been going out before or after work and clocking up about 30 miles a number of times during the week. Together with a longer ride (60+ miles) each weekend; this has allowed me to increase the speed on the bike that I feel comfortable at.
I arrived in Liverpool feeling ready and off the back of week’s cycling around the Channel Islands and northern France. Having registered the day before, I woke at 4:30am in order to make my wave start time of 7:15am.
The swim course was in Albert Dock where visibility was fairly poor and the water was not far off tasting of cheese Doritos; lovely. I find it hard to sprint off at the start of the swim and consequently soon found myself deep in splash, getting kicked and generally lacking getting any sort of rhythm. I decided the best tactic was to take an outside line and work through the field and away from the carnage, this way I avoided having to waste energy getting caught up in the rest of the swimmers. The course wound its way through the dock and I think I came out of the water in the top 15, having been close to the back of the field after the first 100m.
The bike course was fast, 4 mostly flat laps up and down a highway and fairly representative of what to expect at the age group championships in Hyde Park. There was a small incline over a flyover but, aside from that, there was little reason to come off the time-trial bars. Given I was in the third wave, the number of bikes on the course at the start was low and it was relatively easy to spot the other riders in my wave. I hit it hard, trying my very best to keep the speed over 25mph and reaping the benefits of the newly added time-trial bars. I was conscious of not drafting others and kept working my way past other riders as the course became busier. I had Will Jones from Serpentine (a very strong swimmer and sometimes trains at New River track) to aim for and was gradually reeling him up to 1 mile to go, at which point I took on a gel, some water, and gave myself a short recovery before heading out on the run.
I started the run with Will in what must have been about 12th. The run consisted of two flat 5km laps up through the docks and this would be where I had to make progress through the field. By the time I was on the run course, there were already a number of runners from the previous waves, so I used the first out and back to check exactly the runners that I needed to chase down. I felt good on the run and my legs soon adjusted to turning over at fair pace. Today it was all about finishing in the top 7 so, each time I went past someone, I immediately made it my goal to chase down the next person. Whilst it gave me a boost gradually working through the field, I felt as though I could never relinquish my pace through fear of finishing in that frustrating 8th position. I crossed the line in 1:57, soon found out that put me in 6th and thus gave me a place in Hyde Park. Roll on 15th September!