English National Championships - Middle Distance
2nd June 2019, Chester
2nd in 20-24 Age-Group | 4 hrs 38 mins
Anyone who’s completed any triathlon knows: whatever ability, you’re in for a hard day at the office. The mindset on that last leg, the run, can only be described as ‘a dark place’, even for pro-triathletes. This race was no different!
Back in September 2018, I sat down with Tom Levy (Beacon Tri Team Manager) to discuss my ambitions for the upcoming season. Up until that point, I had only ever competed in duathlons, as well as running and cycling races, earning me the nickname: the ‘land mammal’. I then told Tom about my slightly absurd idea to race a middle distance event (half-ironman) as my first triathlon. After a few seconds of natural disbelief, the attention immediately turned to making that happen. The great thing about Tom, and all of Beacon Tri, is their willingness to help you think big. To have ideas you had always thought were impossible because of a hurdle (e.g. swimming). In this case, Tom had brought: a wall calendar for the entire upcoming year & a printed list of big races (such as the national championships and GB Age-Group Qualifiers). We mapped out the year, and Tom encouraged me to race the National Championships.
Preparation: Sunday 2nd June was in the diary. But sadly, I wasn’t able to start swimming until March after recovering from an operation on my ear. In fact it was Jill and Iain who encouraged me to finally ‘take the plunge’ at a swimathon. In early May, Senior athlete, James Chapman and I raced a warm-up event in Peterborough to test the legs and highlight areas which needed work. By June, after a solid build-up, averaging 12 hours per week for 10 weeks, the day had arrived.
The race: The bike was racked, and I quickly found myself ready to start the swim in the River Dee, Chester. It was by far the most competitive field I’d raced in. The swim kicked off, and after the expected kick-in-the-face or two, I was into a rhythm. About 400m left to go, I started to feel very sick and started to breast-stroke because the heavy breathing was making it worse. Thinking the nausea had gone away, I started to freestyle again. Unfortunately, I spent the next 300m of the swim throwing up, 3 times in total. Apologies to the 700 competitors behind me who had to swim through that.
After a 35 minute swim, I still felt quite sick and walked through transition. Once in the natural habitat of the bike, I felt much better (but a bit hungry due to an empty stomach). Though it was very windy and I didn’t have anyone to ride with, I felt great; overtaking about 200-250 people and not being overtaken, averaging 22.6mph. However at about 10km to go my quads cramped up. I finished with a 2hr 22min split which, solo on a lumpy and windy course, I was happy with.
Once in T2, the cramp had set in. After spending a few minutes stretching out, I hobbled out onto the course. The legs just had nothing left, after a tough end to the bike. The run was a dark place for 1hr and 28 mins but eventually, I crossed the line in 4hrs 38mins. This was enough to earn 2nd place in the 20-24 Age-Group.
This wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for the continued support of everyone in Beacon Tri who continually helped and came to training sessions. Congratulations to team manager Tom who just completed an ironman-distance race In France, and fellow athlete Grace who raced the European Age-Group Championships.