Today was my second elite start, at Strathclyde Park in Scotland. Before I go any further, I have to say I’m really gutted with my performance, positives and negatives to take away and as always plenty to work on, but the overall outcome was disappointing. The swim had been cancelled due to water quality, and the event became a duathlon. 1300m run, 21km bike and a 5km run. The start list was high quality, ITU athletes from Canada, SA, Australia, elite duathletes (including the current world duathlon champ) also decided to have a go once they heard the swim was cancelled.
We (Dad and I) flew to Scotland on Friday evening, staying in a nearby hotel until race day on Sunday at 12.30pm. Saturday gave me time to suss out the course, do a session on the bike and run route and look around. The bike course was not flat, a couple of hills and a rocky road surface. The second run was pan flat, a two lap out and back along the loch. After a morning of briefing, registration, transition set up, the 25 or so elite women lined the start line at 12.20, and waited for our start.
The first run was ferociously fast! An all out 1300m sprint spitting those who couldn’t quite hang on out the back. A lead group containing the Canadian and ‘proper’ duathletes quickly formed, and I sat in a chase pack of about 8 not far behind. As we came into T1 you had to be quick, precise, there was no room for error. Shoes off, helmet on, grab bike – run to the mount line.
The pace at which the athletes set off from here was incredible, and lack of experience at this level along with slight hesitation saw me struggle to keep my spot in the pack. An ongoing hip injury didn’t help me, as we set off up the first hill, the pain was triggered and I lacked power to remain with them. This here, essentially, was the end of my race panning out how I would have liked. The athletes I had targeted were in this chase pack, and with only myself and one other cyclist behind working together, we had no chance of catching the 8 strong chase pack any time soon. The gap on each lap increased, and we waved goodbye any chance of getting them, instead targeting athetes who had been left from the chase group, who had struggled to keep up with their pace.
Although I am yet to see times, the 5km run felt good, working to catch up the chasers, it was frustrating knowing that’s where you should have been. A mental battle to keep going, but I got there. Overall finishing position is unknown, hopefully we will see some results in the next 48hrs and I will update this.
Like Blenheim, my frustrating race came down to T1. This time in a different way, but essentially lacking the speed and precision that these more experienced athletes have in forming bike packs quicly. I have three weeks now until London (elite start) on the 23rd of September, which is my last race of the season, so I hope to bring it all together, and not have the same problems as today.
However, despite coming away pretty gutted, disheartened and kicking myself, I guess I have to look back at my first year in this sport and be proud of what I have achieved. The competition in elite racing is high, a million miles different from age group, todays case, it was world-class, and it was a privilege to be racing against some of those athletes, as you can learn a lot from it. At the start of this year with my empty race CV I didn’t expect to get into any elite races, I swam over 6 minutes a year ago for 400m and last month swam 5.15, I couldn’t bike 20km in under 40minutes and now I’m racing with some of the best elites in Great Britain. My times are still coming down, my motivation is high, and I’m not running out of areas to improve on! So 2013…watch this space!
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