Into the great unknown
Into the great unknown
As far is I can tell this triathlon business is 90% in the head. I'm really good at some bits, not so good at others, and mostly it's a great ever unknown. This is my experience of managing mind, and body, to be the best triathlete I can be.

World Championships - qualified!

ritatrisby ritatrisJul 3rd 2014
After missing out on London by a long way, and then biggest injury yet in February meaning 6 weeks of complete rest, I had completely given up on qualifying for the World’s this year. But I had paid my race entries, so figured I may as well have a crack at swimming and cycling then see how the running went and expect to do some walking.

First up, Nottingham

Nottingham last year was my first national standard race, and I was ready to leave them all to it and enjoy a walk round the rowing lake. Boyfriend was renting a disc wheel and deep section front wheel from The Triathlon Shop and suggested I race on them seen as conditions were so still, so after his race we swapped them on to little bike and I tried not to look too out of my depth. Then racked up, and time to go.
World Championships - qualified!
I think I was the happiest most relaxed person on the start line. Not being able to compete meant I was completely pressure free and just so happy to be there after a lot of grumpy time on the sofa in March. Whoop! Had a good swim, definitely felt better than last year, but no surprises there as it was atrocious in 2013. What was surprising was coming into T1 and there still being people there! A huge novelty for me, and I had a little mini celebration with myself already.

Off on the bike and I knew I was shifting. I decided not to race with a speedo, so I had effort and perception to judge it on. Last year I remember women whizzing past me, but this year maybe one person came past and stayed away. Having the shiny wheels made me feel great, but I was disappointed to find that when you’re actually riding a disc wheel you can’t hear that sound they make as they go past â€" sad times.

Anyway, big decision: to run or not to run? I figured I must be doing well having been with people in T1 and made up a heap of places on the bike, plus I was as warmed up as I was going to be. Decided I’d listen to my body and stop for sharp pain, but otherwise I was going to have to give it a go. Running hurt, but in all the right ways. A woman in a Shipham tri suit was slightly ahead of me, and chasing her paced me round and the legs held up with no pain at all (other than the obvious).

My time on the course last year was 1:21 something. Coming to the finish I thought it’d be great if I’d made it in under 1:20. I couldn’t believe it when the clock read 1:12. 1:12!!! Oh my gods! That’s an actual proper good time! Unbelievable! If I had been fit and had run in the past 4 months I wouldn’t have expected that. 9 minutes quicker than last year, made up by 3.5 on the swim, 1 in T1 (had a wetsuit issue last year), 3 on the bike, and even a minute quicker on the run. I really can’t believe it went so well, especially given the context. The result put me in 3rd roll down at 111% - amazing!

Next: Rother Valley

A bit of a different story this time. I had been feeling good about Rother Valley â€" it’s a hilly bike course and I’m usually good on hills, plus with my new and improved swim I figured I was in for a good race. Also, with a small field having registered their intent to qualify all I had to do was finish within 115% of the winner. But underneath, I wasn’t quite feeling totally sharp and engaged. Maybe because I knew I had a good time set already at Nottingham, maybe I had the pressure of competing, maybe I wasn’t physically as fresh. I don’t know, but I just wasn’t all there on the day.

The lake was a beautiful 17 degrees, and the swim felt good â€" working well, but not floundering. Then out on to the bike and almost straight away it didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put any power out, and my heart rate was very high. The steepest part of the course is a couple of km in and I was expecting that to be unpleasant, but even when I got to the rolling section I couldn’t get a rhythm going. Anyway, got round it trying to find some efficiency, and then came into T2. Legs had not been feeling good for the two weeks after Nottingham, but they just about held up again (sorry legs). I hadn’t realised how good the run at Nottingham had felt until this one, I couldn’t find the positive energy to give it.

As it turned out, my run wasn’t bad. I think the course is slightly short at Rother Valley, but even with adjustments for that I did a reasonable time. The swim was disappointing, so I will have to figure out why there, and the bike wasn’t as strong as it usually is. As it was I was the fastest to have registered intent, and just about scraped within the required percentage, so I have a Q1 against my name.

Canada here we come!

All in all a very mixed bag over two very different races. Many a lesson to be had, including that a large part of success is in the head. Relaxing and enjoying racing without worrying about what everyone else is doing is totally the way to go. Stress doesn’t make me faster, probably slower personally, and I really can’t do anything about the rest of the field. Sadly the rest of success is in the training and can’t be hidden. Bloody mindedness got me round Nottingham, but a-I didn’t have it at Rother Valley, and b-it doesn’t work on hills. My fitness isn’t great at the moment, I have lost a lot on the bike, and it took me about 8 days to recover fully from the first race, and another 5 from the second.

So I’ll have to get myself sorted and work on my bike as boyfriend and I will be off to Canada in two months to race against the best in the world! In April I knew it would take a minor miracle to get me to the Worlds. It’s hard to believe my body held up and everything has turned out so well. To have been able to put down such a massive pb at Nottingham is a huge achievement and a great line to draw under a tough five months.
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