Last weekend at the European Age Group Standard Distance Championship in Geneva I WON a SILVER MEDAL! I’m friggin’ delighted.
I started racing as part of the GB AG team 5 years ago and results had been middle of the pack until I teamed up with fitnaturally to improve my nutrition and body composition and got coaching from Team Dillon. My confidence had also increased with improved results and support from my sponsors ashmei, fitnaturally and Bikeboxonline. It’s extremely satisfying to see that the hard work, persistence, and determination have paid off and I’ve achieved a dream of winning a medal.
Going into the Europeans I was in good swim and bike shape but I knew that my running wasn’t quite back to where it had been before I’d injured my planta fascia in January. I’d earmarked the Euros as my main A race for 2015 and started working towards it back in November, as coming 4th in the Worlds last year had made me hungrier for a medal. Apart from the foot injury my prep over the first half of 2015 had gone really well. I survived the month of full time training with TDC elite athletes, recced the course well in advance to ensure my training fitted the Geneva course and went over my nutrition lead up with fitnaturally.
However, no matter how much you’re trained, tapered and prepared yourself you still have to deliver the result on the day. The conditions were beautiful as I stepped on to the pontoon at 7am on Sunday morning and I felt relaxed and calm.
The Swim; The gun went off and I sprinted, just like I’d done many times in training; head down, don’t breathe for several strokes, legs kicking and arms flailing. When I did come up to breathe I could see that I was slightly ahead of the girls beside me, but no feet to draft off! Right head down and focus on sighting and pushing hard. I know I can lose focus and via off to the right. But my toughest critic and great friend Janice had taught me well and I kept a good line. I remembered all those hard swim session in Spain with TDC and tried to tell myself to push harder, swim faster and show that I hadn’t done those sessions for nothing! I couldn’t see any yellow caps (my AG) in front of me but I knew a German Girl was in my AG that had swam superfast last year. I exited the swim in 3rd place in 23:51, a slow time but in a good position.
Next was T1; I know I can go quicker as my wetsuit didn’t come off as cleanly as it could have done but overall it wasn’t too bad and 2nd fastest in my AG.
The Bike; I really enjoyed the bike. The roads were fast, smooth and lovely. Trying to see what position you’re in is tricky in AG racing with so many people on the same course who’ve gone off at different times. I knew a couple of the Brits were dangerous and a Germany and a Swiss competitor were too. But I didn’t realise that by the end of the 1st lap I was up in 2nd place having past a Danish girl. However just as I started the 2nd hill the Swiss lady drew level with me. We were pretty much neck and neck up the hill but she was too strong downhill and pulled away from me. I knew that last year her run was awesome so I tried not to panic and concentrate on my own race. It’s not over till you cross the line after all! I dismounted in 3rd place in a time of 1:06:47 and with the 4th fastest bike split of my AG. Much better than previous years so fantastic.
T2 was hard; my legs were heavy and slow but I focused on what needed to be done and exited in 1:34 only 3rd fastest. Not great but ok.
The Run; This was a slog. It was starting to get hot and I knew if I wanted a medal I’d have to keep pushing hard. As only the Swiss lady (the Gold medallist) had passed me I felt I was in a fairly good position but you never know! As I made my way up the first incline out of transition my support crew, Lynda and Janice , shouted that I was in 3rd place and there was a German lady up ahead. I spotted her about 10-20 seconds ahead of me. Come on Croxson Reel her in. I went past her comfortably and pressed on. The run was in the lakeside park thankfully with some shade and a few small hills. I focused on working the hills, pushing into the ground and keeping my cadence up, I knew others would be chasing me. My support crew were cheering me on for each lap telling me that I was still in 3rd, there was another German to catch! Gratefully they were wrong but it helped me keep the pressure up and as I crossed the line the announcer said I was 2nd – a Silver Medal. Hallelujah! I finished the run in 42:25, 5th fastest in AG and with an overall time of 2:16:57.
So what next? This weekend it’s my little sister’s wedding so time to take off the Lycra, don the make-up and celebrate.