Deva Triathlon (Chester)
To date 2015 has been a resounding success, coming off the back of 2014 there were a few choices to make in which direction this year would go. Having made my Half Iron Distance debut at Vitruvian Triathlon and relatively successful outings at all my other races. I was faced with the question of going longer and hitting the Ironman 70.3 & Full distance or sticking to the so called ‘fast’ game on short course. Fortunately I’d qualified for the European Championships in Geneva which made the decision much easier, in knowing I would want to do myself justice. So short course it was…sorry Ironman… but you’ll have to wait! Triathlon as many of us have found you have to be planning your races early. So late 2014 once British Triathlon had released their list of Championship races it wasn’t long before my entries were going in. Chester in all honesty I knew very little about as a race, it just fitted in the calendar well. With good timing for a prep for Geneva. And with it hosting the English Champs what better place to be testing myself than in a strong field. Early season my first few championship races had largely varied fortunes, the British Champs for Duathlon at Clumber Park had gone far better than I had expected. Going into it I knew Steve had brought me into season in great form after a huge personal success at my locally hosted Gainsborough 10k (33:07). I would leave Clumber..my first proper Duathlon as British Champion in my age category. And with that a qualifying spot for the 2016 European Duathlon Champs. GREAT!!!! Next up St Neots, British Sprint Champs….probably the less said the better. My equipment (bike) failed me, and left me frustrated with not being able to come away having really given a good race. I did however manage to resist giving the local rowing club a new friend as my bike got put back in the car rather than the temptation of letting it sail down the river. Which leads me now back around to Chester…. As I had earlier said I knew very little about this race. And despite usually wanting to be incredibly prepared going into a race. I had done little research before rocking up on the Saturday ready to register. And what a pleasant surprise it was! The race has a great venue, set near the race course, castle, and around the city centre. Entering the castle to register you just had the feeling everthing was taken care of with the tremendous organisation that had clearly been set out… a welcome addition to any athletes race preparation. For anyone wanting a Standard Distance Triathlon in their calendar next year, I would consider Chester amongst any event. Round to raceday morning we came, and the regular early alarm and a night of reduced sleep had set me up nicely for the day. Into tranisition and as many of the Mallorca Tricamp may know I am no friend of the cold… so setting up your bike rack in the tropics of 12°c and Chester sunshine at 6am whilst reading back home had cold and rain was very satisfying! The cold can be a enormous factor in my race. And as the chap who was performing body fat percentage test in the registration on Saturday found out I’m very much on the lean side. So much so that he was commented I had been the lowest score out of any athlete so far at the race… a good or bad thing? With my test results of basically eat more pies, what better way to get things going then a flying leap into a river with potential for hypothermia! Fortunately for me I had taken my ‘man up’ pill that morning and despite the vast complaints about the water temperature, I was feeling warm. The start claxon sounded and to be honest everyone knows what follows… a vast fight of arms and legs for the next 20 or more minutes of your life. Feeling half drowned and wondering what on earth was flying directly above me, (turned out to be a drone filming for the C4 coverage of the race) eventually the spaces opened up. As expected lesser swimmers who had overcooked the start dropped back over the 1.5k, possibly due to the fact of swimming upstream tiring them or a pacing strategy. Either way it felt good to be taking places back quickly. Exiting the water I felt good, no cold feet, I could feel my hands and still was still alive! Things were going well! Onto the bike, quite frankly I hope C4 wasn’t filming my bike mount as unlike my better attempts in recent races this time I completely missed the saddle. Never mind only 2 seconds lost! The bike route as far as me and biking goes, suited me pretty well. A tougher first half with a few climbs soon saw me take out many of the field being found out by their lack of theresold fitness. Before returning back from Wales like a rocket on incredibly quick roads.
Bike done and no mechanical problems! Seeing a few familiar faces on the bike course who have previously been far too strong bikers for me to catch, gave me great confidence. Especially as I knew what was to come, by far my favourite of the three sports the RUN! My mindset was good knowing the recent bike work Steve has had me doing in training had helped neutralise the advantage other athletes could gain before entering the run. A swift bike dismount, running shoes on and it was showtime. Straight away I got stuck into my plan, keep good form and let the legs do the talking. It wasn’t long before those ahead of me were insight, and with a short section of out and back I briefly had a viewing of who need to be hunted down. I have to thank Dan Guerrero for giving me the heads up on positions when I caught him on the first of 3 laps. From that I knew there were only 3 in our age group ahead, and every one I would catch would be a spot on the podium. GAME ON! Before long the gaps were coming down quick, and I soon moved up into 2nd after taking 2 spots in quick succession. Come the last lap of the run that 1st place was firmly in sight, feeling still very comfortable in my pace I went by without having to lift the effort. Another just short of 2 miles to run and I knew if I’d keep hitting that rhythm it was going to be a good day.
Shooting down the blue carpet and over the finish line, I felt great! NATIONAL CHAMPION in my age group and qualified for Lisbon in 2016. I now go into Geneva next month full of confidence after a good race in a competitive field. Being a realist I have to limit my expectations for Geneva, after all it is a European Championship. My sole aim is to enjoy the race and the atmosphere surrounding the GB team. So regardless of finishing position I want to simply go out there and give absolutely everthing and finish satisfied I could do no more…as well as getting a fancy european championship finishers medal in my collection! I now have been coached by Steve (Offthatcouchfitness) since the end of last year. And quite honestly I cannot thank him enough for the progress he has brought to my training, and not only that but my mindset to how to train. The progression I’ve made is hugely down to his knowledge and I’m looking forward to continuing this into future races. Along with representing the Offthatcouchfitness Race Team at as many high profile events possible.