Apologies to my cake and foodie followers I’ve got another triathlon post but that’s because it’s really really exciting news….I’ve qualified to represent GB at the Age-Group World Sprint Triathlon Championships in Chicago! It’s something I’ve had my eye on for a while now and managing to just about keep my injury prone body relatively healthy for the last few months I thought there’s no harm in trying!
After winning my second triathlon in the Isle of Wight last year I was feeling particularly inspired so decided to enter some of the qualification races for the Age-Group Sprint Triathlon World Championships. Entering them would give me something to train for and, if in the lead up to the races my body was doing ok, I would give it my all to try and qualify for them to represent GB.
Fast forward to the beginning of April and all of a sudden I realise it’s only a month until the first qualifier and only the third triathlon i’d ever done…..where has the time gone! There’s no way I had managed to get in anywhere near as much winter training as I would have liked and I also realised I hadn’t ever swum in open water ever and desperately needed to a) buy a wetsuit and b) try swimming in one not in a swimming pool! Thankfully this is where my wonderful Matt comes in handy. I eventually got my hands on an incredible HUUB Aura wetsuit thanks to some very generous HUUB reps and managed to fit in two open water swims before the event. That will be fine I thought….the wetsuit fits, the open water feels amazing, I’m perfectly buoyant thanks to the extremely well designed 3:3 technology in the Aura and my swimming is my strongest leg – no problemo! How wrong was I…..(more on this later!)
Fast forward to the week of the event which I have now realised is also the British Sprint Triathlon Championships – this was going to be a very competitive race and couldn’t be more different to what I’d experienced on the Isle of Wight. Combined with the fact I’d caught a raging cold from work just 4 days before the race, safe to say I wasn’t feeling very confident at all.
I travelled up the day before the race to make sure I could ride the course and have a good sleep the night before. Arriving at the venue and seeing transition, registration, a podium and other triathletes wondering around and my adrenalin starts to kick in. Illness, what illness?! Like i’ve said before, give me a race and a goal or something to win and I will absolutely go for it. I cycled the course and quickly had a scout around of transition, the river and the run course and by now I couldn’t wait for the race. Despite feeling unbelievably intimidated by some of the people there with their carbon everythings, there was still that little part of me that was determined to go and qualify the next day. Firstly, as I have now learnt, there are lots of people who are actually very slow who have a lot of stuff that looks fast (aka all the gear, still going nowhere). Secondly, why race and not go out to achieve what you set out to?!
A mountain of food and a good sleep later and race day arrives. Excited, nervous and terrified all at the same time but I was still feeling good and ready to race. I head into transition to set up my gear and still find myself peaking over at other peoples areas wondering what on earth I should be doing with all my stuff and being annoyed with myself for not having practiced any transitions whatsoever. Still, I’ll be out of the swim near to the front so I can get through transition without too much chaos, I thought. Like I said….how wrong I was….
The gun goes and instead of going forward towards the first buoy in the river, I go down. Literally down, underneath the water and feel like i’m being drowned by a hundred other swimmers now swimming on top of me. Not what was meant to happen! Somehow I pop back up again and realise I really need to get a bloody move on. Though in my head it was more like “if I don’t try and swim now I might actually drown and oh my god this is the worst experience of my life”. So I start swimming and keep swimming, though at the time it felt more like scrambling through the water, and eventually reach the half way buoy. I look up and see a sea of pink hats spread across the river in front of me. This race was NOT going to plan. I’m a good swimmer, i’m meant to be at the front!
Determined that the goal of qualifying was NOT going to be destroyed my swim of all things I tried to calm myself and just get to the end of the swim. And I did and it was bad but I lived. A fumbled transition and I manage to get on my bike and the world is now a better place. I’m in my awesome pink Castelli tri-suit on my awesome Canyon road bike (he’s called Ritchie by the way) and i’m flying past my other competitors, whoopee triathlons are awesome! It’s funny how ones mentally in a race changes from one extreme to the other so rapidly…..
So I absolutely loved the bike, managed a particularly speedy transition to the run and I still felt awesome. I usually hate the run…what’s going on?! I wanted to qualify that’s what’s going on! And I did and it feels bloody awesome. I’m going to Chicago! So many people have congratulated me I feel very special and grateful to have so many wonderful people supporting me. If i’m honest I don’t feel like the congratulations are as deserved as they might seem because I know I can do SO much better than I did in that race and I’m hoping that I can make them all proud by actually smashing it by the time I get to the World Champs. 4 months of training here I come.
Hannah x x x