So this is a well overdue post – I apologise it’s been well over a month since I last wrote a thing! I can only blame spending to much time eating, baking, “recovering” and probably enjoying myself a little too much. But I think a month is enough, it’s time to get back to real life and some winter training!
Anyway, back to the title, Chicago Sprint World Champs – probably one of the best weeks of my life to date?! It was really that awesome and looking back at photos I keep thinking to myself – did that really happen? The combination of being in an incredible city with my family and Matt, chilling out with some great Clapham Chasers, having the race of my life and finally watching the best triathletes in the world just made it the PERFECT week.
We arrived in Chicago 5 days before my race so I had plenty of time to chill out, explore the city and get myself ready. I managed to do quite well and actually enjoy the city without thinking much about the race until the day before. We explored the city, ate some yummy food and just genuinely discovered that Chicago is an incredible incredible place! It’s spotlessly clean, stunningly beautiful and what I loved the most was that everyone there just seemed to love exercise and healthy eating! Every other shop seemed to be a health food or sports shop and there were people running, cycling, yoga-ing everywhere you went.
Bike racking opened the day before so this was the first time I really got to see what the competition looked like – aka when Hannah get’s intimidated and feels like a complete amateur compared to everyone else. However, I had already decided that all I wanted to do was to have a good race and for nothing to go wrong. I genuinely had no idea how good the competition would be having not really done very many races at all so I tried to just concentrate on myself and ignore everyone’s TT bikes and aero helmets – my trusty Canyon road bike would be just fine!
Race Day. 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run. I stuck with my normal pre-race breakfast thanks to the amazing whole foods shop just one block from our apartment – porridge with banana and peanut butter. After a small disaster of the car not starting and having to rush to get on the L (the Chicago metro system) with my bike and Dad and Matt in tow, we eventually made it downtown to set up the rest of transition. And then there was 2 hours to kill….2 hours to get so unbelievably nervous I felt sick. Not to mention the fact that it was 28 degrees that day so I kept worrying about staying as hydrated as possible but not over doing it and then putting my wetsuit on at the very last minute to avoid overheating! Ok so I make it sound like it really wasn’t a great experience but the atmosphere down at the start was absolutely amazing. Everyone was buzzing with nerves and excitement and I actually just couldn’t wait to get in the water and race!
The gun goes. Anndddd relax. I felt great, I was finally racing and I had managed to get myself into a completely open area of water so I wasn’t battling anyone else and I could just swim my own race. I knew I had had a good start so I settled into my rhythm and it felt awesome. I was swimming in Lake Michigan, in water described by my brother which was “like swimming in Evian” and it was the World Championships! My whole family and Matt were also walking down the course cheering me on and I had flashbacks of racing when I was younger where people would wave you on on the poolside – I could see and hear my sister doing exactly the same now and it spurred me on to just catch up with the leading group of 10 swimmers.
I came out the swim and everyone was shouting at me with excitement – “you’re in the top 10 Hannah!!!” And that was it, in that moment, running out of the water to transition I suddenly decided, I didn’t just want to have a good race, I was going to keep this position and do everything I could to finish in the top 10 in the world. Miraculously with my typically unrehearsed amateur transitions I managed to overtake 3 people just in transition!
The bike leg was a bit of a blur, there were people everywhere and I had to concentrate really hard to make sure I wasn’t in the draft zone of any other athletes and to keep on the look out for some rather large potholes on the course. I did however continue to hear my family screaming for me every time I passed them as well as some equally loud Clapham Chasers. I think I was actually smiling the whole way round. Getting onto the run I had another good transition but I had no idea where I was placed, I noticed a few girls overtake me on the bike but I wasn’t sure how many or what age-group they were in. The run was sweltering. 28 degree heat and boy was I glad I was only running 5km! Even if it felt like 10. Despite the heat the cheering and atmosphere out on that course was incredible. People cheering for team GB at every turn and running round Buckingham Fountain with the most incredible backdrop of the city, it really was very very special. Finally I came towards the end of the last lap and somehow my family ended up being right there and my brother and sister shouted at me “YOU’RE 6TH IN THE WORLD!!!!” If I hadn’t been sprinting already I definitely was now! I had no idea who was behind me but I was coming 6th in the world and it was the best feeling EVER! The commentator cheered me across the line and the smile on my face, ear to ear, I genuinely was the happiest girl in the world.
**Emotional section alert – but this is why I love sport….** Those next few hours I have never felt so loved by my family it makes me want to cry thinking back to it. I had done them so so proud, all my brother and sister wanted to do was hug me, take pictures of me and tell me how well I had done. Coming 6th in the world in my age-group and being the first GB athlete across the line was absolutely amazing but their reaction to it made the whole thing even more special. I genuinely cannot thank them enough for that because that was what made that moment, finishing that race, very very special. All I wanted to do was to do the whole thing all over again, I loved every single second. I still can’t believe I did as well as I did but I cannot wait to do it all again next year. Time for some training 🙂
Hannah x x x