When I think about the race I am left with two very different feelings. Looking at the result and finishing 12th leaves me frustrated and disappointed, particularly because it was the run that led to this position. Thinking about the performance, however, makes me feel excited, confident, and proud of the progress I have managed to develop this year. Both perspectives are important and both will drive me through the winter training. Safe to say I am enjoying my rest, but also chomping at the bit to get going again!
Before The Race
The trip to Bahrain was made easier by the fantastic support of my aunt and uncle and also having Pete there with me. Each race we are becoming more accustomed to the travel, logistics and preparation and I am so grateful that I don't have to do it on my own. The flight went by quickly, thanks largely to meeting and then chatting away to Alice Hector. It was nice to have fellow British girls racing and it was great to see Alice perform so well to finish 7th!
The final few days before the race went quickly and I was pleased to do my final training sessions of 2016. As race day approached, I was ready to race and I really knew I was ready. I was relaxed and confident and saw the race as a fantastic opportunity to put the hard work I had done to good use. It was amazing to be in such a competitive field and I was excited to see what I could do.
Swim start came around quickly on race morning. With a wetsuit swim confirmed, I finalised preparations by putting on my Orca Alpha and got in the water for my swim warm up. The flexibility of the suit around the arms is great and I felt comfortable as I lined up on the start line. A deep water start, with not far until the first buoy meant it was pretty frantic and a large group rounded the first buoy together. As we came around the buoy, I felt in a strong position and started to build a nice rhythm with plenty of other swimmers around me to work with. I worked my way up the group and noticed there were some people dropping off the pace. The course turned again and there was a long stretch into the chop of the sea water. I held my position and pace and continued to try and stay near the front of the group. The chop made it difficult to sight at times, but the course was well marked. I also ended up swallowing a fair amount of sea water, which I now know isn't the best idea when racing. The final turn buoy was in sight and suddenly the group split. I could see some people heading for the exit, but I knew we had to go left of the last buoy so I quickly changed direction and headed towards it. A few others came with me and soon the other group had redirected to it too. The swim exit was as frantic as the start with a group of about 8-10 of us all coming out the water in quick succession. A front pack swim has been my aim all season and 3rd out the water was the dream start.
Bike course in summmary was quick, windy and sandy! Out of transition I managed to pass a few athletes putting their feet in their shoes and I was riding in fourth. Two athletes came past me fairly early on, one of whom I could not stay with and the other of whom I managed to keep in sight for the long 30km section from the swim start down to the race track. My bike strength has developed a huge amount and I was confident I could hold the tempo and effort I was putting in. I also knew I had the perfect set-up and was delighted to have the wheel set that I have been racing on all year. The lightweight Fulcrum racing Quattro is a great option for the front and its shallow rim was good to avoid being blown around tooo much in the cross-wind. The Fulcrum disc has been fast and reliable all year and even in the cross winds offered the stability I needed for me to ride aero throughout the course. The course finished with a loop of the Grand Prix circuit and being isolated between the front group and the group behind me meant it was a solo lap! Coming into transition I passed my bike to a volunteer and off I went to set about the run.
Run began well for me and I felt able to get into a good rhythm for the first 5km. Although I felt in a good rhythm and my legs felt ready to build from there, my stomach was really starting to feel dodgy. I had felt pretty bloated and was trying to get fluids in and stay cool, but each aid station this was becoming more difficult. At about 8km in I knew I was starting to struggle and felt the only option was to take a toilet stop. Having lost one place dong this I came out and tried to get back into my running. This didn't last long and two more stops followed at successive aid stations. It was so demoralising seeing people come past, but they were running well and I just couldn't respond. I know I have a great run in me and I am disappointed that I could not bring home what had been, up to that point, a performance to be pleased with. I kept plugging away and was determined to finish, despite by this point having no energy and feeling very dehydrated. As I crossed the line I didn't know what to think or feel. I wasn't disappointed at that point, just felt at a bit of a loss as to what to do. I headed straight out to see Pete and my mum, which in hindsight was not a good idea! I spent the next half hour lying on the floor, trying to stay warm and not shake, waiting for the medical team. It took a while to get sorted, but I am grateful for the help and as always for having mum and Pete to help me get back to the hotel.
Racing this year has been a bit of the case of getting two out of three and whilst this isn't all bad, I certainly know that if i can put all three together in the next race it will be a very good day!
The race marked the end of my 2016 season and a welcome rest. This race and the rest of the year would not be possible without my amazing team Etixx Skechers Digme Fitness I-ride UK Orca. In addition a huge thank you to Andy Bullock for continuing to push me to be better and believe in me! Most importantly to Mum, Pete and Chrissie and Paul who made the trip as wonderful as it was!
A year in review and 2017 plans will be posted soon!!