The second half of May continued to be as busy as the first half. With the St. Neots race behind me I reviewed the race and identified areas which could be quickly improved. This is a process I go through after every race. I would advise anyone to do the same, no matter what level you are, each race gives us a chance to learn and grow.
I decided to enter a local sprint event based in Hatfield (HSV Triathlon) to iron out some transition issues and get some more race pace in my legs. It turned out to be a good plan. The pool swim of 400m went well and I hit my targeted time before exiting into T1 and tackling the undulating 20km bike course. I made up a few places on the bike and maintained a decent average speed throughout. The run was nice and flat which was a relief and again made up a couple of places which saw me cross the finish line in 4th place overall and first in my age group – which earned me a nice medal and a prize of a run training session with “Perfect Balance”. Something to look forward too.
The following weekend saw me return to the scene of my first ever triathlon back in 2012, Eton Dorney. Again this was an ITU qualifier and the field of athletes was of a very high standard. I was relieved by a later than usual start which is one advantage of racing at Dorney, the bike being 100% on closed roads means we do not have to get underway in the small hours of the morning to avoid traffic. That said, in my usual fashion I still arrived early and racked before watching a couple of friends set off in their earlier waves. Once underway I was disappointed again with my swim time and exited the lake further down the field than I wanted. Out onto the bike and I started to gain back some places, a lot of places. I surged through the field again keeping my average speed high and powered through the slightly over distance flat 20km course. The run is fairly non eventful at Dorney, its flat, you go up and down the side of the lake twice and then you finish. That said I had pushed my legs hard on the bike so the run was fairly tough but I was still happy to post a decent 5km time. Overall I finished 10th in my age group and had a decent time for ITU qualification. Lots of positives from this race and I was happy with my own performance on the day.
The following week saw me take a proper taper week, with a few tougher sessions on the Monday and Tuesday with a couple of easier sessions and some days off towards the end of the week, I used this time to escape to the coast for a few days with the family and to go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, which was awesome! I highly recommend a visit if you are down that way.
The final race in May and the final ITU sprint qualifier loomed on the last weekend in May. Again returning to a venue I have had a love hate relationship with in the past. Last year I had a great race but upon finishing I discovered the loss of my timing chip. Having stayed and registered in Nottingham (Holme Pierrepoint) on the Friday I was once again relaxed and ready to race on the Saturday morning. Again a later than normal start meant I got to cheer a club mate on in his race before racking my own bike and preparing transitions. With the race briefing done we entered the 11 degree water and awaited the starter’s horn. Once sounded the washing machine was in full spin! For once my swim was improved and I clambered out of the water slightly battered and bruised in a reasonable time. T1 went smoothly and I was out on my bike on a nice flat fast course. Again the bike saw me gain a huge amount of place and a great bike split saw me dismount into T2. Again, transition went smoothly and I was out on the single loop run course. The legs felt good considering the effort they had put in on the bike and I finished the race in a decent time. Another good race under my belt. I walked upstairs and printed off my race splits and made my way to pack up my stuff and return to the car, that’s where it all went wrong!
A text came through from a friend simply saying “Mate, why the DQ?” At first I thought he was joking so I sent the usual abusive reply but he seemed adamant. Sure enough, he was right. I had been disqualified. Why? I am still trying hard to find out. The event organisers are unable to tell me, the race referee wasn’t present (don’t get me started on this!) and the BTF themselves have been very close to useless. At the time of me writing this I am still none the wiser as to why I was awarded a DQ, without knowing that I am unable to appeal (which they charge you for!) and therefore a potential qualifying race for me has been declared null and void. So all I can do is wait….
That sees the end of the sprint qualifiers and to be honest it has been a bumpy road and a lot tougher than I had expected. Will I qualify to race the sprint distance in Chicago in September or Lisbon in 2016? Truthfully, I don’t know. I will have to wait and see.
June now turns my attention to Olympic distance qualifiers, races to enjoy and a bloody long bike ride. Oh and who knows maybe the race organisers and the BTF between them will perhaps let me know why I was disqualified. I wouldn’t hold my breath!