So when I left you at the end of the last blog I was preparing for Eton Dorney. The first of the ITU world championship qualifying races.
The run up to the race had gone really well and I felt rested and strong. Despite a disturbed night’s sleep the night before due to pre-race nerves I felt I was in a good place to attack the race on the Sunday morning. I knew I had a shot.
I had my usual pre-race breakfast and packed up the car and headed to Eton. This has been a happy hunting ground for me in the past as it was the site of my first ever triathlon and also the race where I qualified for Chicago back in 2015.
I arrived and set up transition as usual, had a coffee and watched the first few waves of age groupers take to the water. My race started at 10:10 so at around 09:50 we headed to our start pen and it was the first real opportunity to eye up the competition. At 10:05 we entered the water which was a fairly pleasant 15.8 degrees. I jostled for a good start position and awaited the hooter.
We were away, the swim was about 300m out, 150m across and 300m back so I took the first 300m hard but sensible and turned at the first buoy, got around cleaning and pushed a little harder to the next buoy and turned again for the 300m push back to T1. I increased the speed of the swim and overtook a large amount of athletes who had perhaps gone out too fast and started to fade in the later stages of the swim. I exited the water in a much better position than in previous years (Thanks PSC) and found myself in T1.
T1 was quick and uneventful and the handful of events I had done prior to this one had paid off in transition practice as I got away well on the bike and made up a few places.
The feet were in quickly, fastened tight and the plan was to hunt down the lead pack and stick to them like glue. I hit the bike hard out of T1 and was making great progress on the loose riders. Then, out of nowhere, BANG – a rider who was drafting me a little too closely went into my back wheel.
The next hour was spent sat in an ambulance.
I had hit the floor pretty hard and my bike had gone over the top of me and landed with a bang beside me. I bounced, then bounced again then came the long slide where you can feel your skin being left on the tarmac. I finally came to a stop and after pausing my Garmin (I wish I was kidding!) I got up and grabbed my bike out of the way of oncoming riders. I collapsed on the grass and quickly realised I was bleeding, a lot.
The ambulance crew were great, they seemed to arrive within seconds and quickly set to work in tidying up my multiple wounds. My ankle, knee, thigh, hip, elbow, shoulder, back and both hands all needed attention and it was clear they had particular concerns over my shoulder.
As I was sat in the ambulance I noticed my bike. Both front forks were snapped and the front wheel was badly buckled, even if I could continue I wouldn’t be able to. My race was over.
The event car came and picked me and my bike up and took me back to transition where my very worried girlfriend was waiting.
I packed up and went home. The various cuts, scrapes and bruising were of course sore but my main concern was my shoulder. I had felt pain like this before. Back in 2012 and that meant 6 months out. I was ignoring the fact I clearly had to go to the hospital but I was simply delaying the news I knew that was on its way.
I visited the hospital on Monday and it was confirmed that I had a grade 2 AC joint dislocation. In short, if I don’t require surgery then it may take 6 – 8 weeks to repair. If I do need surgery it will take 6 months to repair. Either way, I will miss the remaining two ITU qualifying events and therefore for me the road to Rotterdam is now officially closed.
I find out next Tuesday if I will need surgery or not, but for now I’m off to lick my wounds. I’m truly heartbroken.