The one where it went wrong

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.

It must be triathlon season!

Yes yes, I know it’s been a while since I last posted something but I have been a busy boy and trying to get my head down and focus towards the first qualifier of the season.

In my last post I mentioned that I had successfully qualified for the ITU Sprint distance Duathlon championships in Canada and this is still on the cards, although not my primary focus for 2017.

The second half of March was spent in the slightly warmer climate of Majorca. I made the trip with two team mates from PSC and we had 10 days of training in fantastic surroundings.

The highlight for me was ascending Sa Calobra which is locally known as the “snake road”. It is a climb from the port de sa calobra 10km to the summit. That 10 km twisting through the mountains took 41 tough minutes and I definitely deserved my pa amb oli afterwards!

April was a relatively quiet month in terms of races for me, but there were plenty of races where I was supporting coached athletes in other races. It was great to see athletes taking part at the “Run Fest” Half marathon and 10 km, Brighton Marathon and of course the Virgin London Marathon. It’s a very rewarding feeling when athletes achieve their goals and you know you had a small part to play, they all made me very proud indeed. I also passed my final assessment to become a level 2 Triathlon coach in mid-April.

My next race was the rocket 5 km in Milton Keynes, I had hoped to target this race for a sub 18 minute 5 km attempt but on the day outside influences meant that it just wasn’t happening. I was happy enough to squeeze in under 19 minutes (18:59) and receive a pretty cool medal.

Into May and by this point I usually would have braved the coldness of the open water, but as I type – I still haven’t. It’s been a chilly start to the year and reports that I am getting from friends are not very positive. However, I will have to sum up the courage and take the plunge either this week or early next week as I have the Eton qualifier approaching and I need to get my wet suit tested before race day!

Luckily my first triathlon of 2017 was a pool based triathlon which was lovely and warm. The HSV sprint triathlon is a cracking little event hosted by Tri Force and Active Training world. Based at Hatfield Uni the swim is just 400m followed by a gently undulating bike course and a mixed terrain 5km run.

The race.

My swimming has been going well recently so I wanted to push hard to see a decent time in the pool. Unfortunately this isn’t the sort of event to do that, for those of you that have not done a pool Triathlon before the usual format is that you swim up one side of the lane, back done the other side then duck under the lane rope and repeat until you reach the final lane and get out. This obviously takes additional time and so my time was effected by this, but, everyone was in the same position.

Transition 1 was clean, with no wetsuit to worry about it was off with the goggles, on with the helmet, grab the bike and away for the 300m run to the mount line.

Despite a light covering of rain the bike course was good. Decent road surfaces in the main helped a safe and fast bike ride. I made up a lot of places with a strong ride and didn’t have to take any silly risks on the damp roads. The first outing on the tri bike this year was a good one and I was happy with the way it performed. A strong performance led me safely into T2.

Starting with another 300m run to transition with very cold hands and feet wasn’t pleasant but went without issue as I racked the bike, ditched the helmet and on with the trainers and of course the sunglasses. No sun to be seen anywhere but they hide the pain nicely and always make for better race photos #truestory

The altered run course was much better. I hate running loops so I am glad to see they ditched the 4 loop run route. Instead we had a multi terrain 5km run which was comfortable. It shouldn’t have been comfortable! Despite a good finish I started far too easy and didn’t push myself. This effectively cost me 1st place in my age group. I need to remember how to take risks and get uncomfortable!

So I crossed the line and claim 2nd in my age group and 5th overall. Decent enough times to come away with and a positive race ahead of Eton in a couple of weeks’ time.

Roll on Eton!