As of last week my second year at university is over and I can finally sit down and spend some time on my blog! So much has happened since my last post, back then I was just starting to build my running back up and looking forward to a training camp in Majorca. Since then I've had 4 races and a bucketful of exams; allow me to shed some light.
Majorca was an amazing experience for me; a whole week dedicated to doing what I love without having to think about uni work. Most of the days were spent riding up some brutal climbs, with Sa Calobra being the most famous, a 9.4km affair full of hairpins which sees you climb over 600m vertically. Clocking up over 300 miles during the week really helped to add strength to my riding and it has shown in my early season results.
Not long after returning from the training camp, I raced locally at Southwell triathlon. Originally, I’d been expecting to take an overall podium place but after a stellar turnout I was happy to take 8th overall and 4th in my age group. Some residual fatigue from Majorca meant I had a subpar bike leg and my swim wasn’t up to much either, but I had a decent run for this time of year (16:41 on a short 5k), leading to a solid result for my season opener.
A week later I was off down south with the rest of UoN Tri for the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Sprint Champs. The race was in Calne as usual which meant a 3AM start. We arrived at around 8AM, plenty of time for my wave which wasn’t due to start for another 6 hours. The BUCS races always have a cracking turnout, with some of the best student triathletes in the UK competing. Therefore, I was simply aiming to beat my time from last year and see the results of my hard work. I did just that, coming in over 3 minutes faster after knocking a significant amount of time from my bike split.
Next up was the BUCS Standard Champs, raced over the Olympic distance of a 1500m swim, 40k bike and 10k run. This was to be my second ever standard distance and, as I was finally starting to find my running legs, I was excited to see what I could do. First off, a less than elegant entrance into a murky ‘marine lake’ at our race venue of Southport. As the race began, I knew I had to maximise my swim time gains over the rest of my university team mates as we have some pretty good runners in the squad. I swam hard to the first buoy to try and stick with one of the lead groups and was pretty happy to be just at the back of a pack with clear water behind me. At the time I thought this was probably the chase pack, but in hindsight, looking at my swim time this was clearly not the case! A mediocre swim saw me exit the water down in 55th position with work to do.
After a mixed transition (I managed to lose my bike…) I was out on the bike course, trying to hunt down those ahead whilst also trying to stay clear of those behind me. As this race is draft ILLEGAL, the onus is entirely on the individual to ride as hard as they can with no benefit allowed from sheltering behind stronger riders. Riding to my power metre, I aimed to race at around 285W for the first half of the bike leg and then try and push on with whatever I had left in the tank. My legs didn’t have it in them on the day so I just gave what I could. The course was flat and fast, suiting those out and out power riders and giving no advantage to those with a knack for climbing (aka me). Due to the out and back nature of the course I was able to keep tabs on those athletes around me and though I was making decent headway, one of my teammates James Harkin (Side note, James cycled up Sa Calobra 13 times in a row on our Majorca training camp to equal the height of Everest. He’s crazy.) was well on his way to catching me. I put the hammer down with 5k to go and came into transition with around a 40 second lead.
In my previous 2 races, both times I’d set off on to the run with a stitch which hampered my performance. With 10k to run I’d decided to start off comfortably, not pushing myself too hard and just keeping my cadence high. Thankfully I had no stomach troubles this time round and I was very happy to see my first kilometre split was around the 3:30 mark; if I kept this up and didn’t fade too badly I’d be able to maintain and build upon my current placing for sure. As expected I did start to tire a little, but not before running my fastest 5k so far this season and moving away from everyone in the field bar Niall and Adam, the fastest runners in my club. Adam put in an excellent 33 minute 10k and Niall out ran me by about 20 seconds, but my performance in all 3 disciplines saw me hold them off and hit the red carpet as first scorer for the uni.
I was very happy to finish in 27th position, and as a whole the Nottingham boys finished in 5th position overall, securing crucial BUCS points. The girls team also did well, scoring points.
Next up was an interesting period where I tried to juggle both studying for my upcoming exams and getting ready for Deva Triathlon in Chester, a qualifier for the World Champs. I had my exams on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th of June, and with the race on the 4th, this meant for some tricky logistics and not the smoothest preparation for the race or for the exam. My parents picked me up from uni after my second exam and we drove to Chester to scout out the course and get an early night. Come race morning I was raring to go, having never tested myself over the standard distance except at the BUCS races.
Next up for me is the European Triathlon Champs in Dusseldorf. I’ll be flying out to Germany on Wednesday to give me time to acclimatise and do some course recon. My race starts at 8 AM on Sunday morning; hopefully the weather will be a little cooler than it is in England at the moment! I’ll post a link later in the week for anyone who wants to follow live!
As always, thank you for reading! Sam