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So many stresses on the way to world champs qualification

Written by Fiona June 26 2013

Things have been a little tense over the last week as I raced my second qualifier for the World Age Group Triathlon Championship 2013. (But I found success!)

Planet X bike racked

Planet X bike racked at Bristol Triathlon

1)   To start with Planet X, who is sponsoring me as a Planet X “blogging athlete”, had to rush a time trial bike to me in less than a week. I worried for days that it wouldn’t arrive. It arrived Thursday afternoon, the day before I flew to Bristol for the race.

2)   On Friday morning, my coach, the Mighty Vickster, called me to say she was worried about me racing on a brand new bike and on a time trial bike (I’d never ridden a time trial bike).  She was right to be worried.

3)   I took heed of MV’s words and went for a short spin on the bike. It felt good but I still worried I was mad to ride a new – and very different – bike in an important race.

4)   I decided to take the bike. I packed it in a bag for the plane and worried that it would get damaged en route.

5)   Arriving in Bristol it was clear that it was going to be a windy weekend. Wind and time trial bike wheels with deep rims do not go well together. I worried I’d made a big mistake bringing the bike.

Exiting the swim

Exiting the swim

6)   I took the bike for a test spin in the wind on the Saturday and doubled my worries. Unused to the affect of the wind on the front wheel, I veered across the road a few times.

7)   Race day worries included:

  • Fears of messing up the swim route by swimming to the buoys in the wrong order
  • Misting up of my goggles.
  • Numb hands and feet due to cold Bristol harbour water
  • Not finding my way, while wearing prescription goggles, from the swim exit to T1. It was the longest such transition I’d ever seen.
  • Messing up T1 by not being able to get my wetsuit off and then not being able to get my feet into the bike shoes that were attached to my bike.
  • Wind worries on the windy cycle course.
  • Getting feet out of bike shoes at a tricky entrance to T2.
  • Being too slow in T2.
  • A stiff back after riding the aggressive racing position on the Planet X time trial bike.
  • Useless wobbly legs in the run.
  • Lack of energy
  • Asthma
  • My period.

8) And most of all I worried that I’d finish just outside the qualifying place of 5th in my age group.

But I needn’t have worried so much.

The race to success

On the Planet X Stealth T bike

On the Planet X Stealth T bike

The race wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked. A few things went wrong:

  • Despite “waxing” my goggles they steamed up badly.
  • I couldn’t see in the swim so I swam into the harbour wall, three buoys, a kayaker and generally weaved around.
  • I found my “lost” bottle of baby oil (you need baby oil on your arms and legs to make it easier for wetsuit get-off) in the toe of my racing shoe. I found this out in T2 and it stalled my transition to the run by about 20 seconds.

But, mostly, things went well. And especially the bike section. Although I was riding the unfamiliar Planet X Red Racing Machine the bike felt fantastic. I did have to hold on to the aero bars tightly on a few cross-wind sections but the advantages of the speed of the bike outweighed the negatives. The psychological boost of the beautiful bike was very helpful indeed.

Finding out the results

While racing I tried to keep track of all the Fit Old Birds in my category. Our numbers were between about 630 and 660. I had seen a few on the bike section that I’d overtaken. I saw a couple on the run as they doubled back ahead of me. The Mighty Vickster, who offered fantastic support over the weekend, reckoned she’d seen a few in my age group cross the finish line ahead of me. But determining age on the faces of exhausted women is a tough job.

Thinking of a glass of white wine!

Thinking of a glass of white wine!

It wasn’t until I checked into the timing tent to get a computer read out of the provisional results that I dared to believe I’d qualified. The small read out put me in third place! I had to ask the “man in charge” if this meant I was actually, really, are-you-sure third in my age group and he said yes but qualified it by saying it was provisional results.

The run to third place

The run to third place

Vicky and I jumped and whooped for joy. Third! I couldn’t believe it.

And then came the doubts. What if the read out was wrong? What if I’d allowed myself to think I’d qualified and the official results said something else? For the next 24 hours I agonised. I convinced myself there had been a mistake; that I had someone else’s results. But around 1pm on Monday, the results sheet went up on the Bristol Triathlon website and it showed that I had indeed come third in the women’s 45 to 49 age group. (They are still saying that the results will not be official until this afternoon, however!)

I needed a top 5 place to qualify for the World Age Group Triathlon Champs in September. I took third place and I could not be more thrilled.

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