April has been a challenging month for me, both mentally and physically. Under usual circumstances, I would have already kicked off my season off at an early European Cup and set a benchmark for the upcoming year, but due to the Pandemic I was unable to get out to any races or they were all cancelled. In light of this, my coach and I decided that I should give a 5km race another go and hope for better conditions this time!
I decided to do the PB5k again as it is relatively local and other people from my training group were doing it. It would have been nice to do Podium 5k, but it wasn’t worth the risk of travelling so far up North when there was a race down here. After watching the Podium race online and seeing other triathletes set some very fast times, I was very excited to see what I could run. I was feeling very fit and knew a good time was capable. I had set a time of 14.30 in my head, it was a tough ask considering I’d only just ran 14.46 a few months previous, but it was a time I thought I could reach. The field was looking pretty strong with some good depth, but unfortunately, again the weather wasn’t on my side. The rain held off, but there were still 20mph winds on this very exposed bendy course. I was gridded on row 3 in a wave of around 40 runners, and 200 overall in our race due to Covid measures. I managed to get a good start and found myself leading the race by the first big bend. It was clear from the start that due to the conditions this was going to be a tactical race as opposed to a fast race. This was a little annoying as I had come here to run a PB and wasn’t worried about where I would place. Due to this,s I decided to take on the race and led up to the first straight into the headwind. I then tucked in and let the others do some work. The group was still fairly big and no one wanted to take it on. The race was very cagey and it was clear people were prone to tangling with each other on the bends, so I made sure I was near the front and out of trouble. As we entered the tailwind section again I went back to the front and started to pick up the pace, causing the group to string out and splinter. We hit the halfway mark in around 7:17, so I was on pace for my target. I was feeling really strong and I knew that breaks in the group were bound to happen very soon, so I tried keeping myself up at the front and near the action.
As we hit the headwind there was an instant surge in the pace, and I got slightly caught out. I was stuck behind a few runners and had to come out into the wind to try and close the gap to the leaders. Two leaders had broken away and had put in a strong gap on the headwind and downhill section. I was in around 6th place with a couple of runners just ahead of me and the main group just behind. I knew the tailwind was the place to make up some positions as after that there was a downhill section, and then just the final run into the finish. I pushed hard and found myself in 4th position just before the downhill. I caught the guy in 3rd place on the downhill and decided to run as hard as I could pass him and hopefully put a gap into him. I opened up a gap of around 10 metres. I maintained this gap right up to the final 100m, where we then took a sharp right up into a small hill and then left onto the final finish. I was really feeling the initial kick now and the person behind was catching me. I managed to just hold on and crossed the line in third place, with a one-second gap to the person behind. I ran my final km in 2:43, which helped me improve on the time I was heading for. I crossed the line and had just ran a 14:17! I was really pleased with this time considering the tactical nature of the race and the windy and challenging conditions of the course. The time has put me in equal 18th place with Gordon Benson on the UK U20 all-time 5km rankings, with another year left in the age group. Hopefully, I can improve on this position in the near future.
Unfortunately a few days after the 5km I became very ill, having to stop training entirely for almost 2 weeks. Somehow I had managed to catch Salmonella. This is not ideal preparation leading into my first triathlon of the year, but I have recovered well and am now back into full training. I had a strong Winter base, and after a few sessions back I’m already feeling back to near full fitness. I have another 2 weeks of hard training to get ready, and then I’m into my first taper of the year for the Euro Trials in Llanelli! I’m really excited to get stuck back into racing and seeing how my training has paid off. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes.