What a rollercoaster of a month, from being in the best shape I’ve ever been to finding out World Junior Championships along with many other races have been cancelled. It certainly hasn’t been something easy to take but I’m slowly coming to terms with what is going on and how this Pandemic quite rightly is bigger than Triathlon.
The month started off with the race I had been targeting all winter, British Cross Country Champs – The UK inter counties. Training leading up to this race had been going really well, and I knew my run fitness was pretty strong, so I was hoping for a good result, maybe a top 10. My previous best at this race had only been 22nd and that was over 2 years ago so a top 10 wouldn’t be easy.
After being ill at Christmas and having a shocker at Kent Champs, I had only just scraped it into the Kent team, meaning I had been placed in the Pen as 7th our of 8. Not ideal when almost 300 people are on the start line. Luckily on the day I was moved up to 4th place in the pen, so it wasn’t as bad. I had a really good start and by the first corner, I found myself towards the front. I stayed in the front pack for the first lap and tried to stay out of the wind as much as possible. After the first lap, the pace slowed slightly and everyone bunched up. We were nearing the long hill at the back of the course and I knew this was going to be a key moment in the race. I positioned myself on the inside just before the hill, meaning I had space to move so I could get the best line. As soon as we hit the hill there was a surge in pace and the group quickly splintered. Halfway up the hill, the group had quartered in size to around 6 of us with one person just ahead. By the top of the hill, I found myself in 4th place, around 10m behind the leader and with 5 other strong runners. This part of the course was very challenging with sticky mud covering the whole course. Every step I took I would just sink into the mud and have to drag myself through it. We then had to negotiate another hill caped in sticky mud. I was still in 4th place but there were now two people just in front of the group of 3 I was in. I was starting to struggle now, the mud was sapping energy every stride I took. However, I knew I had to try and close the gap to the leaders. Towards the top of the hill, I pushed on and we entered into the extra loop. This loop was flat and fairly dry, meaning the pace increased. I had managed to drop the two in the group and I was now focusing on closing the gap. I came out the loop in 3rd, I hadn’t managed to close the gap but I had put in some distance between myself and 4th place. We now had around 800m to the finish, and I really started to push on. The last 400m or so was all up a gradual hill with long grass and more mud. The gap behind continued to grow and this time I was closing on 2nd. Sadly I had left it just too late, but I crossed the line in 3rd place, just 3 seconds off 2nd! Everyone else in the Kent team also had really strong races and we ended coming first in the Team race! I was so shocked to finish 3rd at the British Champs, but I knew i had had my best race. I had prepared really well for the race, so I was extremely pleased with the work and to finally get the result I knew I was capable of.
A week later I decided to race at English Schools, I hadn’t planned on doing it but after such a good race the week before I thought there was no fun in having a run round in Liverpool. The course wasn’t ideal for me, fairly flat the whole way round with no big hills. But English Schools is always a great event and this year I was racing for Sussex Schools due to moving school. The race was flat out from the gun with no shortage in pace. I struggled from the start, I didn’t prepare well enough for the pace at the start of the race and found myself in a below ideal position at the first corner. The course narrowed very quickly and i had to weave in and out of a lot of people. I never made it near the front and my heart rate didn’t recover from the sprint at the start, so I was really feeling it at the end of the race. I crossed the line in 19th place, not my best result, but after my race the week before and being bottom of the age group it was still a fairly good result.
Little did I know that that would be my last race for a long time and soon after that the lockdown was imposed. Since then I have been keeping myself ticking over and I’ve enjoyed the extra time I now have due to not being at school. Although I’m missing the pool, thanks to the help of Sportsaid, Pedal Potential, and KT4YS I have been able to purchase a small pool and I’m using a bungee chord and innertube to create my own ‘endless pool’. It’s not ideal but it simulates the feel of swimming and it’s the best I can do at the moment. I have also been using swim chords and I’ve been set some very hard sets by my coach. Thanks to platforms like Zwift riding indoors hasn’t been boring and I’ve been leaving my 1 permitted exercise daily to doing my runs. My running is going really well at the moment and the sessions I’ve done have been really fun. I’m hoping to come out of this situation better than I was before!
I hope everyone’s safe and well during this time.