Expectation is such a strange ailment. There are a number of symptoms associated with expectation, your friends act differently around you because you display these symptoms, you can be off your food, feel down, feel excited, apprehensive and worried, you can feel like you've tried to put on a wetsuit that is way too small as the pressure you bestowed on yourself can become overbearing.
For one of the races I undertook at the Worlds I felt like this and for the other I removed this from the equation - this is how it panned out.
My build to Hyde Park was in all honesty a second thought, I had struggled since 2012 with a shoulder injury compounded with IT Band problems (all on one side) which really got in the way of any consistent training (and we should all know by now that consistency and not intensity is the key to success). My 2012 season was a bit underwhelming in all honesty and my foray into racing in the Pro cat was not what I had hoped; but I wouldnt change it as it was great fun and hard work where I could.
2013 started off with me looking to ditch Triathlon, I struggled with motivation (in part due to not being able to swim for 5/6 months or run for 4 but in this time I found STRAVA which kept me occupied while out on the bike and gave me some something to chase (Gotta get them KOMs).
In May (ish) my shoulder enabled me to start swimming properly again but at the same time I picked up a Hamstring niggle on a long run (22k) which meant I had to get off the TT bike and do any cycling in a sit up and beg style and also cut out running. Thankfully swimming kept me sane and relatively fit.
I had always planned on racing middle distance agin but with the lack of training planned a re-route to Hyde park as a back up more just to have something in the diary for the end of the season qualifying injured at Dambuster.
The National Relay Champs came and went in this period where I teamed up with Andy Tarry, Gav Chatterton and Nick Dun as part of the Tri-Camp race team managing to hold it together for a half decent run (as it was flat) and a pleasing podium for the team (One of a few for these boys!) behind teams with athletes such as Tom and David Bishop and Laurence Fanous who recently raced at the Elite World Champs (http://www.tricamp.co.uk/)
Three weeks out I was looking at turning up to the worlds and enjoying it. I had done my prep and worked out who I thought would be quick in the GB team and where I needed to be in my wave (N:B Split waves is a really unfair and inaccurate way of deciding a world championships, the number of competitors should have been reduced or the course changed). I felt that my Tri-Anglian Team member Iain Robertson would be the man to watch on the day as I had seen his results during the year, knew he was swimming better than he ever had done and was abundently aware of his run pedigree. I was confident that had I been fit I would have the edge in the swim and the bike and that should give me enough to hold him off on a flat run where I figured I would need 2mins breathing space.
In my current condition my expectation had been to put 90s to 2mins into Iain on the swim, perhaps a minute on the bike but to drop about 2 to 2:30 mins on the run. It was going to be pretty close.
Then Expectations changed.
I have known Iain Dawson (http://www.triteamdawson.co.uk/ see Iains WChamp race report here) for a number of years and guided him to a World Duathlon Championships T6, World Triathlon Championships T6 and National Champs between 2010 and 2011 (breaking a wheel in Spain whilst 5mins up at European Champs - DNF) and when he came to me three weeks from the Wolrds and asked if I would step in and guide him I was delighted at the prospect.
I knew what this meant though; I wrote off my own World Champs.
I was racing with Iain less than 48hrs prior to my race and knowing what a good performance in this race would mean (funding, support, route to Rio and the retention of a World Championships); on went the pressure. I was stepping into some pretty big shoes under important circumstances;
- Iain's previous guide is bloody quick, faster (doesn't do it justice) than me in the swim and currently a better runner.
- Competition was much higher than in 2011
- The number of athletes was significantly increased since 2011
- More on the line with funding etc
- I was going into the race carrying an injury that could effect Iain's placement.
- Iain dropped the bomb that he was reigning World Champ...
On my own time I had to start ramping up some speed work both in the pool and in run sessions and also did some work on cycling in a TT position (as I had been avoiding this for the last 4 months, apart from race situations). This started to put a lot of pressure on the hamstrings but I had realized that even though I only needed to get through one race I had to have a few efforts 'in the bank'.
I managed 3 effort sessions with CONAC (although I had been told not to run hills) and one track session in the weeks leading up to the race plus a few days training with Joe Skipper including a 4hr bike (involving some scooter pace work) a 5k hard swim and the Sessions with CONAC; oh and a few (more) hours with the physio!
Joe and his 'pilot'
The week leading to the worlds would usually be spent (had we been racing abroad) getting used to the climate, the course and the surroundings, traveling and getting a couple of final sharpener sessions. To try and emulate this it had been arranged for the para-tri squad to attend a 'holding camp' in loughborough from the preceding Sunday. The whole purpose was to prepare and take the athletes away from day to day stress etc and to allow them to have a week that they could base around usual preparation.
This was a great idea, usually we would already have been in the country (probably) and if you could do what you would normally do, Hell why not!
Some of the weed picked up on our tether at a swim session.
Some things worked really well, for a start the controlled nutrition (i believe) was a major factor in my success on Sunday and must have had a similar effect for the Friday race). Also the availability to physio's and strategy (due to the belief the course was not useable), bonding with the rest of the team (considering this was the first time I had met most) and access to facilities was a massive bonus.
The only downside for me was the additional traveling and early mornings that accompanied the week especially the trip down from Loughborough to London on Wednesday when I would have been looking to chill out and do some high paced work outs 48hrs pre race. If the week had been organized in London rather than Loughborough it would have been perfect (I think it was even more hectic for me as I was trying to fit in AG commitments/requirements and Para requirements including a lecture on Doping where I learned Sudafed is a banned substance and that if Iain got called into give a sample I wasn't going with him...we were not that close!).
RACE 1 (PARATRI T6b- GUIDE)
I wont bore you with all the racking, registering (which was so much more drawn out than the AG one as our tethers had to be measured, bikes checked and cleared and involved a lot of standing around for guys with one leg, and with people holding tandems) and walking back and forth, but it wasnt ideal to say the least....but I had been warned!
Britri had arranged a separate area for the Para-tri team which included physio beds, warm-up turbo's (1st time Ive ever had a turbo to use - and probably the last). Iain and I did a short turbo session (I had to basically copy what Iain did) and we kitted up and wondered over to the start. We were the second wave of two following the T6a wave after 5 minutes.
The plan for us had always been damage limitation on the swim, we knew ex Paralympian Dave Ellis and (Guide) Luke Watson would be fast and would probably battle it out with Aaron Scheides (USA) and Guide Colin Riley (http://cdifferentwithaaron.com). We would try and gain as much of an advantage on the bike as possible and hold on for as long as possible on the run......in an ideal world.
The weather had been pretty dank and there was talk of shortening the swim. We planned the swim so I would be on the right hand side of Iain so that I would swim the long route round the anti-clockwise course.
We started well (to the right of the fast boys) and I could see that two 'arrow heads' had formed with Aaron and Dave to my left and we were leading out the second just behind their pace. I drifted across towards the first buoy and slotted in behind Dave and Aaron just off their feet - I was content with this and pushed to get into the leaders draft. Rounding the buoy we came across some back markers from the first wave and while Dave and Aaron went inside their line we got caught on the outside I guided Iain wider to try and stay out of trouble (and also was how we had practiced taking the buoys - a nice smooth line round rather than taking them too tight). Unfortunately this meant I dropped the leaders draft and never got back on. We ran into some more back markers and got dunked about 3 times, tangled up and ended up not being able to get away essentially being picked up by the main group from our wave.
We ended the swim a good couple of minutes down which in all honesty I found pretty hard. I had lost sight of Aaron and Dave and knew we would be hard pressed to make up the time needed to put Iain in a winning position.
Into T1 we broke away from the group we exited the water with and passed a few more T6a athletes on the way out to the bike, had a good mount and settled in to make as much time as possible.
We worked our way closer to the leaders during the bike but it was bloody hard work. The damp surfaces combined with lack of time on the tandem meant that we had to hammer it out of the turns but take ALL the speed off on the way into the U-turns and the S-Bend. We were trying and trying but just couldn't make up the time as just did not have enough space to get up to speed and maintain it, as soon as we got to our top end we basically had to brake and turn or lift the front wheel over the very hard speed bumps (which cost us Gels and my front bottle). I must however confirm that the Matrix wheels, although not specific for the Tandem were amazing, I just couldn't believe that the speed we hit the bumps didn't cause permanent damage, after snapping the bottle cage and with me not being the lightest athlete I expected that we would be face planting at some stage.....fortunately we did not and can only thank the guys who put the wheels together!
We caught the US team on the way into T2 and Dave/Luke were just on their way out. A different bike course with some hills and better conditions would have played into our hands but you can only race what is there!
We started the run in third with Aaron about 10m ahead. I knew his pedigree and expected that he would move away very quickly however Iain held the gap for a long time and put in a great first lap. His running had certainly come on since I last raced with him.
The time gap to the US team became too great and although I felt we were a comfortable 3rd I couldnt let Iain know this too early as I wanted to keep the overall gap as small as possible.
Iain ran a very good 5k and faster than some guys who were putting minutes into him last time we raced but both Dave and Aaron ran stonking 5k's, Swam better and held it together on the bike enough to keep us at bay. I didnt see anything that would worry me too much and suggest that they couldnt be beaten and overall feel that a place on the podium was where Iain deserved to be.
Really happy for Dave and Luke; especially happy they didnt get DQ'd as that would have put the US in first ;). Its going to be exciting over the next couple of years with Iain and Dave pushing each other towards Rio.....bring it on!!!
SHOW ME THE RESULTS:
RACE 2 (STANDARD 35-39)............