I started this year just being chuffed to have qualified for the European Championships, determined to do myself proud. So from January I trained my arse off (literally, someone pointed out), and amazed myself with an overall first in Trowbridge’s Big T Standard Tri in early May (my first ever triathlon win), and then winning my age group at the European Championships later that month. This was shaping up to be an awesome year!
Then came the British Championships in Bala, Wales, in June. It was going really well until it was cancelled mid-race: tragically a male competitor died of heart failure during the cycle. My heart goes out to the guy’s family. Purely from my own perspective this was a nasty shock – triathlon is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, and definitely not fatal. My motivation to keep on training plummeted after this – partly because of the Bala experience, partly because my main race for the season (the European Championships) had been ticked off the to-do list, and partly because I had no training plan any more. I was freestyling, weakly.
Next was the Castles Challenge in Northumberland in July. Another overall win, and my first middle distance (half ironman) win! But my training was still going downhill fast (unfortunately only metaphorically), so I went into the next race – Aberfeldy, the Scottish Championships in August – in a real psychological trough. I can still remember spending the day before just shuddering at the thought of getting into the cold loch for the swim, and having a mental battle with my inner petulant child just to get to the start line. Given my mental state it’s no surprise I had a really unpleasant race, but against the odds I got lucky*: another age group win.
All my middle distance racing was then over. I’d entered two shorter triathlons at the end of the season ‘just for fun’. As my training had been preparing me for longer distances I didn’t expect to do well, which helped to take the pressure off. The Haddington Sprint Tri was a fab race, and – quite ridiculously – I got another overall win! That was one of my favourite races and results of this year. My season finished with an age group first (2nd overall) at St Mary’s Loch Standard Tri.
So, 3 overall wins and 3 age-group wins from my six triathlons this year! The perfect season? I’m not so sure. I want to improve for the 2016 season in two ways.
- I want to train more consistently across the season and train smarter. The lack of structure to my training really demotivated me in the last few months. I can’t put in any more hours, so I need to train better with the hours I’ve got. Hence I’m so excited to have been accepted onto Joel Enoch’s Tri Squad (the Hartree JETS) – a performance squad with some top quality athletes in it and a superb coach. It will also help that my main race – defending my title at the European Championships in Austria – will take place at the end of the season rather than at the start, as this year. Psychologically this will be MUCH better for me.
- *Less luck, more ability! My European and Scottish Championship wins both occurred because the favourite in each had a bad race. I say I got lucky, while others have generously pointed out that the more I train the luckier I seem to get. Nonetheless, I want to be able to beat the favourites when they’re having good races, not just when they’re having bad ones. See point 1.
So, thanks for reading my blog this year along this quite unexpected journey for me, with all its highs and lows. I’ll keep blogging through the winter – the Adventures in Protein Shakes mini-series will make a comeback I’m sure, as well as updates on how the squad training is going.
(P.S. Please follow this blog and my twitter feed @RichardsonEliz. Cheers!)