Well, what a whirlwind five weeks it has been here in Europe. Having passed through both England and Scotland, I am now here enjoying some warmth and sunshine whilst logging some solid training days in Girona, Spain. From a racing perspective, I am ‘half way’ through my trip with two races down and two to go in the form of Challenge Iceland this weekend and then Ironman Hamburg a further three weeks after that.
The first two races of my European adventure did not necessarily play out the way I would have hoped when jumping on the big bird over here. Unfortunately the first race, at Staffordshire 70.3, ended up finishing with a DNF due to myself poorly handling the situation of losing my nutrition at the start of the bike leading to me completely overloading my gut with foreign nutrition and ultimately a complete shutdown ensued. Moving on from Staffs, I made the drive up to Edinburgh where I was able to score some great weather during my two week stay. Apparently a miracle I have been told given the ‘summer’ that they have been experiencing. After a great little two week training block including recovery and a small taper, I was excited to have another hit out over a tough course (nearly 1000m vertical on the ride and 300m on the run) whilst also being joined by my mum and step-dad, a big bonus! On race day we faced a very stiff wind coupled with chilly temperatures and as such the swim was shortened to 950m. After swimming very poorly into the chop I was able to claw back a little on the way back yet still found myself well back on where I wanted to be. One of my strengths on the bike in the last six months is my ability to push solid power for the first 30min or so. When I come out with the lead group, this gives me a great opportunity to get away (i.e. Husky Long Course), however, when coming out over a minute back it unfortunately only usually gets me back up to the front of the race with some matches already burnt. This highlights to me the importance of improving my swim to ensure that my day starts well and whilst here in Girona I have been grateful to be able to swim with a few of the ITU guys and girls a couple of days a week which should hopefully pay some dividends. Back to the race, after getting myself up to the lead bunch of 8, with Raelert off the front, I attempted to go straight past but was faced with some pretty blatant drafting and began to get frustrated. To keep it short, this basically led to me smashing my legs a bit with big surges to try and get away followed by hardly pedalling once I couldn’t. This type of riding doesn’t lead to a fast pace and whilst eventually I managed to carve out a small 40sec or so lead on the big group by the end of the ride, Raelert was already in another post code and barring disaster had the race pretty well covered. I was able to take the first couple of kilometres reasonably steady until the big bunch came charging through. After latching onto Fraser Cartmell’s hip I found myself in a nice battle, however at 15km the hills got to me and I found myself slogging home to a 1.24hr run and a 9th place, not what I know I am capable of yet still a much better outcome than Staffs two weeks prior.
Now, that leaves me here in Girona, Spain. The training has been going well, however, living here alone has made me realise how good my support network is at home and how supportive all those around me are in helping me achieve my goals. This realisation has truly fuelled me to ensure that in these next two races that I race all the way to the finish line and push harder than I ever have before. I owe this not only to myself but also to all those who support me. The outcome, right now, is not the objective, rather the goal is to leave it all out there on the course and cross the line knowing there is nothing more I could have done. I look forward to heading to Iceland this weekend to do just that before being joined by my girlfriend for a trip to Germany for Ironman Hamburg, I truly can’t wait.
None of this adventure would be at all possible without the support of my partner, my family and my friends. They drive me to reach for my goals and for that I am forever grateful. Furthermore, my coach Grant Giles at Aeromax. Grant, I feel, is taking me in a great direction and I look forward to continually pushing forward under his guidance.
Also, a lot of thanks must be given to my sponsors, without whom this sport would be all the more difficult. Thank you to Jaggad, Dimond, Parcours and Zone 3 for the continued support and belief, hopefully some strong results are on the horizon!