• Noah

2018 Season - First Post

Welcome to my first blog post! Here I will keep you updated on my training and racing in a short monthly blog. As this is my first entry, it will be a brief round-up of a selection of the 2018 season. Enjoy!

National Duathlon Champs - March

First up for me this season was the National Duathlon Champs in Bedford. This was a combined race featuring the British Championships for both Juniors and Seniors in a combined race. I was very excited to get racing, and this showed, as I went out a little too quickly, and started to really feel the burn and faded towards the end the of the first 5km. Nevertheless, I still put out a PB of 15:37. I felt strong going onto the bike, but unfortunately, my shoe came loose from my pedal and fell off my bike. I tried to keep going, but trying to race pedalling with one shoe missing simply wasn't possible. I was forced to pull out, and was very disappointed at the missed opportunity, but was still encouraged by the strong run I had shown.

Performance Assessments - April

Next up for me was the British Triathlon Performance Assessments, where the country's juniors try to qualify for the British Super Series. The field was stacked, with all the best juniors competing. The first day consisted of an 800m swim time trial in the pool. I swam a PB of 9:00 which ranked me in 7th after the first stage, and, whilst I was a little disappointed I didn't break the 9 minute mark, I was very pleased with my performance. The second day featured a bike-run format, emulating the final two disciplines of a triathlon. The pace was furious at the start of the bike (my average speed was over 26mph), but once it had settled down, I found myself comfortably in the lead group of around 12. I attempted to conserve my energy for the run by being as efficient as possible on the bike. Having not finished the National Duathlon in the month prior, this was my first 5km run off a 20km bike, and my inexperience showed. I really struggled on the last 2km of the run, and managed to hold on for 7th, posting an ok 17:06 for the run. This position successfully qualified me for the Super Series.

Super Series Llanelli - May

The sprint distance super series race in Llanelli doubled as the European Junior Cup Series qualifier, as well as the European Junior Championship qualifier, and so was a race highly targeted by many athletes.

The swim leg went excellently for me - after an excellent start getting to the first buoy in 3rd position, I moved into the lead after the first lap of two and held on to this position until the end of the 750m swim. I had an excellent transition as well, and found myself at the front of the race on the bike with a huge lead. I had a dilemma however, as I knew I could not stay away from the chasing group for 20km on my own; I could either ease up and join the group at the front, or hang on my own hoping for someone else to join me in a breakaway. I took a risk and chose the latter, knowing that it might mean expending extra energy if noone chose to breakaway. Unfortunately, noone did, so I was caught by the chase group. I then settled in and tried to recover for the 5km run leg. Unfortunately, as soon as I went onto the run leg, I knew I was going to have to endure some severe discomfort from my stomach for the rest of the race. Because of this, I put out a very slow run time of 17:39, and finished a disappointing 14th. Nevertheless, this put me within 5% of the winner, the required margin to qualify for the European Cup Series.

Diving back into the water in 1st place, wearing my Yonda Ghost

Blenheim Palace Triathlon - Youth Olympic Qualifier - June

Next up for me was the Blenheim Palace Triathlon - my main focus for the year. The top 4 finishers from this race would go on to the Youth Olympic Qualifier in Banyoles, Spain (making this race a qualifier for the qualifier). I had a solid swim, coming out the water in second. The lead group which had formed on the bike was a little too large too large for my liking so I put in an attack on a downhill section to try to break things up. A smaller breakaway group of 4, myself included, formed and we began to work well together (after the race, I learned that a crash behind helped us get away - whilst this was very unfortunate for my fellow competitors, a little luck never goes amiss!). I had an excellent T2, and went out onto the run in the lead. I was running very strong, and with 1km to go I was sure that I was going to win, but 3 runners from the chase group came flying past, and I did my best to hang on. I ended up finishing 4th, and whilst I was a little disappointed, I was also super excited to be heading to Spain the next month for the Youth Olympic Qualifier!

Youth Olympic Qualifier, Banyoles - July

Qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games had been my goal for a very long time, and so this race had very high stakes for me. I had been preparing meticulously, even training in a specialised heat chamber to prepare for the 35 degree Spanish heat. Finishing as the first British athlete inside the top 13 would qualify; only one spot per country was available.

I got off to an excellent start in the swim, but was caught up in the violent melee around the first turn buoy, and lost a lot of ground. The rest of the swim was damage limitation, and coming out of the water a long way back was not what I had planned; as a stronger swimmer I am used to being near the front of the race in the water. Despite this, I did my best in T1 and got onto the bike as quickly as possible. Still, I found myself in the second bike group, not where I wanted to be. Towards the end of the second lap (of 3), I was excellently positioned coming into the technical section of the bike course, in second place in the pack. Unfortunately, the rider in front of me lost his balance around a corner and crashed, bringing me and several others down with him. I untangled myself as quickly as possible, and jumped back on the bike. High on adrenaline, I chased as fast as possible, and caught the pack just as they caught the front pack, except for one breakaway rider. The front of the race was now not far away. A good T2 meant I was the first British athlete onto the run course, however, I was in too much pain to continue. Luckily, I had not suffered any lasting damage, but the shock of the crash caught up with me and I was forced to pull out. I was extremely disappointed, but I had to pull myself together to try to perform in the mixed relay the next day. I was to be the anchor athlete, and so a lot of pressure rested on me to try to win a medal. I was handed over in second position, and, despite catching the lead athlete, and going onto the run in first, I was only able to hang on for second. This was still an excellent result for the team, and getting on the international podium was an excellent experience.

London World Qualifiers - August

The AJBell London Triathlon was the qualifier race for the Junior World Championships in Gold Coast. After missing out on the Youth Olympics, this was something that I was determined to do my best to achieve. A good swim put me in second after the first leg, and a solid T1 put me in the perfect position to join the breakaway group of 5 at the front of the race. The 5 of us worked well together to establish a significant lead over the chase group, and we were well clear going into T2. Unfortunately, confusion about my bike racking position led to me losing over 10 seconds in transition, putting me at a disadvantage to the other 4 athletes. I worked hard over the first lap of the run, and managed to catch one of the athletes, and coming very close to catching another. This meant I was very close the 3rd, the place needed to secure a place in Australia. Unfortunately the effort needed to close this gap on the first half of the run put me in the red, and meant I suffered a lot on the second lap. This gave the faster runners from the group behind the opportunity to catch me, and I ended up in a not too disappointing 7th place. I knew I needed to work on my run over the next few weeks until British Championships, what would be my last race of the season.

Putting in the hard workouts before British Championships

British Championships, Mallory Park - September

As it was the last race of the season, I was very keen to do well, and was excited to see how my hard work and focus on the running discipline was paying off. I had another solid swim, exiting the water in 3rd place, and after a good T1 found myself working hard on the front of the race to try to establish as small a group as possible for the very technical bike course. A small group of 6, including French athlete Guillaume Hay formed, and we worked hard to distance the second group. I was very careful with my positioning in the group, as the technical course and tight corners meant getting caught at the back would mean more work than being at the front. Coming off the bike I had another good transition and found myself in second place, tucked in behind the French athlete. I decided to drop back into 3rd place to try and get some more shelter from the wind. On the second lap, the frenchman made a break, and moved clear into the lead. I decided to let the other athletes do the work to try and catch him, however, when I realised they couldn't and that the frenchman was pulling away, I moved ahead of my compatriots and tried to chase down the leader. However, he proved too strong, and I ended up finishing second, but as this was British Championships, the victorious frenchman was excluded from the final results, and I was awarded the British Junior Title. I was so happy to finally see that my work on the run paying off with a 5km run split of 15:38, only 1 second off my PB, but this was after racing a swim and a bike as well! I was so happy with my overall performance, and despite having a rocky season featuring mechanical issues, issues with my stomach, and a crash, I am very pleased with my progress this year, and I am ready to knuckle down over the winter months so I can be even better next year.

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