July 2019 and Junior World Qualifiers
July was a very quiet month. I had no races planned, and was finally free from the stresses of revision and exams. I was focused on my most important race of the season, the qualifier for the World Junior Championships at Bryn Bach in early August, and preparations were all specifically geared towards this race. As the course at Bryn Bach includes a hilly bike course, I included specific training such as hill reps and swim to bike brick sessions in order to fully prepare myself for the nature of the race. The event would also involve the U23 European Qualifier and so a strong field and a hard race was all but guaranteed. Typically being a strong swimmer, my preparations were geared mainly towards preparing for a hard bike leg and coping with the associated fatigue on the run. Bike and run brick sessions were therefore key in this preparations.
The day came around, and having felt like I had done everything I could have done to prepare, I was feeling confident. The top 2 juniors would qualify for the World Junior Championships which I knew would be a challenge. My race began with a poor swim, which, having led out of the water in my previous 3 races, was not what I had planned and would make my goal even harder to achieve. 30 seconds was the gap between myself and the race leader, and so I knew that the first lap of the bike would require a huge effort if I was to make it anywhere close to the front, and so I put my head down and powered up the first climb, putting a significant dent into the lead pair, and closing the gap on many of the other athletes. A chase group formed and we quickly closed the gap, and there were around 8 athletes in the front group with 4 laps to go on the bike, with only 1 other Junior. I knew, despite my poor swim, I had given myself a good chance of qualifying. The remainder of the bike was ridden at a consistently high pace, allowing me no time to recover for the run. As soon as the run began, I knew my legs had been shattered by my first effort on the bike, and I was going to have to suffer on the 5km run, watching the lead junior run away from me. I found myself just behind a senior athlete, and hung onto his shoulder for as long as I could. In the final kilometre however, my legs decided they had had enough and I fought my way to the finish, however a fast running junior from the group behind ran me down, and I finished in 3rd place, unfortunately meaning I would not qualify for the Worlds. This was a huge disappointment to me, but there was nothing I could do except refocus on the next event, British Championships in early September.
thanks for reading,