Thursday, 12 June 2014

The World Age-Group Championships

London: World Age-Group Championships

Well, I got there. My one genuine goal for the season.

Since it was held in London, qualifying was one hell of an achievement in itself and taking into consideration the 30-34 age group is ridiculously competitive, I was over the moon to make it – albeit by rolldown.

Looking back over the results from where I started, I’ve come a long way in triathlon. One of my first sprint distance triathlons was back in 2008. A small, local race held in Llandovery. 73 people completed it. I finished 32nd and was over 18mins behind the winner. I ran a ~23 minute 4.5k and felt awful the entire way.

Roll on 5 year and with 3 years ‘racing’ under my belt and a year off with injury, I somehow made it to the World fucking Championships!? I was lucky that 2013 was a great year racing wise. A win and a handful of podiums, two qualifying races (no thanks to my efforts in Bristol, where I completely fell apart) and the season finale in London. Although my body was on the verge of falling apart in September.

Since London, I’ve not been to the pool and I haven’t touched my running kit. I decided I was going to take a year off Tri and cycle in 2014. I still have goals in triathlon, but they involve me swimming properly. Big ask, that.

Anyway, London.

Since qualifying via rolldown, I wanted to justify being there and not cross the finish line as the last Brit (and beat Thomas Peoples J) – there were 25 of us Brits in total and 115 in the Age-Group including athletes from Brazil, Australia, Denmark, USA, Mexico...etc

The swim was standard for me. Steady and slow. On exiting the Serpentine the crowds were incredible, yet I could STILL hear my family and girlfriend shouting for me. That was pretty amazing. I was out the water in 61st with a 12:21 swim, the leader was out in 9:28. Webbed feet and gills, I’m sure.

Standard transition and I was off on the bike. I was expecting a load of traffic on the course having checked it out the day before, but somehow it was fine? The roads were pretty greasy and some technical sections saw a load of people come off. Drafting was pretty much a non-issue unlike the sham that was Bristol. The crowds on the bike were incredible, around 10 deep in sections (mainly where the athletes fell) and the noise was brilliant. A huge thanks to the guys I cycle with; Tony, Scott & Owen, who drove up from Carmarthen in the morning to watch – even the abuse was welcome! Although I’m sure Owen & Scott had plenty to keep them occupied considering the amount of women racing.

I didn’t push as hard as I probably should’ve on the bike but gave it a good, solid effort knowing I was running well. I spent the majority of the ride swapping places with a Brazilian athlete and Patrick Lees from Cardiff Tri who I’ve spent the majority of the year racing against. I was going well on the slight inclines but lost time on the flat sections. 27th bike spit, roughly 1min 40 behind the quickest split of the day. Pretty competitive bunch this 30-35 AG.

Cycling through Hyde Park on closed roads was brilliant by the way. Always nice not to be run over by an Addison Lee taxi. I’d do London Tri again.

Onto the run and I was just behind Lees and the Brazilian was out of sight for now.

As soon as I started running I knew I had good legs. My cadence was quick and it felt really smooth. The crowds shouting “GO GB!” and “G’WAN WILLIAMS!” was brilliant (name on trisuit). You can’t help but pick up the pace. I caught Lees pretty soon out of T2 and just kept going. Two laps of the Serpentine meant that the number of runners on course started to build and this was great for picking people off, including other British representatives in my AG. I caught up the Brazilian in the last 1k and sat on his shoulder. In the last 500m I decided to go...and then blew...then he passed me on the finishing line. It wasn’t the end of the world, but a good laugh nonetheless. Crossing the line, I was 13th Brit and 29th overall. Offer me that before the race and I’d have ripped your hand off. My run was 16:51 and 15th quickest in the AG. I couldn’t stop smiling. Two athletes went under 16 minutes, that’s pretty sharp.

I was ~4 minutes behind the 30-35 World Champion; a stark contrast to 5 years ago when I was over 18 minutes behind a local athlete in a small sprint.

Knocking around the finish line with my family & friends was great. Even if it was pissing down. An experience I’ll never forget.