Two months ago I ended my opening seasons blog headed to Windsor for the national duathlon champs. With my second blog of the season I am returning from Windsor triathlon so despite a distinct love of the Spanish sun I still pay the queen my fair share of visits. In between the two regal outings I have had five Spanish races, retained a world title, moved house, aged a year and most importantly managed to finish a half ironman without fainting, breaking my clavicle or having a ‘leaky gut’. The future feels bright, is hopefully pretty iron and at National Duathlon it was a nice shade of Team Dillon blue…
The day was pretty special for me, not often do you get to execute a team plan with your coach who despite spinal fusion was coming out of retirement to join in the hustle. We had a plan to try and break away on the bike, Michelle did the thinking, I did the pedalling. It paid off, I retained my national title and with Michelle in second, we just had to wait to see if she would get the World Champs call up….
I then had to tackle a little stint without Mish and Stu as myself and Caitlin Bradley travelled straight from the race to the airport hotel for an early Mallorca flight the next morning. Knowing a big riding block was needed for me to get use to the TT bike I was back on Spanish sand and although it was tough training a lot on my own it was really good for me to appreciate just how much Stu and Mish do for me and how great they are to train with. Caitlin was great though, she kept me company, always kept me laughing and sorted all the logistics for training. When people ask where we went I feel a bit big headed with my reply but it’s the actual name; ‘The Best Centre’. Based in Colonia Sant Jordi with a 50m pool, running trails and great riding miles with near on deserted roads I let them off for the awkward name 😉 The staff were awesome and a huge thanks to James, Mathew, Sam and Lauren for making me feel so welcome, with a track being built there now, remember the name! 🙂
Whilst I was out there I raced Portocolom Triathlon and the Mallorca Olympic Triathlon winning both which suggested the training was going ok. My mum also came out for a couple of days which was great so I got a chance to sample a bit of Port and Restaurant action. Then six weeks of glorious weather and good training later it was time for the big one, the Mallorca 70.3. I should have been so ready for the weather right?? Wrong, on race day it pee-d it down, England style! Michelle and Stu flew in a couple of days before the race bikinis in tow, salt tablets at the ready… but thankfully also with the new Team Dillon kit and the waterproof riding jacket proved a game changer! It was worth the extra time in transition to keep my body above Ben and Jerry consistency. The other tricky element was negotiating the steep mountain descent, wanting to finish the bike leg with still only one bone in my body broken, I opted for the more than cautious approach, knowing that it would leave me a big job to do on the run (not thinking I would get called a pussy by one of the handful of girls that flew on past!). I knew I needed to podium in this race and Barcelona for enough points to qualify for the World Champs and I had to run my butt off but it did mean less time in the rain, I got warmer AND I managed to sneak third place in the final km. My first 70.3 podium, now I just had to try and do the same in Barcelona..
I flew home with Michelle and Stu as we had a couple more weeks to prepare for Barcelona and in this time I moved house to live in Twickenham with another Team Dillon member, the awesome Jamie. He is such a chilled out guy with a similar sense of humour and living with him has helped a lot with my performances. The happier I am and more settled I feel the better I race, I just hope I don’t bring too much stress to Jamies life! ;
The week and a half I had back in England flew by and myself and Stu were off to Barcelona! Michelle is mother hen (or as we like to name her ‘management’). Now when Management isn’t coming we know there will be at least one or two things that go a little less smoothly. Thankfully Stu realised the race wasn’t actually a taxi ride journey from Barcelona, it was a car hire jobby. I drove, he had the sat nav but then we made a rookie error by turning on the radio. One of Stus old dancing tunes came on, he whacked the volume up, I couldn’t hear the sat nav and he was too busy grooving so we ended up taking a delightful route through the city centre. In Spain if you stick your blonde head out the window to apologise for being in the wrong lane it definitely isn’t a let off token! But we made it, we met some more awesome people out at the race, in particular RaceForce who took my bike back for me and also let us follow them to drive the race course. I think this is where it went wrong, I joked on one of the hills that it would be faster to run up, not knowing I’d be testing that theory the next day! I would definitely recommend giving your bike to RaceForce to transport if you want a hassle free trip, they were such a friendly and straight forward surface, you guys rock!
My race was also a bit rocky and not quite so straight forward. I couldn’t wait to attack a hilly bike course, thinking it would play into my favour. My gear lever broke 7km into the ride and I wasn’t sure I’d even be able to get up the hills. At the top of the steepest I actually unclipped and ran it up, it wasn’t faster!! Then the run off a big gear bike was pretty painful but I managed to run myself into 2nd, get my second podium and qualify for the 70.3 world champs.
One of my season goals ticked, the next was to retain my World Duathlon title and Michelle HAD been selected. I knew things were serious when Michelle grew by a year the week before the race without any grape juice cork being popped. Michelle coming off wine is like me coming off chocolate, it means the bod is being prepared for some serious shcnizzle! The World Duathlon itself fell on my birthday so I felt a bit of pressure not to screw up my special day, it could be the worst bday and it could be the best. Having so many people out there to support in particular Stu, my sister and my mum, made it the birthday I will never forget. The amount of GB age groupers out cheering on the course and our fab elite team too lead by Dave, with his family out there, just gave everything such a warm, family feel. I always get this when racing and being surrounded by Team Dillon people but for an international event not in your home country it was such a unique experience. When I broke away on the second run and was coming into the final lap and saw Michelle yelling to me you got this, it was a moment I will never forget. We had prepared together and she had left no stone unturned, got me to this place and was out there on the race course with me, I hate getting gushy but its definitely something I will never forget. Standing on the podium to the national anthem also always feels like the first time and the only slight bummer of the day was Michelles cramping but she still finished 11th but couldn’t then do the team relay the next day. So thinking the relay was off I got up early the next day to do my 90min run and then cheer on the Age Groupers. I was so blown away by their amazing support for me and as a coach I have so much respect for everyone who ties down jobs, family life and representing their country, these guys are inspirational to me, I tried to be a physio and a triathlete and I had to choose one or the other so getting back to the hotel at lunch with a sore throat was well worth it. Then I was told that the relay was back on as an age grouper Gwen was stepping in. I was first off and managed to hand over to Danny with a bit of a lead and then could step back and cheer on the rest of the team. It was such a fun event and we had a big battle with Spain with them eventually coming out on top much to the delight of the home crowds and so to stand on the podium again was the perfect end to a great weekend. We had to return quickly to reality though as we landed back on the Monday and Windsor Triathlon was on the Sunday. Despite the shower conditions the best shower of the day came from Stu who I was stoked to be on the top of the podium with again and even more stoked when he poured podium beer over me after lending me his waterproof, ledge. Perhaps the fabric carries the beer home better than the glass, always a gentleman! Again it was the team that made a potentially wet and miserable day so good, there were great Team Dillon performances all round and thankyou so much to all the Team that also came out to support, and well done to our Team Dillon men for becoming National Club Champions!
Thanks to everyone who has read this and for your continued support and in Team Dillon style: keep being the best that you can be! 🙂