A welcoming club on the North West of Edinburgh

Southport Sprint (Worlds Qualifier)

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After a disappointing 2022 Team GB qualification due to getting Covid at the wrong time I had decided to really focus and train properly for 2023.  My experience in Munich at the Europeans which are now draft legal meant I had to significantly improve my swimming to be competitive and make a better bike pack.

After completing the Effortless Swimming program through the start of Winter I was on a good track.  I had dropped my biking significantly to fit this in but was confident I could bring it back.  My run was still not great but slowly getting better.  Then real life got in the way!  A new job in January meant time for training and having a consistent schedule was gone. My swimming slipped back a bit, I never had the time to get my bike strength back and my running improvement stagnated.

As we moved into April things were beginning to settle but I was still travelling a lot.  I knew by now I wouldn’t be in top form for Southport so the focus became do what you can and enjoy it (I’d paid my money so wasn’t not going to go).

$ days on a cycling trip to Morzine in the first weekend of May gave me a chance for a big fitness boost and get the cycling legs working with some long climbs (and trying to keep up with the rest of the group) and long rides.  This was unfortunately followed immediately by a 4-day trade show and then a coaching weekend so more enforced rest and travel than would be ideal.

Leading into the race week there was no need to taper I just felt a needed a few intensity sessions to prepare for racing and we would see what happens.

I travelled down to Southport in the motorhome and found you couldn’t park in the main recommended car park but the overflow one nearby was ideal and full of motorhomes as well.  The bike route was the road into Southport along the beach and pretty much flat so that was one recce done.  It was too late for anything else as I had come down after watching the Scottish Youth Champs.

In the morning my race didn’t start until 10am so I had plenty of time to do registration, transition, etc.  I cycled to registration along a part of the run route so that was another part recce done. 

I normally only wear my GB Age group trisuit for actual Team GB races as I think it puts a big target on your back for everyone else.  I had decided to wear it today for that reason as I meant I would have to fully commit and race hard.

The swim was a large triangle around an island with different entry and exit points.  During the briefing we had been told, “it is shallow the whole way but don’t stand as the bottom is covered in silt, it did say something else but someone has changed the spelling”.

The start was a rolling start down a slipway with a shallow dive into the water.  I was just hoping my goggles didn’t come off.  The first buoy was only about 30m way which you turned around to get onto the main triangle course.  As my face hit the water it was pitch black and absolutely stinking but not of silt!  Thankfully within a few metres it had cleared a bit and was OK.  Going around the buoy was no problem due to the rolling start spacing people out, but it also meant you had no real idea of the pace of swimmers around you as you would with a mass start.  I had entered about ½ way down the wave. 

I focused purely on my technique and staying reasonable relaxed and seemed to be making good headway.  It felt fast but I didn’t really know.  The first buoy got a bit crowded with the usual convergence but then spread out again afterwards with not too many hits on the way past.  The swim exit arrived quite quickly and I felt quite good (I’d gone 1:38/100m and I’m normally in the mid 1:40’s).

The swim exit required going up some short narrow steps into a really long transition.  Athletes in front were slowly walking up the steps and may have got shouted at that there was a race on and to get moving.  I had visualized the transition before the race and committed to running as fast through as possible.  All was good until the mount which I didn’t do well (no practice) and missed my shoes.  I pedaled on top of them and then got my feet in afterwards but on a flat course it felt like time wasted.

The bike I just had to go as hard as possible.  I knew my run probably wouldn’t be good so any time I could save on the bike would help me later.  I was holding around 38km/hr so and my power numbers were around what I thought I could get away with for 20km based on my current fitness.  I kept reminding myself to not slow down as I would need this time back later.  On the way back coming round a roundabout I missed the turn and had to break as the next exit approached and come back.  It was a closed road race but as I approached the correct exit I hadn’t seen any riders and thought it couldn’t be the correct one.  One person followed me the wrong way and wasn’t too happy when he realized he’d messed up too.

The bike finished and another rush through transition.  Now it was time to see if by some miracle my legs would perform on the run.  Unfortunately triathlon doesn’t really work that way and if you’ve  not done the training then it tends not to happen.  I was getting passed which was part frustrating and part expected.  I kept just trying to pick on people to chase and focus on getting as fast a time as I could for the potential roll down.

My final time was 1:13. Not great but not too bad.  It wasn’t nearly good enough to worry the leaders, but I felt I’d done the best I could on the day.  At least driving home I felt rubbish enough to suggest I’d committed to the race as much as I could have done.