Nottingham was the first race in a block of races this season. I had trained so hard during May I was really looking forward to my taper week. My times had gradually improved and I was feeling strong.
Then the day before my big race I woke in the night with a very swollen throat and feeling flu like aches. The kids had tonsillitis between them for the last 2 weeks and I had been so cautious about not sharing cups and cutlery, hand washing and everything I could think of. But they got ill in my last hard training week when I was at my most tired and vulnerable to catching something. So despite my positive thinking I guess it was inevitable.
Friday was awful, I could hardly get out of bed, it was Abby's birthday and halfterm aswell to make things worse. I slept on and off until 3pm, each time I woke going through in my mind should I race, why did have to happen now, is it realistic to try and reach the goals I had set when you have young children. By about 6pm the positive thoughts had won and got packed up to go. I had to try and qualify for London to take the pressure off later races in the season.
I arrived at Nottingham in beautiful sunshine in time to see the men start. The swim starts had approx 300 people in each wave, just watching made me nervous. The couple of hours before the race I wasn't sure what to do with myself. Watching other competitors is a bad idea for me, everyone looks fitter, stronger and has a better bike.
So final briefing and we were in the water, which was pleasantly warm compared to whitlingham recently. Getting 300 people into a relatively small space meant we were numerous layers deep. I was on the far right at the front, trying to keep out of the mayhem. I had a good clean start, and i did the whole swim on my own on the outside. I was reasonably pleased with my time but as discussed with others after, I was not in the best position for drafting the quicker swimmers. I ran into transition knowing that I now needed to catch the main group. There were about 8 people at the bike mount line which was a bit of a squeeze but I got away cleanly. The hunt began, I could see the leaders about a quarter of lap ahead. Through the first couple of laps I caught a lot of people, each 90degree corner was taken with a little more confidence. One casualty was being stretchered at the top corner, she was sucking hard on the gas and air so she must have hit the deck pretty hard. By the last lap I was unsure where in the field I was as we had been lapping slower bikers.
I cautiously rode into T2 as there was lots of bikes moving around. Trainers on and go. About 200m into the run I got a really bad stitch, I have had this in a couple of previous races. Norwich sprint last the most memorable where I walked a section on the back side of the lake it was so painful. I was trying to ignore it but the pain was getting worse. I was still catching people on the run but I was bent over and shuffling badly at times. 'I can, I can' I was chanting, but my body was shouting louder and louder. That final straight seemed to go on forever. I finished and just sat crouched in a ball for ages, I must have looked a bit green as the first aid people kept asking if I was ok. Seeing lots of girls at the finish made my heart sink, I knew I had done enough to qualify but my goal of top 3 hadn't been achieved. The quality and depth of field through the whole weekend was impressive and I felt slightly better to hear there were a few (ex?)pro athletes racing.
The pain from my stitch lasted 3 days after the race so I knew I had been pushing through it somewhat.
On reflection I am pleased I had qualified which allows me to try out a few more risky tactics in future races instead of playing it safe. But also disheartened that i was further away not only in position but in time from the winner than i had hoped. So I now have 10 days to gather my strength, physically and mentally before I fly out to the European Championships so watch this space....