When I got up today, nervous apprehension, I think was the description. I ate some breakfast but not enough, and I did feel a little unwell. All normal race day nerves.
It was a long long walk to transition to set up, and it was dark when we got there, poorly lit with floodlights. It turned out Stephanie Robertson was on one side, Anne Woods the other, and Morag McDowell not far down. I must remember to focus on ME when I come through here. Transition all set up, (seemed to have a lot less stuff that’s the others!) then went, to remove myself from the stressy nervous athlete situation. Wet suit on, then there wasn’t much time for anything else, before we were ushered into our starting pens, and walked to the start. There wasn’t much between the waves, and it seemed you were told where to stand so it was hard to judge mid pack, in order to get the part of the pontoon that I wanted, the numbers 47-55 where you had the straightest route to the buoy.
It was a very tight squeeze, and to be honest, there was barely room to sit side by side, and I certainly couldn’t get a hand down onto the decking. The start was chaos, and I struggled for a while to get some clear water where i wasn’t bashing people, or being bashed.
The sighting practice that I did with Emma really helped, because I looked at the landmarks, rather than the buoys and that seemed much easier. The water was was way calmer than it has been in previous swims, the flattest yet I think, which I was thankful for.
When I climbed out of the water though, I felt more fatigued than normal, and the long run to transition did not help me and my knee situation. I thought it was average to rubbish till I saw some people’s stuff still in T1 that I expected to have been long gone, which cheered me up.
Transition seemed to go smoothly, and I was out and away so much faster than those around me I thought I had forgotten something. It seemed odd not to have to wear the number till the run.
The bike started well, before the monster hills kicked in. Four huge climbs, with technical descents almost immediately, the first climb the longest, but the last one the shortest but toughest. When I turned up the road to go round the monument, I nearly ground to a halt! Some coming up as I was going down actually did! The turn point was after the hills, and the return was flat, but the winds were picking up and it was a headwind all the way back to T2, making it a tough tough bike course, and not exactly playing to my strengths. I am a power athlete, and therefore fast flat bike courses are where I do well. That combined with my cartilage issue meant that the bike, which was normally a strength, turned out to be really rather brutal.
I did get past club mate Vicky Robertson though, which cheered me up a little bit more.
Once I got onto the run I knew that I would be ok, I just needed to hang in. I hadn’t come a cropper in the swim, I had no crashes or other issues on the bike, it was going to be ok. But, it was also going to be the toughest part of the race for me too. I expected the pain in the knee to increase as I progressed through the run, and that is what happened.
I focused on my run form, making it look like outwardly I was doing ok, so I didn’t give anything away to my competitors.
Mark was standing on the run course, on the the return leg, and said to me afterwards that I was looking ok. I said ‘good, because I was pretending, I am glad it worked!’
I was glad when i saw the end of Princes Wharf, Emma and Aurelie standing cheering me on, Emma shouting how proud of me she was, that really meant a lot. As I turned onto the road, and the last little bit into the stadium finish, relief, elation, surprise as I saw Alex Gooch and Andy shouting at top volume, I had done it.
There were no threats directly behind me so I knew I had time to collect a flag and celebrate as I crossed the line.
I have had a tough year, with many things, personal and otherwise. I have had a tough long season, and a tough piece of news two weeks before I arrived, that I have torn the medial meniscus. (The operation is as soon as I return.) Despite all that, I did it.
Emma believed in me, Mark believed in me, everyone has been so supportive.
Final result = 64 out of 73, the biggest field by far in recent years. The last time there was a huge field in my age group was in Australia, 2009, but even the it was only 44!
I wasn’t last and I wasn’t last Brit either!
A good friend (and medallist in past championships) Jane Saunders saw me as I limped back into transition to collect my bike.
She said she really admired me. I was confused, why admire me, she is usually miles ahead of me! She then said a few very special things, that really touched me. She told me she admired how much of a fighter I was, I always gave my best and never gave up, even through injury.
She also said she wished she could mount and dismount the bike as well as me! Jane, those words really mean a lot to me, thank you so much. (I explained my mount procedure to her too, it’s the least I could do! I look forward to seeing flying mounts in future Jane!)
I have been sitting in my hotel room for an hour, it’s only now that my knee has stopped hurting sufficiently for me to consider going down to get some food and watch the Paratriathlon races. The pain was excruciating. I did it, I overcame the obstacles and really did it.
My surgeon said I was ok to race, but would probably have to face the fact that I might not finish – DNF = did not finish. He underestimated me! I certainly did DNF – I DID NOT FAIL!
Bring on the knee op, the rehab and the preparation to qualify for next years world championships – in LONDON!