Back in the summer, fellow Hussle enthusiast Mike Essex told us how he had qualified for the GB triathlon team to compete in the World Triathlon Championships in Edmonton, Canada on 29th August 2014. We’re really excited now that he’s back to tell us all about it.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is his race report...
The British Triathlon Federation had booked a package travel deal with flights and accommodation that meant I landed on Monday in Edmonton, Canada along with about 50 other GB-ers on my flight. This was great as it gave us a chance to get to know one another; easy to do with one shared passion - I loved talking about triathlon 24/7 for a week! More GB-ers landed over the next couple of days, bringing our party to a total of 300 for the 3 events; aquathlon, sprint triathlon and Olympic triathlon.
My sprint distance race was not until the Friday so the first job was to get used to the 7 hours’ time difference, closely followed by the second job which was to re-build the bike following its journey from London. Not the easiest job to get right as I have been professionally fitted to the bike and wanted to get all the measurements correct.
The next couple of days were spent finding friends, going for spins on the bike and making sure I tapered correctly so that I did not overdo it and get too tired. I also explored Edmonton, which would have taken no time at all were it not for the Canadians, the friendliest people on Earth, who frequently stopped me for a chat if I was wearing my GB kit.
The day before the race was when it really got going and the tension and excitement began to mount. Morning was taking the bike to the venue and it was just unbelievable seeing the carbon speed machines being racked along with some incredibly lean and ripped human machines! Still, that is it what I had come here for; to pitch myself against the best and see what damage I could do.
Racking was followed a few hours later by a 'parade of nations' in the city square. On paper it sounded horrendous but I duly donned the GB kit and was knocked out by how good it turned out to be. All 4,000 triathletes from 70 countries lined up and we paraded around the city being led by horses and bag pipers. Cheered on by the locals we ended up in the Churchill square to music and a fly-past by a Canadian jet fighter.
"Noisiest and most up for it nation" award goes to Mexico by a mile; those boys and girls know how to party!
On race day I got up at 5am (having had the usual awful pre-race night’s sleep), got changed and started my mental preparation routine. This means plugging in the iPod and playing a selection of songs that act as audio triggers to get me in the zone (I get goose bumps every time).
Afterwards I felt incredibly up for it, then suddenly and surprisingly got hit with waves of emotion as it struck me how much work, training and sacrifice had gone into the last 8 months to get to this point and the amazing support I have had from friends, family, PwC, sponsors and Viceroys Triathlon Club. I managed to hold myself in check but was determined to use that emotional energy positively.
I visualised the race and started constructing a selection of mental images to use on the start line and during the race which I know gets the best out of me (my degree in psychology certainly helps me to get mentally exactly right on race day).
We got to the venue and then lined up with my new GB team mates and loved having Mark Yeoman (Coach of my triathlon club and was 1st Brit) in my wave. He had been very generous with his tips in the days leading up to the big day which I really appreciated and we were both nervous but 100% up for it. We lined up for the swim and then – bang - the klaxon went and into the washing machine I dived. It was total relief when I realised that my googles had stayed on! Then I started motoring.
After 200m things had calmed down so I went to put the group swim training into practice and found some feet. I was mid-pack and fairly calm and just glad to be underway. I Exited the water in a time of 12:37, which I was happy with considering this is my weakest discipline. I then legged it into T1 which was a long old stretch, jumped on the bike and looked forward to putting the hammer down on the lovely resurfaced road surface.
'Whatever you do, do not blow a gasket on the first steep hill' is what I had promised myself, yet got over excited over-taking loads of bikes up the hill and… gasket duly blew. Luckily I managed to recover quickly and had a cracking battle with about 5 other GB-ers, and started to really fire up the V8 turbo diesel. By lap 2 I had shaken three of the Brits and began a right old ding-dong with an Aussie called Grice, or 'Gricey' as I nick-named him. I managed my effort miles better on lap 2 and sped into T2 with a 33:21 split (19th in AG).
I slipped on the trainers and was looking forward to the run, my strongest discipline, so the 500m run in T2 to the start of the 5k was fine by me. I felt good but knew I had to start reeling in the boys to get up the finish list. I got into stride relatively quickly and shook off one Brit who had left T2 with me and then locked onto the next two Brits I could see in the distance. I reeled them both in by the last 1km, which was so satisfying, and then spotted Gricey ahead. I tried desperately to catch him, to no avail as the old legs were hurting big time.
Finally I hit the blue carpet and was greeted by a wall of noise from a massive GB contingent and unbelievably fantastic support from the grandstand. I felt like a pro!!!!
I crossed the line knowing I had emptied the tank and could not have given any more. I came in 23rd out of 86 (BEST IN THE WORLD TRIATHLETES!!) and 5th Brit out of 17. This was way above my expectations and one of the best experiences of my life. I totally recommend it to any triathletes.
Believe in yourself and give qualification a try. You might just surprise yourself!
It's not all in the mind, of course- but it definitely helps. Also great to see an athlete acknowledging all those 'without whom'. Congratulations!
Very interesting to read about your pre-race mental preparations