As mentioned in my previous blog my next race was on the 1st of September in Loughborough- the school games 2022. It was a very different format to normal. On the first day there were aquathlon heats and finals. On the second day there was an individual circuit test, and then a few hours later a pursuit bike race (plus T1 and T2), with the first across the line being the winner. The times used to start the pursuit were a combination of the aquathlon finals time and the circuit race time. I went into the race knowing I was not running well after being out of proper running training since December, so I knew I had to push the swim. In the heats I got caught up at the first buoy and went round it in 3rd last, but managed to work my way up to second coming out of the swim. I didn’t run as well and dropped to 4th in my heat, after working very hard in the swim. I went into the A final ranked 7th, so I didn’t get an ideal start position, and had to start on the inside of the first buoy. I knew I had to go out hard to not get caught up like I did in the heats and so did precisely that. I took the whole swim very hard to maximise my advantage going onto the run and came out the water in first, with second place a few seconds back, then the next person 21 seconds back. I went out quickly and got a lead over second. But was getting caught by the boy who came out the water third. I was hanging on for the 3 laps, and got caught with 75 metres to go, so sprinted as hard as I could but unfortunately I didn’t have the legs and finished 2nd, but with the same time as 1st.
The next day started with the circuit test, and I performed quite well in that, only losing a few seconds to first. I was quite happy with this as I had been working on my cornering because it was a big weakness for me. I started the pursuit bike in second with a 5 second gap to 1st and 10 seconds to 3rd. I basically just did a solo TT and held on to second on a very tough course! I was very happy my result considering my year so far, but there was still the mixed relay to come…
The final race of the competition was the mixed relay. It went boy/girl/boy/girl and I was put on the first leg since it was a longer swim. I used the same tactic as the previous day of going out hard, and had planned to work on the bike with the only boy who could follow me in the aquathlon. I took the swim out harder than the day before, leading with a small gap over second and a larger one over everyone else. I took the bike pretty hard, saving a little for the run, leading both the whole way. I emptied myself on the run and passed over with a solid gap to second. My team did an amazing job and going onto the final run we were in 4th, but we still had a penalty to take and so did the team in 3rd. The girl from my team, Ella, took our penalty on the first lap of the 2 lap run, and then chased as hard as she could for the bronze. Ella came round the penultimate corner where the penalty box was, while the team in third were seeing their penalty. Their athlete panicked and left the box early, and although they crossed the line first were then disqualified for not serving the full penalty, so we came third! A massive thanks to the team- Melissa, Ella and Charlie, and it was great to cap off the weekend in such a great way.
My last race of the season was one week after school games at Eton. It was the last super series race of the year and a final chance for me to get a good super series result this year. It was mixed youth A and B over an eliminator format, with 2 heats with 10 from each one going to the first A final, and 5 getting eliminated from that first final before the last one.
Again I knew that my run wasn’t as strong, so took out the swim in the heats, getting a break of 3 out the swim and on the bike, which was actually really fun since we weren’t completely drilling it, then just doing enough on the run to get through.
After the heats I was very conscious of recovery so had something to eat and drink just after to prepare for the first final. I swam hard again, coming out of the water second and just sitting in on the bike, which was extremely slow. Everyone in the race was in one pack so it was going to come down to the run. I positioned myself at the front going into T2 and then ran fats enough to qualify without having to sprint at the end. I actually ended up winning that race because I went faster from a bit further out to avoid having a crazy sprint at the end to qualify.
Onto the last race, the real final. We had 5 minutes between finishing the first final and starting the second, so I decided not to put on a wetsuit to make sure I could set up transition again and didn’t miss the start. Most people had the same idea although 2 guys wore wetsuits, which clearly paid off as they came out 1st and 2nd. I came out third, with the guy in second and a few seconds behind first. I had to swim hard to keep in touch and really felt the accumulated fatigue, but was still happy with my swim. I came out of T1 in second next to one other guy, who I used to get up to the front of the race to save energy. Once we caught the front one other person caught up, and we stayed away for the whole bike. I was just sitting at the back saving energy. However I wanted to go into transition first so undid my bike shoes before the other then went to the front with a 200 metres to go and sped up to ensure they couldn’t get back in front before the dismount line because they still had their feet in their shoes. It worked to perfection, and I even had a small 2 second gap going into transition. I maintained it coming out of transition and now it was just a run race. I knew the next youth A was further back and I probably had won out of my age group, but I gave it my all to win overall too. I pushed extremely hard on the run, and felt like I was going to cramp about 200m in but it eased up as i slowed very slightly and I was able to keep going. I managed to hold on to the gap I had and even extend it slightly to take the overall youth A and B (15-17) win! It was a fairytale ending to a rough season and I was so pleased all my tactical decisions had paid off.
I also have to thank pedal potential for their support this season-it has been so, so helpful. And also thank you to sports aid for their support , a massive help too.