Out of the pan and into the Chariots of Fire

So in my last post I got you up to date with my recent foray into the world of triathlon. I then headed for the start of the main racing season where I would find out if all the hard work had paid off and where I still needed to sharpen up…

Launching myself into the water - the scariest race start ever.

Launching myself into the water – the scariest race start ever.

My next race was more than a bit special. For a start it was an invitational test event for the Commonwealth games in Glasgow. And secondly, it was a mixed team relay event, which is pretty unusual in an individual sport like triathlon. Each athlete would complete a mini triathlon (250metre swim, 6km bike, 1600m run) before tagging their teammate. It went female-male-female-male and I would be representing my club as the second athlete. I seem to be better at the shorter distances so I thought this might play to my strengths.

A full crowd of spectators watched on expectantly as I nervously waited for our first girl, Laura, to finish her mini triathlon. Finally she tagged me after a brilliant first leg and I was off, bombing it down the jetty and launching myself into the water. Quickly into my rhythm, I had a solid if not spectacular swim, trying to reel in the two guys up ahead. Out of the water and the quickest transition I could manage before jumping on the bike and blasting away.

My "commonwealth medal"...sort of!

My “commonwealth medal”…sort of!

Try as I may, I didn’t take much time out of them on the bike but a speedy T2 and I was on the hunt to see if my run could bring them any nearer. 1 mile, I realise is a short run to many of you, but when you’ve been flat out for 15 minutes already, it hurts! They were working well together but I was slowly making in-roads now. I wanted desperately to keep my team in the race (an unusual thought for an individual athlete) and I caught them as all 3 of us handed over to our respective teammates. Exhausted, I slowly regained my composure as all the competitors congratulated each other and stayed to cheer the remaining athletes on. A brilliant day and very special to play a very small part in the build up to the Commonwealth games.

The next race was just a week later and was a very different proposition. A 5km race on the beach in St Andrews where the famous opening scene from Chariots of Fire was shot. This was mostly just for fun (you’re encouraged to wear all white in tribute to the film for a start!) but a wee chance to sharpen up the run. I ran it with this in my mind and surprised myself with a top 20 finish. My parents came along and it was very special to share it with them and to give them my finisher’s pack of a fudge doughnut and a bottle of beer!

The finish of the chariots race - sand is hard work!

The finish of the chariots race – sand is hard work!

Sharing a pre-race moment

Sharing a pre-race moment

All in all, I was pretty pleased with how I was feeling. When I planned this part of the season I wasn’t sure how it would work, doing these “fun” events at the start of the major taper. In fact what I learned was how important it is to remember why you do these things and never to lose the sheer joy of it all. Often when I work with elite athletes and coaches, they become anxious and unfocused because they’ve forgotten why they started the sport in the first place. If you truly understand why you’re doing something, it’s a lot easier to remain motivated and focused, especially when you start doubting yourself during a hard race. Running along that beach with the sun beating down and the wind blowing lightly in my face, I remembered why…

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