Cozumel Age Group World Champs

So, finally back to Blighty and chance to reflect on last week’s worlds in Cozumel.

Arriving in Mexico a few days before the race, the first thing of note is that IT. IS. HOT. Paul and I had made a conscientious effort over the summer to acclimatize to training in the heat, doing joint turbo sessions, turbo-ing with the man-cave windows shut and the heater on, running in the heat of the day by the Jubilee river, and sitting in the sauna after swimming. Unfortunately, even this didn’t prepare us for how much energy it takes to race in 32 degree heat and 90% humidity!! After doing all the usual race preparations, we spent a couple of days doing some gentle sessions and gradually upping the carbs.

The run recce was pretty interesting… we were staying about 5km up the road from the race start, so Paul, myself and our clubmate Chris decided to jog down and back. When we got to the start, we noticed that there were some cyclists on the course. We joked that they looked pretty serious for warming up… before realising we’d accidentally wandered straight into the junior elite women’s race! Intruiged to see how they fayred in the heat, we stayed around for the rest of the race, and watched with mild horror as one by one they crossed the finish line and collapsed. The medic in me wasted no time in turning to the boys and telling them not to push it too hard and have a heart attack on race day! Turns out they were both very measured and managed to stay upright the whole way around, good lads 🙂

Race day arrived, and having racked the day before, we made our way on the Nirvana bus to the race start in the pitch black. So glad to have remembered a head torch! Being the youngest, I was off first, followed by clubmate Louise and then the boys. Lining up with the other girls in my AG, I suddenly felt incredibly nervous. We entered the water to start by clinging on to the pontoon edge, and some race videographer came down the line doing some very close-up shots of people’s game faces. I was not amused!

Klaxon started, and we’re off… The swim distance had been shortened to 1250m after a change in current meaning the bulk of the swim was going to be against it. I’m a reasonable swimmer, but I struggled to fight it and although I caught a few of the slower swimmers ahead, there were plenty who caught me, and I got a bit of a dunking around a couple of the turn-buoys. Not my greatest swim (30:02), but lovely nontheless to swim alongside the colourful fishies 🙂

T1 was pretty swift, and although I bottled the “pro” mount in favour of a Froome style cleated run, I got going without troubles and was away. The bike was predictably strong despite computer failure – so I went on feel and HR which seemed to work OK. I had predicted that Louise, Paul and Chis would catch me on the bike, but I managed to hold them off, seeing Paul some time after the half-way dead-turn. A split of 1:07:13 probably put me comfortably mid-pack.

T2 I managed not to faff, and feet for once were not blocks of ice! Always good when you aren’t trying to force slabs of dead meat into your trainers 🙂 Starting the run, and it felt hard but not as awful as I had envisaged. Sadly, that feeling didn’t last long, as by about 2.5km in I was really feeling it. We had been warned that there were going to be water stations every km or so, and oh my word was that necessary. Every station I grabbed some ice and shoved it down my cleavage, and then grabbed 2 water bags, pouring one and a half over my head and sipping the remainder. Despite this, I still found myself essentially running between water stations in order to break down the distance. A 2 lap course, at the half-way point I somehow get confused by the signage and manage to run 200m down the finish chute before realising my error. Bad enough in a normal UK race, but not what you want to do in this heat! So back I go, feeling once again like a bit of a numpty and cursing myself at adding on unnecessary distance. The second lap thankfully goes uneventfully, and by this time both Paul and Chris have overtaken me and Louise is rapidly closing in. I pass several collapsed athletes who are being tended to by the side of the road, and at the last water station some cheeky mexican chappy swoops in and takes the water I was going for! I turn around mid-run and give him a “cheers mate!” shrug, and 5 seconds later he hands me the half drunk cup with an apology. I do all I can to muster what might pass for a sprint finish and end with a slow 56:04 10k and a total time of 2:37:39, leaving me 44th of 59 in AG.

So over and above all  I’m pleased

a) to have qualified on my first attempt and

b) to have achieved my goal of not coming last.
Super proud of the other 3 BTS who came out and smashed it (including an 11th/69 for Louise Croxson and 12th/80 for Paul) and grateful to our cheer squad – Wendy Dollimore and Janice Caldwell. Watching the pros was both exciting and heartbreaking – if the Brownlees don’t get nominated for SPOTY then I’ll be disappointed. And as much as I admire Gwen Jorgensen, I’m so thrilled for Flora Duffy taking the win and the world title for 2016 – brilliant to see a lone ranger doing so well.

Now the hard work starts again for Ballbuster in just over 6 weeks time, and a winter of running awaits…

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