By Dann Brook of Team ActivInstinct
I trained my hardest for 11 months of the year, and yet when I stand on the start line if its not my day its all been for nothing. How can I make it my day? How is it going to pan out, what can I do to affect everyone else’s race? Am I going to impact on this race, or are things going to happen around me?
These are the things that go through my mind when I’m standing on the start line of a race, especially when it’s the last race of the season. A years worth of training literally comes down to 4 hours of battle, all the things I have sacrificed, all the work I have done has all been for this – and everyone’s counting on me.
But I try not to think about it, and as the female pro race is started by a cannon that nearly blows Frasers head off I even manage to have a laugh about it, we’ve still got 7 minutes so I get in the dock for a warm-up. I go through my tactics once again, and line up. As we get underway I feel good, I move towards the front of the pack but let the other guys set the pace on the front. After the 1.9K I am in the top 15, transition goes smoothly and I jump on the bike and head off down the road.
As I look up I see a long line of athletes, all 10 meters apart. I need to get to the front, because its going to split at some point, but its going to take a lot of effort. Over the bridge and out of Clearwater I put the hammer down and start passing people, spinning a 53-13my legs are feeling great. By 10 miles I am right at the front of the race (although I didn’t know it yet – I thought there were people off the front) and as we get onto the highway section of the course, which is an 18-mile straight road the pace really picks up. I’m leading the world championships, feeling awesome and now we’re spinning out the 53-11 at about 30mph. When I look over my shoulder I see the same long line as I did before, approximately 2 minutes in length I estimated. I stay at the front of the pack but then coming off the highway the pace goes nuts. I try and stay with it but my legs are tiring, I stay with the middle group of the split and come into T2 about a minute down.
Just a half marathon to go……..
As I run out I feel pretty good and go out at my own pace, and I am catching people. After 1 lap I am in 18th place. I see Fraser less than a minute in front of me, can I catch him? It’s doable, I think. But then I come to the bridge and I realise I am in trouble. Things start sliding into place; I was riding quite hard on that highway, I haven’t done the run training block I wanted to because of an illness back in the UK, I feel ok aerobically but my legs aren’t too keen on moving so much at the minute. I need an aid station, NOW!. Water, Gatorade, Coke, Powerbar, Banana (naa I’ll give that a miss), more water. It was all useless of course, as the damage had already been done. After my 38minute first lap I struggled around the last lap in 43. I lost almost 20 places, and it felt like most of them were in the last 2 miles, which was pretty gutting. But, you’ve got to put it out there and give it a shot. At the turn with 3 miles to go I saw Fraser pulling away from me – he gave me a bit of encouragement and I managed to shout back ‘Leg Fail’ much to the amusement of the age group athletes who were a lap behind me (some of them passing me to be fair, haha!)
So I finished in 36th place. Not what I hoped for, but at the end of the day I gave it everything I had and so can’t be disappointed. I learned a lot on the day about the sport of 70.3, and how Clearwater is a race like no other I’ve ever done. Every year the field gets stronger, this years race was won in a 3:34 which is ridiculously quick. I know I made mistakes, both on the day, and in the months lead up to the race, the main one being trying to do summer training in the UK in November! My point is that even though the result on paper is not what I wanted, the race has pushed my career forwards in ways I could never have imagined.
The night of the race escalated quite quickly and got quite heavy. Julie, being the legend that she is, got us into the VIP section of the after party with a free bar, Need I say more? It was great to see her and so many other guys having a great time on the night of the race, and also seeing everyone in a world of pain on Sunday
It was an amazing experience staying in St Pete for the 2 weeks before the race and training with Julie, Fraser, Joel Jameson, and would like to congratulate Julie on a very well deserved victory. Thanks to Carolyn, Tim, Wallis and the rest of the homestay team in St Pete for being absolute heroes in the lead up for the race, making our lives so much easier and taking care of literally everything for us. You guys turned what would have been a stressful time into an amazing experience – and am happy I got to be a part of it.
So, just like that the season is over. I’m flying back to the UK for some down time, some partying, some DJing, and time away from triathlon. I plan to go to Stellenbosch in January to start my 2010 training, and so until then my training will be light, easy, chilled out and flexible. Its an enjoyable time to do some sociable training, easy bakery stop rides with the boys, running in the woods, and maybe some Thai boxing incase I get into any conflicts out on the road next year!
So until then, it’s Dann B out. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Sponsors for making my career possible, my friends and family for their continued support through both the high and low points in the year, and also the support of the triathlon community and British age group teams at whatever races I go to.
Now lets hope its not too cold this winter so we can all get some miles in!!
Image by gregor_y