'It could be Rotterdam or anywhere.........'

All the training and competitions, all the pain and suffering throughout the year, is all about getting in the best shape possible for your 'A' race, for me, this was that race, the World Championships. It doesn't get any bigger than this for the sport of triathlon. I really am a big believer of competing against the best to be the best you can be. Whilst winning local competitions is great for a confidence boost, to really push yourself outside your comfort zone you have to swim with the big fish in the big pond!

I arrived and went straight for a practice swim to get our course bearings, the weather wasn't being kind however and it pretty much rained all the time. The next day the sun did shine for half a day and that was the opportunity to ride the bike course, this is always helpful in my opinion so you don't have any surprises on race day and it allows you an advantage over those hesitating due to not knowing the course, small gains.

Having qualified for both the standard and sprint distance I had chosen to opt for the sprint due to the exciting element of the draft legal bike. After setting up in both transitions it was time to relax and stay hydrated. We were soon ushered into pens which meant 105 athletes from all over the world crammed into a dedicated area for the officials to crank up the adrenaline with chants and music, as if the testosterone wasn't high enough, the Americans and Canadians loved it tho! All revved up we were released onto the pontoon and jockeyed for the best position as we dropped into the water. On Your Marks..............GO! The horn sounded and we were away.

I was flying for the first 100m and then bang! Not a collision but my body reacting to the crazy pace I had set off at. I think this is known as fly and die, my muscles were screaming for more oxygen then I could give them resulting in that horrible heavy feeling, I was working anaerobically but this is only possible for a short amount of time, I was in serious oxygen debt!

Ok, don't panic, slow down, no, your racing go fast was the battle I was having. Sometimes you have to slow down to go fast though, and this was one of those times. It took a couple of hundred meters to feed the muscles with enough oxygen to function properly again, I could then start to push, push I did but I clearly had lost the toes. It’s not what you have done but how you react to situations like this that will determine the end result. You can’t change what happened and in the middle of a race you have two choices, forget about it and concentrate on getting the rest right or beat yourself up and continue to mess up the rest of the race. I chose the former, out of the water in 40th, using all my energy to make up lost time. I hadn't come this far too only come this far!

To me triathlon is one discipline consisting of 4 elements, transitions being one of those. With a flying mount I was away on the bike and catching and passing people as I crossed the Erasmus Bridge where the rest of the racing would take place. I soon chased down a group of 3 which included a Mexican, Belgium and American, I sat on their wheels to catch my breath and take a drink. Soon moving through and on to the front I did a turn and looked back for someone to come through and I had dropped them! Right keep the power down to the next group, this continued through 3 or 4 groups. The ride was great fun but how would I run off such a hard effort?

In to transition 2, and out as quickly as possible. I came into transition in 24th place and dug deep to run hard from the start. I managed to catch and pass another GB athlete but a speedy American passed me. The final 150m included a dead turn which hurt and the chasers where no more than 10m away, not now, I hadn't come this far and worked this hard to be passed so close to the finish. One final push, up on to my toes to sprint for the line and hold off a chasing Mexican by 1 second. This saw me finish the toughest event of the year in 24th place from 105, my highest finish at this level so despite a bad start, I dug in and finished strong

So that was my A race this year and I couldn't be happier with the result. What next? Well I will now have some well-deserved down time over the winter and change my training around a bit, some mountain biking, working on technique in the swim, some fun on the Velodrome and a bit of cross country. I won’t be working to numbers, doing a little more socializing, the odd drink, a little more food and some reflection before I start planning for next year.

I am sure that without the fantastic support I have received from my sponsor I wouldn't have achieved what I have this season, the nutrition required to train and compete day after day at the highest level is extremely demanding and nutrition is key in achieving this. I hope to continue working with them as I continue on my journey and look for continual improvement in a very competitive and tough sport.

By Paul Clucas

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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