"As an athlete and you can ask any top athlete, if you start doubting yourself, you have already lost the race" Usain Bolt
Sitting on the plane home from Stockholm, I read that quote above in an article about Bolt winning the 100m final by 0.01 seconds. When you put yourself on the start line, hundredths of thoughts run through your head and doubt is one of them. Have I done enough? But this session didn’t go well? What if I take this corner too fast? The list goes on.. I thought doubt and nerves would be playing on my mind because of being sick in hospital a few weeks ago. I remember getting the email confirming my start for Stockholm when I was in a hospital bed and from that moment on, I was determined to get myself in working order. Surprisingly, I was the most relaxed I have ever been standing on a WTS start line. I had a clear focus and didn’t put pressure on myself for things I thought I missed out on. I knew what I had to do to put myself in the race from the start with key processes in every discipline and I was determined to execute them.
This is my third year racing in Stockholm on the hard and challenging course but it is actually my favourite course on the circuit. I feel like I know the course well now and things that used to scare me, I wonder why I worked myself up on them so much. The water was warm for once and 19.5 was border line wetsuit for us. The water was super choppy and it was a long way to the first buoy. I knew by the time we turned the first buoy, the swim would have sorted itself out. I dove in and got in a good position straight away. It was the gentlest swim I have been in all year and it was a good change. We turned the first buoy and I could see a gap starting to be created infront of me. I was just off the back of the group ahead of me. I started bridging up with a girl beside me and I could feel no one on my feet. That was going to be the make or break moment. I dove back in and saw no one on the pontoon behind us. I was in about 10th place, I kept this position for the remainder of the swim and wanted to get myself in a good position for T1.
Running into transition, as always; you have to be desperate in your approach. I got my wetsuit stuck on my timing chip and I struggled to get it off. I started to have a few seconds of panic before I got it off but those few seconds cost me. I was last out of T1 and about 10m off the girls in front of me that jumped on their bikes. Unfortunately, I never got on and I was riding two laps in no man’s land. I was frustrated and annoyed because I lost my over a minute advantage out of the swim to the other girls. Two athletes, Nicola Spirig and Hanna Philippin came past me like a steam train and they should have been my magic carpet. I really struggled after a lap to stay with them and I was now joining the chase group behind. Like most times in chase group, you see about 5 athletes the whole ride. At that point, I was more frustrated because I knew my race was up the road and we were not gaining anytime.
From previous years, the run course in Stockholm is tough after a hard bike and like all races, the people that can back end their run the best, are the ones that come out on top. Having being sick, I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of quality sessions but I tried to focus on myself and what I knew I was capable of doing. A lot of girls went out hard in the first 2.5km and by the second lap I was running past people. I knew we were not going to catch anyone from the front group so I had to focus on moving my way through my group. By the start of the last lap, I was in the position I finished up in. For me, my run is something I have been searching for all year and I think it is finally progressing for me with a lot specific work in the gym.
Finishing up 22nd is okay but makes me hungry for under 23 world championships in a few weeks time. This race was good practice putting processes together. I wanted better and the opportunity was there but a little error cost me my race up the road. It is my last WTS for the year and I am grateful for the opportunity to be exposed to the best in the world this year after not racing all of last year. This year has been not as easy as what I thought it would be fitting back into the WTS circuit and has showed me how quickly the dynamics of racing can change. As a young athlete, 2015 has been another eye opener and quality experiences at the highest level of racing. I am determined to come back in 2016 better and move myself up the rankings. It is now back to Vitoria for my final 3 weeks of hard work in Europe.