James Emery is the Manager of TORQ's Triathlon team. He's a keen triathlete having raced all distances from sprint to Ironman.
TORQ were represented by two triathletes at the National Championships and again collected another overall podium. The event had some super tuff competition as it also trebled as National Championships, qualifier for the World Championships in London this September and also as European Qualifier for 2014. The racing was fast and hard with some tricky weather to contend with. Yet Danielle Stewart steadily built momentum as she stormed through on the run leg to win her age group and grab 2nd overall…
Danielle’s Account: Nothing like the last minute! This weekend I was due to be travelling to France for the 4th round of the French Duathlon Grand Prix. Due to unforeseen circumstances, plans changed the day before I was due to travel. Fortunately I had a back-up plan! I had entered Dambuster Triathlon (also the National Champs) many months ago since it was a World Age Group Triathlon Qualifier. With the World Champs being in London this year, the event sold out practically within a day so I entered to keep my options open. With France cancelled, I had no excuse not to race, although I did try to think of as many as possible, like “I haven’t actually done a triathlon for 2 years”, “I haven’t raced further than a sprint duathlon for 2 years”, “I haven’t actually swum for 2 years apart from a few times in Lanzarote in January!”, “What’s a time-trial?”. Not a bad list!
Last minute arrangements were made to stay in a local Travelodge after work on the Friday, which made getting up for the 5am race registration marginally easier. I forgot how early triathlons start! The weather was overcast, raining on and off and pretty chilly – typical British summer. If I am honest, despite the moaning, I was quite excited to be doing a triathlon and riding a non-drafting event as it had been so long.
Due to the wind and choppy conditions in the water, the swim was shortened by 100m. The swim started ankle-deep in the water with a run/belly-flop in after the starter horn went. It was brutal! Women were diving on top of each other, fists were flying, legs thrashing and amongst this, I was busy swallowing as much lake water as humanly possible. I was a little rusty on the swim thing but half way round, I soon started to get the hang of it and slowly started overtaking people. The swim was all about survival for me.
Through T1 I was a little slower than usual, but soon got going on the hilly bike course. I really like the course here. It is 42km of rolling countryside with some tough climbs and fast descents. I found myself gradually working my way through the field. My eyes and nose were streaming due to some serious hayfever reactions and I suddenly remembered I hadn’t put my sunglasses on. Where were they? I started to get a little upset as I thought they may have been taken in transition.
Off the bike, I headed straight to transition; except I was directed to the wrong one (there were two). After a quick conversation with a marshal I was soon directed to the correct one, only to run along the wrong aisle. Oops! I spent a very long time looking for my trainers, when I saw they were in the next row along. Anyone would think I was a complete novice! To add to the embarrassment, I realised I had completed the whole bike course with my sunglasses still in my helmet! Don’t ask me how I didn’t notice!
Out on to the run I finally felt comfortable. The timing chip started rubbing my ankle almost immediately so I thought I would stop to take it off and carry it. Wise decision, having seen a few other people’s ankles post-race! I ran well within myself as I just wanted to enjoy the race. At this point I had no idea where I was within the field, but it was a nice feeling working my way through the field at cruising pace.
Crossing the line I was quickly informed that I had finished 2nd overall and had won my age group! I couldn’t believe it. I also qualified for the World Triathlon in London later this year. Very excited! Not bad for a duathlete!
James’ Account: This event was always going to be interesting as it was right in the middle of a block of races. So I had the usual problem of either repeatedly tapering for races and slowly loosing fitness or trying to maintain/improve fitness between races. So, I decided rightly or wrongly that Llandudno was the aim the following week, so I would do the Dambuster tired and try and enjoy the iconic event.
Working hard in training - photograph from www.uksportpictures.com
Well, the swim really favoured the strong swimmers as the wind was making the chop pretty tasty. I actually enjoyed the swim and enjoyed reeling in the guys who had run along the bank, instead of swimming (rather them then me the rocks beneath your feet must have caused a bit of damage to some of them). It was the first outing in the Huub Archimedes wetsuit, what do they say ‘don’t try anything new on race day’; well I did with great success.
Heading onto the bike, we had gusting wind, wet roads and rain at the beginning of the ride; typical summer days to be pounding the pedals. The bike leg was a very honest course, always undulating and difficult to maintain a pace. A harder bike course is always better for me as it suits my bike power and it splits the field up preventing groups forming; which can be a problem at the highly competitive races. However today my legs just felt flat, don’t get me wrong I was still moving, but not with the effortless ease I’m more accustomed to.
Lastly the run… it was a sufferfest. No matter how hard I pushed, it didn’t translate into any extra speed. So I guess my solid week of training did leave me a little empty, which I guess is the sacrifice you have to make with racing consecutive weekends. Fingers crossed my form returns for the next big race.
Thank you to all the Torq Tri Team's sponsors who help make racing so much easier.
www.huubdesign.com - Wetsuits
www.limarhelmets.com - Helmets & Glasses
www.lakecycling.co.uk - Cycling Footwear
www.jagwireusa.com - Cables & Housing
www.shimano.com - Groupsets
www.max-mediagroup.co.uk - Team PR
www.amphibia-sport.com - Transition Bags
www.schwalbe.com – Tyres
www.lezyne.com - Pumps, Tools, Bottle Cages
www.juicelubes.co.uk - Lubrication