Before this race I didn’t really know what to expect as I hadn’t done much running because of a niggling Achilles injury but I had been doing a lot of swimming and Cycling so I thought as long as I had a solid swim and was in the mix then I could definitely rely on a strong bike and then hang on for dear life on the run for a result.
The conditions for the race were pretty nasty but I like the crap weather, don’t get me wrong though I would much rather race in nice warm conditions with no wind but I get my best results in grim weather and as cycling my strength the windier the better.
The condition which we faced at Bala was a strong head wind on the way out followed by a tailwind back to transition so all the time was going to be put into people in the first half of the race battling into the wind.
The race started in possibly the worst conditions I’ve ever swam in. The water was freezing but the waves were pretty big and what felt like every time I tried to breath I swallowed a massive amount of freezing cold lake water. It was foul and the temperature of it sent a shock down me every time, as well as this it was near on impossible to see the buoys. Now I’ve been doing a lot of swimming lately but it’s a completely different ball game swimming in a nice pool, I could tell I was having a bit of a shocker and I have to admit I felt like throwing in the towel but I managed to get these thoughts out of my head and just thought come on Joe pull yourself together, damage limitation and then once you get out the water your in your element.
Coming out of the water I was in 19th place which was pretty horrendous, I would have hoped to have been out in the top 5 or at worst top 10 but all that mattered now was I got on the tt bike knocked it into the big ring and just grovelled, suffered and made sure I kept turning the pedals at all costs. I just though don’t go on the little ring Joe that’s for pussies, (this might sound ridiculous but these are the kinds of thoughts I get in my head all the time when I’m racing. Bizzare but they do work!). I managed to ride myself up into 3rd and entered transition just behind 2nd place.
Onto the run and as I left transition I was just behind 2nd and I noticed the animal that is Martin Caine was just behind me. I knew this was going to be a sufferfest as 2nd place was in reach but also 3rd place was at risk so I just ran as hard as I could to the turn and I noticed I had about 25 seconds on Martin and 2nd had pulled away quite a bit. I was feeling absolutely nailed by this point but I though just drill it to 1 mile to go and if you still have 25 seconds there then you are safe as theres no way he will make that up on you. Unfortunately for me I was the prey and Martin was the predator and he could tell he had me on the ropes and every time he got closer to me I think it urged him on. I had a look round with 1 mile to go and saw I had about 10 seconds I put my head down and just ran as hard as I could which was literally just maintaining my speed but it felt brutal! I could then see 2nd was blowing and had lost a lot of ground in the last mile but there was nothing I could do to close the gap and with about 600 metres to go Martin just came surging past me, it was mental a bit like a soldier running into war, he was an absolute unit! I tried to hang with him on the chance I could last until 200 to go and then out sprint him but I lasted like 50 metres and completely blew. I had a look round saw 4th place was safe and just cruised in to the finish in a complete wreck, I gave everything and felt smashed which is all you can ask for at the end of the day so 4th place was a fair result and I can’t be disappointed with it. Normally I wouldn’t have been happy with hat as to be honest if your not winning you can’t really be truly happy and settle for it but if you cross the line and know you have given your all then you can’t beat yourself up over it and on that day at that race I was beaten by better people, but I hope to return the favour next time and put some of them in the hurtbox!!!