In the first in a series of blogs for derryjournal.com, Derry triathlete Aileen Morrison talks about her first race of the season and her ongoing prepartions for London 2012.....
I arrived for my first race of 2012 in good spirits. I had raced Quarteria (Portugal) European Cup Triathlon before in 2009, so I was familiar with the course and my past block of training at home has gone really well.
My swimming has been consistent, biking building all year, and my track sessions has been progressively getting faster. Although I’m from Derry, I’ve lived in Lisburn (outside Belfast) since 2008 when I competed in my first international race and began training as a full time tri-athlete.
Two weeks ago I competed in a 5k at Gransha Park in aid of Foyle Hospice, a locally organised race was fantastic warm up to my season on the international stage. My time was good- 17.11, but I paced my self badly going out too hard.
In triathlon it’s a bit different, you always need to push it to the front in the swim so you can be with the leaders on the bike. Groups will form and we ride together on the bike in ‘packs’, and you will need to be in that front pack of you want to be in with a chance. Once onto the run it is a foot race of the best runner to the finish. So both tactics and luck also come into play. Luck in that you hope there are no crashes, and the fast runners are in the second pack!
I was ranked number 1 going into the race which adds a bit of pressure, but is nice too.
There was a swim familiarisation on Friday, with strong winds the sea was rough. Being used to swimming in the Donegal beaches from my surf lifesaving days it didn’t phase me.
At the race I was called to the start line first and got a good cheer from the crowd. When the horn went I got a good start but after a few hundred meters a girl swam on top of me a few times and then grabbed my hat and dunked me. I was outraged so I grabbed her back! Girls racing is notorious for bitchiness but this was silly- it wasn’t helpful for she or I. I panicked a bit and lost ground on a group of 5 girls who got away. I ended up in a second pack on the bike doing a lot of hard work to try to catch up to no avail. Once onto the run I was a full 60seconds behind the leaders for the 10k run. But on the first lap I caught 3 of them! Then the number 3 ranked athlete Carol Peon of France on the last lap, but unfortunately not the Spaniard Anoua Moura. Silver in my first race, but also an amazing run after getting beaten up in the swim.
Having some points on the 2012 bag is also helpful, but I have a really good ranking from last year. My Olympic ranking was 11 at the end of last year which means even though Olympic qualification doesn’t end until June I am certain to stay in the top 55 starters; and therefore don’t need to race again before London. For me I still need to compete in European races to boost my confidence, and in World series events to get more experience competing at the top level.
It was great to have loads of support at the race with mum & dad and some of the Northern Ireland Athletics team who are here on a training camp.
I’m home to NI on Monday, and then I fly to Sydney for a World Series event on Saturday and onto a World cup event in Ishagaki, Japan. After that I have 3 week of hard training at home. I will keep you all updated!