Two years ago or there about, when I heard that the World Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships were coming to London I knew I had to be part of it. Some triathletes put down the whole representing your country thing. I don't get that. Triathlon is amazing. What other sport lets you compete against the best of the best on the same course at the same time. Where else can you stand next to world champions knowing you are about to experience what they experience. How else can you do that whilst wearing a Great Britain vest? Not many opportunities I can think of.
I know that qualifying sometimes is easier due to the location of the Championships, but that is the nature of the beast. Anyway I am not going to get into that. All I know it that I wanted to be part of it.

Once the list of qualifying events was announced I decided on a gamble. A smash and grab job and Dambuster would be the place to do it. I recced the course at the Duathlon there in the early season and found the course rather favourable to my style of racing. It's a course that rewards strong riding and someone who can run well.

In the build-up to the race my preparation was going well. 2 weeks out and I was putting some solid running and riding down. A personal best on the local 10 mile bike time trial in blustery conditions 10 days out was a real confidence boost. Swimming was hit and miss - 3 swims on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday a week before gave me something to build on but it wasn't until the following Monday I swam again, so I swam Tuesday and Wednesday again to repeat the previous weeks' feelings. My next swim would be Saturday, which I was happy about.

Come Monday my energy levels plummeted though. I developed a sore throat, I was constantly tried and every time I went to train it was rubbish. That is how you are supposed to feel though when you drop the volume. Your body doesn't like it. I've experienced it so many times before but each time you are worried.

Friday morning I drive up to Rutland. I get the bike out of the car and ride 5 miles the wrong way down the course fairly easily (on purpose) and I then turn around and push hard back to where I came from. The reason for this is during the race this will be the time where it is hurting. My legs would be screaming, my lungs would probably be turned inside out, and I'd no doubt be covered in apple crumble and beetroot juice. I would need to remember that it doesn't have to feel hard, by riding the last 5 miles the day before the race when I feel good (by now the lethargy has disappeared) reinforces happy thoughts and also gives you a bit of course knowledge!

A quick change into my running shoes and I repeat the same with the run - going easy for the first mile and then coming back hard-ish for the mile into transition. Once I had registered, had some supper with friends and got back to the hotel I felt I was ready.

I slept well. I enjoyed my coffees - having had no coffee for 2 weeks I really looked forward to it and I sat in bed sipping it eating my breakfast at 4:30 am and I felt calm. Today wasn't about times, or overall positions. It was about making sure no more than 4 people were in front of me in my age group when I crossed the line. My swim wave was just my age group so I would have a good idea from the start where I was. It was a case of racing tactically and not letting anyone get away on the bike.

Once set up in transition and all suited up I felt ready to do this. Being the second wave off we had a ten minute wait (as well as a 15 minute delay due to the traffic and shortening of the swim course by 100m.). It was a beach start and I managed to get some clean water pretty much straight away. One chap shot off and I found myself going past the first marker buoy in second, by the first turn I was in third. There was a reasonable amount of chop on the water and even though I was breathing away from it I was taking on board a reasonable amount of fluid. I don't think my sighting was great, but every time I checked behind I had a 5 meter gap to the group. At the next turn buoy I went past the early leader (who was now breast stroking) and focused on taking the direct line to the swim exit which was parallel to the shore and where we were then. No real dramas at all and as I exited the lake I felt pretty good. Up to the bike I went.

It gets a bit boring to say it but transition was once again very slick. Keep it simple and you will be fine. Out on to the course and the wind was blustery. I was glad I put my more shallow front wheel on. I knew I was in second but it wasn't long before I was joined and passed by a fellow competitor. Here is where I had to test myself and knew I wasn't in for an easy day. He came past going quickly. I accelerated to keep pace and sat the legal distance behind him. For 10 miles we worked together. Even though you are 7 meters behind someone and not really benefitting from the slipstream, having someone to pace with is a great help. We soon caught the swim leader and he tucked in with us, but was unable to do much work at the front which didn't really matter. Then I got lucky. I went to come to the front on a short hill. I stood up in a big gear and came to the front - as I did so another racer came round me and carried on going past at a faster pace than we were going. I jumped hard and knew that if he got away it could mean trouble. It was my turn to be unable to provide much pacing at the front, but after a few miles of drilling it I noticed two things - 1) it was getting easier to bear and 2) when I looked back my previous fellow riders were not there. We ended up putting a minute into them. So it really was a case of fortune favours the bold. If I hadn't have pushed on when I did I may have had a different result.

Into transition 8 seconds down on the leader was a good position to be in. I will always back my running but there are some insanely fast runners around and I hoped I had enough of a gap. I came out of transition in the lead with a three second gap (another boringly fast transition) and I kicked. By one kilometer I reckon I had put 10 seconds into second place and I kept going. It was an out and back course and by this time we were well into overtaking the slower of the previous waves so looking back proved fruitless as I couldn’t tell who was in my group and who was in the previous wave. So I carried on and knew that as long as no one over took me I was fine. At about 3 km you come onto the dam. I felt the beginning of a stitch. By the end of the dam this had developed into a pretty serious pain in my right ribs and stomach. Oh god, not now. I slowed a bit. It eased. I picked it up and it came back. Breathing deeply hurt. Running at the pace where it didn't hurt and my legs were telling me to speed up. They could go faster and wanted to. At the turn point I checked my fellow runner at 30 seconds down. I tried to pick it up but couldn't - I had to stop. Stretch to the side. Have a burp. And off I went. I was angry for stopping but I had to. It felt better but not 100%. My legs were still feeling fresh. Back along the dam, through the woods and on to the sheep poo path. 2km to go and I was still running within myself. Up a gentle hill, then down, round and back through the boat area. The last km I ran yesterday when I felt good. Today I was suffering. I tried to block the pain but knew I wasn't running to my potential. Back to the crowds and down to the finishing chute. Barring a complete miscalculation in where I was I was the winner of my age group. And more importantly I had qualified for London. The sense of relief was huge. I chatted to the fellow competitors and went to check the results. Yes. I was 1st in my age group and with 5 people qualifying it was more comfortable than I expected but still hard days racing.

Despite my poor run performance it seemed everyone struggled and only 3 people in my age group ran faster. I know I am capable of running a high 33/low 34 minute 10km. It will come. I ended up with the 2 fastest swim, 3rd fastest bike and 4th fastest run in my age group. Consistency is everything. I was 7th overall, but I am not too fussed with that. Well maybe I am. A minute faster on the run and I would have been 4th. The same position I came at Milton Keynes at the English Champs (last years' equivalent race) having run a 34:32 min run.

So there we go. Mission accomplished. London World Champs qualified for. I also had a few athletes I coach qualify as well. So all in all a very successful day.

As usual I must thank the people who help me and provide me with the best kit available - Primera, Zone3, Scott Running Shoes, Compressport, Xendurance and H2pro. Also to my amazing family and group of friends who have believed in me over the past 2 years. Whilst me qualifying isn't going to change the world it does go some way into saying thank you to everyone.

See you all soon for the next race report!