We were sent the Google Earth profile of the bike course before we flew out and when I saw the steep hill at the end I thought this is going to be a tough ride. Then I started to think about my running not been up to speed, I was counting on my swim and bike to get me through I started freaking myself out at this point.
We travelled out on the Monday night straight after competing in the Eton Sprints on the Sunday. I don’t normally ever race consecutive events but I wanted to try and qualify for the World’s in Mexico first. We landed in Lisbon and as soon as we starting to walk through the airport looking for the carrousels to collect our suitcases I started to feel anxious. The first thing I do is look round for the area with the sign for oversized items. Never happy till I see my bike-box comes through those doors and of the plane safe.
Tuesday was relaxing and uneventful, built my bike then we all went for a walk round to get our bearings, had a look where the transitions would be set up and swim exit, the usual pre-race routine. The rest of the days leading up to the race were used to do the normal specifics, such as registering, swim familiarisation and briefings.
Race morning and I had butterflies in my stomach but I knew these would go as soon as I entered the water. So wanted to get down to transition and get set up early. The swim start, I was in the second wave of swimmers, I think there were about 77 females from age 16 to 30 in this heat. It was one lap of 750m and it had excellent views for all the spectators from all sides. The swim is usually the one part of the race I don’t think about but today wasn’t my best swim, I had an ok swim. There was a steep climb out the water so didn’t mess about trying to get out my wetsuit till I had reached the top.
T1 wasn’t to shabby as I ran into transition to my bike, managed to get out my wetsuit quickly, helmet and glasses were on but I am going to have to spend some time practicing getting on to my bike again. I nearly fell off trying to jump on at the mount line, well lets just say it wasn’t quick and it definitely wasn’t pretty. The bike exit was on cobbles till you reached the end and could turn on to the normal road surface, which made the handling a little more difficult but I was reasonably confident at this point that I could make up the bit of lost time. Despite the poor start I actually felt that I had a really good bike.
I had ridden the course the day before, we don’t normally get the chance to ride the bike courses officially before the race but on the Thursday morning the roads in downtown Lisbon were closed off so all the athletes could ride the route and familiarise themselves with a police escort.
I was not looking forward to the run, my plan was to control my pace and not go out too fast trying to keep up with anyone else. I headed back towards transition for T2, which went well I am happy to say. On with the trainers, quick repositioning of the number belt on the way to the run out exit for the first of two run loops. You could not have asked for a better course, fast and flat but the lack of run training soon caught up with me and the effects of my tiredness gripped my legs after lap one. It was definitely tough and I found it difficult to hold a good speed.
The race had a unique feature of finishing inside the MEO Arena. When I saw the final turn into the arena for the finish straight I wanted to pick it up but I had given the run everything I had left. I saw the finish line and had this sense of relief.
I felt like I had not had a great run but when I looked at my watch to check my run speed I actually did a double take as I thought it read like I had just ran over two minute faster than last Sunday at Eton, I wasn’t sure if that was correct at the time but with that in mind I was already happy with my result.
I then found out I had crossed the line in 3rd place to take the bronze medal at the European Championships, I was like OMG! That was not expected at all - over the moon.
Extremely happy, getting a bronze medal is awesome but the best part of been a triathlete well for me anyway is been part of an amazing group of athletes. It was a great weekend for the whole GB team and we always get wicked support from the team managers. Well done everyone!