In June 2017, after just half a season competing in triathlon, I found myself qualifying for the World Triathlon Championships in the Gold Coast, Australia after placing 3rd in the British Triathlon Championships in Leeds. This was too good an opportunity to miss so I put all of my body, soul and money into training to compete at this level.
Over the winter, training was going reasonably well. I have a long-term back condition that will never get rectified until I have surgery but over the winter it was holding up okay with the volume and intensity of my training. Early season races showed I was in good form and I had qualified to compete in the European Triathlon Champs in Estonia in July so I had two A races to work towards.
My back flared up massively in June/July and training and race performances took a big knock. I was disappointed with my 12th place finish at the European Championships but after some reflection, looked at the positives which were a huge swim PB and a great performance on the bike. With my back causing so much pain and discomfort the run was a disaster but I had a plan!
With support from my physio, I was put in touch with a consultant for a second opinion and possible new plan of treatment for my back. He performed a new form of treatment whereby he burnt the nerve endings through radio frequencies in the areas causing me pain. The result was a lot of pain and bruising for about a week, but for the first time in months I was able to run without pain.
The Gold Coast was on!
Arriving in Australia
We arrived in Australia a week before the race and spent a few days training, acclimatising, getting over jet lag and getting everything ready and in order for race day.
I raced in the Open Aquathlon that officially opened the Championships. I smashed my 750m swim PB and raced a 5k run without pain – I felt great! I finished 8th female and was feeling very positive for the first time in months.
The bike recce around the course was fun, the butterflies start a bit as you suddenly start to realise race day is upon you, but I was excited! The course had a few technical corners but was mostly flat and had long stretches, great for just powering down!
Race day morning started with a 4:30am start. My bike was already in transition from the day before so it was just a case of getting the rest of my kit sorted in transition and getting up to the swim start ready for my start time of 7am.
I like to have a run warm-up as this helps not only to prepare physically but mentally too.
There were 91 athletes starting in my Age Group wave; the swim was going to be crazy with a small starting area! My Age Group was the largest and most fiercely contended according to the commentator...and I agree it certainly was! In the Women’s 35-39 AG there are often a lot of ex-professional triathletes coming back to compete after having children.
My swim did not go as planned; I got caught up at the start with a lot of hitting, punching and goggle-pulling and found myself having to swim out of trouble rather than simply forward. Once in a clear space I started to push on but I came out of the water a few minutes down on my target.
The transition run was quite long which I like, it helps get me ready to jump on the bike!
The bike course was great; I felt strong throughout and held an average speed of 21mph throughout the 40k course.
The run was going to be my tester. I felt under-prepared for my run due to my back so I just had to hope my legs were there on race day... unfortunately they were not!
As I started running, my legs felt heavy; my 10k was solid but not what I would have hoped for. I had a great sprint finish and pushed away from a New Zealander in my AG at the end.
My overall position was 56th in the world and 11th European.
Initially, as most athletes will do, I started to be critical of my performance and I was disappointed as I knew my swim could have gone better. However, the more I looked at the results, the more I realised just how competitive my AG was; ex professionals, commonwealth swimmers, previous Olympic athletes.... I am just a PE teacher from Essex!
After some deep thought and analysis I have taken the positives from my performance and have set myself targets for the 2019 season. I have already qualified for next year’s European Championships and World Championships so I have high standards to push for.
About the author: Louise Douglass is a Team GB Age Group triathlete and duathlete and a Sundried ambassador.