*** many thanks to Jessica Josselin for this race report ***
So why Singapore?
Well, my journey began 6 days after my daughter was born in March 2012. I was adamant that I would get back into shape, race competitively again and I wanted to re-qualify for the GB Age Group Team. So I went back to the UK that summer to try to get a place on the Olympic Distance team for the European Championships in July 2013.
I failed to qualify at my first attempt in Bedford so flew back to Glasgow six weeks later and tried again. This time I was successful!
As the New Year rolled around, I decided (for a number of reasons including training time with a baby and a job plus a niggling problem in my rib when I run) that I didn’t want to race the Olympic distance and was going to pull out of the Euros all together. I spoke to the team manager who said they had a few withdrawals from the Sprint and they would allow me to swap based on my performance in other races earlier this year (mainly Tri Yas and Abu Dhabi).
I trained so hard for Turkey with my lovely coach Michelle and worked really hard with her, Jac at Up and Running and a conditioning coach at Emirates Golf Club to sort out the pain in my rib. I left Dubai for Turkey feeling really strong and really positive.
To cut a very long story short, I came 9th in Turkey and was really disappointed. I really hoped to be top 5 in that race and felt that my training and improvements in my run should have put me there. There was a little over 2 minutes between 3rd place and me so there were 6 of us within seconds of each other.
I returned from Turkey not knowing what to do with my disappointment. I think I was so difficult to live with that my husband eventually suggested that I find another race somewhere nice and we go as a family. I knew what was right with my training in the run up to Turkey but I also knew I hadn’t done enough cycling and I had changed my swim stroke and was feeling heavy in the water.
I looked at the calendar and the only options really were the Worlds in London (which I hadn’t qualified for) or Singapore. There was an open race in London but I decided to go 7 hours in the opposite direction as I had never been to Singapore.
For weeks before the race I kept looking at the weather. In summary: 90% humidity and thunder showers. This was probably my biggest anxiety leading into the race. Also the fact that the girl who won last year was an ex professional.
We arrived in Singapore very late on Wednesday 25th and with an 18 month in tow, I did wonder how we would settle, but she was a superstar. On Thursday amidst the torrential rain and lightning, I went to pick up my race pack.
One of my mistakes in Turkey was not having time to do a reccie of the bike course. This time, I gave myself two hours to go and cycle the 20k course which was 3 loops anyway so pretty simple. The course was really flat through the cycle paths of the East Coast Park. But it was really slippery which did nothing for my concerns about the weather on race day.
I felt really relaxed, probably the most I ever have before a race. I don’t think it was a reflection of confidence, just that I have been training and racing for 18 months and I really wanted 8:45am on Saturday to arrive. I have to admit, I even had a couple of Singapore Slings on Thursday night!
Friday was just a quiet easy day with a bit of exploring around the city, together with a two kilometer walk to the supermarket to purchase the statutory race morning ‘oats so simple’ that I forgot to pack.
Then Saturday morning came. Alarm, sneak out of room with bike, change in toilet down the hall, breakfast and a lot of coffee, taxi to race site, set up transition, queue for one hour for race markings (think I really should just pack my own permanent marker in future), warm up. Then we stood in the holding area for 30 mins while they changed the course and told us for 20 mins what the new course was. It was so hot. Everyone was sweating heavily even at 8:45am and the humidity was quite amazing.
The swim was in the sea at the edge of the park. The back drop was a thick line of tankers all queuing to get into the port about 10k to the west of the park.
All female sprint competitors started together. On paper this was more than 300 but in reality there were about 200 of us. I am always too nervous to get at the front of the swim so always hold back a little and go to one side so that I can swim in to the turning point at an angle whilst avoiding all the elbows. Today I had my toe on the start line, in the middle of the front row and I just went for it. We swam in a zig zag pattern and had to exit the water about 20 meters up the shore. I couldn’t really see the finish properly and there didn’t seem to be many girls close that I could follow so I just sited somewhere in the middle of the start line and finish gantry.
We came out of the water, through a shower then a long run over a bridge into T1. I had no idea where I was in placings here but I could see there were still a lot of bikes around me. Now I know I was third out of the water.
Holly and Marc arrived at the race just as I got on my bike which gave me a big buzz. It was the first race she had been to and I think the first Marc had come to for three years.
The bike course was very narrow which was fine to start with but once the men’s race began it was really dangerous. We were so lucky that it was dry as there were a couple of nasty accidents as it was. Im sure it would have been terrible if it was raining. I went out on the attack and found myself being really bossy round the course yelling “ON YOUR RIGHT’ constantly! I lapped a few people which made me feel great and I knew that no one had passed me on the bike course so I felt confident even though I had absolutely no idea of my placing.
As I came into T2, a guy shouted to me that I was in second position.
I went out on the run via the bridge again which killed my legs! I was hurting a lot. My hamstrings were tight and my legs were really heavy. I honestly wasn’t sure if I could run. I kept telling myself that it would get easier in a few minutes. It took about seven minutes until my legs started to work but the heat was punishing. There were a lot of water stations so I kept throwing cups over me to cool me down but the course went on and on and on with no markings. I saw a Malaysian girl cruising past me in the opposite direction and knew that must be the leader. Finally the turn around came and I had to walk for 30 seconds. My heart rate was so high and I just couldn’t bring it down and I couldn’t breath. I kept telling myself it was only 10 more minutes of pain but I had to walk twice more on the course. I just had nothing in me. I was getting so frustrated as have worked so hard all year on my run but today my legs weren’t doing what I thought they could do. Had I just gone out too fast on the run… would I get caught?
I made it home and crossed the line in 2nd position overall and 1st in the 19+ category. I have no issue with being beaten by an 18 year old at all!
All in all, a great race. The organisation was questionable in places but with 3,000 people racing, you can forgive the odd imperfection, I think it was a great race.