This last couple of weeks has really formed the end of the season for the athletes I coach - with both Ironman Hawaii, the ETU European Middle Distance Championships in Paguera, Mallorca, Last of the Summer Tri and the South Manchester Sprint all coming hot on the heels of one another. As a coach, I make no differentiation between them - each event was the culmination of a season of hard work for one or more of my athletes.
One of the interesting things about coaching very motivated athletes with high goals is watching what they do when they have completed an important race, regardless of whether they have exceeded their expectations, or come up disappointed. Over the next few posts, I'm going to go over some of the lessons that we've learned in the coach-athlete relationship from these end of season races.
ETU European middle distance championships, Paguera, Mallorca
In Paguera, the athletes were faced with temperatures hitting the mid 30's and stayed there during the run. Organisers had tried to save the athletes from the worst of the heat by starting the 70.3 distance race at noon, so most would be on the run course by later than 3.30. So much for the best laid plans - the weather conspired to be a heat wave, meaning it was an absolute war of attrition on the run.
Helen Murray has written a great blog about her day. A very impressive performance for her (5th in AG, and 15th female overall) left her elated. I'd told her before the race that I thought she could podium if she had her best day, and I meant it. Her running in particular has come on tremendously this year and I knew that if she could get off the bike in the hunt then anyone trying to beat her would have a real battle on their hands.. A few days later, her analytical side showed through - an email to me saying, basically - I did better than I thought I could do, but I think I could have done even better.
Looking at the splits, she'd missed 4th by less than a minute, and the girl in 4th had taken more than that out of her in transition. Agony.
Whilst 3rd was a few minutes up the road, technically that Helen had earned 4th place with her swim, bike and run performances - but lost in transition. Full credit to her competitor - speed and skill in transition earned her the place. Next year, Helen will be the fastest female in T1 and T2, I guarantee you that!
We also had some great results from athletes at Knutsford Tri Club, with Clive Reading winning a sliver medal in the M65, Ron Skilling finishing 6th in the M60 category, Rich Brown managing to finish despite a big crash on the bike, and Claire Hebblethwaite finishing 14th in AG. It's great to see all the hard work and dedication that everyone has put in get rewarded on the international stage!