5 a.m almost seemed like a leisurely start for race morning, after a fairly good nights sleep I did usual race morning routine of porridge and a banana and a coffee. Waking the kids and getting them dressed is always fun early in the morning but we got them sorted and I made sure all my transition bags were ready. There was about a 20 minute drive from the hotel to the race site and a mini bus shuttle was being put on to take us down. With bike already racked there wasn't masses to do apart from hang my bags up and do the final few checks. I left the hotel around 6.15 with some other GB Team members hoping to meet Lisa and the kids down there before I had to start my race.
Walking to my bike and seeing the calm lake I was feeling increasingly disappointed not to be swimming. Through the security checks and into transition it was nice I see that they had carpeted it all up but it was still very wet and muddy. Bike uncovered and checked, bottles put on and the only thing I realised was that I had forgotten my little spares pack with tools and spare tube, slightly concerned but seriously hoping I wasn't going to get a flat or have any mechanical issues.
Bags racked, race kit on, sod queuing for the porta loos, quick pee in a bush and I jogged down to the drop off point to warm up a little and see if Lisa and the rest of the support crew were here yet. Seeing them walking up was nice and I had 5 minutes for a quick catch up before I had to head off to the start for my wave to go. The elite men set off at 8 with the women a few minutes after. Standing in the the start pen with the rest of my wave I chatted with some fellow athletes and was feeling pretty relaxed, I unfortunately needed a wee again but figured I would have to hold it now and had also forgotten my pre race gel but otherwise was alright. We were called to line up and I was thinking this is a pretty good way to make my duathlon debut at the triathlon world championships. 30 second warning then the horn went. The pace was fast from everyone and with 3 age groups going at once it was impossible to keep track of who was infront or behind. A few minutes in and the pace was still rapid, quick check of my garmin informs me we are running sub 6 minute miles, certainly not a sustainable pace at the beginning of what could be a long day. Thankfully it spread out a bit and I slowed to my pace a little but it was still quick. First half of the course went up a little then flattened off again. Round the back of the loop was fairly flat then up a steep hill before going along a bit more and coming down again. The bottom went around the lake on a off road trail and brought you back into the bottom of transition and the finish area. First run complete in just over 38mins, a bit quick really but through transition, coat on and out onto the bike.
Having never ridden after a run before I wasn't sure what to expect. Straight out of transition I felt a bit rubbish and flat but was keeping pace with the other around me. I took a gel and kept on going trying to stay within my self and not lay it out just yet. We went on and I started to notice my seat moving a little. A quick look down confirms that my post is loose and moving within the seat tube. Thankfully not down but forward and back when I move on the bike. Having forgot my spares bag there was nothing I could do about this apart from sit still! A few corners later I was on the brakes when I felt a pop from my rear brake lever and lost all rear brake power. Again not good with no tools and a hilly course where brakes would certainly come in handy. I tried not to worry about it too much and just had to brake early for corners. The bike went on alright and I started to feel batter. Just after an hour in I actually started to feel good and made some good progress catching people infront of me, coming into the bottom of the main climb on the course the Ballon d'Alsace I was feeling good and caught a fellow GBR athlete. We chatted briefly and he said he thought we were well up the climb already, the scenery was beautiful and I felt like a climber in the Tour de France. The gradient was manageable but I was in my easiest gears putting in some solid work. The next corner came followed by another and another and then we broke the cloud line. More corners and after 25 minutes of climbing the summit wasn't in sight yet, 40 minutes after hitting the bottom we peaked and passed the aid station, I pulled over quickly to see if there was anything I could do with my rear brake but it didn't look good. I decided to just wing it and I hope that I didn't go off the edge of the mountain. The first couple of corners were alright but I was struggling to slow and on the wet hairpins grip wasn't good. A couple of close shaves later and after having lost a serious amount of time and places and utilising some dirt escape paths I was off the mountain having definitely preferred the climb to the descent. The trip back into transition was relatively uneventful. I was seriously frustrated with my mechanical issues and the time it had cost me but I was glad not to have crashed. As it started to rain I was suddenly aware that I hadn't peed yet. I quick check and with no one close by it was time for another first, Peeing on the bike! Hanging to the side a bit and with some hesitation I let go, it felt like it went on forever but it did eventually stop and I pedalled on casually.
Into t2 and out onto the run my legs felt good and the pace was high. Up the first climb on the first of two laps and I was aware that I was working and had a fair way to go still but sat with another GBR athlete for a bit which helped me a lot. I kept up my fuelling and was feeling strong, I moved on from my team mate who slowed a little and got to the second hill of the lap, up there and round the lake. Water at aid stations was nice and I was relatively comfortable, towards the back of the first lap and my legs almost felt strong, I resisted the urge to push on hoping that it way pay later in the race. Past my support team which always makes me smile and on to complete my first lap. The course was getting busier the second time round and I was passing people nicely. Round the top of the course and about 8 miles in and my legs were starting to feel it. I took some coke at the aid station and kept up with my gels and water. My legs were starting to really feel it now, over 15 miles of hard running for the day and with three still to go I was taking it step by step. Using my garmin i was telling my self just to hold on to the next mile. My pace wasn't slowing but the effort to hold it was rapidly increasing. I got to the bottom of the lake and the last aid station knowing that I was under 2 miles from home and that from now on I would be seeing supporters all the way home. The amazing thing about this race and racing in you countries kit is that every Brit out on course regardless whether they have met you before or not cheers you on. Into the last mile and I was just focussing on catching the next person. The last 500 metres and I caught a GBR athlete who got off the bike just in front of me. Running past transition and heading towards the finish line I emptied the tank, rounding the corner heading up the finishing chute I got my Union Jack flag off of our team manager and did the last little bit.
Crossing the line and I was done! Struggling to move I headed towards the after race area and got my finishers medal and a bottle of water. I quickly popped out to see Lisa and the team before going to get changed into some warm dry clothes. Still feeling a little sick from pushing hard I didn't eat for a while but drank a couple of milkshakes from the athletes tent. We watched some more finishers and the pro podium and I found out I could get my medal engraved. I paid my 10 euro and went to see the man and in doing so found out I also managed to get 3rd in my age group. Trying not to get too excited I grabbed some food and went out to share the news.
Warm and dry and trying to stay calm incase something changed.
When we could we headed back to the hotel and got a shower. With the awards ceremony later in the evening I was feeling hungry again and got myself some chips and a beer! Having to borrow a team jacket for the awards as the new ones hadn't arrived in time we made our way up to the hall where it was being held. I checked the final results and was relieved to see myself still in third but frustrated to know that I was only 14 seconds away from silver especially with the mechanical troubles! We gathered to the side of the stage and were announced up in age groups onto the podium. Getting up and recieving my Medal was amazing. I could see Lisa at the front cheering and it was a very proud moment.
After the ceremony and a couple more beers we wandered back in search of food and sleep. A quick stop at a pizza take away and back to the hotel. Feet up on the bed, medal round my neck and pizza on my lap, what more could I really ask for?!
Overall from a disappointing start to an incredible finish. My first time in national colours, my first duathlon and a medal. Just a magical moment and one that I will be eternally grateful to Lisa and Melvyn and the kids as well as everyone else who supported and helped me on the way to achieving it. Next stop is Outlaw where I wonder if my run of good form will continue or will it all come crashing down. We will find out come the 7th of July.