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Towards the end of 2018, when I had started to slowly build up the running again post-injury, I felt (rather ambitiously at the time) that I needed to enter a race for 2019, even though I was nowhere near in the clear injury-wise. This race was Ironman 70.3 Luxembourg. My first planned race back from injury, and I figured I had a whole eight months or so to get running injury-free once again. Well, since resuming structured training again from January this year, I have to say things couldn’t have gone better. I’ve posted some of the biggest and hardest training blocks of my life. Being mindful of the injury, though, we had to build the running back in really conservatively as I continued work with my biomechanics coach on getting realigned and pain-free. Comparing this to last year, when I was in full marathon-training mode, I thought there was no chance that my running would be where it was in 2018, because of the huge training setback I’d had for the majority of the year. When I raced Florida 70.3 in early April (an add-in race after I had signed up for Luxembourg) it was apparent that my run training had been limited – not just a tough hot, hilly run course; but I’d only done about two runs of 21k in distance in a whole year. It showed. The past few months of training had gone exceptionally well though, and after a short stint at altitude in St Moritz, I was back and feeling sharp, primed, and ready to race. I knew I was in a good place. I said to people before the race that there’s no reason why it shouldn’t go really well; the training had been going so well, I was comfortable on an incredible new bike (the Ceepo Shadow*), and I’d lost a few extra kilos so I’d be racing at my lightest ever since I took up triathlon. If I’m honest, I was in the shape of my life. My coach (SISU Racing), even took my bike out to Luxembourg in his van to save me the hassle of flying with it. Everything in the lead up was going smoothly and I felt so excited to see what I could do on the day. I was lucky enough to have my mindset coach (Coach Raisie) fly out to support me for the weekend too – it was amazing having my team there and it gave me such a huge confidence boost going into the race. We sat in my hotel room the night before the race doing a visualisation session, it was the perfect prep to get me ready mentally. And if nothing else, we had an awesome time hanging out with lots of laughs and fooling around even on race morning, with Duncan threatening to draw a crude doodle on the back of my hand instead of the inspirational words I asked him to write! I positioned myself extremely ambitiously in the self-seeded swim start area with my friend Sam and felt really excited to begin; almost no nerves which I knew to be a good sign. Soon we were off on the rolling start and I settled into my pace. The swim was pretty uneventful apart from a bit of the usual – athletes unable to sight crossing over in front of you and a bit of congestion at the last turn buoy. Not particularly noteworthy! The last time I did this race was in 2017 and I posted a 27-minute swim time because the course was short, so I wouldn’t be lying if I said I was hoping for a sub-30 swim time… This time, no such luck. I came out the water and glanced down at my watch – 32 minutes. I had been hoping for faster if I’m honest so wasn’t hugely impressed. But no time to lament – I had to go and ride this bike like I stole it! Out on the bike and I was feeling pretty fast. The first 30k or so of the bike course is dead flat and you really do feel like you’re flying. My power was looking really strong and above target but sustainable. I got to 30k in 50 minutes - pretty rapid course! All good things come to an end though! Because, predictably, it starts to go uphill. The short climb which marked the end of the superfastflatamazing section was the start of “the rolling bit” in the middle. It didn’t feel particularly fast as it was constantly rolling with a lot of sharp 180 degree turns in towns and villages where you had to slow to almost standstill! I knew I was doing ok because I hadn’t had a female pass me – yet. Finally, we entered France where the road surface became significantly poorer and after a fairly short stretch it was back on the home straight (and flat!) into town, with the last 15k back to the fast flat section alongside the river Mosel. I pulled into T2 with a 2:36 bike split thinking that yet again, I was expecting a slightly faster bike split (never satisfied!) but knowing that I had stuck to the plan so we can’t be in a bad place. I have said this before, but as I run out of T2 I know immediately how my run is going to go. Literally within the first few steps off the bike I can judge the state of play for the run – I guess you get to know your body pretty well after 30+ Ironman 70.3s! Anyway, this time, I knew immediately. I ran out of T2 feeling awesome. I glanced down at my watch after five minutes settling into it and couldn’t believe my pace. “That simply isn’t sustainable, surely. Jesus! Well, at the moment, it’s feeling comfortable so I’m going to go with it!” I ran the first lap thinking this could get very painful pretty quickly but after 7k and the first lap complete, I was still feeling great and flying along. I couldn’t have felt happier, I was really enjoying it and felt almost too comfortable. This cannot be right…! It was amazing seeing Duncan and Raisie on course and I knew I was going well because of Duncan’s language (I’ll leave that to your imagination..!). Half way in, and I was still feeling good. YES. The hilarious part is that halfway through the second lap I overtook a pro female who looked like she was struggling a bit (granted she was a whole lap ahead of me…!) but maybe five minutes or so after this I heard someone breathing down my neck and she appeared just behind me, on my shoulder, and stuck to me like glue. I had to hide a smile as I knew I was now pacing a pro. Get in! As I started the last lap I knew I’d have to push it a bit as my body was definitely starting to feel it a bit at this point. My new paced friend had skirted off to the finish line so I was now alone and willing myself on mentally. The last lap did involve a bit of internal encouragement from within myself to hold this pace, as I was aware that I could well be on for a PB half marathon time here. I had no idea what my overall time was looking like though. “Stick to the plan, stick to the plan, stick to the plan.” I ran into the finish chute pushing hard and finished the run in 1:33, not only a 70.3 run PB but an overall half marathon PB! Wow, I couldn’t have been happier with that run split, I would never have expected that! I finished in 4:47 which was also a 70.3 PB. As I went through the finish I immediately lay down, absolutely spent. After I had recovered my breath slightly I saw Raisie at the side and immediately burst into tears of happiness and relief that I’d had such an amazing race. Shortly after that I saw Duncan and it happened all over again – the look on his face just said it all. I ended up coming 2nd in my age group and 16th female overall (10 of who were pros), so was extremely happy with a second podium of the season, especially in a strong European field. I am now focusing on chipping away at my time across each discipline as I absolutely know that there are more improvements to be made, and in a weird way, I feel that this is just the beginning… Working with Duncan and Raisie has opened my eyes to a very different approach to training and racing, and it’s clearly paying dividends already. We have a very exciting plan in place for the rest of the season, and I can’t wait to see (hopefully!) more progress. What I do know is that I feel more motivated than ever to take this up a notch. Most importantly though, aside from results and podiums, I absolutely loved the race. I loved the training (most of it, anyway!) and the race was just the culmination of all that hard work. The perfect day, piecing it all together. And that’s what it’s all about really.  
*A huge thank you to i-Ride who sorted me the brand new Ceepo Shadow in time for this race!