Well in late 2013, I made no attempt to hide my desire to represent Great Britian as an Age Group athlete in triathlon.
I have a dream
This dream has been something I have been quietly chasing for some time.
After the ITU decided to change the rules for sprint distance triathlon to draft legal for the World Championships in Mexico in 2016, I thought that was the final nail in my coffin but then I realised it actually might benefit me.
How could it benefit me you ask?
Well quite simply it turns the race into a running race.
Assuming I could swim well and bike with a good group then I wouldn't lose 9 minutes to compatriots on the run.
Why does 9 minutes matter?
Well it's all about the percentages. To qualify as an AG athlete you either have to be within the top four finishers in your AG at a qualification race or be within 115% of the winner of your AG.
Assuming I swam and biked with the 1st place athlete in my AG and they completed the course in 1:00:00. Then I would need to cross the line in 1:09:00 to be eligible.
And there is no way that that athlete could run 5km 9 minutes quicker than me. Given what I am capable of (23:00 at the end of a triathlon) he would have to run the 5km quicker than the World Record in 1960 for me not to be eligible.
So a plan was formed in my head 18 months ago.
In November 2014 I decided I was going to do all I could to get to Mexico. I decided to concentrate on sprints. I had a relatively good season last year (2015 review) where I concentrated on sprints.
But I needed to up my game this year. I had entered all the qualification races for Mexico to give me the greatest chance but I know where I stood the best chance of qualification. That race was Strathclyde. I am not saying why I knew I would qualify here but I was playing the game.
My preparation for the qualifying races was far form ideal because of life problems but here is a run down of my races.
In late May I travelled down to Eton for my first foray into draft legal racing. I have never before raced in a draft legal bike race or triathlon and boy was it a learning experience. I met a Twitter friend (Duncan) in transition and we chatted about forming a group on the bike.
I had an awesome swim and came out at the front of the second group.
I quickly mounted my bike and set about working as hard as I could. Duncan caught me up after about 2km and we started working as a pair. After another 2km we got caught by another group of 3. That made a group of 5. We all set about working together and it was working really well. I got on the front and put in to much of an effort, I think I was on the front for two minutes. After I waved people through I had nothing left to get on the back again. I then watched the group ride off into the distance and could do nothing about it.
A huge learning point for me.
After a lap on my own I finally got caught by another two cyclists and we set about each taking turns on the front and it worked really well. We rolled into transition and I set about the run. I buried myself in the 5km.
I crossed the line spent, I had nothing left. I had given everything.
After the results had been announced I realised I hadn't done enough to be eligible for Mexico, I had missed the cut off by 46 seconds. 46 measly seconds. Having looked at the results I would've been into T2 72 seconds quicker if I had stuck with my first group. My eagerness to prove my worth had stopped me being eligible.
Never mind I learnt a lot from this race.
I made the long trip to Scotland knowing this was where I stood the best chance of qualifying. How did I know? The race was held on the same weekend as the ITU world duathlon champs and the weekend after the ETU european triathlon champs so people might not race this race.
I had another wicked swim and led out the third group (all 100 athletes left at the same time), I was quickly onto my bike and riding alone. After the first 5km lap, 6 riders had caught me up and we worked like a well oiled machine each taking a turn at the front. We rolled into T2 together. I was with Duncan and another person from my AG. I knew they wouldn't run the 5km 9 minutes quicker than me but didn't know where the others from my AG were.
As it transpired the winner from my AG was ahead of Duncan (Q2) by over 3 minutes who finished 5 minutes ahead of me.
After analysing the times and results my roll down percentage was 112.75%. I was eligible to race in Mexico and currently lying in 20th position out of 20 possible positions.
Of the 20 positions, 12 were taken by qualification places, 1 went to a pre qualified athlete which left 7 positions for roll down. I was the 7th lowest rolldown. Talk about cutting it fine
I would have to go to Llandudno and race to ensure I had done all I could.
This race didn't really suit me as it was a long climb as opposed to Strathclyde (a series of short climbs) and Eton (pan flat) but I had to do all I could to qualify.
The swim went really well and Duncan had to really work to catch me on the bike which showed I was improving. He promptly dropped me on the second lap climb however. Damn my lack of proper preparation.
I ran as hard as I could in the heat and it hurt, as you can see from the picture below.
I hadn't improved my roll down percentage but two athletes with lower percentages had grabbed automatic qualification places so my position had improved.
Now just the nervous wait for the website to be updated. On the Tuesday morning the website had been updated. I immediately posted my joy on social media as this was something I had been aiming for for 18 months.
I still can't quite believe I have managed to do it, now I just need to fund the trip.
I would now like to give a virtual two fingers to the people who said I couldn't represent GB.
Someone from Twitter said I wasn't quick enough or good enough to be an AG athlete. Well you see that Q next to my name. That says different.
Someone else said I was too fat to be a runner. Yes you may be right I am not typically built to run but that doesn't mean I can't be a competitive triathlete.
Things like this help galvanise my belief that you can achieve anything you set your heart on.
I dreamt about going to Mexico, I believed I could do it (despite some people saying it wasn't possible) and I made it bloody happen with hard work.
On the 15th September I will line up in Mexico and will be so proud of what I have achieved. Just 4 years ago I was still smoking and hadn't completed a triathlon. I hadn't run 5km non stop and was clueless and now I am a GB AG athlete.
Thanks for reading,