The start of my 2016/17 season looked promising and injury niggles were nearly behind me. I was notified that my application for a sports scholarship at University had been successful (not a bad deal… a year of playing pro), I picked up some great sponsors (Rutland Giant Store for all things bikes, Sundried for my kit, and TORQ to keep me fuelled), and I was signed to Montluçon (a professional triathlon team based in France) to race Division 1 French Grand Prix Duathlon… EPIC NEWS!
My winter training began well and the rehab back to running was a success (NO MORE TIME ON THE CROSS TRAINER!). It was great to utilise the benefits that come with a scholarship and tailor my training based on performance testing, screening days, and work in the heat chamber which was a little uncomfortable due to a strategically placed thermometer but after Mexico’s ordeal, I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.
First race of the season was a West Midland cyclocross league race in January and having only completed one before, I turned up with no expectations. The race went well despite a few tumbles. The winter miles had clearly paid off as I rode myself to 4th place, although my main goal of beating the old man (Dad) didn’t quite materialise… maybe next time.
Last weekend was Oulton Park Duathlon and a true test of mental and physical strength/ insanity. It was an early 5am start and I arrived at Oulton Park (mom, nan, and grandad in tow who had thankfully forgotten their cow bells) to be greeted by the torrential rain. Luke and I were competing in the Sprint Distance along with fellow Birmingham Uni triathletes, and Sam and Ian had teamed up to compete in the relay. We lined up on the start in -1°C snowy conditions and prepared to race. The run went off quick but I resisted the temptation to get carried away. After the first 1km of adrenaline fuelled madness, I started to real in several athletes and ran into T2 alongside Alex, my rehabilitation partner in crime, in 2nd place. The bike leg was almost impossible to complete and by lap 3 I had lost all feeling in my hands and feet. Unable to brake or change gear, the last laps were more about survival than racing. Slightly delirious from the cold, I ran out of T2 for the final 5km with my helmet still on (safety first). It was pure pain from beginning to end the of that run but I crossed the line in 2nd. I was greeted at the finish by my Mom, armed with blankets and a pre-heated car… LIFE SAVER! She then proceeded to help a man with his socks and trousers, my Dad did question her motives. Luke took 3rd place in the men’s race and Team Pollard finished in 2nd, a great set of results in tough conditions.
Racing always refocuses my training, especially during the winter months when it is easy to lose motivation. Today I took my inspiration for training from my athletes at the David Lloyd Mixed Relay Triathlon. It’s amazing to be a part of their journey and see all their hard work and dedication pay off. A huge shout out to my parents who were apart of the winning team, despite other members complaining it was a fix and nepotism at its best.
Next week I will be heading down to Rutland Giant Store to pick up my new road bike (LIV Envie Advanced 1). I am unbelievably excited and grateful to my new sponsors for providing me with such a great piece of kit for the coming year. My trusty Boardman steed will now be put out to pasture. At the end of March I am off to Mallorca to attend a training camp with the University of Birmingham Triathlon Team for some sun, sea, and sweat-fests before exams start.
Until next time,