Recently I have been full gas with University, Work, Dentistry applications and interviews, and in training. It’s a pretty standard Laura week if my feet haven’t touched the floor but coming into exam season there is a little extra stress onto my near impossible juggling act.
Last month I headed down to Rutland Cycles, ahead of training camp, to pick up my new road bike (I couldn’t have been more excited). I drove down with my Mom and Grandparents, who never miss an opportunity to get into the midst of the triathlon action. This year I will be working alongside Rutland Giant Store, as a LIV ambassador and sponsored rider, putting their Liv Envie Advanced 1 and Liv Avow Advanced to the test. So far, they haven’t disappointed!
With the new road bike in hand, it was time to head off to Mallorca for a week of intense training with the University of Birmingham’s Triathlon Team. The change of scenery and hot weather was much needed after what has seemed like a never-ending winter of hard grinding. It was a tough week but the outdoor pool, sea swims, coastal runs, and insane rides made the week fly by (far too quickly in my opinion). The highlight of my week had to be the last ride of the camp where we encountered some brilliant climbs that led us to the lighthouse situated at Cap Formentor. I am known to be a bit of a hill junkie, so any opportunity to smash up a climb is greatly received (it must be a Smith thing as my Dad was nicknamed ‘the goat’ in his previous running career…basically we are just a little mental).
The week not only gave me a chance to get some solid training in but gave me the opportunity to really get to know the athletes at Birmingham, including the realisation of what classic British prudes we all are as Cybele and Annica put us to shame with their fearless escapades to the naked sauna. The team is looking strong this season, with some hidden Gems that are going to ruffle a few feathers at BUCS sprint this year. Massive shout out to my roomies Lydia and Maddie…we definitely found a new level of friendship thanks to the interestingly designed bathroom, squad rides, icey morning swims, and late night gossips #dreamy.
Back in the UK, it was time to taper post training camp into the British Duathlon Championships, which both Luke and I were competing in. After a day of work and an evening of opening presents to celebrate my 22nd Birthday, Luke and I headed down to Bedford in an attempt to get a good night sleep before our races. I was racing in the 08:00 Standard distance duathlon which meant a nice early start for both of us (sorry Luke). That morning I was a complete cluster: forgetting elastic bands and my nutrition, not checking my bike was in the right gearing, and having a rushed warm-up. The race kicked off to a flying start and I was a little out of my depth in terms of tactics and pacing, having never raced a standard distance duathlon before. Despite the terrible prep, I race well and was delighted to take home my first AG National Title. It was great to share my successes with Luke and my grandparents (bells in tow this time) who were great supporters and kept me going at real low points in the race.
The long morning and heat had taken its toll on Luke but I warned him that we would not be having a repeat of London’s antics (for my sake more than his). It turns out that there was no need to worry, Luke smashed his race and finished 3rd in a pretty nail biting race (although, I did wonder what the hell he was doing when I saw him break away from the lead group…the nutcase). I take so much inspiration from watching him race and when he crossed the finish I struggled/failed to hold it together (and I do not cry… ever…well except over my dissertation but that’s an entirely different story all together). I put the temporary emotional meltdown to the tough few months of training, 5am starts, lack of social life, and low points that we have both faced throughout our training. The problems an athlete faces are often hidden from outsiders but ultimately make the end result even more special for us.
A successful day all in all and I have taken away much more than a gold medal. A great thing about racing in the early season is that it highlights any weaknesses in race prep, tactics, or current form. A major goal this year is to build up my bike confidence and skill level. I will be the first to admit that my cornering/ descents are much to be desired but with big goals this year I am determined to make some changes. The past few Thursday nights have entailed local Time Trials which have kick started my journey to mastering the bike but more importantly have meant I could prance around in my new kit (all the gear…).
Next on the cards is BUCS Sprint, my first triathlon this season… FINALLY!
A big thanks for everyone’s support including my amazing sponsors: Rutland Giant Store, Sundried, and TorqFitness.
Until next time,