The European Duathlon was in a small town called Horst in the Nertherlands – the same venue as last year. I wasn’t keen to race at first due to the disappointment of 2013 (4th place – always the worst position!) but I got talked into it by friends and as I’d be going to watch Chris make his GB debut anyway I thought I may as well race. With about 5 minutes to go to the start we huddled in the starting pen that made us seriously claustrophobic! We were packed in so tight that my nose was right up a man’s armpit! I must admit I felt a little sick! I was tucked in just behind my team mate Jacqui and there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on. As the horn went off and we got away, Jacqui absolutely flew off into the distance like a gazelle and I knew that would be the last time I saw her! Here it was time for me to exercise real discipline and I remembered what I had planned “You’re not interested in the first run!” Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to run well, but I did not want to commit 100% to the speed and instead wanted to run within myself so that I could really race the bike and second run. This was hard to do with so many girls going past but I had an inner-belief that it would all come together on the day. The run was so incredibly fast but I felt good and came into T1 in 18:53.
|Running fast, feeling relaxed|
Out onto the bike and I was weaving past people through the windy roads of Horst. Once out of the town the bike was very much a 300m fast sprint section, followed by a 90 degree corner, then another short fast sprint section and another corner. It was time to exercise goal 2 of committing to the corners (last year I was terrible on this bike course). It seemed to be going pretty well apart from a couple of scary moments where I thought I wasn’t going to make it! I felt better having spoken to Jacqui afterwards who said she too ended up in a field!
The bike was going relatively well. I knew the German Maria was up ahead of me but other than that I wasn’t sure where I was coming. As I was faffing around with a gel my good friend and fellow Brit Suzy Robinson overtook me. Suzy is a fantastic cyclist and was going really well after a week of warm weather training in Majorca. Last year she caught me on the dismount line so she was having a great race to catch me a little earlier this year. I was just about to give her a shout of encouragement when I noticed the Dutch girl Dieuwertje also overtake me, closely behind Suzy. I had lost 2 places in the space of 5 seconds and needed to refocus. My attacking of the corners was going well until I hit a cone to do a 180 degree turn which I completely ballsed up and then took ages trying to clip my foot back in again. Refocus. Concentrate. Produce the power. I was soon approaching the twisty roads of Horst again and slipped my feet out my shoes as I approached the dismount line. I could see Dieuwetje and Suzy having a bit of a nightmare on the dismount line and as I hopped off and ran past I saw Suzy having some sort of battle with her shoes, half attached to the bike and half itching to run into T2.
|Negotiating the corners|
I racked my bike quickly, helmet off, trainers on, and despite being the last one into transition, I was the first one out. Russell yelled “you absolutely nailed them in transition!” and then another supporter yelled “come on Sam, let’s do this!” I was buzzing from our mini race within a race, I had no idea what position we were battling it out for, or how far behind Suzy and Dierwertje were but I felt happy, positive and strong. I worked hard on the second 2.8k run. Going round the final bend I got loads od cheers and it was only then that I allowed myself to look behind me to see clear ground. I grabbed the GB flag and really enjoyed the final stretch into the finish.
As I crossed the line and got my breath back I waited there to see who would be next. I was keeping everything crossed for Suzy, not only because she is my friend but also because I felt she had put in a really gutsy performance and deserved it. A few seconds later and I could see a runner coming into view……it was Suzy! I cheered her as she crossed the line and got a lovely sweaty hug! It wasn’t until she said “Where did you come?!” that I thought, “I think we’ve only gone and got in the medals!!” I’d normally ask my Mum but because I wasn’t expecting anything I’d told her not to bother counting the women! Maria, the German who had won, came over to give us a big hug and congratulate us on our second and third place!!! We still weren’t sure if it was true or not, in fact it wasn’t until ages later when we saw the results printed in black and white that we allowed ourselves to believe it! It was fabulous to share the podium with Maria and Suzy and I was absolutely over the moon with silver.