Triple Crown: Irish National Track Championships

The first weekend of September I was back in Dublin to defend my Sprint Championship. The weekend of racing went a little better than I expected!

Saturday:

Saturday’s racing started off with the 3k pursuit. I’ve been really enjoying the pursuit this year as part of the National Omniums, something I have definitely improved on since last year. But the pursuits in the Omniums are only 2k; 3k feels a whole lot longer!! A week before in training I did 4:12, I knew I could go faster on the day and was very happy to do 4:05 in qualifying. A big PB for me. This put me up against Caroline Ryan, a pursuit specialist. I was very happy to take silver. Caroline did a storming time of 3:51. I’ve a lot of work to do before I get anywhere near that time!

In the afternoon came the sprint. First up, the flying 200m qualifying. I set a new outdoor national record at the track champs in 2011 and really wanted to beat my time. I was really nervous. All the pressure was on me to preform and prove last year wasn’t just a fluke. But I knew I could…and I did. I set a new record doing the 200m in 12.92 seconds. After that all I had to do was take each sprint round at a time. I won all my sprints and retained my title. The shamrocks were staying with me! But no time to relax…recover and focus for the next two races on Sunday.

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Winning the Sprint Title. Photo by @VeLoLovesCity

Sunday:

I could feel a cold coming on on Saturday night and so on Sunday morning I was not feeling super confident. I just kept telling myself to focus. I had time to be sick later but now, I had to race. I’ve been training for this all season. I couldn’t let a silly little cold get in the way now.

First up, the 500m TT. I’d be practicing my standing start recently on Herne Hill (with the help of coach Scripps, Rob Mortlock and the Sunday morning track gang!). I really wanted to nail a good time. Sub 40 was the aim. I was last to go, a sub 40 would mean the jersey. Pressure on. They had the proper start gates out so I tried to concentrate on what I’d practiced. Bleep, bleep, bleep, bleep, bleeeeep, pffffff…I was off. I came out of the gates really well but the first thing I noticed was that my shoes weren’t done up tightly. I couldn’t believe it. “Quickly. Focus. You can still do a good time.” Damn, I went way off line out of bend 2. “Shit. That’s it. No. Focus Lydia. You can still do a good time.”. It is totally amazing what goes through your head in a very quick 39.41 seconds! I did it! Jersey number 2 was coming home!

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And finally the scratch race. I was starting to feel tired and more and more sick. But this was the big one. I wanted to win. Caroline Ryan was racing this event too and after her performance in the pursuit I knew she was the one to watch. And that was my tactic. I knew I couldn’t match Caroline for pursuit speed but I did know I could try out sprint her. Chasing down Caroline’s attacks was hard. We should have stayed off the front but I just didn’t have the legs to keep her kind of speed up. With around 5 or 6 laps to go Roisin Kennedy attacked. I looked at Caroline to follow. I was on her wheel. With 3 laps to go Caroline was driving on the front. It was down to the two of us. I was hanging on for dear life! I didn’t think I could stick with it. But with Toby, my Mum and Dad watching I had to dig very very deep. Coming out of the last bend and onto the finishing straight I got out the of the saddle and kicked as hard as I could, it didn’t feel like much! I got on Caroline’s hip and she lost her line a little. I shouted and put my hand up (for non-trackies: when the sprint is launched you must hold your line). Caroline put her hand up to acknowledge this. I kept focused on the line and sprinted as hard as I could. I just pipped Caroline on the line. I had won my third title. Wow! What a weekend!

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A big thank you to the incredible support I get from everyone. Pictured here is my Mum, Dad and Toby.

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