In her latest blog Sarah Storey talks us through a hugely encouraging week at the National Track Championships in Manchester.
Last Updated: 08/11/11 10:03pm
Just two and half weeks after returning from the World Road Championships we were back to racing again but this time on the track and contesting National titles in the biggest fields I have seen for women's events at these Championships.
Being at the start of the 2011/2012 track season, the final track season prior to London 2012, everyone who was anyone was out in force. For the first two events, the 500m Time Trial and 3000m Individual Pursuit, the women had more than 20 entries and it was such a high quality field with some super quick times needed just to make into the top 10!
Although I am reigning 500m world champion for C5, the event has always been a bonus event for me and without any really specific training, other than on my start, I have been trying to get closer to the world record in the event which stands at 36.7 seconds. It will be a tough ask for me, but I know that in targeting such a quick time I will be making my start better for the Team Pursuit and Individual Pursuit which can only be a good thing.
In warm conditions but with high pressure in the Manchester Velodrome, I clocked a 37.449, equalling my British record that was done in 2009 and most importantly recording a PB over the first lap.
The performance gave me a good platform for the following day and the Individual Pursuit. Times at the top were going to be tight and I wasn't entirely sure how quick I could go having not done any individual work since March.
Manchester's typically glorious weather gave us fantastic warm conditions in the velodrome and it was a tough-fought qualification round with the fastest times ever recorded to make it into the top eight for the final rides.
My time of 3.35.2 was the second fastest I have ever done and just a second slower than my world record of 3.34.266 which I recorded to win the World Championships in Manchester in 2009. Although not a PB, off the limited individual preparation I had had after the road season, I was chuffed to be starting the track season almost five seconds further along than I have done in the last two years.
The weather made for a very pleasant chill out after I'd cooled off from the qualification and a coffee, some food and a chat outside the newly opened BMX centre saw me enter the building for the bronze medal ride feeling calm and ready to ride my own race in the final.
It's funny how riding your own race can lead to an exciting encounter and after trying to nail another decent start I could hear the crowd and even pick out certain voices because the stands were nowhere near at capacity.
I felt stronger after 1km than I had in qualification and tried to make sure I didn't drop pace, which seemed to have been the problem in the morning. I pushed through the second kilometre and still felt good so just concentrated on making sure I didn't back off the pedals and tried to squeeze each lap.
The cheering from the crowd was brilliant, I could sense I was riding a close race and as I came into the straight for the end of the 12th lap I was nearing the line before I heard the gun fire to say that my opponent, Wendy Houvenaghel had beaten me to the bronze medal by a shade under a second.
As soon as I had dived across the line I was guiding my bike up the track to slow down and desperate to look at the scoreboard to see whether I was any faster than the qualification ride. It had certainly felt a much better ride and to my delight I had clocked a 3.33.248 which was just over a second quicker than I'd ever been.
I punched the air with delight and then suddenly the effort started to hit me as I came off the track, so Barney caught me as I rolled into track centre and let me lie on the floor for a second or two to get my breath back!
As I came round the final ride was underway and having watched team mate Dani King put in a superb ride for a new PB in the ride off for fifth place, it was now the turn of our team mate Joanna Rowsell who was riding for gold. Up against another rider who had posted a huge PB in the qualification, Laura Trott, the race was very exciting.
It soon became clear that Joanna was heading towards a faster time than the qualification and with the chance she could dip under the magic 3.30.00 mark for the first time. Everyone was cheering her on as she stormed round the track to her first National title in the Individual Pursuit, it was great to see and brilliant for the Horizon Fitness Prendas team to have three riders in the top five.
My rides in the 500m and a C5 world record in the 3000m showed my form was further ahead than anyone had expected and it was a positive step forward that stood me in good stead for the Team Pursuit. Lining up with my team mates as defending champions we were keen to put in a solid performance and our 3.25.235 in qualifying would not have looked out of place in an international event. With an opening kilometre of 1.08 in the ride off for gold we were able to retain the title and bring to an end a successful week.
You can also keep up to date with the latest news from Sarah via her own website.[www.teamstoreysport.co.uk]