Lockdown diaries - a return to racing with Tom Davis

We last caught up with Parcours pro triathlete Tom Davies back in April.  Here he talks us through his first race back at Ironman 70.3 Gdynia (indeed one of the very first pro races since lockdown):

Racing is back!! It was great to finally start the season at Ironman 70.3 Gdynia last weekend. It’s been a long time coming, and this year has been testing in ways no one ever imagined.  At the start of the year, I had hopes of targeting Ironman 70.3 world champs, and potentially trying for a Kona qualification after my debut at the longer distance towards the end of 2019. As most that know me are well aware, I was looking forward to continuing the theme of last year of racing regularly, perhaps more so than most and I felt I had a good chance of getting some podium action.

Suddenly lockdown came along, and changes were necessary. Certainly initially, I was constantly looking at races, and making plan after plan of what I could feasibly do… but after a few weeks I realised it wasn’t worth wasting the mental energy. We were in for the long haul, and hence I sat down with my coach Matt Bottrill, and decided that use the time to really make a difference to my ability to produce power in the TT position. Running remained consistent, slowly chipping away, and I was swimming tethered in a small paddling pool that I had got my hands on pretty early on into lockdown.

With how much I’ve raced over the past couple of years, maybe I haven’t put in quite as much training as would have been ideal, so this time has really been a great 9 months of consistent training. It felt like it had made a massive difference, and when Ironman 70.3 Gdynia came along I was really excited to show the changes I’d made.

Going into Poland, more than anything I was excited to pull on the race suit again, and stand on the start line. No matter what the result, I went out with the mindset of just being grateful to be back racing…

Leading to the race there were a few changes due to Covid restrictions… Obviously face masks were commonplace, but the organisers also reduced any potential pinch points where there could be gatherings. For instance, there were set times for certain groups of athletes to register, the briefings were all online, and the pasta party was changed to some coins that could be used as credit in the local restaurants in the town, which I thought was a great idea, both supporting local businesses, and making it more secure for competitors.

Onto the race, and I was a little nervous, especially for the swim, due to very limited time in the pool for the past months… however the swim went as smooth as to be expected, as I came out the water in the front 2 or 3 athletes. A slightly rusty transition meant I meant the front group onto the bike, so I rode with the second pack for the first 30km or so. I was feeling good, so decided to bridge the gap to the front solo, and from there it was an uneventful ride into T2, with one athlete off the front…. (who had a car for company, providing a handy little benefit… )

I started the run in around 5th place after another steady transition, but by 5k I was running in second and feeling good. I knew the biggest threat was from Patrick Lange [two-time Ironman World Champion], who was around 2 minutes back, but I was running strong… And that’s how it remained for the rest of the run. I was closing on the leader, and Patrick was closing me, but realistically I knew I had second place in the bag, which meant that I could enjoy the last kilometre, and that run down the red carpet.

It was a great feeling to be back racing, and I was chuffed with how I'd executed the race. It proved that what I had been doing during lockdown had worked, and now I'm really excited to bring my best performance to Outlaw X in a couple of weeks time, and then from there, hopefully I'll still be able to get a couple more late season races in, before its time to get back to the winter grind, and build for hopefully a more successful 2021!

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