WTS, German Championships & Master Exams - a few quite busy weeks

It has been quite a while since my last blog update … and quite a lot has happened in that time: I have had my second top 10 result in a WTS race, didn’t do so well at the German Championships and finished my exams and hence my master degree, managed to get my best ever marks in the past four years and hence meet the conditions of my PhD offer! So I’ll be staying in Oxford for just a little bit longer! And now I’m sat in my room for the next two weeks in Ingolstadt after a long day of training, shattered but just as happy and satisfied.

London WTS happened to fall on the day before my first Finals exam and by that I mean London was on Sunday afternoon start at 4:45 pm, my first exam was on Monday start at 9:30 am … But seeing as my “hometown” WTS race won’t be happening next year and it’s one race I’ve been dreaming of doing ever since I watched the elites race around Hyde Park just after I got into triathlon, there was no way I was not going to do London (even though I told myself at first that I shouldn’t really do it…). Looking at the results now – 10th in London and a First in the exam the next day – I am certainly glad I did both!

As you can imagine, however, my mind wasn’t 100% with it during the WTS race… I arrived from Oxford straight to the race briefing on Friday, spent the Saturday at home doing some pre-race preparation training and spent the rest of the day revising. Same Sunday morning – I was revising up until 2h before the race but then it was finally time to put the books away and get in the race-mindset!

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The swim was the most brutal of all triathlon swims I’ve ever done… I was kicked in the face, dunked (to the point that I ended up swimming underneath another girl for a few seconds) and felt like I was right at the back of all the swimmers. Turns out that wasn’t the case and I was actually in the main chase pack with actually quite a few of the decent swimmers!

On the bike we didn’t manage to get the group organised and only every now and then someone would go to the front, work and then drop off again when no one was willing to take the next turn – slightly frustrating when you see the gap to the leaders narrowing to then open up again.

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So I ended up coming off the bike in quite a big pack with no lack of very good runners in it… I must admit that I didn’t feel that great on the run, I had to fight from the first to the last meter. Nonetheless me and a few of the other girls in my pack managed to catch all girls in the lead pack apart from - not unexpected - the three Americans, Gwen, Katie and Sarah. I still don’t know how they managed to swim that fast with that much fighting going on in the water, so hats off to them! In the sprint finish I lost once again, but I think that is partly due to the fact that as hard as I tried, my mind just wasn’t 100% in the race. Top 10 in a WTS by itself would make me very happy, but given it was the day before my first exam, I’m certainly overjoyed!

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Then exam time hit – it is one of the strangest times in Oxford… but once they have started that’s usually the worst part over. My absolute hate are afternoon exams - having to wait all day just to start! (I then usually start the day by doing some training…). In the end I managed to get my best marks of the past four years… despite being even more involved with triathlon than I have been in the past years - that still amazes me. Especially as there have been times in the past year where I actually thought I didn’t understand enough of it… where I thought it was all getting a bit much… especially in one subject I was really worried I wouldn’t understand everything in time (I ended up getting my best grade in that exam…).

Now it’s all done, I have finished my Master degree in Oxford and will be graduating with First Class Honours this month. A great but tiring four years are coming to an end – but luckily I have also hit the grades to start my PhD in Combinatorics in Oxford in October and though continuing my studies!

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After exams were over, my family moved into a new house in London, so I had to pack/declutter/ unpack my stuff and sort out my new room and we had to celebrate my sister’s graduation from the German School in London before it was time to head to Hamburg to do a short run with some young triathletes there - thanks again to Fabian Wittig for inviting me. Then it was straight off to Düsseldorf for the German Championships and 1. Bundesliga – I had a great time at the press conference beforehand, but unfortunately, the race didn’t go the way I wanted. I had a good swim and ended up in the front pack (despite running past my bike at first in transition) and then entered T2 with the front pack – but my legs had absolutely nothing to give on the run! I tried to run off at my usual pace but soon realised that it would be a day of fighting to finish and not drop out… Maybe exam stress and moving stress does take quite a lot out of your body and mind actually and you don’t finish a degree every day either. I finally finished 7th in the German Sprint Championships and in the 1. Bundesliga, our TV 1848 Erlangen Kiwami Team finished 5th, which is also not what we hoped for. However, getting my results the day after Duesseldorf and spending a few days on holiday with my family certainly more than made up for the bad race.

Now it’s time to look forward and I’m currently in Germany training for the next races and really enjoying it – hopefully I’ll be able to show what I’m capable of next time again!

© Sophia Saller 2016. All rights reserved. Impressum