Last week we caught up with our friend and marathon runner, Kieran Norcup. We heard about his tough training regimen, diet and step-by-step progress towards marathon glory. This week we will be talking to triathlon GB age grouper Alex Foster, who will be giving us the lowdown on his 2014 race season, and what he has planned in for this year.
PBK: Hi Alex, welcome to ProBikeKit, it’s great to speak to you, and thanks for doing this interview. So tell us a little bit about yourself, at what level do you race and what have you been up to the last 12 months?
AF: I am a 32 year old guy who simply lives to train, and trains to race at the sport. This keeps you very busy as there are 3 disciplines to go at in triathlon.
This year, I will be going into my 3rd year of racing at a competitive level in triathlon, in 2013 I gained a mass of experience and improved enough in my weaknesses and strengths which allowed me to win a number of domestic races. I also raced at the European Triathlon Championships in Turkey for the Great Britain Age Group Team and finished 4th just falling short by 7 seconds of my target of a podium position, after achieving this earlier on in the 2013 season I set to work aiming to qualify to compete at the World Aquathlon and also Triathlon Championships held in London.
I finished 2013 with lots of experience gained, a 4th place European ranking, a World Aquathlon ranking of 6th and at the highest level age group racing has seen I finished a respectable 13th at the World Triathlon Championships.
PBK: Very impressive indeed, sounds like a busy year. So let’s start from the start: how did you get into the sport of Triathlon?
AF: I started off by receiving a entry to a local triathlon in Horwich as a birthday present from my best friend. In this race I finished 63rd and had the bug to start training and competing more.
PBK: Would you say you have a strongest discipline out of the Swim, Bike and Run?
AF: I have always been athletic and quick at picking up various different sports, which was helped by being a competitive swimmer when I was younger, this involved training 6 days a week with sessions before school at 5am and also straight after school.
I would say my strongest discipline is swimming and consider my days of being a swimmer has helped me with the dedication needed to train for triathlon and also believe it has provided me with the foundation of fitness needed.
PBK: Have you ever had a truly terrible race day?
AF: Definitely, here are two experiences that spring to mind:
The first was my debut race competing for Great Britain at the World Age Group Duathlon Championships in France. This was a technical bike course, at which being so inexperienced, I was far from at ease with the aspect of putting 110% of lung busting effort round tight hairpin corners. The spectators from all the different countries were shouting out words of support to drive every competitor on, which resulted in me pushing myself to the limit and far beyond.
I had suffered a injury which had kept me out of running prior to this race so I found myself playing catchup after the first run and onto the bike, being my competitive self I pushed hard and felt good, the bike course was 5 laps and after 1 lap I had worked my way up the positions and gained confidence. This confidence was my downfall, as on the second lap I was side by side with another competitor on the fastest section of the course and approaching a hairpin turn, I was positioned wrongly going into the corner which resulted in me breaking heavy and loosing control, I can remember the slow motion memories of going over my handlebars and then picking myself up and being passed my stray drinks bottles by spectators, I was clearly running off adrenalin with blood on my hands and legs but was only interested in regaining the positions I had lost.
I was proud of myself for finishing the race, but felt awful once I had time to reflect and wipe off the blood and sweat. My partner still finds it amusing looking at photos from this race as my pointy aero helmet was left in a un-aero side position after the crash!
The second experience was with my 4th place finish at the European Championships. I had set my target to get a podium position, of which I was under the impression I was in. I thought this because my family and friends who had made the journey down to support me, had been keeping me informed on the position I was in. I kept hearing “you’re in third”, so when I crossed the finish line knowing I hadn’t been passed, I had mixed emotions. I had not heard my position announced, although my supporters were jumping for joy. Believing I had got the all important podium position, I was shocked to be informed a few minutes later that I had come in at 4th position, only 7 seconds off 3rd.
I believe this experience will only help me to achieve my full potential, as it will be forever in my mind whilst training and racing; pushing me harder!
PBK: What was your proudest moment in triathlon?
AF: My proudest moment isn’t one occasion but a number of times that I have performed beyond expectation and I see, here and feel how proud my mum and dad are of me.
PBK: And finally, I hear you’re off to a training camp in Portugal soon, what else do you have planned for 2014?
AF: After a tough winters training I am off to Portugal for a one week training camp, this will be massive for my season and definitely beats being at work.
My main race for 2014 is the European Triathlon Championships at Kitzbuhel in Austria, I am going there to win this time and will not be crossing the line questioning otherwise. I will also be focused on the British Championships in Liverpool and also on a few tougher types of races with Slateman, Sandman and Snowman, (these races are based in Wales and involve lots of tough terrain with mountains and beaches getting in the way of the finish line.)
I plan to race Helvellyn Triathlon this year which is one of the hardest races around and will take some serious specific training to overcome.
PBK: It was great to catch up with you Alex, and we wish you all the best for 2014!