It seems to have come around faster than I expected.  Come Thursday evening, coach Mark Shepherd, Rachael Elliott and I will be cramming three bikes (and God knows how many wheels), three bodies and minimal luggage into the beast that is the Orange Wonder (actually a Fiat Qubo - what Mark would describe as a 'proper' duathlete's car) and setting off down the M4 towards Fishguard.

Tri suitThen it's a 2.45am ferry crossing to Rosslare, followed by a dash across Eire to Limerick, arriving at some point on Friday morning (we hope!). I'll confess I am planning to sleep a good portion of the way, in the hopes of being vaguely fresh come race day on Saturday morning.

Rain showers are currently forecast, but at least it's the same for everybody.  The race route is also expected to be windy, so my rear wheel aero jacket may well come off on Friday evening or Saturday morning.  We'll see what it looks like when we test-ride the course on Friday afternoon, ahead of the 'Parade of Nations' and pasta party (I thought you only had those at Ironman races?!).

Training has been going reasonably well.  Although I was disappointed with last week's 10-mile TT, I'm in pretty good shape (for me) and so am hopeful I will turn in a good performance at the weekend.  To be honest, time is what really matters - although coming anywhere other than last in my Age Group will give me no real excuses for complaining!

And for once, I'm going to be very strict on myself in the pre-race week and follow my training plan (inc HR and mileage 'allowances') to the letter.  I've had a habit previously of getting nervous before a race and pushing myself too hard in order to gain confidence that I can hit pace and distance targets.  But not this time.  Oh, and I'm looking forward to my combined massage/pre-race NLP session with Kim Ingleby on Wednesday morning. :-)

In a way, the ETU Duathlon Championships have actually been a little bit of a distraction.  I never intended to qualify for the GB Age Group team at Duathlon; instead I was really just using the Dambuster duathlon for course familiarisation ahead of the triathlon later in the year.  That said, I am of course, very proud to be wearing the GB suit in what, for me, is the biggest race of my career to date.

But when it's over, it will definitely be time to up the swimming training and really focus on a strong sprint off the bike (sprint triathlon qualifiers in May, then standard distance in June).  Qualifying for Beijing is really the dream for 2011.

In the meantime, I am determined to enjoy the occasion in Limerick and, for once, I will cross the finish line with a big cheesy grin on my face (and a Union Flag held aloft)!