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The past 12 months have been pretty good for Rich Allen but 2013 should be even better.

Last year, 2012, was undoubtedly the best year of my life with the birth of my baby daughter, Abigail, in September. Luckily this amazing event overshadowed what was a dismal Ironman 70.3 season for me.

With me being British and my wife American we decided to have our baby Stateside which turned out to be a highly stressful experience.

The healthcare in America is far from free and having a baby is hugely expensive. During the run leg of my first race I could picture the doctor holding out his hand and laughing as he firstly took all my prize money and then shook his head disapprovingly as it didn’t cover his expenses.

This visualisation made me furious, piled the pressure on and reduced me to a pathetic jog. It was the same story in other races and I never really got to a place where I was completely and utterly focused on the job in hand. Early season performances were disappointing and the doctor turned out to be just like I had visualised.

And then came the birth of Abby during the peak of my season. Of course, I knew she was coming and had planned to probably sit out the World Championships in Vegas, but my plan was then to pick things up soon after the birth and peak late season.

This was a tremendous oversight on my part, as I just did not realise how fatigued I would be from having a newborn baby in the house. I had to make the decision to end the season rather than risk having some very poor races. Although it was difficult to turn away from the races I had been planning for months, it really made sense, as it was the perfect time to bond with my baby girl.

The race positives are few and far between, but the one thing I was proud of was a sub two-hour 56-mile bike split at Ironman 70.3 Calgary. British bike-powerhouse Tom Lowe did go quicker but it is still very rare for pros to get under the two-hour mark and I did end up beating Tom, who is a class athlete. That was my one solid race.

What’s the best thing to do when races don’t work out the way you wanted them to? After a few weeks rest and relaxation, or should I say nappy changing, it’s time to plan 2013 of course. So onwards and upwards. To be honest, my plans are really very similar to 2012, only without missing a huge chunk of the season from sleep deprivation. I see myself as an Ironman 70.3 specialist and the main aim for a 70.3 specialist has to be a strong performance at the World Championships in Vegas.

Having sat this one out in 2012 I am adamant to make the 2013 start line in good shape and with enough money in the bank to stay at the Bellagio and play blackjack. The remainder of the season will be moulded around Vegas and I will need to get some good early season results to boost my ranking, which is currently nonexistent. What many people don’t know is that there are three levels of qualification races.

Many carry only 500 points, meaning that you get 500 points for the win, which makes them rather pointless if you are trying to drastically boost your world ranking. Some are 750-point races with four regional championships carrying 1,500 points for first across the line. I will be targeting the big points races, which will undoubtedly be much tougher, but I need to gamble in pursuit of as many points as possible. Once I have hopefully secured enough points for a Vegas spot I will try to do 70.3 races that inspire me and I will start learning how to play blackjack of course.

I would love to return to UK 70.3 as it’s such a challenging course and is often a battle of the best Brits. In addition there is a new Ironman 70.3 in Raleigh, North Carolina, which is just a few hours from my US base. Other exciting races on my to-do list are Ironman 70.3 Calgary and Ironman 70.3 Timberman as they offer spectacular scenery, tough courses and should lead me in to Vegas in good form. After the World Champs I will see how my aging body is holding up before I make the next move.

What’s the goal for the year? It sounds cheesy, but my number one goal is to be a good dad, as this is my priority now. Second to that I would like to significantly improve my world ranking, even though I was still the highest ranked Brit in 2012. I would like to at least get noticed in Vegas (at the race not the casino) and go for some more podiums, particularly in the Raleigh and UK events. I just need to avoid any terrifyingly expensive US doctors, get some sleep, find a new routine and avoid getting injured. Easier said than done I know, but as always, I will, and can only, do my best.

This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.

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