ETU Middle Distance Championships, Mallorca
I’d decided that Challenge Almere was my last race of the season. And it was… until I recovered fast, got itchy feet and got blinded by the prospect of a final hurrah in the sun, sea and sand of Challenge Mallorca. The race promised to be “fast” and with a sea front/boardwalk run, I imagined, flat, warm and scenic…
The swim 24.9degrees, non-wetsuit, calm, 1x1900m loop from bay to bay.
It was my first non-wetsuit triathlon swim and starting in the elite wave, I knew it was going to be a tough one for me. I actually prefer the sensation of swimming sans neoprene even though it does punish the non-fish somewhat. And I definitely fall into that category! Being a sea swim we were able to warm up (cool off?) freely in the water before the start. It was a coming together of two worlds on Tora beach – the holidaymakers and triathletes looked at each other in equal bemusement. After intros and the usual pre-race hype the elite men started followed 3mins later by the elite women. As there was a decent size women’s field, I was optimistic there would be a few other non-fish to hang out with… As the start cannon went and we hurtled into the sea I immediately started to get left behind… Driftwood!! There was no point in panicking, it was all about damage limitation and getting though the wet stuff as efficiently as possible. By the first buoy I had a little bit of company and small group of 3 or 4 us bobbed round the swim together. On exiting there was a 200m run up the beach and through to T1. I ran away from the girls I’d been swimming with, and this turned out to be the fastest running I would do all day…!
The bike undulating, twisty, sunny, scenic, 2 x 45k laps
Having ridden the bike course on Thursday, I knew it was one of those rhythm breakers. Not a get down on the bars and TT-it-up kind of rides at all. Aside from the undulations and turns there were speed bumps, pot holes and 2 trips through beachfront Magaluf thrown into the mix. The race course is an uncontrollable, it can influence your choice of race but once you’ve committed you can’t change it so you might as well embrace it. The start of the bike was pretty quiet for me having been dropped by the majority of the elite women but only been caught by a small number of age group men (who started 7mins behind). Somewhere along the road I saw fellow GB team mate Parys Edwards. She shouted words of encouragement which gave me a boost and we knuckled down to get ourselves back in the race. To be frank I’m pretty disinterested in a race if I’m not involved in it, so I decided my best strategy would be to ride an aggressive first lap to get myself back in the mix. This was a risky strategy, something I wouldn’t normally do, but I decided it was worth a shot. It was already a bonus race, I was feeling brave and my body and mind were egging me one. Add to this the excitement of riding the drag2zero disc for the first time and there was no holding back – FULL GAS! It worked, kind of. By the end of lap 1 (1hr14) I’d passed about 10 women, the adrenaline was pumping and I was getting that race day excitement back. GAME ON. This is where I made a big mistake. Instead of easing back, consolidating and waiting for the run, I got cocky and pushed on. Halfway round the second lap IT HIT ME. The road suddenly felt more uphill, the pedals stiff, my vision narrowed, and the communication between my brain and body slowed down… as did the pace. Feeding was on plan so I took water, salt tablets and tried desperately not to pedal squares. In my confusion I stopped at the penalty box towards the end of the lap, even though I did not have a penalty, before realising and getting back on my bike and making my wobbly way to T2.
The run flat (NOT), shaded (NOT), great support and camaraderie (YES!)
As I ran out of T2 my running form would have been more appropriate stumbling out of the nightclubs in Magaluf than on a European Championship run course. When you feel the need for 2 gels within the first 15mins of the run, you’ve an idea it could turn out to be a shocker. I don’t remember too much of the run, just that it was hot, cold, numb, long, hilly… Apparently clinging onto a wall and various GB team mates featured heavily in my finishing strategy. THANK YOU and apologies to those involved…(Martin Bay, Boo Alder, Russell Kingston to name a few)! When the going gets tough, we all got tougher….
2:10 (personal worst)
Of course I’m disappointed. I don’t think anyone ever goes into a race with failure and self-destruction in their race plan! But I don’t regret “going for it”. It was a bonus race, it hadn’t figured in my season plan but I wouldn’t have put myself on the start line if I didn’t think I was capable of delivering a good result. I know I would have looked back with regret if I hadn’t given it a go.
This race was going to be a cherry on top of the icing on a very big cake. I might not have got my cherry but I’ve still got my cake, and I now intend to eat it 😉