My 1st World Cup race and I’m off to Lorient, France with Davy, and my now 2 wheeled bike box. Opting for a flight to Paris, we drive around in circles for an hour deciding how to get out of Paris before we embark on a 5hr car journey to Lorient on the Wednesday night.
On the Thursday I checked out the bike and run course, both seemed to be manageable, and a large team of people were setting up the rather vast and impressive transition area. Just out of transition was a bit of a hill so I practiced this a few times at speed on both the Thursday and Friday. Mark Dempsey who happened to be in the area on his honeymoon with Ailbhe came to meet and help me. (Get a life Mark).
I left the wetsuit swim practice to the Friday and it felt very long and my arms were sore having not swam in a wetsuit since tri-athy. But the 2hr sessions with Lisburn (and lots of backstroke) have given me extra shoulder strength which I think has helped.
Lorient town was lovely, and my pants French was tested to its limits. The waiter didn’t seem to understand ‘pan du garlic’, and in the hotel it took a while for me to get across ‘black tea with milk’ (ie not green, herb or lemon stuff, but with milk)- you can imagine that conversation. I cant survive without tea!.
The briefing, and general organisation of the competition venue and event were exceptional. I was dumb struck by athletes I’d only seen on TV or in magazines and felt silly amongst them.
Race day and I line up with the others, I’d counted 23 athletes on the start list (of 42) who were (as far as I was concerned) ‘big names’ or I’d heard or seen in the big events before. I tried to put that out of my mind aiming to finish amongst a few athletes I’d competed against before and knew I was capable of beating- I decided to aim for a 20-25th place.
The hooter went and I was off to a clean start, I wasn’t beat up too much until the first bouy, when I probably swam wide a little. On the long straight back to the pontoon I swam next to Felicity Abraham (ranked #1,) with the 1 on her hat. In transition I was out again just after a group of girls. Andrea Witcombe flew passed me in transition and I tried to stay with her and Abraham. On that hill 4 or so girls were in front and 2 just behind me. Those girls weren’t too bothered about killing themselves on that hill and I tried hard to push and bridge to the 4 in front. I didn’t and ended up with 2 hard laps until we caught 2 of those girls (Witcombe and Abraham got away), and then the 3rd chase pack caught us on lap 4. I done my fair share of the work and hung-on on the uphills and corners which are definitely a weakness of mine.
The big lead group worked hard and caught 2 girls who had had a gap from the swim, they also caught the last group of cyclists and so those were disqualified. I am glad I was not in that group, but some of the girls I have competed against more recently were and I felt for them. But it shows the standard of these races, and how important a good swim is.
I positioned myself well into T2, but my bike fell over ontop of my shoes, and I fumbled to put them on as quick as the others. I caught a few girls quickly and stayed 25meters behind a girl for 3laps. Davy shouted at me I was as good as her, and I managed to run hard on the downhills and out of corners to catch her at the end of the last lap.
I finished in 22nd place, and felt like lying there to die for a while. But the euphoria of finishing a world cup race and beating people on the run made me feel so good. I was congratulated by Davy, Mark, and Ailbhe, and spoke to girls I had become friendly with.
The experience was nerve-wrecking, adrenaline-pumping, demanding, euphoric, rewarding, and all those other words I cant think of, but definitely one which I want to feel again.
I am so thankful for Triathlon Ireland, Chris and all those who have helped and supported me throughout my first year (or actually 5 months) of being an international tri-athlete. It is only because of the vision and dedication of these people that I have been given a chance.
I will enjoy my 2 weeks off training, and already enjoyed a Chinese & bottle of vino last night upon my return. Heheh.
Thanks again to all.
I will return to training with a new found desire to cycle hard, kill myself on hills, and swim and run more than ever before.