So offskie to my 4th European Cup race, with both racing and roomie buddy Claire Connor and coach extraordinaire Chris Jones.
We’re expecting it not to be as hot as Turkey, but we were wrong and the dry heat hit us as soon as we arrived early on the Thursday morning.
Claire and I head out on the bike course and find the circuit of Split’s southern parks area both beautiful and ‘rolling’ (that’s a nice way of saying it was hilly but didn’t quite require small chain ring if you are as tough as nails like us).
We stopped to admire the views and Chris tells us to do half a lap ‘all out’ on the way out of transition ‘so we know what it feels like race pace’, we oblige and I near killed meself skidding around the hairpin bend at the bottom of the decent. Woopsie, note to self, slow down next time (I think that’s exactly why we were supposed to do this exercise). We also test the lovely water, run course, and of course food & obligatory pre-race-day ice cream in the city centre. A gorgeous old city I would return to happily.
Race day arrives and 9 girls turn up at start line. Holy moly, 9 that’s pants! With 12 on start list not great but 9 is super pants, half because there’s more pressure to come further toward the front, and half cos there’s more chance of finishing 9th, and another half cos- if I do manage to finish well, then there’s crap points toward European ranking (yes, I am aware there are 3 halfs).
Anyhow, on with the plan- my swims haven’t been great so just get stuck in.
I do and Clare and I lead the swim to the bouy, I overtake as she’s offline and lead the swim to the transition (o my god I was leading), I jump on my bike the Danish girl hasn’t got her helmet clipped (oopsie- disquafiable, but no-one notices). She is talented and it requires effort to keep up. 3 of us together Danish (her names too long), Hungarian (Walko), and I work together for 2 laps and the Hungarian drops her wheel, leaving us 2 to work hard to try to stay in front of the chase group with Clare in. I noticed her turns and downhills weren’t great so I done the work then and let her take the uphills- suits me grand, but I done my 50% of the work.
We stay in front but loose 2min+ to the Dane and the Finish girl passes Claire’s group and makes good ground on us. Off the bike in 3rd, I quickly pass the Hungarian, and try to stay in front of the Fin. She runs well and I tried to stay on her shoulder as she passes me, she’s too fast and I cruise into 3rd. By the 4th lap she was too far in front and 4th is miles behind, I felt like there was no pressure to run fast (a very bad habit to get into Aileen, don’t do it again).
Great! A podium finish, and hopefully some mola to keep me a while longer in this crazy sport. Ok, so 3rd out of 8, but still, I’ll take it- the first 2 were very good.
Meet Claire at the finish who DNF’d, she knew she was tired before the race, and felt she just didn’t have it on the uphills, she came, she tired, and gave it her best. Claire’s no giver upper, so there must be something wrong.
So back to the daily grind, I’ve had a few days off and easy, and today I am back at Jordanstown to get poked and prodded, and have blood squeezed from my fingers whilst I have a gas mask on my face, and am videoed collapsing from the bike. Bike test this morning (I made it to 308, whatever that means), and I have a treadmill test later (in an hour). More fun again tomorrow.
Next stop Vienna 13th Sept, check out the start list at triathlon.org, 25-30 including some top names and world champions. After that I’m going to dip my toe into the World cup circuit for the first time in Lorient, France 27th Sept. OOOoooo scary. Emmas there too, and again a top quality field. But no pressure. AAAAAAAghhhh!
Again thanks to Chris, Amanada & Jag at Triathlon Ireland, and of course Wheelworx and Rob for everything.