Sunday went by pretty quick, despite getting up at 5am for breakfast, getting a coach to the start line and racing for over 6 hours, the finish line came up almost too quick. Not often it seems that way. But the Long Distance Triathlon World Championships are now done, and after all the preparation and practice I had a great race and the whole event experience was amazing. Largely due to the enormous support the event seems to have generated, from visiting friends and family to the local residents. Having Becky and Maurice there was a huge help. Cycling through villages with the locals all out cheering the athletes on wholeheartedly; running through streets lined thick with spectators; music playing; commentators urging us on; and Maurice holding up his banner to bring me home. Yeah, definitely the best race I’ve ever done.
As far as the results go (http://www.triatlonvitoria.com/results/) the British athletes did well amid a very strong field from all over the world; Australia, New Zealand, Spain and Denmark in particular putting in strong teams. Triathlon is a sport where there are loads of variables; everyone has a different race. Faster swimmers might not run so well. Some might take it easy on the bike and run fast. Or do you hammer the bike and hope to hold your ground on the run? Are your transitions fast? Do you run steady or hold back for a sprint? Do you have enough tiger left in the tank to finish strong?
My race is usually dictated by dropping a few minutes on the swim. In this case I lost nearly 10 minutes in the water. Fortunately I’m racing in a decent wetsuit this year, kindly supplied by XTERRA Wetsuits, otherwise the gap would have been bigger. The 4km swim was set in a stunning lake out of town with warm water. Pre-start everyone is crowded into a starting pen while thunderous music plays (gladiator theme I think). Very dramatic. Slightly scary. Touch emotional. Beach start – run off the beach, dive into the water. I just swam to get through it without losing too much time. 1hr09 is way down the field (41st out of 88 in my category), usual story of playing catch up on the bike.
The bike course was two laps around the lake and extending out through some further villages. Flat, smooth tarmac, cool calm conditions. Again I’ve got quality kit for this year; Planet X Exocet II time trial bike. The position on the bike is spot on for me and really easy to settle down into a smooth, efficient rhythm. Just got to keep it up for 120km! My legs felt fresh so I kept it to a measured effort, just spinning it out and setting it up for a decent run. I think I actually said this out loud at times! Tempting sometimes to just put the foot down. Great course. Can honestly say I enjoyed the whole bike section. The only downside to the whole day was a bunch of Spanish triathletes I passed on the second lap. A bunch of 5 strung out wheel to wheel blatantly drafting. This was the only group I saw cheating like this. I said a few words and just moved on. Their loss if they want to cheat. Anyway, 120km in 3hrs11 – 18th fastest. Happy with that.
The run. Huge support riding through the streets and into transition, which was in the centre of town. Running out through the crowded square the atmosphere was amazing. A grandstand full of cheering spectators, bands playing, flags flying, Becky and Maurice cheering. Absolutely spot on. My legs felt fresh so I knew I could take back some more places. 4 laps. Just over 7km per lap. Total 30km. Took the first 3 laps at a decent tempo and then hammered it on the final lap. Felt totally fresh and on it the whole way which is good, done plenty of races where the run has been pure survival. Ran 2hrs01 which was 4th fastest and meant I finished overall in 6hrs24, 13th in my age group, 38th overall out of nearly 800 athletes. I used High5 nutrition the whole way round, mixing up some syrup in a bottle and grabbing water bottles to make into sports drink around the course. Usual mix of gels to top up the energy and caffeine. After trying lots of products I’ve found this works for me.
So all done. After a few sub par performances this year I’m pleased to find a bit of form for the World Champs. And definitely to race well for Team GB and for Becky and Maurice who had travelled so far and taken time away from work (Becky!) to come and support me. I’m grateful to my sponsors for their support and in particular Hannah at Go Lower who has made it possible for me to get this far. And to all the people on Tiree who have been so encouraging. Thank you.
So post race it’s the usual story of thinking what next – never satisfied! Next up is Aberfeldy half ironman in a couple of weeks, then a few other Scottish races before Challenge Barcelona at the end of September. And that’s it. For this year. Try not to think too far ahead.
As a place to come on holiday Vitoria-Gasteiz is a great location. We found everyone was friendly and the city was stunning. For cycling there’s plenty of quieter country roads and the cafes I stopped at were all friendly and served excellent coffee. All in, a great trip.
Back to Tiree this afternoon on non-stop 20hr journey. Bring on the coffee!