Apologies in advance for the novel – I use race reports as my therapy!
So Denmark was chosen to host ETU middle distance champs this year and from 6th place in Austria last year I had an automatic qualification spot…never been to Denmark so thought it a good opportunity to tick another country off the list!
Race was Saturday so flew to Copenhagen Wednesday and hired a car for the 300km drive to Herning. Car upgrade to a nice new BMW 2 series which took the two bike bags no bother…..sweet! Journey took a bit longer than planned cause the weather was dire, torrential wind and rain and quite possibly the scariest car journey I’ve ever driven over what seemed like a never ending bridge. Must have been a few miles long and felt like we were being blown around like smarties!! Was glad to get off that bridge! Got to Herning dinner time, bigger town than expected, registered that night, got some dinner and drove on out about 5k to where we were staying which was lovely and private. Thursday and Friday kind of disappeared as they do before a big race; luckily we got a dry spell on Thursday to ride for a few hours before the monsoon restarted!
Literally the rain did not stop from lunchtime Thur till the early hours of sat morning! Swam in the lake Friday morning and short run then chilled out before the race brief. We had to rack our bikes Friday evening and leave them in the p***ing rain, did the best I could with bin bags which seemed to work come sat am, but leaving my baby in the rain was hard! Race brief….biggest waste of time ever! ETU delegate got hammered as she knew nothing. Doubt she even knew what a triathlon was to be honest and we left with more questions than went in with as there was more changing of rules, “ums ” “not sure” and “maybes” than me in a French oral exam. Helmets went from having to be left on the bike overnight to being in a bag, draft distance was now 20m rather than 10m, you were allowed into T1 sat morning then you weren’t! And so it went on! Having raced a challenge event last year in Austria and being very impressed I was definitely surprised at the lastminute.com approach in Denmark. Bag drop off for T2 was from 4pm Friday…at 3pm it still hadn’t been built and no one knew where it was! Buoys were still being put on the course race morning and I’ve already mentioned the team brief! Race day At this point I was just ready to go. I’d slept really well first couple nights in Denmark, not so good night before the race but that’s just normal – transition nightmares (have I definitely put both trainers in the bag?). Start time of 10.25 was late compared to normal and thank goodness the weather gods were kind and the rain had stopped. It was a nice day, 20ish degrees as the day went on and water temp around 16 so ok for me. Pros went off first then a couple of the male age groups then me! It was mass start, to be honest swim was pretty uneventful, put myself second row went off pretty hard, no one came climbing over me which is unusual then settled into my one speed which I’ve decided is the only speed I will ever have and had pretty clear water for about half way before we started catching the male 55+ group who had only gone off 5min in front. Also at half way I started passing folk from my own wave which is nice but the speedy folk are always away. Never time my swim so I’m always clueless till the end which is fine – turns out a 31 min swim which is fine for me, same as Austria last year except I didn’t have the draft effect of the rolling start and by all accounts it was long. Straight out of the water to find the “blue” bag among the other 1500! Must remember your number! I did thankfully found it pronto and straight into tent (race brief didn’t mention there was a male and female tent!) T1 went pretty smoothly, literally found bike, out and away.
As a bike course this had more twists and turns than a roller coaster! To be fair to my slagging of challenge they had the course very well marshalled – over 200 marshals over the 90 km but they needed it because the roads were still open and because of the complexity of the route. It was dry thankfully but god was it windy!
Felt like the head / cross winds were never ending and that tail wind never seemed to appear! No idea what the scenery was like – wasn’t looking, apparently it was beautiful. Garmin froze first few km but after a few off and ons it seemed to kick in. I hadn’t done any looking at start lists before the race which is a first for me but knew the race numbers of those in my age group. I enjoyed the bike – I was riding hard, numbers weren’t quite what they had been in training but I thought I was moving and I also knew I was riding on the limit so from the hour mark I was pretty much riding off feel and trying to keep the cadence up. Nutrition went on board as planned, fluids wise I had planned to not take on any extra fluids from what I had on me as weather wasn’t too warm but after losing a water bottle at some point I needed to grab a bottle on the move at 60km, no big deal though. Had a bit of a tit for tat with a German girl first third of the race but in the end she went past, I tried to keep her within sight but after a while I couldn’t keep with her or would have broken myself trying. Memory is a bit blurry but don’t think I saw anyone else in my age group go past me and only overtook one Norwegian girl quite close to coming into T2 so didn’t have a clue where I was. Bike split 2hr 36 …34.4kph I was moving, especially with wind conditions and glad I started ignoring numbers and riding off feel, if I’d kept to the numbers I’d been doing in training I’d have totally blown up in the run rather than just not run as well as I’d have liked. New experience in T2 … literally handed bike over to random stranger and went off to grab my “red” bag hoping I had actually put two correct trainers in the night before and put on race belt which was only mandatory for the run.
Eeeeek….how can something hurt SO much?! Course was 4 loops of pretty flat running bar a few random bridges and an interesting section through the town library (yes actually through it!) so potential for fastish times. I really really really wanted to run as close to a 1.30 off the bike as I couldand after a non tapered half marathon PB of 1.26 earlier in season and run splits I’d be running in brick sessions I thought it may have been possible…..but no!! My legs had other plans! Feet hurt way way too early on; within about 7k I had to drop to flat foot running as my feet were on fire, no clue why. It was a mental battle from then on in. I levelled with a Norwegian girl at a point, asked her if she had any clue where we were placed and she said her husband thought she was second,so that put her and me in 2nd /3rd, thought we could push on together but within less than a minute she was out the back which in theory put me in second. Danish girl went past me and there was no way I was able to stay with her I was already in a world of pain and just trying to keep moving. Then someone else came past which put me into 4th in theory and at that point I have never been so close to quitting my entire life, honestly. Somehow I managed to keep moving, splits weren’t atrocious but it felt ten times slower so in some ways the splits helped cause I knew I was still actually doing ok. Ten km in I was reaching for the Coke at aid stations, desperate times desperate measures! I dothink it actually helped! After the Coke I reeled in the German girl from earlier on in the bike course and made sure she wasn’t coming back past and after that I just held on to the thought she was behind and if I kept going I may have nabbed third spot….kept the Coke going in and literally just tried to move one foot in front of other. Once I got third lap done I knew I’d get final one done, finished, collapsed, seen by medic who was trying to cart me off but I was fine I just couldn’t stand. Run: 1hr 35. When I finally got off all fours I saw the German girl who I had passed she said she was 4th and me 3rd, I was almost happy but I wanted to see it myself; finally got a phone to find out NOPE….4th! No-one knew about the German girl about ten mins up the road who had absolutely destroyed the bike course. Final time 4hr 48min. Gutted is an understatement, to come within one place again of a medal is something I can’t put into words. I am well aware I set myself high standards, god I wish I didn’t but it’s obviously something inherent in me. I am very proud to come 4th in my age group at European level don’t get me wrong and I genuinely know by the pain I was in post-race and the following days that I physically gave it everything I could on the day.
Huge thanks to John for his coaching, unwavering faith in me and dedication to the cause! Thanks also to Crawford for his support, encouragement and joining me for the odd run session. Massive thanks to everyone in the club for their support and
encouragement pre and post race – it genuinely is appreciated and an amazing part of this club. Last but definitely not least thanks to Marc – he doesn’t just put up with my training schedule and desire to get better but genuinely supports me to do it and helps in so many emotional and practical ways. Thanks to him I will also get to be the bride in
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