As this was my first time racing an international event the race experience started the night before flying out and the excitement just built from there. Everything felt new and exciting right up till the gun despite a completely sleepless night before race day……but I was sort of expecting that. The atmosphere in the starting pen was great. Loud dance music pumping and start marshals getting everyone even more pumped up and excited. When the horn sounded though it was just another triathlon and from that point it felt familiar again and the race was on! The course was challenging and my inexperience at dealing with the build-up (i.e. the sleepless night before) meant that by the finish the tank was empty but I loved every minute.
Being a non-wetsuit swim and with water conditions being surprisingly rough compared to the mill-pond reckie a couple of days before the first leg was a real leveller (you could really tell all the pull buoy boys!). I could feel that I was doing OK in the field and not dropping back too far so for me the swim was enjoyable. It was a good deal longer than 1500m (according to everyone’s garmin’s) and there was a strong current which I had noticed when we did the reckie. That was very unexpected for a lake swim.
Transition to the bike was smooth and the bike exit was right into the crowds who give everyone a huge lift. The bike however was the leg that I felt I was least pleased with performance wise given the amount of training I thought I had done in preparation. I enjoyed going up the big hills as this suited my training terrain but it was clear that to do well at this level you have to be able to hit the front of the group and stay there. Once you get caught and have to start dropping back to avoid being in the draft zone you can quickly end up a few hundred meters back and lose valuable time and energy clawing back up the field. I saw lots of people being caught by the marshals and I was over anxious about keeping the distances……….I put that down to experience. Any weaknesses are amplified at this level.
The run was brutal with 4 very steep assents……many walking up them. I was steady and enjoyed keeping a respectable pace but I was sapped by the lack of fluidity on the bike and pleased to see the finish line. Crossing the line in-front of the grandstand with the big screen and the cheers was areal buzz. Well worth all the effort!
I have enjoyed my racing and training in 2019 and wearing the GB vest ticked a long-standing ambition and goal. It would be great to compete in another international event so I will be looking closely at the 2020 qualifying calendar with an eye on an event in 2021.
Train hard and train well….. you get out what you put in.