Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Oil on the fire


Racing Olympic Distance (non draft) this year has been a learning experience. There definitely were some moments of "sweet frustration", but I thrive on those, they motivate me.
During the 7 years of my professional career, I have almost only ever raced 70.3. This year, I added 3 Olympic Distance races to my schedule.
It might seem I am taking a strange route here, at 33, but I need to prove to myself that I can be good at this. It's feels like a step I didn't take, something I missed along the way. I am loving how this new challenge is impacting my motivation and how it allows me to race more, while I keep on focusing on 70.3. What I learn from racing shorter can certainly transfer to better Half Ironman distance racing.

(Mag's Micro 2015 "short course" racing update:

Cardiff 10Km run: 3rd (PB time of 34:34)
Escape from Alcatraz (5th)
St Anthony's triathlon (2nd)
Beijing International (4th))

And here so, here goes the tale of my most recent challenge:

The Beijing International Triathlon

      Eric and I had a toast upon take off. This would be the third time this year that we got to head out together to race! This would also be the second IMG event we would attend (both Beijing and Alcatraz are IMG).

I moderated my excitement a tiny bit after talking with Eric about his previous Chinese ordeals. But the idea of eating too much safe food (rice), experiencing potential side effects of faulty sign language communication and facing organizational hicks were all easily brushed aside as our plane directed itself towards China and my giddyness took over.

                                               (Trying real hard to make smart choices look fancy with my Compressport socks and long leg compression)

Once in China, apart for a very short lived bike box scare, we easily found the men holding up signs with our names. They waved. We followed. Eric and I looked at each other with a grin as they lit cigarettes or laughed, pointing at us, mimiking a Christian prayer.

It was nothing but good entertainment though. Our quiet driver got us to the spectacular looking -Beijing Riverside Hotel- in under an hour. The taxi had traveled through the night with little interruption other then a hysteric phone call in Chinese that resulted in a U turn. There had been no reaction on our part but an open eye or two, we were too exhausted to worry.

China DAY 1

We woke up the next morning and it was already Thursday. A trip was planned to visit the great wall of China. Unfortunately we had to bail on this first opportunity as we had arrived late and
had a big day of building bikes, getting some trainings done and recovering from the previous day's 16 hours of traveling.
 The best of Thursday was about riding bikes with Eric on an improvised China route. I enjoyed negotiating traffic under new rules. I mean no rules. I gave my pre-race ego a boost, blowing by Chinese scooters and such. I also got to understand that a honk was not an aggression, even when it made your heart pop out of your throat. To be serious though, and because you do need to know how great this event is, I have to mention how we could bike right out of the hotel onto the bike course. Very well planned venue.
After  our ride together, we got to meet up in the lobby with our coordinator Florencia and the other pros. A ride was organized to take us to the pool. A 45min trip through the crowded Beijing rings got us to a fancy 50m pool equipped with Palm trees and hot tubs. There, our personal spa assistants pointed us to our lockers and walked us to the pool. I kid you not. ;)

China DAY 2
 The light of Friday was a run on the course. We got lost hunting for arrows in a magnificent Chinese garden and caught a glimpse of the epic stairs at the heart of the run course.


There was also a guided bike course tour planned. Then we would meet the IMG crew for an evening of celebration. After an introduction on stage it was time for the costumed dancers to come out and for the party to attack the buffet.
The funniest moment of Friday was when Matty Reed threatened some of us with a -Duck foot- from the buffet, which luckily saved us from innocently putting it on our plates, (my hungry eyes had seen mistaken it for delicious pasta). Because I do need to be serious again, I should mention that as this buffet featured such duck feet and other exotic dishes, there were also foods I was familiar with and we EVEN ended up eating pasta dinners the two nights leading up to the race.

China DAY 3: Saturday

Saturday, the tension was higher. It was the day of the pre-race interviews, two light trainings and as much rest as we could get.

China DAY 4: RACE DAY.

I was pleased but not satisfied with how the day went. My swim was disappointing; I have had some very good swims this year and this would not be one of them. After a good dive start, I swam for a bit with the front pack before getting dropped. For most of the swim, I was in a pack of four with
Ricarda Lisk, Felicity Sheedy-Ryan, Caroline Steffen. In this field of nine, I was at the very back of the race after the swim. On the bike, I knew it was time to play packman!
It ended up being my strongest leg. I loved the hilly, technical course and was proud to have layed down the best bike split on the day.
By the time the run started, I had moved up from 9th to 4th and was chasing after Radka Vodikova, who ran up to 2nd. I did end up catching Laura Bennett and was in third with about 600m to go but a fast charging Felicity would challenge me in that last stretch, beating me to the line by 7 seconds.


I came back from that experience very inspired. Frustrated to not have managed to pull through with that third place but also motivated. I LOVED the raw feeling that came with close racing, being on the red line, coming into the finishing shoot at a sprint. Feeling how much strategy can impact racing and how sharp the race dynamics have to be. This was so exciting and what an adventure.
I certainly hope to have the opportunity for another shot at the title at this race in the next few years.

Oh and...this happened!!!!!!  

I am loving how this new challenge is impacting my motivation and how it allows me to race more, while I keep on focusing on 70.3. and how what I learn from racing shorter can certainly transfer to better Half Ironman distance racing.

But I'll let Eric's next video explain it all! Stay tuned! It should be out in the next few days!
Happy training everyone and thanks for following!

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