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ETU Cross Triathlon European Championships
I went into my final race of 2018 with very mixed feelings. I’d put so much into getting fit for Xterra Taiwan following my injury that I wasn’t just physically tired but also very much in need of a mental break from racing! But with it being the last race of the season there were no more opportunities to prove I was back in the game so I was determined to finish with a good result. And honestly, anything other than winning wouldn’t have been good enough for me!
We travelled out to Ibiza a week before racing. I was also racing the Cross Duathlon 2 days before the cross triathlon, which seemed to become more and more of a bad idea the closer it came to the race. I was so worried that my body wouldn’t hold up to 2 races in such a short time frame and I would ruin my chances of a good result in the tri. With not many opportunities to pull on the GB elite suit though I put on my brave face and got on with it. The plan was to take it steady and have fun. It was not fun! I hate duathlon, I hate not winning, I hate not putting absolutely everything into a race and I hated that I felt as though I was letting down everyone that had turned out to support team GB! I hated even more that even though I knew I wasn’t pushing as much as I could it still felt bloody hard. As result my confidence took a pretty big hit and I (and Doug) had to spend most of Wednesday convincing myself that I wasn’t awful at triathlon!
Moving onto the Cross Triathlon! The only thing standing in the way of me lying on the beach – a little swim, bike, and run! My legs were holding up well from the duathlon and if anything I think that race had done me good! Woken me up a bit from a taper that seemed to go on forever!
My plan was simple – go out hard on the swim, get to the front on the bike if I wasn’t already and and empty the tank on the run!
So my race went a bit like this
I managed to get some clear water straight away but very quickly realised there was a group of 3 other girls very close behind. I wasn’t making any progress in getting away so I backed off and sat in. Onto the beach and these girls ran so fast into transition. I took my time, made sure I didn’t make any mistakes and composed myself for putting in a big effort on the bike.
The course was pretty flat, dry and rocky. The key to a fast bike split would be staying relaxed on the rocks, choosing good lines and keeping on the power! I had fresh tyres on for this race, Vittoria AKAs in a 2.2. Fast rolling, light but also pretty puncture resistant on rocky terrain. I was also running a Vittoria airliner in my rear tyre which gave me added piece of mind when powering through the technical rocky sections. I made my way to the front fairly early on and set about putting time into the rest of the field. My mantra was if you are not breathing hard then you need to try harder. No backing off anywhere, ride as through you are chasing not leading! It worked out pretty well for me and I reached T2 with a 90 second lead over 2nd position.
I was pretty happy with the gap but knew I couldn’t relax. There were some very fast runners in the field who I hadn’t raced before so, I didn’t know if this would be enough. I started running and didn’t feel particularly great. Maybe I had emptied the tank too early!? But it was a slow course, a drag of an uphill and technical descent. Also very loose and rocky underfoot making it impossible to run ‘fast’. By the time I got to my second run lap I started to feel a little better I could see a few more athletes on the course (some from the men’s race, some lapped athletes) and I realised I was actually running pretty well! It is hard to gauge how well you are moving when there is no one else around you!
I kept pushing all the way to the finish. I never let myself back off or think that I have won a race before I cross that finish line because you never know until it is done! Maybe one day I will remember to relax and enjoy running down the finish shoot. But not this time, I had 3 minutes to spare but still found myself sprinting to the finish from 400m out panicking that maybe I had someone right behind me!
I’d done it though, European Cross Triathlon Champion. Thank you so much to everyone that has supported and believed in me. Couldn’t have done it without you!