We have just returned from 3 fantastic weeks in France (and a few days in Germany!), in which the training was brilliant, (thats if you like riding up mountains) the weather was hot, and the french wine was enjoyed with our various visitors throughout our stay…perfect! Included in this trip were a couple of races. The first up was the Alpe D’Huez short course, which myself and Derek were competing in. My original plan was to do the long again, however, with there only being a week between this race and Wiesbaden, I opted for the short, as a great training race to end a top training block in the Alps, then recover and prepare for Germany! I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the start of the long from our garden, knowing too well the pain and suffering the athletes were about to endure up the several mountain climbs and challenging run!
The short course race was in the afternoon on the saturday, and I have to say I am not a fan of afternoon races, but due to pre race preparation of having to get up to Alpe Dhuez to sort out T2, its probably necessary! My target for the race, was to race up the mountain in under an hour. Dereks target was to beat his time from last year. ( considering he is swimming, biking and running faster, I think he had that covered!) However, despite making it to T1 in plenty of time, Derek managed to miss the start of the race, and in the process, and the chaos of trying to get in the lake with 1500 other people who had already set off, had a panic attack and had to sit out for a few minutes. He still got back in though, and despite the horrendous start to his race, swam the same as the year before, biked quicker, and despite being out from running most of this season, ran quicker. Very impressive, which only shows, that next year, he is almost certain of another pb As for me, I had a few sighting issues to begin with (need to work on this swimming in a straight line) though it was in an attempt to try and find a bit of clear water! so swim wasnt anything particularly special, so I went to work on the bike, and worked myself up the field to come into T2 6th placed female overall ( in a field of 10 plus pros) I was chuffed with that. After a considerable pfaff in transition (forgetting that it was only a 7.5 k run, not a half marathon, thereby not really needing the socks, nutrition, drinks etc etc) I eventually made it onto the run. I ended the race as first female Vet, top 10 finish and with a sub 60 min split up the mountain in 58 minutes, which was the third fastest female split, so a great prep for the European Champs!
Whist Derek and I were riding through the rain and mist up the Alp, Evan was also fighting the elements in Wales, in the Lava Middle Distance. A tough race at the best of times, made harder by the weather, however, it didnt stop him, as he finished first in his age group, and qualifying for the final race in Lanzerote. All looking good in his lead up to Weymouth European champs on the 13th Sept!
Next up was me again in the European champs last sunday. The weather was getting hotter, and the fear of a non wetsuit swim was getting more and more likely, so I was very pleased to hear that the water temp was 22 and that wetsuits were allowed! However, there were some changes to the race, and the first being a rolling start rather than sending us off in waves. I have to say, this resulted in the worst open water experience I have had to date in terms of being hit, swum over, pushed down etc etc. It was horrible, and I cannot understand why Ironman are using this style. Perhaps for the men, but stick with a female only wave! There are a lot fewer of us anyway, and if (as you say) it is designed to reduce panic attacks and the fear of mass starts, and you want to encourage women into the sport, keep us separate from the men!
Anyway, I digress, I was extremely pleased to exit the lake and set to work on the bike. There was a lot of bunching on the bike course, and time was lost due to constantly having to drop back and keep out of trouble from over enthusiastic chaps, however, the first climb broke it all up a bit, and I could catch up on some lost time. Its a tough course, lots of climbs from start to finish, on a one lap course, but if you like hilly courses, then its a must! My bike target was to aim for a sub 3 hour split, and was pleased to make it into T2 in 2:55. However, being a Timetrial race now, I had no idea where I was in terms of AG position, so my key aim was to try and run a solid half marathon. This is the area I have least confidence in, and still have a lot of work to do, however, first season back from injury, its been going well, so I was keen to see if I was improving. And all was keeping on track until Lap 3 when I tripped over a manhole cover, turned over my ankle and had to stop due to a fair amount of pain in my ankle! However, I figured the best thing to do was to try and run on it, and after hobbling for a while, it seemed to improve (except for going around corners!!) and I made it home. Annoyed that I lost some time on the run, but delighted to have won my Age group at the European 70.3 Championships, making it the third 70.3 AG win in a row! Under strict instructions from my daughter, I hobbled to the First Aid tent to assess, ice and strap the ankle, and after seeing my physio yesterday am relieved that the damage to the ligament isn’t too serious, and a week off running, some treatment, and a bit of strapping should see me through to the World Championships at the end of the month!
So, we have a fair few races coming up over the next few weeks! Clodie myself and Liz are heading to Austria, Clodie racing in the open on the saturday and me and Liz in the Championships on the Sunday. Evan, Brendan, and Isobel will be racing at Weymouth (long Evan and Brendan, Short Isobel) Isobel also completing Bustinskins classic next week as a tester!. Mark, Ian and Simon will be heading up to Wales for Ironman Wales on the 13th, and Alison will be running in the Purbeck Marathon.
Finally, but by no means least, well done to Chris in Ironman switzerland so nearly breaking the 11 hour mark, and team Kelly Chris and David racing in the Swanage Classic! This was Davids first multisport event, and clearly illustrates his potential with a cracking bike and run, after a great swim from son Chris!