Vichy 70.3

Where has the summer gone!

Nearly 2 weeks ago, Ade myself Fin Jack Max and Annie headed to Vichy post GCSE pick up results (… well done Annie) and coffee / Smoothies (…thanks Sarah and Alex) for the infamous Vichy 70.3. After months of debating the likelihood of it being a wetsuit swim, I managed to put a massive hole in my wetsuit, thereby guaranteeing it to be a wetsuit swim! (Thank you Sam at Zone3 who managed to get a suit to me within 48 hrs of leaving, very impressive!) Nige and his son Rob, left a day earlier, unfortunately without Dave and George, due to work commitments and Terri due to a poorly dog  which was a real shame.  We arrived in Vichy in torrential rain and quite a breeze, far from the 35 degrees heat we have always experienced before at this race, however, at least it resulted in cooler lake temperatures, and we certainly were not complaining at that!

After registering we headed back to our apartments where Nige was staying as well, to get unpacked and spin the legs out before heading back to Vichy to rack the bikes. Nige, decided that as it was a wetsuit swim he needed another challenge in the race, so fell down his stairs before our spin, significantly bruising his ribs. In a fair bit of discomfort, he joined us for a spin, and figured it “…would be fine” so headed down later with us to rack our bikes. Even at this point in the race lead up, Ade and I were still not 100% if it was the right decision for me to race, after struggling a fair bit in the last few events, and taking a lot longer to recover than normally, but to be honest, I was there anyway, had paid my money, would want to swim bike or run anyway, so…….. why not??  Couldnt really be worse than the last few races!  (though at 4.30am, I was thinking differently! )

Race morning, and it was cold! (thankfully, I never go anywhere without my hat! )  Ade lined up behind me, and we didnt get to see Nige prior to the start, but imagine he was somewhere in the queue behind us. For those who have raced at Vichy before, they changed the swim course, so it was clockwise, again starting on a pontoon, 5 or 6 athletes at a time. A very civilized start, but heading out, it seemed to go on, and on, and on! Finally I reached what I thought was the turn buoy, where it was mayhem. Swimmers going across, Kayaks waving frantically at approaching swimmers, and lining up by the buoy pointing to another one, even further away, further to the left? Somewhat confused, off I went with the other confused flailing swimmers, and 37 minutes later exited the lake….37???? couldn’t believe it – and with a wetsuit? disappointingly I jogged to transition, expected Ade to be well on his way, though at closer look noted that it was a good 300-400m long. Well at least it was the same for everyone…….or was it? mmm

Anyway, onto the bike course, which was chilly with a few showers at the start, but for the first time in a while, I actually felt ok, had some energy, and settled into enjoying the ride. Hadn’t felt like this all season, which was brilliant. What wasn’t brilliant was the blatant drafting! I have already had a rant about this, so wont have another one, but packs of riders blatantly hanging onto wheels went passed. Several points in the race I was just sitting up, free wheeling, going backwards to drop back. I tried, once to get past a pack, but was shattered by the time I did, only for them all to go flying past me again 2 minutes later. Its not right, and Ade and Nige had very similar stories. Draft busters were busy, as were the penalty boxes, which is a real same.  Anyway, the bike course is a rolling fast one, but with a sneaky head wind this time (even better for those drafting….I know, I said I wouldnt rant) and I predicted 50-60km in I would start to slow. When I reached 75 km and was still moving forward, not backwards, and with energy, my smile got bigger! Heading back into transition, I can honestly not remember the last time I did not want to lie down at this point. I felt great! Onto the run, thanks Annie Jack Fin and Max for the massive cheers and high 5′s. I figured it would be a slippery slope, what with very little run training, and that question mark over iron stores, but actually was so pleased to feel good at the start, I wasnt too worried. I was more intrigued by guessing at what point  Ade catch me! It would seem that I was not the only one placing bets on this looking at facebook post race :)

At about 18km into the run, still no sign of Ade….I was slowing, a lot…ok even the sneaky walk, my hip flexors and quads were telling me I should have done a lot more run training  but ankle was absolutely fine, and I was tired, but nothing like I had been feeling earlier in the year. On the final run over the bridge I looked back down the river side path to see if I could spot Ade (very easy to see, Big ball of bright white hair ) only to jump nearly a mile as he came up onto my right shoulder with a “how you doing!”  Now if it had been under 5 hours at this point, I think he would have just disappeared into the distance, but instead, he jogged the final few minutes into the finish shoot with me, amasing how we seemed to time it perfectly and it was very cool! 5.08, definitely with some run training and a swim thats 1900m not 2300m a sub 5 hour course.

Whilst we were chomping on the food Nige was working his way around the course, in somewhat discomfort. A very courageous performance, considering the state of his ribs, which no doubt would have exasperated the damage, and on arrival back to the UK a poorly timed cough resulted in Drs and a cracked rib diagnosis! OUCH Looks like Weymouth is off the agenda then!

So, whats next? its september  but the racing is still in full swing. Congratulations to Becky who made a last minute decision to race the St Neots qualifier only to win her Age Group and come 6th overall, and  to Tripurbeck Mark and Evan in their performances in the 70.3 World Championships in South Africa. This weekend Derek, Tania George and myself will take a trip up the dual carriage way and back for the Bournemouth Tri, Marianne is taking on her first middle distance at Marlow, and Steve is racing in the British Middle Distance Championships. Then of course there is Weymouth 70.3 at the end of the month, and /or the ETU Madrid Long distance Championships! Still sitting on the fence on that one.





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