Heading back to Stockholm for the 4th time, I was motivated to put the preparation we had done behind the scenes into a performance on race day. Training like always has been hard but I have been seeing everyday as a chance to progress. I knew the course and I was excited to see the few technical changes that have been made this year. Having self confidence in the process was going to be vital for me to have a good performance. Before I left Vitoria Gasteiz, I wrote down 5 quotes that meant something to me leading on the theme of confidence. One of them was "one important key to success is self confidence. An important key to self confidence is preparation".
Standing on the pontoon, listening to the heartbeat music play, I looked out and the water looked like a chaos . The under current pushing the water one way and the gusty wind creating massive chop and waves on top. I never really think about my start position. I think about swimming as fast as I can, to get clear water as soon as possible. Having a high stroke rate really suited this type of conditions and I was tucked in nicely in 4/5 around the first buoy. After the first lap, 6 of us had a gap from the rest of the field. Diving back in, the chop made it really hard to hold feet. I was probably too comfortable and I lost contact coming back into the pontoon. That 5/6 seconds was going to put me in a really awkward position especially with some strong cyclists infront of me. Unfortunately it was just too far. I was putting on my helmet as they were going out. I feel strong swimming but this shows there is a chance to become stronger which is an exciting prospect.
For most of the first lap, I was riding with one other girl, before being caught by the next small group behind us. The new parts of the course gave us less cobble stones but more narrow and technical sections. I had to be smart with who I followed as every corner we were out of our saddle sprinting and some girls couldn’t get back on. I never thought I was going to get dropped but some parts were definitely full gas especially when we caught the 3 girls in front. If there is something I want to work on for Hamburg is to be aggressive in my position within the group. At some points I was a little too far back within the group. One benefit of the new course is that it allows you to see a lot of times where everyone is placed. Coming off the bike, the 14 of us had a decent gap on the next chase group and I knew that if I could run a solid 10 km I would have my best WTS result in a long time.
Starting the run, my legs were like jelly. The hill on each lap and the sprinting out of each corner had taken its toll. I have been working hard on getting my nutrition right on the bike to maximise my run performance. The first lap felt like a mission but as the run went on I could get my cadence up and work on moving forward. By the last lap, I could see the faster runners coming from the group behind and I knew I had to work harder if I wanted to stay where I was. Crossing the line in 15th is a good stepping stone back to where I want to be. Having some time off with my stress reaction in my foot has put me back a little run wise but this only means there is plenty of room to keep improving. It’s a fast turn around but I am motivated to show more improvement in 2 weeks time in Hamburg WTS!
Photos by Etienne Van Rensburg/ Specialized Triathlon