I haven't been in touch a lot since I have been in Europe as the racing has not gone particularly well due to a good dose of bad luck and bad health. So it was fantastic to finish up with a podium in my 4th Iron distance race in Vichy yesterday.
I had based myself in Vichy for the 2 weeks leading to the race. I had become very familiar with the course and coach Gordon Walker did a great job of wiping me into shape with the limited time frame. I was feeling confident of a solid performance and hungry to take a good result home with me.
All week the forecast temperature for race day had been climbing so we knew we were in for a hot day. So hot in fact on the days leading up to the race that the sun had been baking the lake and forced the officals to declare a non-wetsuit swim on the morning of the race with a lake temperature of 26.2 degrees. The non-wetsuit swim threw a spanner in the works for me. Not being a natural swimmer, I tend to lose more time than usual to the top swimmers in our sport without a wetsuit. In this case I lost 7 minutes to the lead of the race after the 3.8km swim, exiting in 12th position.
I needed to get myself back in the game. But the group up front was riding well together and after 80km on the bike the gap had gone out to 12 minutes! So on the second lap on the bike I had to make a move. I rode hard for the last 90km and managed to bring the gap back to 5 minutes 30 and come off the bike in 5th place.
The run was hot (38 degrees)! Hotter than I have ever experienced before. Every aid station was an oasis and cold water has never tasted so good! I ran my way into 2nd with 20km to go and had been closing on Stephen Bayliss (the eventual winner) for most of the run. The gap was now 3 minutes and thought it was on for the win. I dug in, reducing the gap down to 2 minutes with 14km to go. But that was as close as it got. The hard ride to make up the swim deficit and the heat was taking its toll. I was cooked and faded back to 3rd, finishing 6 minutes down on Bayliss and 2 minutes to 2nd.
The saying "you can't win the race in the swim, but you can definitely lose it" couldn't have been more true for me yesterday. Making up 7 minutes was always going to be tough work, so I was satisfied to come away with a podium after the poor start.
It has been a tough two months up here in Europe for me. First with the puncture at Challenge Aarhus, which ruuined the chance of a result there. Then just as I was getting back to some quality training in Germany I was struck down with a terrible stomach bug which left me bed ridden for 5 days, not eating and hooked up to a drip. This then meant I missed the German club race I was supposed to do and was in terrible shape for the Alpe d'Huez triathlon which placed me outside the top 30 there.
In light of all that, I didn't want to come home empty handed and Vichy was my last chance to take a result home. The top spot would have been ideal, but a podium is satisfying enough. So with the Euro season wrapped up, it is back home to New Zealand tomorrow for a little off season before the NZ summer.
Challenge Vichy was superbly organised, especially for its inaugural year. It is a excellent course in a beautiful part of France. I would love to come back next year to chase the top spot!
To finish a a really positive note, Fiona (my fiancee) completed her first Iron distance race yesterday! And completed it very well, finishing 5th in the pro women's field in 10:52!! Tremendous effort for her comeback race after having surgery earlier in the year and 18 months out of the sport.
Thanks all for your continued support.
See you back in NZ soon.