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Silver in the Belgium Championships

Silver in the Belgium Championships

Having been back from Turkey for a whole 10 days I decided it was time to pop abroad again for another race! This time it was the Belgium National Championships where I had decided to do the sprint race.  With a nice sociable start time of 1pm (or was it 12pm), I could have a lie in, a couple of bowls of coco pops and a leisurely ride down to the start.  The race itself was the most confusing race I have ever done. I’m not normally one for a hundred questions about a race or one to analyse course details but this was complicated! T2 was 10 miles away from T1! There were shuttle buses to get you from place to place. Roads were closed but nobody seemed to know where the route went.  Every question to a marshal received an answer of “hmmm, that is a good question” and on the morning of the race Michelle and I ended up cycling for over an hour trying to find the lake, even the marshal on the motorbike who we asked for directions said “I am searching for it also!” That said it was a fantastic venue, lovely weather and a very exciting event to be a part of with prize money up for grabs and the status of being Belgium National Champion.

Get in the swim. Talk to my team mate Michelle. Not nervous. Very odd. Quite excited. About to go. Called out the swim. What?! Swim is delayed by 15 minutes! Booo! Potter about in the shade. Need the loo. Start poking the hole in the side of my wetsuit. Eaten too many pies? Think of random things. 15 minutes have gone! Back in the water. Swim 50m out to the starting buoys. Tired already! Michelle is yapping to me. Canoes hold us on the start line. The gun goes off. Michelle is still yapping. Everyone starts swimming. I can’t swim as Michelle is in front of me. She is still yapping! Has she not heard the gun? Go go go! She goes! Thank God for that! Immediately lose the front pack. Damn it. Keep going. Completely on my own. Can’t swim in a straight line. Feeling tired (repeated theme here from previous blog posts). Must learn to swim more efficiently. Lead pack pull away. Think of Dory from Finding Nemo…..”just keep swimming”. This is a very lonely swim.So here’s how my race went….

Out of the swim on my lonesome

Eventually out (the swim was definitely long). My name is announced on the speaker. How exciting! He says it again! Woop that’s me! I’m 45 seconds down on the lead pack. Seem to have a slow transition. Wetsuit won’t come off. Start faffing. Funny Belgium rule about putting wetsuit in a bin bag in T1. I don’ really have time to do this! But in goes the wetsuit, out comes the bike and off I go.

At last, a good dismount!

Lovely cycle route. Loads of spectators. Lots of cheers. Feel the bees knees in my new trisuit (thanks sponsors) although I look like a walking billboard. Although I’m not walking at this point, still cycling hard trying to catch the lead group. Where are they? It’s taking me a long time! Do not feel strong on my road bike. I miss the Cervelo! Start to feel sad that everyone else is working together and I’m not drafting in a drafting race. Oooh wait, there they are! Pedal, pedal! Caught up! Yipee! Chat to Michelle, she is not even tired. Legendary swimmer! A lead girl has broken away. We start to work to catch her. I say work, I was a bit lazy. Decision time. Do I time trial away and close the gap, or stay where I am and battle it out for second? 6 races in 2 months have taken my competitive edge. I have no indication of how far behind I am so opt for a safer bet and stay put. Have a lovely time cycling with Michelle. She came up next to me and chatted a few times only to be told to “get back on my wheel & save your energy”!! We have no idea where we are going on the route. It’s hard to follow, we started shouting directions to each other. We know we are near the end of the cycle but no idea where to turn off. Start shouting to the crowd. Right? Left? Dismount line? Here? There? Oh no, over there….

I spot the dismount line and hop off. First place is out of reach so it’s a run for second. Legs feel tight as not used to riding the road bike. Put in a bit of a spurt out of T2 to get a comfortable lead. I’m sure I can still hear Michelle talking! Settle into a relaxed rhythm. Really enjoy the run. 2 laps around the park. Lots of cheers. The sun is shining. Felt very relaxed and enjoyed the atmosphere. Crossed the line full of smiles in second place. Somehow managed to post the fastest run split of the day. Michelle had a storming run to come in 3rd and looked great done the finishing shoot.  Looked at the results and instantly thought I should have attacked for first but you live and learn. After such big races this one was a real nice change with no pressure and no expectations. We had still podiumed, the Brits had come to Belgium and conquered!

Finish line!

The prize presentation was fantastic (a glass trophy, bouquet of flowers and $75.00!!) In fact the whole of the rest of the day was awesome! We set up base in a big grass square in the centre of the park surrounded by drinks bars, stalls, hot dog vans, a band, a big stage etc etc! The Olympic distance event was off once we finished so we could watch and enjoy that and cheer on all our friends competing. I was so proud of each and every one of them!  I think the highlight of his weekend was his own lovely presentation in which he received a trophy for his services to triathlon.  That was my highlight too, that along with Michelle winning a bike in the raffle!!!! Who wins a bike in a raffle!?! And how are we going to get it back to England!!! Fun times!

Michelle and I – podium finishers 🙂

As much as I enjoy drafting races though they are not for me. I am too slow at the swim and don’t think that it utilities my strength on the bike, in fact I don’t think the fastest triathlete overall wins drafting races, but you have to be smart and make good decisions and I think that’s why it makes it so exciting. That said I have another drafting race next weekend……Liverpool Elite! It is highly likely I will come last and I have often wondered why I am even doing it. But when I started as an age grouper I was last and I have worked my way up so there’s no reason why I can’t do it again.   I’ve worked really hard to even get a start so I may as well work hard to finish…..and like I always say, God loves a trier!

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