2nd place in Challenge Fuerteventura!

Many of my non-triathlon friends say I simply use triathlons as an excuse for yet more holidays. And my most recent jolly to Fuerteventura has done little to dispel that myth. Here I am, relaxing in the sun in a nice resort while the rest of you go about your 9 to 5. It’s a tough life!

The race is a half ironman length race based out of Las Playitas resort in Fuerteventura. Sea swim, hilly windy bike and hilly windy run.

So all you people who think it’s just a holiday, remember there is some work to be done!

I was fairly nervous about how this race would go, since it was my first big race this year – a test as to whether or not going part time at work has made me a better athlete. I know, regardless of outcome, it’s been the right decision – I’m loving life and am proud I’ve given myself the chance to take the opportunities available to me at the moment. But it would be nice to ‘validate’ the decision with some decent results!

Overall I’m really pleased with my race.

I swam well (for me) and got on someone’s feet (possibly Erika Csomor’s). They slowed a bit in the second half but I soon realised we would go no quicker with me on the front so I decided to conserve my energy and draft rather than wasting it doing the work on the front. So a decent swim for me, coming out with the people I’d expect to come out with (but still nearly 4 minutes behind Emma-Kate Lidbury, the eventual winner).

My bike was also pretty uneventful and again I was pleased with the way I rode. As always I’d had a few mechanicals in the run up to the race; my rear derailleur had broken the week before, my front brake was intermittently jamming on and there was an ominous continuous creaking coming from my rear wheel. The mechanic in the resort reassured me the creaking was due to bu**ered bearings in the wheel but wouldn’t slow me down – I told myself it was simply the old banger singing to me knowing it is about to be replaced! And I resolved the brake issue when it arose in the race by undoing the quick release on the uphills and doing it up again on the downhills – simple! Anyhow none of these issues slowed me down and I’m so used to it now that a bike mechanical in race week is all part and parcel of the race build up…

I rode most of the race about a minute behind Csomor and Nystrom eventually catching them and passing Bella Bayliss towards the end. EK had extended her lead by a minute, so realistically it was a fight for second place. It’s a fun and challenging bike course to ride with wind, hills, smooth roads and dramatic scenery.

And then on to the run, my theoretical forte. Yet not, it seeed, in this race!

I started just ahead of Csomor who stormed past me straight away. I thought I’d be able to catch her when I got in a rhythm – except no rhythm came. My legs felt dead and no matter how hard I tried I simply couldn’t get my cadence up. I didn’t feel sore, or tired, or hypoglycaemic or have cramps – I just couldn’t get them moving. Nystrom then charged past me at about 3 miles and again I had nothing. So I was left in 5th place, not able to get in a running rhythm, and trying to convince myself that ‘5th is fine, it’s a tough field, you’ve done your best etc etc’.

There is a short out and back at about 8 miles and I worked out I was a minute behind Csomor with the other two (Nystrom and Sammler) just ahead. And suddenly, at that point, I managed to switch gear. Literally it was as if a switch had been turned on, and all of a sudden I was able to run properly like I’d wanted to from the start. I made up the minute gap to the others in about a mile, ran past the three of them (who were probably each 20 seconds apart from each other) as strongly as I could and then put another 2 mins into them over the last 3 or 4 miles. So an emotional and physical roller coaster of a run in every sense! I need to work out what happened to cause my reverse blow up – yes it’s great to negative split a run but it’s not ideal to run the first half quite so badly.

Overall though I couldn’t have asked for better from the race. EK is a phenomenal athlete and it’s been great getting to know her while we’ve been out here. She definitely deserves the win and was in a different league on Sunday. I wish she would stop swimming though and give the rest of us a chance!

Great way for me to start 2012 – bring on the rest of the season!

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