Half Challenge Barcelona – another second!

I’m writing this on a sunbed on my sea view roof terrace in Calella, with a diet coke and olives at my side, having had a lane to myself with my little sister in the next one in an outdoor 50m pool a couple of hrs ago. It’s a hard life pretending to be a pro triathlete….

I decided to do half Challenge Barcelona after a great experience at the full race in October. The event has got a great atmosphere, it’s a lapped course which I like, and it’s cheap and easy to get to. And this time Challenge offered me accommodation out here which made me feel very special indeed – thank-you!

If I’m honest, I think this is the first race I’ve gone into as a pro in which I’ve honestly believed I’m capable of finishing on the podium. And in some ways that belief has led to a few pinch me moments this weekend. I was interviewed by Spanish TV the day I arrived. I speak NO Spanish, they spoke very little English and then they told me they wanted to film me swimming.

“Can’t you get me running instead? I’m not bad at running but I’m really not a swimmer….”.

“No, we’d like you swimming.”

“OK then, if you must!”

Next question, “Can we film you getting your kit from your room?”

“Ummm, no, sorry, definitely not”. I am so untidy it’s embarrassing and is certainly not something for a camera crew to see.

Anyway off we went to the pool and I did as good an impression as possible at trying to look like a swimmer, which is easier said than done. All in all quite a surreal experience – and one which prompted me to think long and hard about how my life has evolved to where it is now. Fortunate doesn’t really sum it up.

Anyhow, back to the race. Mum and Dad and my sister Harriet had come out to watch. I love having them here and the support makes a huge difference – but if I’m honest it does add an element of pressure. I can cope with a bad race and they certainly don’t put pressure on me to do well; however I guess I feel that if they’ve come all the way to watch me it would be nice for them to see me race well! They’re brilliant and noisy supporters and it’s great having people to look out for at certain points in the day.

All in all, I couldn’t have asked for much more than the race. I had a stonking swim for me and managed to stay on a much quicker swimmers feet for the first 1500m or so. Though I couldn’t quite hang on the whole way round it was definitely worth the anaerobic effort to get on them at the start.

On the bike I felt like I was riding very strongly and comfortably – first outing for the Vitus and it was doing me proud. No grinding or creaking like the banger. It felt and looked good. I knew I had two girls riding just behind me but assumed as they weren’t coming past I was setting a good pace.

It was much harder to pace the second lap as there were quite a lot of packs forming and staying out of them meant it turned into somewhat of an interval ride – surge to get past or sit up when they went past. Frustrating but the same for everyone and I know the two girls riding just behind me were trying just as hard to ride legally too.

All the way through the bike I’d thought we were the first 3 women…. We had a fair amount of time with the camera crew, people had shouted out I was second just before I overtook the Finn and I hadn’t spotted another girl at the first turnaround. So I’d assumed Camilla Pederson hadn’t started. It was looking good – could I possibly win this?!

So onto the run; the three of us left T2 together, my legs felt good and this race was going perfectly! And then someone shouted 6 minutes. What? Run another hundred meters. “Lucy you’re 6 mins behind!” Doh – both I and several spectators must have missed seeing Camilla out of the swim and on the bike! In truth she was 3 or 4 mins ahead after the swim and had put another 2 or 3 mins into us on the bike… I virtually chuckled to myself – there was I thinking I was doing so well, expecting, all being well, to be able to run better than the two girls I was riding with.

Hey ho!! I’d known Camilla would be the one to beat and shouldn’t have been so quick to assume she wasn’t racing. Lesson learnt. Anyhow, I had a solid run and paced it very evenly. Though I put a couple of minutes into Camilla and ran away from the other two (who finished 3rd and 6th in the end) at the end of the day she was by far the better athlete and in a different league to me. I couldn’t have asked for more from the race, and feel I got the best out of myself without ever having to really dig deep on the run. I guess I’ll never know if I would have biked better had I known Camilla was 4 mins up the road but I think I won’t be so quick to jump to conclusions next time!

Another race done, another lesson learnt, another step forward. Reckon I’d give myself 9.5/10 for this one…. Not much I could have done differently and this is close to as good as it gets at the moment.

It was lovely getting to know Yvette better while I was out here and though she didn’t have the race she wanted this time I know there’s a lot more to come from her. I hope we get the opportunity to race again later in the season.

A special thanks to Chain Reaction cycles for the amazing new Vitus bike and Prolite wheels and to Zerod for the new tri suit. Not only am I starting to feel a bit more like a proper pro, I’m starting to look like one too! Huge thanks to mum, dad, Harriet, Adam, Daz of Tri-Sports Lanzarote and James (JamesMitchellphotography) for their support on the day!

PS: Follow up interview with the TV crew after the race. “We have two questions Lucy.

Firstly are you pleased?”

“Yes, thank-you. I had a great race!”

“And Lucy, did you survive the swim???!”

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