Majorca 70.3 – a race of twists and turns

“One of the best fields outside the World Championships” – so said the race organisers of Majorca 70.3 this weekend. While this may be some exaggeration it certainly was a world class field with some big names amongst the 29 female pros on the start list and some significant depth in the field too. Prior to the race I’d thought 3rd place would be the best possible outcome for me there, but to get that I’d need to produce my dream race and hope that some of the others had somewhat off days.So I was nervous, excited and ready to give it everything.

Bring on the smashfest!

In fact, though I placed as well as I ever thought I could, it was a race where pre-race predictions were thrown out the window and the unexpected became a surprising reality. It just goes to show how difficult it is to predict races based on a start list.

So what would my dream race have looked like? I’d probably have swum 30 secs or so quicker and managed to get on the pack so close, yet so far, ahead of me. My swim was pretty much what I’d expect – certainly not disastrous and but not amazing either.

For the first time ever I had a bit of a panic attack in the first 600m or so. I felt as I’d always imagined it must feel like during an asthma attack – I simply couldn’t get any air in with each breath. Normally I’m flat out for the first 5 minutes or so. This was a bit different. At one stage I thought I was going to have to stop to recover my breath. Fortunately it settled down around 10 minutes in and I got into some kind of rhythm, though had by then lost contact with anyone ahead so it was a fairly lonely swim looking longingly forward to the pack ahead. Realistically, I don’t think I could have gone much quicker, but I think I could have swum the same speed much more effortlessly had I not started to panic.

So onto the bike…

Well in my dream race I’d have ridden myself up through some of the weaker bikers making significant time on the climb and would maybe be a couple of minutes behind the front of the race by the top, knowing I’d probably lose some time on the descent. Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the front of the race with Tamsin Lewis at that stage, having ridden past strong swim bikers such as Anja Beranek. Some of the TFN guys were watching at the top of the Col de Sa Batalla and I think they were as horrified to see me at the front of the race by then as they were to hear my shrieking high pitched expletives when my chain wouldn’t shift back onto the big ring…. Actually they probably weren’t surprised to hear me shrieking – they know me well!

There’s then a bit of undulation and a short sharp climb up to LLuc, before a long technical descent down to Selva. Though, as expected, I did lose time on the descent, actually, for me I didn’t descend that badly. Yvonne and Lisa zoomed past and Tam gradually got away from me, with about a minute gap at the bottom and a male ‘pro’ sitting on her back wheel. Lisa was up the road further ahead and Yvonne out of sight by that stage. Over the next 20 minutes or so I gradually rode back up to Tamsin and her passenger (and gave him some abuse when I caught them). Tam and I then rode away from him and he wasn’t in sight for the rest of the ride – which I think says it all! We both tried, unsuccessfully, to get away from each other and in the end I decided I may as well ride about 15m behind her for the last 10 miles or so back into town rather than waste energy yo-yoing. We had a camera crew and a draft buster keeping us company and it did cross my mind that I didn’t want to get a penalty for a failed pass either. It was good to see draft busters out on the course, though I wish they’d been there earlier to catch Tam’s passenger….So overall I had a very good bike and certainly was surprised at how quickly I rode to the front of the race on the climb.

Now the run, usually my strongest and most reliable discipline. I like running – there’s no need to worry about mechanicals or technicalities, it’s simple, pure, hurtbox racing. Find ‘targets’ ahead and pick them off one by one. One foot in front of the other and keep driving forwards. Except not on Saturday…. Firstly, the targets were way ahead and I wasn’t gaining any ground on them. Secondly, I’d become Tam’s target and was very aware that once I’d fought to get a gap out of T2, if I made any signs of relinquishing it she’d probably gain enough motivation from that to pass me. Lesson learnt – I much prefer chasing to being chased! For whatever reason I just couldn’t find my running legs, and, though I wasn’t running badly I wasn’t running anywhere near as well as I’d hoped to be. I felt tense and rigid and couldn’t seem to get my cadence up and get into a rhythm.

The splits say I ran a 1.22 half marathon, but I’m fairly certain the course is 2-3 mins short as there was no way I was running anywhere near that kind of pace. Anyhow I’ve got a few thoughts as to why that may be and hope I can get my run and confidence in my run back by the next time I race.

So all in all, mixed emotions. I honestly didn’t expect to come 3rd so am very pleased with the outcome. In terms of the process, I’m not sure it was quite the race I’d hoped for, though it was certainly very solid. It was exciting being in a ‘proper’ race and fun racing so close to Tam, who has definitely upped her game big time with her new coach Tom Bennett. Superb racing Tam!

The race itself is brilliant – incredible atmosphere and support, particularly on the run – and definitely one I’d do again. It would be nice if they increased the prize money to make it worthy of the field they attracted – and especially nice if they didn’t charge my parents 24 euros to come and see me get my award!

Overall though, a very good start to 2013 triathlons and definitely one of the more exciting races I’ve been involved in. Maybe I need to stop being so self-critical… Bring on the next one – Austria 70.3 in 2 weeks.

As always thanks to all my sponsors. Chain Reaction cycles and Lightweight wheels, Blue Seventy, Compressport, Zerod, Saucony, High 5, Bloc, Meridian Foods, Scicon bags, Michelin tyres and Galius sun cream. And to my parents, who once again, formed an A* support team!

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