My previous three races since travelling to Europe have only been in France or Spain both countries which I am slightly familiar with their language and can decipher signs and menus if I am given a bit of time. This was a very different case for my first trip to the Netherlands although during my short visit I picked up some vocabulary and learnt that to turn a noun into a plural just add ‘en’. While the language, cuisine and culture are always exciting, even more so is watching a very small town like Holten transform for a sporting event. As triathletes invaded the picturesque town, the copious amounts of bikes on the paved or cobble stone streets came as no surprise as bikes are their preferred way of transport. If you haven’t yet realised, I am a huge fan of Holten and I haven’t even got to the fun part of racing!
The course has a split transition which means T1 is at a different venue to T2. The swim was held at the Domelaar, a lake 9km out of town. Since having raced 2 French Grand Prix races, renowned for their brutality and Madrid World Series race, I wasn’t too nervous for the swim. Early on 3 girls made a gap on the main pack and while at the time I couldn’t bridge the gap, I look back questioning this. You can get hung up on ‘what if’ so all I can do now is change this next race.
The bike course included a 9km ride into town where we finished off with two 5.5km laps around town with a bit of a hill each lap. The three girls who made the gap in the swim were up the road, nowhere to be seen and just up the road from me a chase pack of six had formed. The initial kilometres of the ride always hurt the most and I know this is an area I am looking to improve but alongside some other athletes we caught the group to form a chase pack. Within the 20km we managed to rope in 2 of the 3 girls.
Due to a slight calf strain after Madrid, my running has been cut back leaving me with less speed allowing me to try a different way of racing, making myself uncomfortable on the bike. After being caught up in a crash due to bad positioning on the bike last week in a French Grand Prix, I was determined to push my way to the front so as not to be caught up in any sort of mess. Overall I was happy with this aspect although I regret not taking every opportunity to push out of my comfort zone and try something new in racing. After entering T2 second out of the pack, I started the run up the front.
A few hundred metres in, all the athletes around me decide to merge left, causing a lot of legs in a small area of space and with timing not on my side, someone catches my heel and my shoes comes off. I had to make a split second decision, run back a few metres or continue running with only one shoe? I would be interested to know what other people would do?
I figured I would lose more time trying to run 5km with foot exposed, something not common in our training program, so I barged my way through oncoming athletes and theoretically put my 3rd shoe on. The ground I had made up early on in the run was now lost and I tried to chase down as many athletes as possible, crossing the line in 7th place.
This race left me thinking ‘what if’ about multiple aspects of the race and while I left Holten more or less dissatisfied, it has ignited more motivation to pick on these weaknesses for my upcoming races.
Personally I am yet to be really satisfied with a European race this season but when I consider my circumstances and long term goals, everything is a work in progress and on a worldy scale things are looking positive, leaving me eager to race Palamos World Cup in 2 weeks time!