It is one thing to race a tough Olympic distance triathlon but it’s another to race that distance broken into two sprints over two consecutive days. This format is brought to you by a small town, Tiszaujvaros (Tiszy), about a two hour drive from Budapest. Last year I waved my training partners goodbye as they departed for this event and I listened to their stories upon returning, wanting this race to be on my calendar for 2013.
We arrived two days out from the first race, stepping into some hot conditions but luckily I was greeted by an air-conditioned room which left a few athletes and coaches slightly jealous. For a very small venue, Tiszy had everything available; supermarkets, swimming pools, an amazing Italian restaurant, ‘Mamma Rosa’s’ and the race at the doorstep of our hotel.
The semi-finals were held on Saturday afternoon with there being two elite female heats. The 750m swim was broken down into three 250m laps which meant we were given 100m before we reached the first turn buoy, a recipe for chaos. I exited the water and was sitting comfortably in the first chase group with 5 girls in the break away. The bike course incorporated two 10km laps out on country roads, nothing too exciting as multiple heats were racing at once. With the top 14 girls from each heat plus the athletes with the next two fastest times progressing to the final, I wanted to keep the pace steady to limit the girls I had to out run in order to move forward. By the time we hit the 5km run there were more girls than I expected causing me to run quite hard for the two laps and only when I realised I was sitting comfortably in 6th place with 1km to go did I back off slightly.
With all the Aussie girls advancing to the finals, Saturday night was all about recovery and re-preparing for race day; massage, ice, dinner and sleep. I definitely think waking up Sunday morning was the toughest part of the weekend, a mixture of excitement, nerves and wondering how your body pulled up after the previous day, I actually felt like Bill Murray in the movie ‘Groundhog Day’.
Thirty athletes lined up on the pontoon, ready to experience another brutal swim and that it was. This is the sort of course where if you don’t have a good swim, things can turn badly very quickly. To make a bad start even worse, I struggled to find my bike in transition, causing me to re-track my steps multiple times which left me CHASING the second chase group. Not an ideal position at all.
The finals bike course was very different to the semis, 8 laps including 4 corners and one U-turn around the town centre. This meant lots of short sharp accelerations and constantly thinking one step ahead to ensure there was no chance of being spat out the back. One positive I can pull out of this race is my effort alongside a few other athletes to catch the pack ahead, putting me in a slightly better position to start the run but nothing to be proud of.
I don’t think I ever hit the run, more so the run hit me. From the moment I left transition, I had nothing left in the tank. I started to question whether I had gone too hard the previous day and despite trying to step up the pace to catch or drop other athletes, not much was really happening.
I finished in 23rd position, nothing to be proud of but a lot to learn from. As much as it would be fantastic to have every race go perfectly, it is these sorts of races you need to learn from, forget and put your head down to perform next time which is exactly what I am planning on doing with the World Championships creeping up in one month time.
Thank you to Craig Walton for being our ‘go to’ guy over the weekend as well as Craig Redman and Emma Whitelaw for helping out with logistics and putting on an enjoyable team dinner Sunday night.
I definitely think I will be giving Tiszy another crack next year!