Since arriving in Europe 3 weeks ago, I have spent a grand total of 6 days at our training base in Vitoria-Gasteiz! The first weekend I was off to Dunkerque in Northern France. Probably most famous for ‘The Battle of Dunkerque’ in World War II and being the first race of the French Grand Prix triathlon series each year.
I hadn’t raced at this level since July last year so I knew I would be in for a little shock. My swim was ok, transition probably took just as long as the 750m swim which meant I just missed the main pack and once my small pack lost touch, there was no coming back. I continued to make the most out of the bike/run and to be honest it was a big motivator to race more and put myself under high pressure situations more often. On a positive, my team Issy Triathlon performed really well and we were third overall! Our team coaches are really cool guys and always create a great team atmosphere that is a huge draw card to wanting to do more French Grand Prix races!
I was back to Vitoria for two days before a small group of us travelled to the Italian Puglia region for the Calaponte Tri Week. I was invited to this race last year and loved it so much that I happily accepted the invitation to go again. The organisers and community of Puglia made us all very welcome and ensured we experienced all aspects of their culture during the week, especially Sabino who was our go to guy and always spoils us with his generosity. The trade off was, we raced a 1500m Ocean Swim on the Saturday and an Olympic Distance Triathlon on the Sunday. These were both really enjoyable races and another opportunity for me to get some race practice in. Last year I collapsed about 1km from the finish line so I was pretty happy to come in 3rd behind my training partners Charlotte McShane and Zsofia Kovacs.
I hung around Puglia for a few extra days with Tyler Mislawchuck before we both headed to Cagliari, Sardinia, an island off the west coast of Italy to race an ITU World Cup on the Sunday. I hadn’t been on a World Cup start line for two years so I felt a little bit like a rookie. Although, in saying this, it was a great opportunity for me to race a high quality field with no expectations of myself and set a benchmark for the rest of the season.
The sprint distance course was hot, hilly and technical with 5 laps of 4km on the bike each with a 2min climb through the old streets and then on to a fast descent. Hot mix is non-existent on theses roads so it made for an interesting bike leg. Without going through every detail of my race, I saw some progress from my first race in Dunkerque and most importantly I loved being on the start line again. There is still a lot of work to be done but once I build even more consistency I’m sure I will begin to reap the rewards.
I’m back in the Basque country for 2-3 weeks before my next race so it will be nice to settle back in to a routine for a little bit before my next race! I post pretty regularly on my Instagram account @gracemusgrove too, so that’s another good way to keep up with my adventures!
Until next time,