When taking part in your first triathlon event of the season, why not make it your biggest race of the year? Well that’s just what Kate did at the ETU Middle Distance Triathlon Championships in Rimini, Italy this weekend, and she came away with a silver medal in the AG 30-34 category.
Here’s how she got on….
Challenge Rimini – ETU Middle Distance Triathlon Championships
Swim – following feedback from everyone else that raced, the swim has been remembered as particularly ‘challenging’. Choppy waves and seemingly endless distances between the buoys meant that it was very difficult to sight, not helped by the fact that en-route to the very first buoy my (new- having lost my other set in a swim recce the previous day) goggles decided to fog up and make everything decidedly misty. I felt like I swam strong, with a controlled and methodical stroke, but I constantly felt as if I was swimming off-piste, which meant that I found myself swimming cautiously, and keeping a straight line became nigh on impossible.
My ‘larger than average’ head also meant that my swim hat started to come off too, which means I had to stop repeatedly to adjust it, conscious that if I came trundling into T1 without it then I’d incur a penalty, Cue swallowing a ton of salt water and feeling like a bit of a spluttering mess. And this is how I came out of the water – disorientated, dizzy and regretting my decision not to leave a bottle of flat coke in my transition bag. Smooth.
Running into T1 I was disappointed to see I’d done the swim in 35 minutes, and even more so to see that I’d swam 1.43 miles (nearly a quarter of a mile further than the intended 1.2 miles). I would later find out that everyone else was in the same boat and the course was in fact long. Which is a relief, as I’m not as slow or poor a navigator as I’d initially thought.
T1 – was a wee bit of a ‘faff’. Getting a soggy wetsuit into a very small bag was a challenge, and I found myself doing everything the wrong way around. But I quickly got going, locating my bike after a bit more obligatory to-ing and fro-ing, and headed out onto the bike leg.
Bike– it’s my favourite part of a triathlon, and the Rimini course looked like an especially interesting challenge, simply going up a mountain, and back down again. My tactics from the start was to cycle strong, but to at the same time hold back a little. I was aware that I needed to secure a bit of a head start on the ‘lighter runner whippets’ who would invariably cruise past me on the half marathon run if I didn’t get far enough ahead. But I needed to be sensible – this was not a cycling race after all, and I had nothing to prove by posting a fast split. I set out at a high cadence, always sitting in a gear one or two down from what I needed, so that my legs would remain fresh. From the outset I was able to count people off, and found myself getting into a decent rhythm as we approached the steeper climbs.
The roads left a lot to be desired in places, and it was pretty rough – especially when the rain set in towards the top, and the cobbled, bumpy surfaces meant I was wary of the chances of mechanicals/falls and so I took it easy in these sections. It was disconcerting to see a few people on the side of the road sporting road rash/bikes that had seen better days, and the best tactic was certainly that of caution.
T2 – it’s always a bit of a moment of truth coming in off the bike - that exciting expectation as to how your legs are going to have fared (or more often than not in my case, not!) I was happy to discover that my conservative pace on the bike had paid dividends and I actually felt ok. Certainly far from fresh, but better than I have done in many races previously.
Run – Consisting of three laps, out and back, along the Rimini promenade, the run course was certainly not an exciting one, but it was flat, scenic and well supported throughout. I started out at 7:30 minute-mile pace, pretty realistic going by the splits I’d been posting in training, but I felt good so decided to stick with this. Unfortunately I found that despite my best efforts I had started to slow as the miles went on, I tried everything to get back up to pace – fast cadence, long strides – unfortunately I just couldn’t get my speed up and found myself settling into a ‘run forever’ pace. My favourite speed, but not conducive to a record breaking split time! I put this down primarily to lack of practice. I have done a handful of long runs this year and my body was simply not prepared for the distance.
Conclusion – initially I was gutted with my result. I’d gone in there hoping that I could come home with a Gold medal but I’m unfortunately not quite there yet, even if only a frustrating two minutes off the pace.
However, I am rest assured by the fact that there was genuinely nothing more I could have done. I had thought that I could have pushed a bit harder on the bike, but in retrospect I think that those saved minutes would have sacrificed my run, and probably ended up costing me more. I am pleased with how I did, and motivated as to what I can achieve this year.
Plans moving forwards? Continue to strengthen my cycling – as time trials are as much of a focus this year as triathlons are. ‘Lighten up’ a little bit and continue to work on my running form, and build my mileage so that I am able to run the distance more comfortably.
What a fabulous first race of the year – very motivated by what’s to come.