European Triathlon Championships, Kitzbuhel, Austria

Austria 2014 281

 

I qualified for this race last September so it has been a long wait to get to this time.  We have had major injuries, little niggles, tears & tantrums, but we arrived in Kitzbuhel 6 days before race day so I had time to do three rides of the bike course, two runs & one swim in the lake.  I must add here that the scenery was stunning.

 

We stayed in the Team hotel which was about 1 & 1/2 K away from the start & about 400mtrs into the centre of the old town.  The three bike rides I did were the most important part of the week because they had three monster climbs on the course & tricky descents, so the first ride was a familiarisation ride, the second one was a little bit quicker just to see how I could handle the hills at speed & finally the third one was to learn the lines of the descent as this was going to be a closed road event.

 

Wednesday I went & registered & got a laptop bag & would you believe it considering that this was the middle of summer – a woolly hat!!!!!  I like it though as it is so very different to receiving the usual T-shirt.

 

Thursday night was the Parade of Nations.  As per usual the Brits had the biggest contingence of triathletes & when we got to the centre of town & they introduced the GB team, they only went & played our National Anthem which encouraged everyone to sing along with gusto.  This brought a lump in my throat & a tear to the eyes.  It was a very proud moment to experience.  Then it was off to the pasta party.  Well, a plate of pasta with meat sauce & an indescribable drink.

 

Friday was the worst day of the week as it threw it down with rain all day.  Myself & Coach 2 looked like a couple of drowned rats after watching the elite women’s race.

 

On Saturday we had a free trip up to the top of the Hahnenkamm Mountain for a brunch-type meal laid on by Nirvana.  It was a bit misty heading up in the cable car, this was probably due to all of the rain we had had yesterday, but it became a lot clearer as we reached the top of the mountain.  It was very nice up there & it also gave us an insight to the closing ceremony’s venue, which was (weather permitting) going to be here too.  When we came back down off of the mountain we had our team briefing which was very informative from our Manager, Ian Kitchen.  We then collected the bike & kit from the hotel & headed off to the race venue to watch the elite men before checking into transition (go Ali).  I left my pride & joy in transition, hoping that it would still be there come race day.

 

Sunday – race day.  The alarm went off at 4am as the transition window was only an hour (between 6am & 7am) so we had a swift breakfast at 5am & caught the free bus shuttle service to the start area.  When we got off of the bus & headed down to the water’s edge, a spectacular sight met us with the early morning mist just hovering above the lake.  The forecast for today said it was going to be a very warm & sunny one.  I went into transition & much to my relief found that my bike was still there.  I laid out all of my kit, but I had to leave my cycle helmet on top of my run shoes.  The reason for this was that transition area was made up of thousands of rubber matting squares which all slotted together.  This made it ever so springy & the news from the team manager at the briefing was the GB age group sprint race triathletes had mentioned that the bounciness of the matting made a lot of the helmets come off of the bikes.

 

The problem of closing transition at 7am was that my wave wasn’t off until 8:40am so I had a long old wait, but we had a couple of friends who were staying on the lakeside so we went back to their house & chilled out until it was time to go to the holding area at 8:20am.

 

Once I was on the start line I sat on the pontoon & just admired the stunning scenery that surrounded the lake.  The start went OK.  I was possibly a bit too over-eager & headed off too quickly & had to back off a bit to catch my breath, recompose myself & then get going again.  Once I got going I was fine.  I seemed to be overtaking quite a few people on the one lap swim.

 

Out of the water & onto the blue matting, over a ramp & then it was quite a long run into transition for T1.  There were no problems with T1 & I then headed out onto the two lap bike route.  As mentioned above, there was going to be six quality climbs so my plan was not to go eye-balls out on the first lap & just build into the second lap because if you do this bike course too quickly you would have nothing left for the run.  As for the first climb, I got overtaken by two Austrians so when reaching the top, thinking that they would know all of the best lines of the descent, I would follow them down.  But to my disbelief they descended like a couple of girls (no offence meant to any females who are reading this).  So I enjoyed myself on the descent & then just got into the swing of the race.  I enjoy climbing so this course suited me down to the ground.  Onto the second lap & there were no untoward dramas & I just got on with the job in hand.

 

Into T2, with yet another long run from the dismount line to racking the bike in transition.  By this time the temperature was in the high 20s which made the rubber matting very hot to run on.  I put my shoes on & picked up my hat & gel, only to find that the gel was very hot but put it in my suit & headed out off onto the two lap run which consisted of road & gravel tracks through the wooded area.  The course description was termed as “a flat run”.  No chance.  Many undulations; just enough to take you out of your rhythm.  When I was about 2K into the run, on the dog-leg descent, I noticed coming up the other way four Brits.  Could I hold them off?  About a K later I got the answer.  No I couldn’t.  I took my hot gel at about the time but by now they had all overtaken me & I just could not hang onto them.  I then headed out onto the second lap of the run but my tummy started to feel a bit funny.  Was it the hot gel disagreeing with me?  Not to worry, as I had to get on with the job in hand.  I tried not to let anyone else overtake me.  I had a good strong finish.  Job done.

 

My splits for this race are as follows:

 

Swim – 23:58 (position 231)

 

T1 – 3:09 (position 156)

 

Bike – 1:16:35 (position 195)

 

T2 – 1:59 (position 133)

 

Run – 42:40 (position 288)

 

Overall time – 2:28:19

 

Position overall – 232 (out of about 700(ish)

 

Total place – 250 (so I got chicked by quite a few then !!!)

 

39th in my age group out of 70

 

But most pleasing of all – I was 8th Brit out of 20 in my age group

 

As Sunday was such a glorious day, the closing ceremony was definitely going to be held on top of the Hahnenkamm Mountain but before we got to the cable-car, I was so hungry; I stopped off at the “Golden Arches” for three portions of chips (sorry Di, not the best of nutrition choices).  It had been suggested that we should get their early & I’m glad that we did as by the time we left, the place was heaving, with queues of people still waiting to get in.  There was plenty of food, but I wasn’t sure if they had realised just how many people would be going & just for his efforts alone, the poor chef should get a medal.  As for the food, well there is no surprise to those of you who know me but I managed to get down three large portions each of which consisted of rice, a pork type stew & a potato/ham/bacon-ish dish.  There was also some soup & pasta dishes as well, but I just stuck to what I knew & liked.

 

This was by far the best race I have ever been involved in.  It was a stunning place to hold the event & I enjoyed every minute of the race, & it goes without saying, but also the week leading up to it.