European Standard Distance Triathlon Championships, Weert, Holland – June 2nd 2019
The Euros were in Holland this year, potentially a good venue for the bigger competitor like myself as the course was just about pan-flat. I had pre-qualified by taking the silver last year, and had had a good winter of training, lining up the Triathlon England Championships 2 weeks before as a warm up event. The English championships had already sent me a warning that my fitness was not where I thought it may be, where I managed the bronze, but 5-6 mins back on where I needed to be in comparison with the other members of the GB team. A tooth abscess had been playing up for a few weeks before, and we had decided to delay surgery (extraction) until after the Euros and keep me on antibiotics which seemed the best plan. I drove a road trip to Holland and stayed in a bed and breakfast 12 miles from the event. I rode in the day before to register and watch the elites where a certain Alistair Brownlee calmly ran away with the elite crown.
The big day arrived, and I set up my stuff – now this was a bit different, two transitions – T1 and T2 which were 5k apart. So, running shoes in one hand, bike in the other…. We had the novelty of a beach start too, potentially good for the taller chaps as we can step over more water before diving…. I lined up on the blue start positions and took the starting trap next to last year’s gold medallist (who I know well) whom I was hoping to be a bit ahead of after the swim….
The klaxon went and in we dashed to the beautiful blue lake (what was I doing looking at the scenery??) – to see my friend next to me swimming steadily away from me. My fears about my fitness were setting in as I was some way down the field by the time of the swim exit. Onto the bike, passing one rider who fell off as he jumped onto his bike, and to the flat fast bike course. I noticed the heat here as it was rapidly getting warmer, and I also noticed my power output as it seemed to be faulty and was reading lower than I wanted it to.
The two-lap bike soon shot by and although there weren’t many Brits about I couldn’t help but notice a few people slip past me. Transition 2 was fine, and on to the run where my legs seemed a bit more tired than I had hoped for, and the heat was cranked right up reaching 32 degrees C. There were 4 laps to do, each characterised by a lurch from one overhead sprayer to another and as soon as passing one looking and hoping the next wasn’t too far. I tried to keep form but progressively slowed despite taking in fluid and keeping myself wet. I finally came over the line in 20th (5th Brit) and had the pleasure of being hose-piped down as all the athletes seemed to be melting.
It was a beautiful course, and the support was great as it always is at these events, and I enjoyed the trip and the racing, even though I didn’t perform how I had hoped. I know where the gains are to be made, and have a plan for next year… the most cunning part of which is being an age group older! Overall it was a great trip and embodied one of my beliefs in sport – having poor performances enables you to recognise and enjoy the good and great ones, so enjoy them all.