EUROPEAN LONG COURSE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS CHALLENGE POZNAN, POLAND – 24th July 2016

3.8km Swim (Challenge have admitted this was short*), 180 km Bike, 42 km Run

Short Report:

Swim             54 mins 52 secs

T1                   4 mins 13 secs

Bike               5 hrs 37 mins

T2                   3 mins 48 secs

Run                4 hours 1 min

Total:            10 hrs 38 mins

European Long Course Triathlon Championships Silver Medallist!

2nd out of 14 GB ladies

7th Overall Female

Long Report:

This was my 8th Iron Distance event.  The days of Long Course Champs being Long Course (4k, 120k, 30k) are long gone since the European Triathlon Union teamed up with Challenge.  The race is now one of Challenges iron distance events around Europe.

I did promise myself that last year would be my last ironman but then the World Long Course Champs was to take place in Oklahoma and a nightmare to travel to so I decided I would have one last stab at getting my much yearned for PB and sub 11 hr ironman by taking part in Challenge Poznan.  I qualified for Team GB & entered the race early in 2016.  Then in March I upset my Achilles (again!) and had to stop running for three months.  Hardly the best race prep but I did manage to have more bike focused training.  I started running again in June and had completed a couple of 70.3 events prior to this big one and the Achilles was holding up with a  9 min run:1 min walk strategy on all my runs.

I arrived in Poznan late on the Friday night.  Something I never do.  I usually like a couple of days pre-race to find my feet and faff!  Luckily I had Martin (my husband) with me and he dragged my bike around to save my arms.

The day before the race was a frenzy of building my bike, registering, packing my transition bags, race briefing , racking,  eating and meeting the other Team GBers.  The event was not particularly well organised with long waits to rack our bikes whilst they numbered the bike racks.  It was far from restful!

Anyway my previous two nights sleep had been good so I wasn’t too concerned.  Managed to get to bed fairly early.  Not much sleep was had but that is normal before a big race.  Breakfast was ready and waiting in the fridge for my 4:30 am alarm call – cold spaghetti Bolognese from the restaurant J.

I was pretty organised in the morning and left the hotel at 5:30 for the 20 min walk to transition with Martin which left ample time before our start wave at 07:05.

The Swim:


A deep water start 100m from the end of the lake.  We were swimming in Lake Matalski, a fantastic rowing lake so the swim was a simple long length of the lake, turn to swim the width of the lake and return to the start end.  With a 2k long lake with measurements for the rowers clearly marked you would have thought Challenge could manage to mark out a 3.8km route but when I exited with a swim time of 54 mins I was confused and looking to see if we needed to dive in again!  Luckily I spotted people in the change tent and everyone was commenting on how fast they had swum.  I know my swim speed and that a 54 min 3.8km is very unlikely and was certain the course was short.  Anyhow, worry about that later.

The Bike:

I was quite concerned about the bike leg as I had been experiencing knee pain on all my bike rides longer than an hour since June.  I was hoping my gruelling massages with Gareth Ziyambi and Cliff Gudgeon would see me through and thankfully they did!  A closed road out and back circuit along a dual carriageway.  Nothing to look at but the road ahead.  Luckily it was four loops of 28 miles each which meant I could keep my brain occupied with time and distance calculations.  My four hour mind numbingly boring Wattbike sessions were definitely great mental prep for this!  The course was mostly flat with a few low rollers here and there.  It wasn’t too congested which was lovely.  I saw a Danish girl whizz by me sometime during the second loop and thought she was in my age group but there was no way I was prepared to challenge her at the speed she was going.  I was sticking religiously to a HR in the top of zone 2.  I knew it was going to be a long day!  It was warming up already on the bike with the air thick and humid.

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

I managed to maintain an average speed of 20.1 mph which I was very happy with.  The end of the bike course was poorly marked and it wasn’t until lap 3 that I had sussed out where to exit to go back to transition.  I also managed to spot Martin here who told me I was in 2nd place (WHOOP!) which gave me a bit of an incentive to motor on on the final lap when my focus is usually beginning to wane.

The Run:

We started by exiting transition and running along the length of Lake Matalski where we had swum earlier.  I was quickly plagued with a stitch which is usual for me after I get off the bike.  I stopped to stretch and sort it out and then ran on.  It was a long way to the first aid station so I employed my run/walk strategy.  I couldn’t make out the run route at all.  It had us twisting and turning all over the place.  Some was trail/sand, some cobbles, some pavement.  The aid stations were roughly every 2k so they became my walking territory along with any hills of which there were a couple short and steep on each lap.  The crowds in the city centre were a fantastic support and in fact there were people sparsely populating the entire course with a lot of locals banging wooden spoons against saucepans the entire afternoon.  As irritating as it was I had to admire their dedication!

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

It was great to see Martin close to the end of my first loop, he informed me I was still second with a 15-17 minute lead on the 3rd placed girl.  I knew I had to remain focused and that I could still be caught but knowing your placing is a great incentive to keep running!  I could also see that I could be on for my sub 11 hour race time that I had yearned for since I finished Barcelona in 11:07 three years ago.  The run surface was tough, it was a grueling route and the humidity was insane.  It was so hot and sticky.  It was just fab to have so many other GB athletes out on the course.  We were the largest team of 37 and the encouragement was great both from them and their supporters around the course.  Even Laura Sidwell, GB Pro who was racing the middle distance event (and won!) was encouraging us on her way around!

On lap 3 I became concerned that my lips were slightly burning.  I put it down to the sun and salt stinging them and then to the oranges that I had been sucking on at each aid station.  However it was slightly unnerving since my lips are often the first thing to react when my allergy kicks in.  I was just a wee bit concerned as I had taken an anti-histamine in the morning so perhaps my pro-dromal signs would be weakened…… I ran on but it wouldn’t go away even after washing my face with water and stopping eating the oranges.  I reassured myself that nothing else was happening and all was ok but then when it wouldn’t subside I looked at my skin on my arms and legs to see a fairly significant rash.  I couldn’t bear the thought of doing so well this far and not finishing so I popped another anti-histamine and told myself to just keep on running, no stopping (it can make it worse).  I know that being scared made me run faster which is no bad thing!  I saw Martin again as I began my final lap and he told me that I was still ahead but that 3rd was closing in but he knew I wanted the sub 11 more than anything and he knew I could do it.  The final lap was hard, I was hurting – my legs simply didn’t have much running in them.  I finally reached the final climb up to the spectacular finish line and rocked across in 10 hrs 38 mins absolutely over the moon!  (The state of my legs below gives you an idea of the kind of terrain we were running on at times!)

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

fot.Pawel Naskrent/Maratomania.pl

So a new PB over this distance by 29 mins – although I do acknowledge that our swim was short, in spite of that I would still be well under the 11 hours I yearned for.

And European Long Course Championships Silver Medalist!!  My fourth European medal in a third age group.  I really could not be happier.  As an added bonus I have also qualified for Challenge Samorin – the new Challenge Championship 2017.


Whoop! What a great race.

I find it quite interesting that this is probably the least training I have ever done for an iron distance event.  My biking consisted mainly of mountain biking through the winter, a week in Lanzarote and the Tour of Wessex.  Since the end of May 90% of my long ride cycling has been on my Wattbike at race pace for 3-4 hours at a time.  I was worried about the bike leg because of this but in fact I think it did me a favour with my fastest ever bike split!  My running was virtually non-existent and I replaced all of my run sessions with bike sessions until early June.  No run training seems to suit me!  Quality vs Quantity it seems is the way forward!

Huge thanks as ever to my sponsors Cadence & Giant Radlett.  They provide me with immense support and some fantastic bikes to ride.  Also to Simon Costain at the Gait and Posture Centre who literally keeps me on my feet.

To all my friends, family, Tri Londoners & Oxygen Addicts you are always ace in your support.  Kevin from Tri London deserves a special mention for patiently sitting on a mountain bike beside me to enable me to do my last few long runs whilst he was out of action with a calf injury.

Last but very definitely not least to Martin, my husband whose support is never-ending, having him out in Poland was simply fantastic.  He is always there for me wherever I am.  I have had some great results this season and his presence at my races has been a huge contribution to that.

Next up Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Mooloolaba, September 2016.

*Explanation from Challenge for the Short Swim

Basically in spite of measuring the distance accurately, drawing a map, putting it on facebook, showing us in the briefing, showing the judges in their briefing and having a guy show us on a jet-ski in the morning it still wasn’t enough!  One of the water canoes positioned himself across the path of the oncoming swimmers directing them around a buoy but this was the wrong buoy.  However, he was not allowing people past.  The pros, the men and then the ladies were all directed to turn too early.  The race referee and the ETU Technical Delegate allowed the race to continue on the basis that the shortening of the swim did not affect the outcome of the final competition.

 

 

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One Response to “EUROPEAN LONG COURSE TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS CHALLENGE POZNAN, POLAND – 24th July 2016”

  1. suelacey Says:

    Fantastic blog Roz – can’t seem to comment. Loved reading it. Alison is so so so very proud and excited re. your success as we all are. Amazing, Amazing, Amazing ! x

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