Following my race at Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil, I realised the importance in having the right mental attitude when going into a race. I had qualified for the World Championships already, so I was racing with the aim of achieving personal objectives.
Perhaps for some this would involve less self-inflicted pressure, but considering my self-competitive nature, it did not feel that way. It also turned out to be Switerland’s national Championships – which given the quality and depth of Swiss triathletes, there was undoubtedly going to be some tough competition.
During the race, I felt as though there were several defining moments: “fight or flight”.
The first happened during the swim. We were about 2oom in and I was swimming behind a pair of feet in the somewhat glacial 14C waters, when some woman decided to come and try and push me out. Until then, it had been a relatively contactless start, but that initial lactic was starting to build up and my head was throbbing from the cold. For those who swim open water a lot, you will understand the implications of this women’s actions, had she been successful: you loose your draft.
I had the choice to let her go and fight with someone else for her feet, or stand my ground.
I stood my ground – well, I swam my water. In the end she backed down and swam on my feet. Ok, the time difference would only amount to a couple of seconds, but the attitude difference can make or break a race.
There’s a balance to it though: if you start being complacent in every aspect of racing and life, you ain’t gonna get too far. But if you fight when it’s not necessary, you use up a lot of energy in stress and an unecessarily elevated heart rate as you scrawl to gain a couple of seconds. At the beginning of a 5 hour race, it’s probably a bit of a wasted effort.
So use your judgement. I used mine then and needed it to get into an aggressive frame of mind for the rest of the race.
My transition onto the bike was nothing to be proud of, with my wetsuit suckered onto me due to a lack of vaseline applicatiction, it took 15km for me to work my way up to the front age-group girls.
Once there, I was not going to let go. I’ve made that error, lost that focus before and it had cost me. We stayed as a group of 3 for the first loop, and breaking away wasn’t realistic. Despite the 12m drafting rule which we were all respecting, riding with people gives you that extra edge and you can normally follow suite. As the age group men merged onto the course for our second lap, we were broken up and was less easy to locate where the others were riding. I played it tactically and managed to break away from the other two girls as we took on Witch’s Hill for the seond time.
Again, the choice was there: sit and wait, or fight. I took the later. A risky decision but got me a decent lead into the run.
Not enough though – at kilometer 16 I was over-taken by a girl who was running with incredible strength. I stuck with her for 500m, then realised that I would crample up (cramp and consequently cumble) the final ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – or Stairway to Hell – if I carried on at that pace. Again a deciding moment.
Of course after the race there are endless “if only I had held on” thoughts going through your head, but at the time it’s not possible. Something that needs to be worked on, but as we know: no triathlete is ever satisified.
I managed to come out with an AG win of over 20minutes and a top 10 finish in a strong field – crossing paths with Daniela Ryf as she went into her final 5km was inspirational to say the least. Also got a new PB of 4.39.38, on a non-flat course with over 1100m ascent on the bike
So for now, back to training.
A massive thank you to all the supporters out on the course – was such a confidence booster. To those from the Geneva Tri Club who made the whole race experience so much fun, and made singing as we went up the Beast seem like a totally normal thing to do -Julie Andrews eat your heart out. Thank you also to the incredible organisers of the event.
Finally, thank you to Coach Jurgen Zack for getting me race ready, Jiakina Sport and BV Sport Singapore for kitting me out and to the incredible generosity that meant I was riding a beautiful Cervelo P2.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” –Muhammad Ali