At the beginning of October, I took on my longest (and hardest) race yet, in Weihai, China. I was invited as part of the Shanghai Triathlon Club, a fun and enthusiastic group of triathletes who are also incredibly numerous standing as the biggest Club in Asia.
I arrived a few days before the race, mainly to overcome the jet lag and travel tiredness that I have learnt hits me pretty badly. In the lead up to the race, the weather was beautiful: sunny days, a touch windy but just enough to keep you from ever overheating. Conditions looked like they could be ideal, until I checked the weather forecast.
Checking the weather app quickly became a bit of an addiction, particularly as my trusty app had been 100% correct to that point. I was worried about the rain and 50kph winds forecast for the Sunday. Only Sunday. Only race day.
I became a touch too caught up by this element, and ended up making a critical oversight. I did not checking my Di2 until race morning, at which point I was so pumped I misread the green light for a gear change as green light for battery. Error.
At kilometer 12 of the 100km bike course I tapped my shifter to move into a higher gear, after a breezy decent (I later saw someone walking down this section out of pure fear of being thrown off the bike). I clicked the shifter and was greeted by an empty tap. NO response.
I pressed again, this time trying to shift the rear derailleur. Again, no response. Shoot. I knew exactly what was wrong.
Honestly, I was never struck by a wave of panic. The moment I realized what had happened, I went straight into survival mode: what can I do?
Perhaps this is an outcome of the various events and experiences that I have had recently, but in this case it served me well.
The 25km course had one longer and steeper 1.5km climb, with an extremely strong headwind at the top. So strong that I had no choice but to get off my bike for – after grinding up a heavy gear for 50% of it. After having to run up this, I stopped at the next mechanical pit stop, but as they pointed out there was nothing they could do. So I kept going.
Just grinding up hills and spinning down them. Just like Thursday morning push and spin workouts.
It wasn’t the easiest of bike courses anyways, and I managed to make the 1800m of total climb a lot harder for myself.
I was so happy to get back into transition after over three hours of being thrown around by the wind and rain, and hauling myself up hills.
Luckily, I managed a decent run off the bike, keeping it easy for the trail run out and picking it up on the 12.5km back. I was aware my legs would be even more fragile and tired so made sure I reined it in.
I crossed the finish line as first female, and fifth place overall. It turned out I had over 1hr 15min margin on 2nd: I was lucky that it was in this race I learnt this lesson.
I also realise how crazy it was that I had spent so long flustering about the weather, when realistically there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Plus on the actual day I was never even cold.
And yet I had completely ignored a problem right in front of me that could really have had much more dramatic consequences.
So from now on, whenever you travel check your Di2. I had charged mine just the week before but you never know what happens during flights! Trust me, it’s an embarrassing mechanical to have to admit to…
Safe training and racing everyone, particularly to all the amazing athletes prepping for Kona!