Liuzhou IM 70.3 marked the beginning of my 2018 triathlon season. There was a world class field racing in both the men’s and women’s race. The names Alistair Brownlee and Craig Alexander might ring a bell even to any non-triathletes who have somehow found themselves on my blog.
I was ready to race and felt pretty fit after 3 months of solid training with the Z-Coaching team in Thailand.
The morning of the race was due to be cold and stormy, but I had stopped trusting the weather forecast after it had proved wrong every day previously. How naïve I was.
The gun went for the boys, and 5 minutes later for us and we zig-zagged down the river. The current was almost non-existent, and the water pretty flat for all the pros. I started quite hard and ended up swimming on the front. I was too focused on sighting to look behind me to see how many girls had held on, and was so surprised that as I ran up the stairs to transition still no one had come out of the water.
It’s the first time I’ve ever been first out the water so thank you very much to my new wetsuit sponsors Sailfish wetsuits!
As I was going through transition a gale picked up and I was thrown around with my bike, having to completely stop to jump on it. The storm had indeed hit, exactly as forecasted. The first lap of the two lap bike course was a struggle with the wind and then rain which appeared to be coming from any direction.
At kilometre 20 I was caught by Agnieska Jerzyk, who I knew was a strong two time Polish Olympic triathlete. I rode behind her for the remainder of the bike, and we came into and out of T2 together.
She began setting the pace on the run but I quickly realized that it was too slow, and we risked being caught by the speedy Sarah Pampiano if we didn’t run at around a 4 minute pace.
I took the lead and kept the pace, but realised that I was doing a lot of work against the strong headwind. So, I made several attempts to get her to take a turn on the front.
Again the pace dropped and I went back to the front. As it was coming to the final 5km of the run, I started putting in surges, but to no avail. Agnieska was stuck like super glue.
As we came into the final kilometer she put in two strong efforts to drop me, and I stayed with her. Then in the final 300m she put in a last one, and I had no power left to stay.
It was a tough moment, and it’s certainly painful to cross the line so close behind in second place, after it was so close for 91 kilometers of racing.
Finish line pain
But overall I’m pretty pleased with my race. To be racing amongst Olympians and top 10 Kona finisher and super strong runner Sarah Pampiano is really hard for me to believe, but it happened!
Thanks to everyone on the course for the support despite the conditions.
Thank you also to the amazing team behind me starting with Maserati China, White and Wong, Jiakina Customized for kitting me out, Sailfish for the awesome swim experience, Revv Energy Thailand and Project Artisan Phuket for the support. And of course Coach, aka Jürgen Zäck for getting me race ready.
Now it’s time to recover and get ready for next weekend’s race at Qiandao Hu, or 1000 Island Lake, near Shanghai.
And remember, don’t be afraid of losing, you’ll certainly learn something from it.