On Sunday, I raced my second triathlon of the year in the beautiful Qiandaohu region of China, a few hours away from Shanghai.
I hadn’t been 100% during the week; the combination of recovering from 70.3 Liuzhou the week before, where I pushed myself to the limit, food poisoning and travel. Less than ideal. Anyways, I could tell in the couple days leading up to the race that the body wasn’t quite as fresh as I would’ve liked.
Not much I could do other than stretch, rest and eat as cleanly as possible – which was harder than you might think in rural-ish China.
So onto the race: it was truly beautifully organised by the Shanghai Triathlon Club, and in a pretty spectacular location.
Before the race, we had an announcement regarding the forecast thunderstorms, and how red flags meant seek shelter and the race is terminated.
I managed to get myself into the first wave of the rolling start (three athletes go off at once, followed a few seconds later by the next wave of three), and I got onto the feet of China’s legendary triathlete Dang Xi for the first half of it. The swim course was awesome, going around one of the islands off the shore and back again. I was first out the water, quite to the surprise of everyone including myself, and onto the bike.
The bike course was 45km out and back, and I spent 30km solo with a motorbike before Peter Wolkovic caught me. The weather seemed overcast, thunderstorms imminent, and I naïvely didn’t think to much about my hydration strategy. Peter and I had a nice ride for 10 or so km, before he broke away just before the turnaround point.
Then it was back the way we came. At least this time other athletes were coming in the opposite direction, and it was fun checking out the beautiful bikes of some of the other athletes. Yes, aero helmets on road bikes were spotted.
Off the bike, and onto the run. I had not anticipated the exposure and heat on the run. All but about 2 km of the 21km course were exposed in the midday sun. Yes sun. Not storm. Not rain. Not even the typical misty Chinese weather. Scorching hot 30+C sun.
The run was 2 and a half loops, and when going out onto the 2nd loop I heard someone say “Oh that’s the first girl again. We haven’t even seen the second girl yet”. So I relaxed into it, and made full use of the aid stations. I was at a couple for so long that the ladies manning it shooed me away.
Annika, who I had been staying with in the week leading up to the race was out on the course, reassured me that I had nothing to worry about, and could walk back in if I wanted to.
I was relieved, in a way, that I wasn’t the only one struggling on the course, and yet managed to still be overtaking people . I really just wanted to get over the line and lie down. And what a relief it was when I did.
I held onto 1st female by a fair margin, and finished 4th overall with Peter finishing first overall.
It turns out that I really was pretty badly sunburnt and had mild sunstroke. I still have the outline of my race numbers inverse-tanned onto my calves.
But lesson learned/reinforced even further. Do not underestimate the half ironman distance, and prepare and hydrate for the worst of eventualities.
And wear suncream. Even if they announce thunderstorms in the morning. Weather forecasts cannot be trusted.
Thanks to the team Maserati China, White and Wong, Jiakina Customized, Revv Energy Thailand, Project Artisan, Z-Coaching Phuket and of course Jürgen Zäck himself.
Now it’s back to training in Phuket for the next couple of weeks, before hitting up Europe.