On Sunday I took part at ITU long distance European championships held in Tampere, Finland. The race in Roth filled me with confidence and I had very good training block in between these two races so I was very optimistic.
Unlike Roth I had a very good swim start here. I was in a group going around the first buoy and I rarely get dropped if I survive initial sprint. This time it was one of those rare occasions when that happened. A little gap opened, I tried to go all out for 20 strokes to get back but the gap was still there. Then I repeated this procedure a few more times but with the same outcome. When those 5m turned into 10m I knew I wont see those guys until we reach the mainland. I swam not far back from that group for a long time after getting dropped so I assume the pace eased up. If I survived that acceleration I would probably be able to stay there for the reminder of the leg. I could hardly see the buoys so I just followed the splash from the group ahead. After about 3k Marques and Sokk went around me so I had a bit of a draft for the last 1k. Until then I haven’t realized I have someone on my feet.
Turns out there were two big groups out of the water, each of them with about 10 athletes. First one was out in 46-47 min, second one (the one from which I got dropped) in 53 min, and then there was our small group out in 56 min.
We had 6 loop (out and back) bike course. It was windy and the course had some small but long inclines that kill your average speed. Looking at the elevation profile before the race I thought it would be a much faster one. They had to cut it a bit short for security reasons. Garmin showed 112km at the end. You can see the Garmin file here: link.
The course layout made it easy to judge your position in the race. My gap to the lead group was around 10 minutes in the first loop. I knew my swim was bad but I never expected to lose that much time. On a positive side, the gap remained the same trough the ride. Somewhere around 50k mark I heard a sound of a bottle rolling on the asphalt. I turned back to see if I lost my water bottle or the one with calories and then sent some words to Mr. Murphy and his laws that are not appropriate for this blog. This incident didn’t cost me much as race course nutrition worked well for me this time.
Run course had 4 out and back loops along the lake. On the first loop I saw there were 20 people in front of me, but the gaps were quite small. I didn’t feel as good as in Roth but I was moving well. Going into the last lap I figured I must be in top10 already, but after another count at the last turnaround I realized I was only in 15th spot. I needed top12 to please the federation so I had to dig deep for this last 4k. From there, I passed two guys and came within 10s of the next one but that was all I could do on this day.
My expectations were quite a bit higher, so I’m still not sure what to think about this race. The swim was terrible but the rest of it was quite good. Last year I was 8th with 28min gap and this year 13th with 14 min gap. If the trend continues, next year I’ll be in the sprint for the win but 17 guys will beat me in that sprint :-).