You could say I almost had a dream race in Vitoria. I was up there with race favorites fighting for the win. That “almost” is there because in my dream race I’m racing among top men, not woman.
Lead up was similar as two years ago. Once again airline lost my bike but fortunately once again they located it quickly and it was in hotel the next day. This time I was much more relaxed. Two years ago I couldn’t sleep until bike arrived, this time sleeping was all I did.
This race was meant to give me an idea where my form is and prepare me for the rest of the season. I knew I’m still not in full shape but I was still hoping that after some rest I can have a decent performance.
Swim was the only discipline where I felt good in training. I managed to do a set that I haven’t done since June last year when I swam 2min slower than Raelert in a half. During my last session on Friday I was wondering if the pool was too short. So, I expected a good swim. For me, good is if I get out of water with less than 5min gap at this distance.
I had a good start. Soon after I got tangled in some lake weed but I don’t think that slowed me much as everybody else seemed to have the same problem. At least everybody who started from the right side. It seemed like there was not many guys in front of me, the pace of my group felt comfortable but I couldn’t swim faster if I get out of draft. So things were looking good. Half way through the swim Jodie Swallow passed us. Women started 3 minutes after us and I knew this could happen but somewhere towards the end of the swim not in the middle. That’s when I started to reconsider the speed of my group. Turns out I had personal worst swim with 11 minute gap to the leaders.
It was windy on the bike and it felt like it’s a headwind 90% of the time. Midway through first lap I got passed by an age-grouper which didn’t lift my spirits. I stayed with him for the rest of the ride. We passed a couple of Japanese and Brazilian guys and after 100 km finally caught Jodie. I knew this won’t be a ride to remember. But on this day I coulnd’t go any faster.
Run course was different than last time. We had 4 loops through the city and entire course was full of spectators. I started a bit too fast as I wanted to see if I can at least have a good run. Besides that I couldn’t hear how hard I was breathing from all the cheering. I realized there’s one more woman in front of me, Caroline Steffen. Until then I didn’t know she passed me on the swim. Few days before the race I mentioned to her that she beat me by a couple of seconds in Immenstadt two years ago and I was joking that it’s payback time now.
After a few kilometers my pace started to drop and I considered quiting. Booth from this race and from the rest of the season and start looking into next year. But then I found some motivation and managed to negativ split the run. Second part of the run didn’t bring me much better placement nor does a few minutes faster time in an already bad race mean something to me but that second part of the run gave me confidence that I can still do a proper race this season.
By the way, I passed Caroline in the last lap and worked hard to get 3 minute gap that would annul my head start but once again I failed by about a minute. So, payback will have to wait.