Fourth edition of Falkensteiner Punta Skala triathlon was held this Sunday in Petrcane near Zadar. This year the race served as Croatian championship in middle distance triathlon. It was a hard race for me to do as anything except a win would have been considered a failure. First of all by me, but probably by many others as well.
I don’t like early morning starts, but unfortunately in this sport they are the norm and this race was no exception. When the gun went off I must have been only half awake as I lost 5 meters in the first 10 meters of running through shallow water. I made up for that quickly and had a good swim. There were 3 guys not far in front of my group. Two of them were part of a relay and third one was Avirović, one of the favorites.
My plan was to try to break away on the bike and get big enough of a gap so that I don’t have to run on the limit. First part of the bike course goes slightly uphill and that’s where I wanted to make a move. The rest of it is much flatter and thus much harder to break away. However, I messed up my transition and lost 20 seconds, so I first had to chase. It was close to the end of the uphill when I caught two of my main competitors Koceić and Patrčević. I spent a lot of energy chasing but still managed to make a decent attack. Few minutes later I turned around and couldn’t see anyone behind. Perfect situation.
Turns out that Avirović missed a buoy and got out of the water behind us, so I was in the lead. It was easy to judge the distance to the other guys as we rode 4 out and back loops. The gap kept growing and when we passed each other for the final time I had 6 minute advantage over Avirović and another 2 minutes over Koceić and Patrčević.
Everything was going according to the plan but I still had doubts. Two weeks ago in Aix, I could barely run at a pace that I usually hold on ironman distance. I knew that if that happens again my win might not be secured just yet. Luckily, within first few kilometers I realized that won’t be the case this time. I felt quite good and kept the pace that I thought was enough to get to the finish without any unnecessary drama.
It looks like Aix was just a bad day and now I can look at the rest of the season with optimism. My next race will be Keszthely triathlon in less then two weeks and then Ironman 70.3 Pescara the week after.
You can always judge how happy I am with my race by the amount of time it goes from it to the report. Obviously, I’m not very happy with Ironman 70.3 Aix. I hope it was just a bad day and not a more serious problem.
The swim went ok. I haven’t lost too much time, but on the other hand, there was way too many guys in front of me. During the first half of the bike I felt pretty good. Not sure how good you can feel while pushing your limits, but I felt like I’m riding well and the power numbers were not too bad either. During the second half of the ride someone shouted that I’m 10 minutes behind the leader. I didn’t feel so good any more.
After disappointing first 2 legs, I wanted to have a good run. First lap was ok and when I wanted to pick it up in the second lap I got a stitch in my stomach that forced me to jog. That stitch stayed there until the end of the race.
I was much more happy with the video then the race
First chance to check if Aix was just a bad day comes this Sunday. I’m racing Croatian championship in middle distance triathlon in Petrcane. Two years ago I won Croatian championship in olympic distance triathlon there, so I hope I’ll still have only good memories of that place after this weekend.
This Sunday I had my last race of the season, Croatian championship at half-ironman distance in Porec. Given the course of the season, this was one of those races where anything except a win would be considered a failure. Competition was quite good so I knew that it won’t be easy to win, but I was prepared to go full gas one more time this season.
We started from the beach and I finally had a good reaction at the start. My happiness lasted for about a second, because in the next second my goggles filled with water while jumping in. I couldn’t see anything and after few hundred meters I took few seconds to adjust them. Now I could see again, but first thing I saw was that the group I usually swim with had a small gap.
We had 4 out and back loops on the bike. At the first turnaround I saw that Beijing Olympian, Pavel Simko, was alone in the front with a group of 4 not far behind him. I was another minute behind the group and it took me 2 laps to catch them. They covered all my breakaway attempts, so we rolled in T2 together.
At the start of the run Simko was 2 minutes ahead. Run was also four loop affair. After first lap the gap remained intact and I only got 15’’ closer in the second lap. However, I knew I can gain much more time in the second half if I keep the pressure high. By the end of third lap the gap went down to 45’’. Initially it was supposed to be 3-loop run course, but because of road works the course was changed to 4 smaller loops. Simko didn’t know about the course change and it must have been unpleasant surprise when he found out there’s one more lap left. He slowed down considerably, so I took the lead soon after entering the last lap and held it until the finish.
This was my longest and my most successful season so far. Porec was my 10th race of the season (4 ironmans and 6 halfs). It didn’t start well, but the second half of the season was really good. I’m happy that I managed to close it in style.
Last Sunday I took part in inaugural Porec triathlon which was Croatian championship at half-ironman distance (well, slightly shorter). After Vichy everything except a win would be considered as a failure, but my own expectations were the same as always. To give my best and see which position that brings me at the end. I can’t be unsatisfied if I give my best. Final placement depends on the competition and I can’t influence their execution of the race. Well, I could, but that’s not allowed :-). Of course, I was hoping that “my best” would be enough for another win. It’s always nice to win and it would be good to have a confirmation that I recovered well after Vichy and that I’m on the right track for another good race in Barcelona in 2 weeks.
I got out of the water in second group, 1:20 min behind leading trio. Combination of slow start, short distance to the first buoy and my swim shape that’s not as good as in the first part of the season.
We had 5 loop (out&back) bike course so there was plenty of opportunities to see the gaps. I started the bike with Flo Kriegl and I didn’t rush to close the gap to the leaders. I was hoping they will exert some energy trying to stay in front and it will be easier to break away once we catch them. The gap was slowly melting and mid way through 3rd lap we caught them.
After a short rest at the back of the group it was action time. Kienle recently wrote that there should be no holding back while attacking, otherwise if you don’t manage to break away, you’ll end up dragging the group until T2. After 7-8 minutes of hard riding we got to another turnaround and I saw that the group was intact. Kienle was correct and I spent the next lap in the lead. I reduced the pace to save some energy for one more attack in the last lap. That attempt had the same effect as the first and the race had to be decided on the run.
Soon after exiting T2 I took the lead, but the race was far from decided. On the first turnaround I saw that Patrcevic, who had slower transition, got closer and others looked like they were holding a good pace. By the end of the first (of four) lap Patrcevic caught me. We run together for a couple of hundred meters when he started to drift back and I was again alone in the lead.
Koceic soon moved into second place. There was no time to relax as he was running very well and the gap stayed small. It wasn’t until the last lap when the gap grow a bit and I could finally relax and enjoy another victory.
Overall the race went very well and everyone seemed to be happy with organisation. I hope organisers will be able to get more support from local community in the upcoming years so that they can close larger part of the road which is necessary for the growth of the race.
Unfortunately, on our way back from the race we had a traffic accident. Luckily no one was seriously injured. I have bruised ribs now and I’m not sure if I’ll recover in time for Challenge Barcelona. Luckily, this caused only one race to come into question, it could have put many more things under the question mark…