Thursday, 31 August 2017

Stockholm WTS 2017

Well, the last blog I posted here was Edmonton WTS. Since then I raced Montreal WTS the following weekend, over the Olympic distance (my preferred distance)  where I had a good race improving on my Edmonton result and finishing 24th.
I did actually write a blog post about it but it took me so long to get around to uploading it, that it was no longer really relevant; … It was no Shakespeare masterpiece so nobody missed out!

Following Montreal I flew directly back to Europe for an altitude training camp in Font Romeu, France (close to the French – Spanish boarder.) 
I spent 2.5 weeks living and training at 1850m above sea level until last Thursday when I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden.
(I will do a blog in the next week or so about Font Romeu as I have actually came back since the race.)

Stockholm has been a regular fixture on the WTS calendar for the past number of years but this was my first time, first time in the Swedish capital. I soon realized why this is a regular stop and an athletes favorite, with Stockholm being a beautiful city with a technical and interesting course with a little bit of everything; short sharp hills, cobblestones, tight corners and stunning historic buildings to race around.

Enough of my less than imaginative trip advisor review, I might as well start talking about my race before you go back to scrolling through instagram or twitter because I’ve gone over 140 characters already.

The swim was in front of the town hall, consisting of two laps, one large 1000m lap followed by a shorter 500m lap, exiting the water between each lap.
Unlike the swim familiarization the day before, the water was very choppy, which was going to make for a tough swim.
pc. World Triathlon

When going down to choose my pontoon spot I had in my head I was going to line up on the right hand side beside the best swimmers but as soon as I got there, I made a stupid decision and went far left as there was only 2 people to that side, and in the moment of panic I had convinced myself that with it being choppy I wanted to be near the far side so that I had as few people around me as possible. This did not pay off and I should have stuck to my guns instead of making spare of the moment decisions.
I dived in and instantly felt slow and labored with little get out speed, struggling to move forwards and fight thorough the choppy waters.
I managed to get bumped around, struggled to get comfortable, I got a knock to the face filling up one of my goggles and even ended up getting caught in the string that tie down the buoys while trying to get around the 1st turn buoy.
At the furthest point of lap 1 I don’t think I was far from being in the bottom 10 of the field, but I knew aerobically I was fit and once I turned to head back to the pontoon I made sure I had room to swim and moved through the field exiting around ¾ the way down. Heading into the 2nd lap I knew I still had plenty of work to do so I just had to put my head down and swim though, The good thing about being in a bad position when it is not due to fitness is that your able to swim faster than the people around you. I managed to crawl back a few places and exited the water around mid pack. I know its not ideal but it was an improvement on the shocking start that I got.

pc. Salud Aquawiz Photography

On to the bike and it was straight to work to pull back the leaders and get into as high a position as possible. Leaving transition I knew I was in good company on the bike with powerhouses such as, Blummenfelt, Mola and Bishop who I knew would all contribute. Our pack worked very hard very quickly, picking up stragglers ahead with the aim of minimizing loss to the lead breakaway.

It was a fast technical 9 lap course which made for fun interesting racing but you had to be switched on at all times. I was maybe a little too eager on the 1st lap and on one of the exits of a tight corner I started to pedal a fraction too early hitting the ground with my right pedal… not advised. I don’t really know how I stayed up but was definitely an “Oh Sh!t” moment. Due to that I was maybe a little over cautious on some technical corners as I didn’t want to take anymore risks but also because I had faith in how I was feeling that if I left a slight gap I could cover it easily.

The bike was fast and furious throughout but I felt strong and in control, for the most part, that was until the about 3 laps to go when camera men who were eager to get high profile athletes on camera probably weren’t as far away from the front of the pack as they should have been. An ok scenario when you trying to close a gap to the front, but when it lines the pack out and your not availing of the draft of the camera motorcycle, it makes for some fast km’s riding on the rivet.

I knew this was taking it out of my legs and with being on the penultimate lap I knew I had to move up the pack to stay a little safer and in a better position for the last lap.
Transition was on the short steep hill so just leading into the bottom of it going on to the bell lap I moved up through the pack to around 6th. Climbing up the hill I was probably in maybe one or two gears two hard, but it was too late I wasn’t going to risk changing gears on a cobbled steep hill, this meant that on the brow of the hill I wanted to get on top of the gear and get my cadence up. This accompanied by the fact that, those riding at the front seemed to back of the pace at the same time resulted in me going onto the downhill with a gap; a gap that actually surprised me when I looked over my shoulder, so I committed, why not?
pc. World Triathlon

I put my head down and made sure I was going to enter transition, free from the chase pack to give myself bonus seconds leading into the run.  
Triathlonlive.tv commentators said, ‘I was maybe doing it to get a new bike sponsor for next year.’ NO, instead I was just riding my own non-sponsored bike and 2nd hand wheels I bought off a mate, taking an opportunity that  presented itself to me and making the most of it.
I managed to stay away and gained myself 11 seconds in doing so and in actual fact it was the easiest lap of all the 9 laps, as I could ride my own consistent pace, use every inch of the road as there was no one around me and also get on top of my breathing and enter the run as relaxed as possible.

pc. Viviane's Logbooklet
So after getting into transition alone, I made my way onto the run trying to settle into a strong pace, which was easier said than done. Legs weren’t feeling super fresh and when you start a run on a downhill cobblestone decent with not a single runner around you its hard to work out what pace you’re running at.
I wasn’t able to stay with the faster runner when they came charging past, and tried to hold onto a strong pace until I got caught by runners I could stick with and use to pace myself off, in order to get through a tough 10km as fast as possible.
Just to make things more exciting with this course, the finish line was at the top of the steep hill that we had negotiated 12 times already, it wasn’t going to be an easy finish. I approached the bottom the hill fighting for 19th,20th,21st, the two guys surged away from me as I felt I had nothing to stay with them on the hill, but as I got the brow of the hill I seen them slow dramatically and I said to myself, “I’m might throw up, but every place counts.” I dug deep and emptied the tank. I managed to spit the two guys.


pc. Viviane's Logbooklet
The difference between, 20th and 21st, prize money and no prize money, and a few extra all important points, all decided over a photo finish.
Thankfully I can come away saying I finished 20th. My highest WTS finish of the season and a great confidence booster leading into my last few races.

I’m now back in Font Romeu, for my final preparations for the Grand final (World Champs) in Rotterdam on 16th September.


I’d like, to thank Triathlon Ireland for sending me to these races, Stephen Delaney for his support and guidance during the weekend, Ian O’Brien, my coach, all my training partners for getting me into shape my current sponsors; On Running, Zone3 and InfoCrank and obviously my family for everything they do. 

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