When I raced there last year I knew I was in good shape. I had already raced a few times with some great results including winning the British National Duathlon Championships so I was fit, flying and up for it. This year it's been quite a different story, I had been suffering from planter fasciitis since late November right up until early March so had missed out on a lot of the winter training I had planned. On top of this I suffered from various bouts of illness and fatigue in the early parts of the year, leaving me unable to get any consistent training in for quite some time. I began to get things back on track when I went to Lanzarote at the beginning of March, starting with some very easy short runs. I had managed to get two quality faster sessions in before Mallorca and one of those sessions was the Mid Ulster Duathlon the weekend before (which I won). All of a sudden my legs which had been feeling like lumps of lead felt a little faster and lighter. It gave me some confidence that I'd be able to get round the 10k in Mallorca.
Race day arrived and the morning was dry without too much wind, almost every race I did last year had some kind of extreme weather conditions so I wasn't too surprised when we started to get some horrible wind, rain and hail in the latter parts of race.
The swim was quite good for me, usually when I start the swim or even before I get in the water I have the feeling that I'm the weakest swimmer there and I'll be dropped within 50m. This time I went in with a more positive attitude. I wanted to focus on my own swim, if I found feet to follow then great but of not just keep it together and swim straight! It seemed to help as I was a lot faster than I'd expected and came out of the water further up the field than I had before.
The day before the race was quite stressful and many little things seemed to keep going wrong (getting locked out, getting stuck in a lift, cycling down a mountain with the keys of the car which was at the top etc!!). This seemed to continue in to transition. T1 was probably the worst T1 I have ever had. I was slightly thrown by the fact that there were so many bags still hanging up in transition so I couldn’t find my bag. I then forgot to put my wetsuit in to the bag and was called back to do it. Then to top it all off I lifted the wrong bike and started running towards the exit with it. I glanced down at it and nearly died when I saw DI2 shifters, I had lifted my friends Blue bike, luckily I didn’t get too far.
On the bike it took a little while to get going. With just a stopwatch to look at it was a case of riding steady-hard and by the end of the first 50k lap I started to think that I might have gone out too hard. I went thought a bit of a bad patch for much of the second lap, right up until the bottom of the climb, San Salvador, when I took a Gu Roctane gel and from the I was flying and started feeling like I wish I'd felt for the whole race! For the first time all day I felt strong and pushed hard in to transition to make up some of the time I had lost.
In to transition and I was almost the same situation as last year, I was in second behind Tamsin Lewis but this time I had 2 minutes to make up. Last year I came of the bike, and ran hard to catch up, I was tired and every hill felt like a mountain after the strong bike. This year although I didn’t feel as flying fit as last year I felt like a much stronger athlete and paced my run much better running strong (but not hard) for the first 5k. The support on the run was great and I could hear the shouts of how many seconds I was from the lead. I knew I was closing the gap but I wasn't sure if 10k was going to be enough to do it. The lead bike was getting closer and closer and eventually after around 6.5k I caught Tamsin. We spoke briefly and I went on to take the win. She had given me a great race again this year.
For me this was a strong and confidence boosting start to the season. It can be easy to look back upon a race you’ve won as the perfect race but sometimes it's best to ask yourself how you would feel if you didn't win, what things would you change, what did you learn and what do you need to work on for next time. There’s lots of work to be done!!
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