This has been my many attempts of writing this blog since my race nearly two weeks ago. I would like to say I am normally quite good with the introduction of the blog, but this one has me stumped. I just don’t know how else to say it…
I AM THE EUROPEAN CHAMPION!!
It still seems crazy to say, and I don’t think I will ever get used to it – actually, I don’t want to get used to it! I want it to feel this fresh and crazy every time someone mentions it. I want to remember that surreal feeling crossing the line knowing I had just won the European Championships. I want to remember how it felt to phone my dad after the race and tell him the news - and how excited my coach was (he phoned me within 2 minutes of finishing he was so excited!).
My mum said I would forget the details if I didn’t write it down, but she’s wrong: I will remember this race for the rest of my life. And what makes it even more special is that I was close to cancelling this race thinking I wouldn't be fit or ready in time for it. Thank goodness I didn't!
One of the reasons for the above statement is the fact that this was probably one of my favourite bike courses I have raced on. It was as flat as a pancake, so obviously I was already excited for it. It was a simple out and back loop on wide, open roads with nothing but the trees and fields as company. Although I have never been there, the roads in Canada came to mind, being able to see everything before the horizon with nothing obstructing the view. It felt amazing to simply get on my TT bars and power out the 40k in a personal record time. Kris, my coach, said I could do it, and although I had my doubts before seeing the course, he was right!
Another positive of this race was the swim. This was a new experience for me for two reasons. Number 1: the start area was like a mini triathlete party! It was on a small, man-made beach next to the river, with music, drink (non-alcoholic obviously!), changing and seating areas – it was a really nice way to relax before the race. Every nation from Europe and every age group was there mingling and chatting. It made for a really relaxing start to a race.
Number 2: The swim was a straight down river swim, with no loops or turn buoys. They extended it from the traditional 1500m to 1750m (something I would have panicked about just a month ago because of my shoulder) but because of the river current, it made it far too easy to do just 1500m and my shoulder held out really well knocking a couple of minutes off last years appalling swim times due to the dislocated shoulder!
Finally, the run took us around the local paths and lakes of beautiful Tartu, I can’t really describe the route because there were so many turns and bends that I lost track of where I was! The one stand-out feature of this run was the sprinkler bridge halfway through! The weather was an uncomfortable 28 degrees Celsius, so running under the water felt like heaven! I’m also happy to report that I didn’t throw a cup of sports drink on my head thinking it was plain water to cool me down, so double achievement in this race!
After a week of recovery training (I needed it after this race!), I am starting my next block of training, in preparation for the World Champs next month! I can’t believe how quickly this has come around, but just get me to Australia now as I am on a high after the Europeans!