On Saturday, I competed in the European Aquathlon Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Slovakia is not a country I would have chosen to go to if I was booking a holiday, but it was surprisingly very nice. Although the language barrier was quite hard to get over as none of the words even looked similar to the English language and they tend to roll their tongue so they couldn't understand us (quite difficult when ordering a taxi every day!), The people and the area were really nice and friendly though and we must have looked Slovakian as they kept talking to us in their language. We stayed in a 'boatel' on the river with the view of a castle - it was beauitiful - apart from when another boat pulled alongside and clipped us and made the boat sway (not good with being on top of the water!!)
We were called out in Age groups and country and I just happened to be the very first triathletes name to be read out. I ran down the red carpet and onto the beach, but instead of choosing number 1 spot on the lineup I decided to be more central and stood in number 10 spot. It happened to be a great position to be in as I could see both side of me whilst I was swimming and I had a fantastic start. It is usually pandemonium at the start of a race when you start in the water, but I had a good sprint into my dive and managed to get in the front pack.
The competition area was a huge man-made lake set in the middle of a park, although, for some strange reason, we didn't use the whole lake but instead did 2x500m loops (although some measured it as being more like 1200m in all) We had to exit the water after one lap and run around a cone in the middle of the beach and dive back in.
The water was crystal clear, so seeing how deep it was in the middle as you swam was a little scary - I kept on having visions of piranhas coming up and attacking me after finding a dead fish before the race which had been 1/2 eaten!!
However, once the race was underway and the adrenaline started pumping, all of those thoughts left my head. That's what I like about racing, everything apart from the race ahead becomes irrelevant and you forget about your day-to-day problems (like A level exams looming). I'm pretty sure many people in sport would agree with me on that one!
The run was a pretty simple route: 5x1000m loops. It seemed continuous and became very monotonous and boring, but with the help of the crowd (and a very big group of British supporters cheering the whole time) it was a lot more bearable! I think the GB athletes and supporters even outnumbered the locals.
By the time we ran, the heat was up to 30 degrees Celsius and my asthma wasn't letting me run like I wanted to, but all of us Brits who are used to the endless cold conditions and no sun to train in, suffered quite a bit! Thank goodness it was fairly flat. I even have a tan line around my numbers, so I now have the number 209 tanned onto my limbs until I can get it covered ...or it fades if we don't have any more sun this year!!
I am very happy with my race, especially a 2 minute PB swim over last years race and even happier to come away with 4th place in Europe!
Congratulations to all of the British competitors - I think we cleaned up on the podium placings. And I'm so happy to have met a lot of new people especially all the girls in my age group - theyre a friendly bunch of girls. Can't wait to catch up with some at the European Triathlon champs next month. See you then girls :)