#Race – It’s a Personal Best!

And we’re done! Or should I say that I’m finally happy, oh yes! After what turned out to end with a bitter feeling in Frankfurt just two weeks ago, it feels good to turn fortunes around. For the ones that didn’t follow, I did not finish the Ironman Frankfurt and crashed on the run. A race that had started well but which unfortunately turned into a #DNF. Never a good thing when it’s your “A” goal and you’ve been training for 39 weeks for that – Full Story Here.

Anyway, last weekend it was time to race again and at home in Geneva for the Triathlon de Genève. Not an “A” goal originally but a race I had entered as it was the first time they were to run a half distance (70.3 race) in town so I wanted to be part of it. As the original plan would have been to follow with Frankfurt and a very tired body, I can confirm expectations were not very high originally.

As it turned out, I took a complete break after the previous race. No training or I would say just fun and good sensations. Cycling with no plan, running for the fun of it and swimming because I enjoy swimming now. Altogether it took the first week to get over the feelings and the second to refocus a little on Geneva but still, I just thought I would race for plain fun, not even thinking of any times or performance this time.

Going into the race week, I simply put together a little program consisting of 3h30 of training, back with a little core work to start the day and an evening ride for the Tuesday, back to back swims on Wednesday and Thursday and an added run, core, bike and swim over Thursday night, Friday and Saturday morning. It felt good, still no plan or program, just sensations and smiling again, that week felt great.

Things got together on the Saturday afternoon though as I got into preparation for the Sunday race, making sure all equipment is ready, fitting the quick laces on the shoes, cleaning the helmet and bike, getting the stickers on as well as getting the nutrition essentials ready for the next morning. That build-up made me feel happy and ready to race as I felt properly rested from the past trainings and so on.

Sunday started at 4:00AM, got up and made my way to breakfast, usual protein and carbs meal topped-up with coffee and isotonic drinks. That followed with the shower and all but the best part was to have the transition less than a kilometer from my place. As it opened very early, I made my way there by 5:15AM and got the bike and all things setup, then went home to rest and have another coffee, that’s already a win! By 6:30AM I was back at the start, little 15′ jogging done to warm up and got the wetsuit on for the start.

With Jérôme, my coach, whom was also to tackle the race we made our way there. First wave, mass start, that sounded fun and I could feel a little anxiety about that but well, you just have to get over it and as I just did, the race started. Few first 100 meters were horrible, fitting in the mass start is a sport of its own, being punched in the face, someone grabbing your feet or simply people getting on top of yourself are mandatory prerogatives but it’s part of the sport and a fun one I must say.

On the swim, it felt good and I tried to master the technique learnt during all the hours spent training as well as trying not to start too fast, trying to slowly get to ramping it up as the course came along and funny enough, it worked. By the half way point, I was feeling very good, the stroke was getting better and better, turning arms with body roll under control, it felt like I could actually swim.

Swim – 31:26 – 1900m – Strava Activity

Getting into T1 felt hard, the usual stuff with transition from flat to upward, getting onto the bike took 1:55 and I got out onto the bike course ready for action. That part would consist of 4 loops of roughly 22.5km with a total ascent of 600m according to the given data from the organisation, best thing is that it would be mostly flat. As I went out it took about 15′ minutes to settle down in terms of hear rate but bad point is that as I got to the first climb of 1.2km I realized I had lost my front derailleur. No way I could go on the small ring so I would have to take it easy and steady on those ascent. Powering through is easy but burning the quads is easier.

As the course went by, average speed was up to 38km/h and with a mostly flat course. The only bad aspect being the lack of referee. As I got into my third loop, I came across a bunch of guys drafting eachothers, good cyclists but drafting which normally is not allowed on these races or by the published regulations. I moaned of course and passed them but they then drafted off me. It got okay as we got to a climb as it broke the pack but then they catched me again. I could understand the process and that with a lack of any referee on the course, it was easy to just do so but for one thing they were real triathletes. As I made the way for one to take a relay, none did take one so by the end of the fourth loop I broke the pack completely on a downhill and hammered it back to T2 so they could appreciate my power properly.

Bike – 2:23:22 – 90km – Strava Activity

T2 took 2:04 to get by and I went for the final run part. Fresh legs doesn’t work in that situation, they felt heavy and yes I could feel the power left on the course during the bike as the muscles felt very hard on the first kilometer. With 4 loops of a little more than 5 kilometers I decided to take it easy at the start and to slowly ramp up the speed along the distance, as per the swim. It was a safe decision, the course was not really flat, first half of each loop going up and down with corners and all and then flat, almost downhill back to the start, the strategy would turn out to be perfect. I took a drink at the aid station for each loop, one gel at the start of the second loop and altogether, got my average pace from 5:00/km to 4:30/km along the course and through the finish line.

The finish line felt fantastic as I felt so happy and in good shape. As I sprinted through I saw the clock and realized it was for #PersonalBest of 15′ minutes and that brought back the special feeling, the one you can only get on the finish line, the smile, the feel good mind but painful body you get when you’re done, oh yes I missed that.

Run – 1:31:18 – 21.1km – Strava Activity

Total Time 4:30:07 – 18th OA – 10th Cat.

42 weeks of training, racing or non-finishing as well as a few personal best, it’s time to take a break. Lessons were learnt this year, happiness and fun is what it’s all about and one should never forget it in the end so let’s see where we go next. Thanks to the coach who also took the third step overall, and the people who helped or support me as well as the ones who could keep-up with me.

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