I was turning a new page in more ways than one, having to rebuild from scratch, learn some uber patience in the process, and would take a new outlook on how I would attack my season compared to usual.
Not only this but after many good years with my previous coach Grant Landers, it was time for a change. So after starting up with two new and very tolerant coaches! :) it was off to put the past behind and look forward to the remaining year ahead.
First elite race back in 10 months was Geneva. A course I have won both times before, and a course I usually love. It's hard and tough on the bike, and every athlete earns their finish in that race. Just the way I like it...normally! I knew this race would be a big ask, lacking race fitness, and no where near the same shape I am in normally for this race, but you have to start somewhere and this would be it!
I can't say having my bike stolen weeks before the race really aided my big "come back" and nor did a number of other minor disruptions that hampered a flawless preparation back to racing, and I certainly didn't really think I needed to handicap myself more than I already had! But you rise to the challenge, and I was still grateful, to fiiiinallly be back on a start line! 100% ready or not, it would start here, and I will work back to racing the way I want to day by day!
Geneva well, keep it short, it spanked me this year! I lacked race fitness I'd had previously, and had a foreign feeling in my legs I have never had before, and hope I never have again. The sum of all my lead up equalled my result, I did the best I could on a half empty tank, and suffered the wrath of the hill, that I had previously embraced. The run would also just remind me of the time out of racing, and I finished that race with a humbling appreciation of the work I had to do to return to my best.
Saying that, race two would be a week later in Spain, Banyoles. A stunning backdrop for a race, set on a pristine lake, with rolling green hills in the background, restaurants, markets and lovely walks surrounding it. A much easier course on the bike, and I was 100% sure I had busted out some cobwebs in Geneva. I would have some better legs, better prepped to race, and had been harshly reminded what it was like to race hard for two hours. I would have the luxury of being able to ride my own equipment for ten days now also, and felt more comfortable to attack a race than the week before, however disappointed I was about my current ability.
Banyoles has been a race that has been good to me in the past. So I crossed my fingers it would help a brother out again this time. Plus, it could only really go one direction from last weekend, the worst was out the way, and at very least the bike would be easier!:)
A good first lap in the swim for me was a nice start to the race, and though losing a little lap two, I was in touch and we bridged the gap straight away to the front pack. The relief at having some better legs than the week prior on the bike was huge for me already. Nothing to crazy on the bike happened, I tried to get a little gap on the last lap for a head start into the run, but it was unsuccessful, and out we all went together. Still heavy footed on the run I knew this was going to be a battle to stay up there for me. With some speedy exits out of transition, I didn't even try to exit at the same pace, having learnt a bit more about my current ability last weekend, I would have to pace myself conservatively.
With the temperature creeping up on the run, something I don't mind, I was able to reel myself back into podium spots, and be part of a run battle for the win. Alex managing to be the better on the day, and I was very pleased to hold on for second ahead of Lois Rosindale.
So with my last big deep breaths, its time for a little adventure up at altitude at Font Romeu in the Pyrenees next.