So next stop was a little more left field, but after some convincing by my coaches, we agreed on jumping in the deep end and doing a half ironman! Challenge Walchsee in Austria, would be the lucky race!
My first Challenge race, and my first Half Ironman since 2012, off a very limited training base, I had honestly no idea if I would end up a wobbly mess, or finish like a gladiator!
A beautiful backdrop in Austrian mountains, in the Tyrol region, on a chilly but pretty lake, and a guest house so homely and cosy (except for the dead animals on the wall, and the creepy porcelain dolls everywhere I was half expecting to creep into my room with a knife in the middle of the night) It was typical Austria, and I felt great to be racing. Unfortunately race day the weather turned this beautiful backdrop into a muddy, cold, soaking mess, and respect to the supporters who stayed out in the torrential downpour! it was ugly enough racing in it let alone spectating!
So the race was what I call a success. Leading out the swim, is uncommon for me but was part of the plan, to get a head start on the bike, as I knew this is where I would lose most time, having no time trial equipment, not focused my training around this bike distance, and being very cautious about going into auto pilot and going too hard ITU pace. This is exactly what happened I got swallowed up on the bike. Just as the skies opened up and a massive storm rolled over making the roads a running river of water, so as I could hardly see the road in front of me through the pelting rain. Then things got interesting 50km I heard a strange noise in my wheel I thought was a leaf stuck in my wheel from the rain. Eventually it stopped and I carried on til I really hit my wall around 70km to go, and I seemed to ride backwards from then on. The girls I was holding off all ride, went sailing past, my legs were cold, and I figured I had hit my limit on the bike, being a longer race than usual. I could not wait to get off that bike, I was CREEPING at that stage and my legs were stuffed.
Out onto the run, the legs felt great! didn't expect that after my bike blow, and I tapped along to run back into second to finish off the day! Not so bad I thought. Until I retrieved my bike and saw my flat tyre! geez that explained a whole pile, haha but having not raced this distance for so long I thought I had exploded, when in fact my wheel exploded, and I never even saw the slow leak because I couldn't even see a gigantic road in front of me in the rain let alone a flat tyre. How that stayed up for 40km I have no idea, but although very annoying, I am very grateful it got me to the end so I could finish the race!
All this was capped off with Grand Prix number 2 in Quiberon 6 days later. Having been toast all week from the Half I had my doubts on my gear change for the following weekend, but was wrapped to walk away with 3rd being outsprinted to the line, by an up and coming pocket rocket Audrey Merle who took the win.
And a thanks to my patient coaches who have built me back up!
Next stop World cup in Alanya Turkey next week, and I am so excited to return back to the World Cup circuit! Fingers crossed!