Holten European Junior Cup - Race Report
Junior Elite Draft Legal
Result – 9th Place
What an experience this has been. Not only was this my first-time racing without the presence of my personal bike mechanic/bag carrier (aka dad), but it was also my first race in Europe. Beside the experience of racing, this 'mini trip' has also given me exposure to the life of a traveling triathlete and what is required in order to perform at your best in all situations.
Luckily, had the some pretty good company around me to provide a bit of guidance and keep me on track and show me what is required in order to be the best.
The weekend started with a day of travel; train, plane, train and van. St Moritz --> Holten. That was a fun adventure. Just the amount of organisation we had to do and making sure we were on time and everything was enough of a jolt start to the weekend. Once we located our accommodation, we unpacked the bikes, had a local feed and got everything ready for the next day.
Friday consisted of light activity, exploring the local bike paths, registration and briefing. Despite getting lost in the town centre in the morning, I was able to find my way back and rest up for the afternoon. After a good feed at dinner, the alarms were set and we were ready to go.
Next morning was usual core race routine but unfortunately without the presence of father or coach we had to ride into T2 and then a little while to T1, where the race began (yes there were two separate transitions about 9km apart. It was quite the pre-race adventure).
After warm up, we set out for the pontoon. I must admit, I should practice my dives with these pontoon starts, but that wasn't the only issue. Although I had a good start, I struggled to find good feet. Usually I like the chop, but this time around my swim just wasn't up for the ride. I had my worse swim in a while. It’s not only a physical thing, but also a confidence thing in the swim. You could be as tiny or as broad as possible, but if you have any doubts, they are exposed in the open water. I must admit I was unsure about how my swim would hold up against these girls and they defiantly showed the level expected.
My first transition wasn't my better either when I fumbled with my helmet and hesitated wen mounting the bike (I did leap in the end, I just took a bit longer). Before I knew it, the two packs in front had gone out of site. Again, my first half of the race hadn't gone to plan and I had to resort to typical attack mode. I could have sat up and waited for the girls behind me to form a pack and go, but just put my head down and went for it on the bike because I said to myself "it’s not over yet...."
I put in a huge effort on the bike and 4 of the Dutch girls behind me drove through. We powered up to the next group of three. Once we hit town, I charged up the hill. One Finnish girl joined me and we broke away through the technical downhill. We then caught up to the large second pack. Once we hit the hill again on the second lap around town, she took off on the front and I chased her wheel.
We dropped the second group and picked up one girl from the front pack on the way through. It was one of my best bike legs I've ever done. My T2 was pretty rusty too as I changed my bike position on the rack because I was unsure. I definitely know now. Anyway...
On the run, the Finnish girl took off and pushed the pace. I sat behind her the whole first lap and she definitely pushed me to my limit. On the second lap, she broke away, putting 7 seconds into me; the amount she beat me by in the end. I also gained many places on that run with the both of us having the fastest (her) and second fastest (me) run splits of the day. Although, I was able to overtake someone in the last 500m. My 'top end speed' - aka battle to the finish - decided to kick in.
All in all, I was happy with a top 10. To come in 9th in my first Junior European Cup was pretty cool, but there are many things I could've and should've done better. It definitely was not my finest race but nonetheless I know what needs be polished and refined for next time. At least I can still say I put my all into this race. Hopefully I've learnt in this one for next time. Can't wait for the rest of camp.
Shootout to Kelly Ann who Took out second place in the elite females with the fastest run split of the day! Cheers to Mizuno for the flying kicks, definitely helped on the run where no blisters or sores where given. Also, to Unique Health Products for supplying the CLIF nutrition for pre and post-race. Kept me fuelled up and energised.
The experience and knowledge I've gained on this trip has been incredible. I can't wait for more.