The week between the Mid Sussex Tri and the Brownlee Tri South flew by quicker than you could say ‘Friday’. I tried to get my training in, but heading out to the European Triathlon Championship in Kitzbühel/ Austria right after the race meant finishing projects at work off, trying to organize all those last important bits, packing… It was mental, to say the least. I was looking forward to the Brownlee Tri though, especially because the bike leg was slightly longer (30km) and it would mean I’d get a last good hard swim in and full transition practice.
Except, at 9pm the day before the race, we’ve got an email saying: Sorry, but the triathlon is now a Duathlon because of algae in the water that due to the warm weather have grown excessively. Now it was a 2k run, a 29km bike and a 5k run. I had not planned on a duathlon and I was unsure how to tackle a race with the short run first.
I got to Petworth House in plenty of time, collected my number and set myself up in transition. For once, there was plenty of space and it was all rather relaxed. Petworth House looked rather impressive overlooking transition, the lake, start and finish.
After a warm-up, the women only wave gathered along the lake for the race briefing. And shortly after, we dashed off over the grass path along the lake overlooked by a rather cool optocopter. The run was all off-road and the footing uneven. My footing was a bit tentative and uneven, but I managed to go a good speed. A small group of 2 ladies had dashed ahead, 2 more were just ahead. I entered T1 in 5th after 7.46 min. A swift transition meant, I caught up one place already.
The bike route was a bit unusual because it started with a long untimed section, which was a tactical element to be used wisely. I mounted stress free and took my time over the gravelly path down to the park gate, stopped briefly at the red light and once I crossed the road, went over the timing mat and the race was back on.
The girl I had passed in transition had caught up with me in the untimed section and tried to get away from me. No such luck. The bike was quite undulating but good to ride. Tough, but a fair ride. We batted a bit back and forth for a while, but eventually I got away on the hills eventually. I kept an eye on my power meter and pushed on, trying to push close to my limit.
There was a foot down corner, where cars got separated from cyclist for safety reasons, and then a further funnel later on before we headed for lap two. Thanks to know I the route, I kept the pace up. I started to pass the first men from wave 1 who had started 20 min earlier. Then onto the funnel, across the timing mat. Stop at red light, across into the park and this was where the real fun started.
We had to get back up the hill and they had put down some plastic tiles which created a ‘yellow brick road’ back up the hill to the front of Petworth House. It was a short and steep climb. I kept a nice spin up, but didn’t push it. Across the T2 timing mat and another swift transition. My transitions are one of the things I can blindly rely on.
I felt pretty good leaving transition. The few spectators along the course were fantastic and generous with their support. Volunteers at every corner cheered people on. I sensed I had a runner on my back, but I managed to hold her off for about half the run. Eventually, on the first long downhill she passed me. I tried to keep up, limit the distance to capitalize on the untimed zones.
But my body got tired and I found running over the uneven grass more and more difficult. Focused on holding my run together, I pushed on and tried to pick up more people. It was hard work, but I held it together somehow. I crossed the finish line as 3rd lady in my wave and was hoping it would stay like this. 22 min was a time I was happy with, given the cross country run.
In the end, I didn’t meet the Brownlees, because by the time I was back out of transition, they’d gone off on a 4hr bike ride. To make matters worse, I found I was 4th overall. By 5 sec! And because age groups were based on actual age, I came 2nd in my age group. I drowned my sorrow in some of the free Erdinger Alcohol free beer and decided a massage would do me good.
After, I walked a around to relax my legs and enjoy the atmosphere a bit before heading off to get on my road trip to Kitzbühel. Despite it being a Duathlon and struggling on the second run, I actually enjoyed the Brownlee Tri, and despite a sulk over 4th place, I am actually happy with my performance. Ready as can be for Kitzbühel.