Training for Worlds meant spending a lot of time training. I remember my first session in the pool when I started with Lucie and the Trifactri group. I thought I was going to die – and I rated myself as a pretty good swimmer before Lucie’s training. Quickly my mind and body adapted to the high volumes of training and high pace. When complaining that I couldn’t do something, Lucie’s words would be: “Welcome to training.” At that moment I realised this should have been called “Ironmind” instead because when I adapted my mindset to my new conditions, everything got better and achievable.
Like everything in life, my road to Worlds had its ups and downs. A big high for me was going on training camp at Nelspruit where we trained for 4 days and did lot of kilometres on the bike – climbing over 1000m on a 6 hour ride, doing 17 hours of biking, 4 hours swimming and a track session with a few brick runs. Sounds impossible but we did it. The biggest high was the last day when everybody felt broken but (as you can expect from us triathletes) still all pitched up and finished the session. That weekend I enjoyed because it’s when I realised we are unique and must be a different type of species since we enjoy the pain we put ourselves through. Some of the lows were those long hour working days and after that you need to put in training at night. And the very early winter mornings of course. On some days you would also feel very alone but in the end it was all worth it.
The week before to the race I was already in Zell am See. What an absolute beautiful place! I would definitely recommend this race.
The bike route was a 90km circle bike route between the Alps – so no out and backs or laps – which was very fast at times. What I also enjoyed about the bike was the scenery of beautiful many small towns. So the ride didn’t feel that far and the spectators were amazing shouting “hup-hup-hup” or ringing their cowbells and blowing on whistles. The run course was around the beautiful blue lake and a little bit of the course was in town where everybody was cheering and shouting. You couldn’t help getting goose bumps (or it could’ve been from the daunting heat on the day).
When I was lining up for the swim start and the canon went off for us to go, I soon realised this is world champs and no jokes. The first 300m was awful. I just tried to stay above water because everybody was swimming over each other. I finally got out of the bunch and then found my own pace and tried to work harder to make up some time. Getting out of the water I started cramping. I think the late start for us at 12:05, the heat and a lack of nutrition before the race, caught up on me. Out of the water in to the long transition on the bike, I now needed to cycle as hard as I could trying to make up some minutes lost on the swim. Bike was nice and flat and felt great and then the big 15km climb – 12km with a 3% gradient which was okay but then the last 2km a 15% gradient gruelling climb. You didn’t know if you should stand or sit. Up towards big climb it was all downhill and fast. But in the last 10k’s the hard biking caught up on me and I felt weak. I tried to eat but just couldn’t take in anymore and I also couldn’t really give more. But in my mind I just kept telling myself, “leave everything on the course, do not come up with all kind of excuses afterwards.” Running, like always, I just did in surviving/fighting mode with the beautiful Zell Lake next to us. Every other minute or so I thought to myself, “can’t I just jump in this lake it!”. It was HOT! I found myself walking through some of the water stations as they almost couldn’t wet sponges quickly enough.
All in all it is a great experience with coach Lucie still there to teach me great lessons. I am excited for what lies ahead. Racing abroad is a must and a great experience. The different racing ways of different cultures is amazing to see. I think is the best way to spend and enjoy a holiday.
Strong head, big heart, light feet.