Bronze at European Games
June 17th, 2015 by Lisa
Itâ€™s been an unexpected but terrific weekend in Baku.Â
I went over to do the games mainly as general practice for me and my team, to be conformable with the format and make sure we work well together even when the pressure is on.
Training had been going better and better and the past three weeks with Darren and the D-Squad in Morzine showed that things were moving in the right direction. But with having dealt with all the interruptions and injuries in the past two years it was always going to take time before my run was back strong and fluent again.
Knowing the field – and my shape something special was going to have to happen to medal.
As things panned out my strong swim and early bike legs gave me the opportunity of the day.Â
It was windy in Baku and the swim course had already gone through a number of changes before we finally got to the pontoon. Two laps with a beach start and a long semi shallow section before the actual swim started. I had a good start and got clear water early on. I could see the girls on my left, which with their better ranking also benefited slightly from shallower water and longer section using the sandbank. Close to the buoys I caught up, happy to find my training partner Aileen Reid sitting in third I slotted in next to her taking the wide line around the buoy. Once we got around and started to swim back towards the beach I realised there had been a gap opening up to the leading two girls – and I put my head down working hard trying to close it.
Maybe if I had been more aggressive around the buoys not being happy sitting next to Aileen I could have made it – but it was just a little too late and I couldn’t close it. I kept chasing and was swimming in third for the rest of the swim portion. A complete opposite situation compared to my last race in Yokohamaâ€¦ I enjoyed it. I felt really good in the water and could work hard but still be in control. Thats a nice feeling.
Up the beach I knew I had to push it, limiting the damage up to the leading girls – and trying to string out the line of girls behind me.
Itâ€™s a crucial moment, you either move forward or backwards.
And groups building at that time can be hard to dissolve. I caught up to Rachel Klamer and the Russian girl quickly without having dragged anyone with me. Check. We lost the russian pretty much straight away but Rachel kept working and we did have a little gap back to the chase pack.
A two girl breakaway could potentially work, but having Nicola Spirig and Aileen chasing behind us it was going to be difficult. The real chance came when Nicola went solo and joined us. Three girls – and the strongest three bikers in the field working together against an unorganised chase pack. Brilliant.
There wasn’t any need to talk – everyone just worked.
And the time splits reported back to us along the course was encouraging.Â
I started doing the maths in my head. My run shape vs the girls in the chase pack. How much buffer was I going to need? I had been running more – but I was far from run fit. And some of the girls behind had proven themselves to be on pretty good form lately.
We ended up with 2,5mins in T2 – and I still wasnâ€™t sure. I knew it was going to be Nicola for the gold – and me fighting the clock and the chasing girls from behindâ€¦ My back was stiff as I came off the bike and it was a real uncomfortable first 400 meters of running. Eventually I managed to get my body to loosen up and get my legs underneath me instead of infront of me. By that time Rachel had caught up and I tucked in behind her to get some protection from the headwind. I figured out that if I could hang on through the less windy and flatter section (2nd half of the lap) I could benefit once more from her wind shield and that would save me a lot of effort. But I didnâ€™t think I was going to be able to hang on for much longer. Rachel was in good shape with consistent high places in the WTS races. I needed to pace things well and make sure I didnâ€™t blow or fall to piecesâ€¦ But out on the second lap I started to feel better and I realised I just might to be able to hang on. Nicola had (as expected) put the gas on from the start and was not in sight anymore. The time reports to the chasers behind us were still encouraging and no one was really flying through the field. So maybe there really was a chance on that medal..?! Running did feel better and better and I could probably have run for a bit longer – but unfortunately no faster. When Rachel turned up the pace slightly I was hanging on a thin thread. The rubber band stretched and onto the blue carpet I was running in a distinct third. I tried to up the cadence and maybe find something special buried deep down. But there was nothing there that could help me across the line ahead of Rachel.
But still – a BRONZE – and a very unexpected such won in a way I love to race.Â
It was a great race and it was won on courage and willingness to try. Nicola and Rachel are great athletes and it was fun to be out there working hard together creating something special.
I still have a lot of work ahead of me in terms of running. I need to build on both the actual mechanics and form – together with strength and endurance. The injuries has created a lot of holes in the foundation which needs to be looked into and eliminated. But Iâ€™m in good hands with Darren and physio Sam – with BjĂ¶rn Sverre HjellĂ¶degĂĄrd (back home for advice) all working together to put me back in shape. And I have a long phase ahead of me on altitude in Avoriaz.
Lets keep working away.