Last weekend I took a trip to Cologne for the European Aquathlon Champs, the last of my scheduled races in what has been a busy two months of competing. I had done this race last year and it happened to be at the same venue which was a real help in race (and holiday) prep and this year my friend Jo also came to race (her first outing in a GB kit!) so we made it into a girls weekend away too.
We flew out early Friday morning and it soon became apparent that we were in for a fun weekend when firstly Jo realised her generous hubby Paresh had provided her with Australian Dollars instead of Euros, I got my bag searched after denying all knowledge of the iPad I had in it and Jo was frisked at security twice. Due to all of this and the long queue at booking we didn’t have an opportunity to go shopping in the airport – at least we didn’t miss the flight! We managed to get to our hotel unscathed, took a wander around town and went to race registration, race briefing and had a run along the race course.
The race was on Saturday but we weren’t racing until 3pm so had a morning to wait around, heading down to the race venue at 12:00. As last year, there were loads of GB athletes racing and a smattering of other Countries, which made for a great team atmosphere. I went into Transition to set up my spot with my shoes and number belt and got chatting to a lady next to me who upon finding out my name declared to me that she was so pleased that I was there as she had looked at my finishing time from last year and pleased to see not everyone was fast! Well thank you very much, glad to have been useful!! She was so nervous I think it was one of those moments when you say out load what you are thinking without realising it, she was so embarrassed after! Luckily I beat her so I guess she was only telling the truth ha ha!
The race format was a 1k swim in the river Rhein (out and back) followed by a 5k run along the river wall. My overwhelming memory from the race last year was being dropped on the swim after about 50mts and having a very lonely swim and run, finishing 2nd from bottom overall – why was I back?! This year was much better, my experience from last year and my recent races meant I chose my starting position well and managed to draft for about 800mts on the swim before I overtook a couple of ladies and then got dropped by the group I was hanging on to. I exited well and was really pleased when I entered transition to find other competitors trainers still there, a sign that I wasn’t last! I focused on running strong, loosing a few places but also gaining some too and on the last loop, counted about 7 ladies behind me. I really enjoyed the race and finished feeling like I’d performed well, although I was disappointed to find out that I had actually recorded exactly the same time as last year, although the other ladies who had raced last year and this year had finished 1-2 mins slower this year so Adam reckons I did have a better race. Jo also had a great race and I’m sure that she will be racing in her GB kit again soon.
The rest of the weekend was spent enjoying the sights that Cologne has to offer and dodging the many stag do’s – a fantastic weekend all round.
I now have a break from any serious races, with just a few fun ones over the coming months. Time to train now for the World Champs in Chicago in September (did I mentioned I had qualified?!)