I’m currently sitting in Chicago airport waiting to board a plane back to Europe after a nice 5 days in USA so have a bit of time to send you all an update!
Immediately after the London round of the World Series I headed straight up the mountain to a training place I know well, located at 2000m in the Pyrenees in the French alps is located a great training centre – everything you need at your fingertips – an amazing set up to get some hard yards in! I stayed actually at the training centre where you are provided with a small ensuite room and 3 meals a day – what else do you need?! I was lucky enough to have Braden Currie (2 x Coast to Coast champion) join me there and whist in the centre I enjoyed the company of the Belgium Long Distance athletes an Austrian and a Polish swimmer, a great mix of people and all there for different race preparations.
I had an easier week the first week getting use to the altitude then a solid 2.5 weeks training with higher volume in hope to get my endurance back for the standard distance races which so far I have found myself fading in towards the end. Although I wasn’t hitting the times I have in previous years up there I was happy with my block of training and left there tired but looking forward to the trip as it would bring a small taper prior to the Chicago WS race.
I left the mountain at 4am heading for Toulouse airport once again. It was a long day by the time I arrived in Chicago going via Frankfurt and I was grateful to finally get through the traffic jams and to the hotel. I went to the nearest shop for some food, showered and bed at what was 3am back in France.
I adjusted to the time difference reasonably well, a few 3 or 4am wake up calls but managed to get enough sleep in there with a bit of lighter training. I was very impressed with Chicago actually. Its not often you can go to a big city and still ride your bike. There is a bike path along the lake front which was just fantastic, running in the park and along the path awesome, and the lake which I was dreading was lovely and clean, so really good to be in a big city when you have options for training like that.
After two days of light training before the race, it was time to roll. When I arrived the check-in about 80minutes prior to the start I was told, it was a non-wetsuit swim -great news, and the bike was now shortened from 42km to 38km, good news too (as the less time in the heat out there the better I thought!). I racked my bike went for just a quick run, maybe only 5minutes and it was REALLY hot! So I cut the run short and went into the athletes tent and got my ice and iced towel out that I brought down from the hotel room. What I should have done was head to the lake! At 18.8 degrees it was the refreshment we all needed. Although cold at the start line up I knew it would be horribly hot by the finish line (30+ degC & 90% humidity!)
I started to the right of the pontoon most people went left so I had a good spot 3rd in from the end, it wasn’t long until we dived in and were away, I had a good start and managed to get ahead of a few of the girls and didn’t have any one on my hip. I rounded the first buoy side by side in 2nd place with Emma Moffatt (AUS). I was happy to be swimming amongst the front ones when you are actually swimming rather than fighting and pretty happy to sit comfortably in the top 3 for most of the swim. I sailed around comfortably for the 2 laps, It was actually rather choppy out there and I didn’t notice Emma had dropped the feet of the front girl, so I tried to bridge us back up but ended up just swimming alone in second place to the exit. It was a good swim and I found it very comfortable the whole way - good start.
Onto the bike I wasn’t use to having so much time in T1, it was a good feeling. Being a longer race and a hot race you don’t want to go out on your own so I worked steady up front until the group behind caught up thinking the harder they had to ride to catch up the harder it would be for any one chasing to get on and it would be a smaller number of people that made the front pack.
It was actually rather a big group (15) at the start but with the number of U-turns several people dropped off, I think we finished with 12 in the bunch. We didn’t work great together as a group but still managed to increase each lap our lead and in the final 2 laps finally put a bit more time into the chase group. It was interesting to note some people that had been sitting on the back all day were the ones that seemed to run very well So frustrating as it is for the mutual benefits of the group but hey - that’s racing!
Onto the run I started conservatively but new I would be struggling with the heat and by the half way mark I was sitting in 7th I was hoping to hang in there in for another top 8 but lost a lot of places in that last lap. Maybe if the water at the aide stations wasn’t hotter than the air temperature it would have helped! But there was no doubt about it I was cooked from the inside out, I was pretty happy to see the finish line and although a bit disappointed not to top 10 happy with my performance and 13th position.
This morning I got a light jog in an a 2hour ride along the bike paths, now it’s out of this city and back to the peace and quiet of the mountains in Southern France. Here I come Font Romeu!
At this stage I will be racing Hamburg in 2 weeks, so a quick visit there but apart from that it is 3 weeks of focus on the on the Commonwealth Games and time to sharpen my run with some speed work and hopefully I can match my current swim and bike form!
Thanks again for all the support and kind well wishes, see you all again soon on the screen in Hamburg, cheers Nicky.