Don’t mess with Texas, round 6

Texas 5, Frankie 1, and an exciting day for women’s racing

I’m not sure what it is about racing in Texas. After two terrible days out racing the Ironman in the Woodlands, two simply “meh” races at the 70.3 in Galveston and a DNF with hypothermia (yes, hypOthermia) at 70.3 Austin, you’d have thought I might have admitted defeat.

However, last Sunday in Galveston, I clawed back a point!

Race week kicked off beautifully, with Ed quarantined in a hotel due to a nasty cold and me being hit at considerable speed by an unlicensed, uninsured driver within a mile of the rental car centre. Thankfully colds resolve quickly and modern cars are well designed…

The rest of race week was mercifully less eventful and we arrived at transition on Sunday morning with what appears to be my new race day mantra of “everything has gone well so far, now just don’t fuck it up”.

Insert standard triathlon race report here

My [swim / bike / run] wasn’t as good as I thought it should have been because [the water was choppy / I hadn’t been training on the TT bike / I just wasn’t having the best day] (delete as appropriate).

All true, but apparently even my sub-par swim / bike combo was enough to have me rattling into T2 in second place, having moved from 15th to 2nd during the bike (if anyone needs me during the next few months, I’ll be in the pool…).

Unfortunately there was a pack shortly behind me, and my transitions, while vastly improved, are still not the quickest out there, so a group of us came tumbling out onto the run course together and all went haring off like lunatics.

Luckily in the seconds after this picture was taken, I glanced down at my watch and realised that 3:45 min / km pace was possibly not sustainable for 21 km (I’m working on it…) so focused on running my own race and getting myself to the finish line as quickly as possible, rather than trying to race those around me and ending up walking.

Probably the most exciting run of my career so far followed. For those who haven’t had the (dubious) pleasure of competing in the pro field, I have to admit that the race dynamics can often be quite boring, with big time gaps and few changes of place. This was the opposite of that! I went from 2nd off the bike, to 4th, to 3rd, all the way down to 8th at one point, and then back up into 6th, even running shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the others during the last lap before somehow pulling away again.

Strong women’s racing!

I crossed the line in 4:08:20, a big PB (aka PR, for my American friends), and in 6th place. There were 8 of us under 4:10 and within 8 minutes of the winner – a huge step up from previous years. The pro women’s field was also equal in size to the men’s for the first time, with 24 on each start list and 22 of each actually racing.

While on a personal level, this trend to strength and depth obviously makes it harder for me to podium or win a race, it also makes me pretty excited about the way the women’s side of the sport is heading. It will certainly be interesting to see if my races elsewhere this year (still TBD but likely in Europe and APAC) show a similar progression.

What’s next…

I’m back training in Tucson until the end of April. It’s currently not yet clear whether this will be (a) excellent heat acclimatisation or (b) death by fire for my pasty British body.

During May I’ll be based at home in Amsterdam preparing for the next block of races, kicking off with the Challenge Championship in Samorin, Slovakia.

Thanks are due to (and I look forward to continuing to work with)…

  • Steve, who masterminds the process while letting me believe I am in control
  • Dan at Swim for Tri and Michael at SwimGym for patience, encouragement and perseverance in the face of a total lack of talent
  • Homestretch Foundation for giving me a place to train and creating an amazing community that I am thankful to be a part of
  • The many people who have given me a place to stay for training and racing – I couldn’t do this without you
  • Everyone who has trained with me over the winter and put up with my morning grumpiness, obsessive tendencies and complete refusal to deviate from the plan
  • and of course Ed, for everything
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