Karen Hames’ race report from the European Championships 2013
As many of us prepare for races at all levels this weekend, here’s some inspiration from Karen Hames:
Alayna Experience – Racing in the GBR Team at the European Championships 2013
The “Brownlee Effect” has certainly mushroomed judging by the size of the GB Team this year. Our Team Manager Dawn described it as “trying to move an army across Europe as the many pitfalls and travel logistics are too numerous to mention here.
The Athletes briefing took place in the local Town Hall; previously this has been quite a casual affair either on the beach or down the local bar. We were graced with the presence of BT CEO Zara Hyde Peters and President Ian Howard who wished us all the very best. Then our Team Manager Dawn took us through all the international racing rules we needed to remember (and believe me there are lots) before filing out for our team photographs.
Later that day we watched the Elite ladies race cheering on Vicky Holland and the rest of the British Team. It was then time for bike check and bike racking which proved to be a noisy affair as the Turkish Triathlon Fed had not given us enough room on the bike rack and we were all virtually on top of each other! You are also given a box and everything has to go inside it. Anything hanging out before or during transition will incur a time penalty. The only thing allowed outside the box are your run shoes – no towels balloons or banners so – little bit more difficult to remember where your bike is parked!
5am – Race Day. Up early for breakfast and a short walk to the start. The sun was up and already it felt hot. After inflating bike tyres (slightly less psi due to the heat) I thought about my race plan during a short warm up. Having not had the time for a swim recci I was slightly anxious about the non-wetsuit sea swim. The water temperature was 26 degrees (and very salty) and we were told to expect the air temperature to hit 30/31 degrees. I continued to drink as I didn’t want to be dehydrated. At 07.50am we were all called to the pontoon followed by a short jog to the end. The plan was to stay with the lead group as much as possible and try not to swallow too much salty water! I was able to draft off the back of the lead pack on the 2nd half of the swim and came out the water in 3rd place.
Into T1 and quickly locating the bike however one of the elastic band holding my shoe in place had dislodged itself resulting in the bike shoe getting stuck and an abysmal mount out of T1 where I was passed by a couple of athletes. All that practice out of the window! The 2 – lap bike surface along the seafront was 60% brick with many cracked edges and some missing. It was like riding on cobbles and extremely bumpy. There were a few “british” filled potholes and occasionally my arms came completely off the aero bars. It was also difficult to drink and in hindsight an aero drink bottle would have been the best choice. I managed to pass the 2 athletes and came into T2 in joint 3rd place.
The 2 – lap run was back into the old city with a short 500m hill of roughly 8%. There was no breeze here and it felt very hot. I was just behind the 3rd athlete however by the time I reached lap 2 I soon found out that my run legs were not with me and was unable to keep up my cadence. I suspected then I had maybe not taken enough fluid on board during the bike leg. The finish chute was ahead and somebody handed me a union jack finishing 7th in 1hr 16.08sec and another great GB experience!