By Jane Bell
Three weeks to go….shall we stay or shall we go now? We decided to endure the testing and paperwork and travel to Slovenia in part for the race, but also for a holiday.
We arrived with an air temperature of 30 degrees – lovely!
The swim was to be in the bay of Koper. The recce was interesting. Unknown to us the sea was full of little jelly fish looking creatures, named sea polyps, which were reported to be harmless. Ian entered the sea first, me on his heels. We stopped after about 10metres, looked at each other, and both swam quicker than ever before to exit the water. It was the most disconcerting feeling being stroked all over by these little polyps. Thankfully we found a swim area with netting which was polyp free.
Bike recce was similarly concerning for me. I’d brought my TT bike but this was not a TT course with its 2 major climbs and many technical descents, 1300 metres of climbing in total. I had cycled 1300 metres up and down Aston hill but that did not compare with an 8 k and 7 k climb all in one go, and the hairpin bends on the downhill. Added to my distress (yep distress) was the fact that it threw it down with rain (see pic below) and further thunderyshowers were forecast consistently for race day. After a moment of consideration whether or not I should do the race, we agreed I would take a phone and phone a friend aka Ian to rescue me if I felt unsafe to continue due to heavy rain in the race. On a positive note, when the rain was too heavy even to drive we happened upon Vicky’s Burgers, a bikers café which served the best fish burger and chips ever!
It’s 7 am and the sun is shining. I quickly checked out accuweather (again!) The weather gods had delivered a much-improved forecast with just a few showers while on the bike.
I had a good sea swim although on swim exit I thought I was slow but it was 2050metres. I loved the swim and the wetsuit kept the polyps at bay. Onto the bike. I planned to cycle within my comfort/safety zone which sadly slowed me considerably on the descents. As I mentioned, I would have faired better on my road bike.
The run. I started ok looking at an average km pace of 5.20/25. Then at 10k my calves started to cramp. I think the climbing had taken its toll on my legs. I realised if I wanted to finish I would have to go super slowly, changing run position including running backwards a little. It was a long, slow, painful run but when Ian told me I was easily 1st a smile returned to my face. (Note to those who know me: I did have a cheese sandwich immediately after the race )
In summary it was a lovely race I would recommend. Koper, race HQ, is an interesting small town with so many great sports facilities on the tiny bit of Slovenian coast.
My huge learning point is to research the bike – properly! It was also a bit daft not to do more race specific training but then I didn’t honestly think we would make it to Slovenia.
I am very happy we did and am now enjoying some “proper” holiday R & R