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Dave's Blog; Racing at then European Championships in Poland... with an unexpected twist!

European Championships 2022 Olsztyn Poland

GB Age Group Racing with a surprising twist

We’ve just returned home after a very enjoyable trip to the European Standard Distance Championships in Poland. I qualified at Southport Triathlon in May 2021, a full 12 months before the race. I competed the previous weekend in the Southport Triathlon which was a qualifier for the 2023 European Championship. This gave a few specific issues for a 65-year-old triathlete. I wasn’t sure it was possible to recover fully from a hard race in only 7 days. British Triathlon don’t take the needs of aging athletes into consideration when they prepare the calendar, so this was going to be a learning experience for me.

Age Group Championship racing is a very serious affair. There are not too many competitors because you must qualify to compete. This means the event has the feel of a small race. That is until you are waiting at the start with the other fellows in your age group. Surveying the assembled M65 – M80’s I realised each would have over 50 years competitive racing experience. They were as well versed in bon homie and gamesmanship as I was. Here were gathered a cutthroat group of craggy old men who would give no quarter.

The swim course was in beautiful lake with nice water. 150 m to the first buoy and a right-angled turn proved my judgement to be correct. What a scrap! Brilliant. That’s why I love racing.

The transition area was quite small with only a 50m run from the water. Unfortunately, all my good work in the swim was thrown away due to a freak wetsuit zip chord ankle tangle which means lost time writhing on the ground trying to get the bloody thing off!

The bike course was 3 laps on closed roads. It didn’t take long to realised I had no energy. Was the previous weeks race still in my legs? That said I think it was probably my favourite ever standard distance bike course. Super smooth tarmac, undulating and fast. The field spread out quickly so there weren’t many people to chase. It was a proper TT.

Bike transition was quick. I even had time to help one of my Polish rivals take off his bike helmet because his hands were too cold to operate the helmet bucket. The run course was 4 laps. Southport caught up with me with a vengeance after the first km when I got cramp. This meant I needed to ease the pace and run slowly to complete.

I loved the race. It was well organised. Great course. Nice area. OK my performance wasn’t as hoped but there’s always next time.

This was our first time to Poland, and it won’t be our last. We had a great holiday (with racing).

Learning

For those of you who know me I always say we have to learn something from racing or training.

1. I get bad hay fever at this time of year and was poorly or a couple of days before the race. Must get this sorted because it happens every year. ALWAYS check your medicines on the WADA list to make sure they are not banned substances. There are random checks at races. You can be banned if you’re guilty of doping even if you’re at the back of the field.

2. Practice taking off my wetsuit at every OWS training session

3. Maybe need more than 7 days recovery between big races

The twist

I felt poorly with a thick head. streaming nose, sneezing and a slight cough. Both before and after the race. All the usual hay fever symptoms. Except it wasn’t hay fever. I got home and tested positive for COVID. No wonder I didn’t have any energy in the race. Not surprising the hay fever spray didn’t work!

Dave Bradley

HTC Coach

BT level 3 Coach. Training Peaks level 2 Coach

Wednesday Efficient Runner Track Session.

My highly qualified nurse spouse is not happy with me. She has made it clear that even though I’ve infected a whole Ryanair flight with COVID I should stay away from my good friends at HTC until I’m all clear. I’ve been banned from coaching tomorrow. Should be ok next week. The track is still there go and run.


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