|The start: I was number 26, somewhere in the middle|
On Wednesday the 9th April I flew out to Portugal to prepare for my second attempt at a Continental Cup race, the Quarteria ETU European Cup. I really enjoyed visiting Portugal, I've been there quite a few times for athletics training camps in Vilamoura and Monte Gordo and holidays with friends in Salema so it felt very familiar to me. I spent the days leading up to the race swimming in the sea, doing a few short rides and runs and relaxing-mainly reading Mark Cavendish's book 'at speed'.
The elite women's race was at 13.45 on Saturday, so I spent the morning relaxing and doing a bit of stretching before heading over to the race start. Unfortunately I picked up a puncture on the way, but better now than in the race! While I waited for the athlete's lounge to open with British team mates Hannah, Emma and Jess , Jess' boyfriend kindly whisked my back wheel up to his hotel room to pump up my new inner tube for me -thanks Jonny.
|Discussing tactics and staying hydrated before the start with Hannah and Chris|
The swim was 1500m in the sea as 2 x 750m laps with a short beach run in-between laps. The water was a bit choppy on the way out but not too bad once we were round the first buoy and easy on the way back into the beach where the waves were carrying us in to shore. All the way to the first turning buoy I felt like I was just trying not to drown rather than actually doing any swimming with girls bashing into me on both sides. Things calmed down a bit over the rest of the swim though and I was able to swim properly, coming out of the water in 19th place.
The bike course was six laps of a 6.67km circuit which included four dead turns, one of them quite tight and a short sharp hill on each lap. I caught and passed a few girls on the first two laps, then spent a couple of laps by myself before being caught by the chase pack on lap four. I hoped we would work together to try and catch the lead pack, or at least minimise the time gap, but apart from team mate Katie Synge no one seemed willing (or able) to help.
The run course was four laps of a 2.5km loop on the seafront. I tried to stay relaxed and cool by pouring water over my head at every available opportunity. I caught a few girls who had got away from me during T2 and crossed the finish line in 20th place. It felt great to be racing again and I'm now really looking forward to my next race which will be the Antalya ETU European cup in Turkey on the 4th May.