Triathlon | Racing in Europe and learning all the time.

Team Ribble sponsored triathlete Ailbhe Carroll continues her international tri season in Poland in the European Cup Sprint Triathlon Series and makes all kinds of discoveries.

Well, they say that you learn something new every day. I travelled to Olsztyn, in northern Poland, with my Aero 883 for my second European Sprint Cup of the season at the end of May and my learnings were a bit of a mixed bag, but I can confirm the saying is true. Overall though at least I’m heading in the right direction!

Thursday May 24th – Travel day.

It’s never too early in the morning to start learning either. On my drive to Luton Airport at 4.30am, the car radio enlightened me to the fact that Wayne Rooney plays for Everton Football Club. The last I knew he was still playing for Manchester United. I’m a bit slow on the football news clearly.

Friday May 25th – Pre-race day.

Poland had some cracking weather on offer over the weekend, but it lulled me into a false sense of security… You should always, always, always check the weather app, if not multiple. The heavens opened and we were ‘treated’ to a thunder and lightning storm that would win an Oscar for surprise and performance.

Saturday, May 26th – Race day.

I have already experienced the fear from hearing that your triathlon might very well turn into a duathlon because of adverse weather and this emotion is not one that I wish to repeat for a long time. Thankfully the show must always go on and when your race is delayed by a further 30 minutes, again due to the weather, you just have to roll with it. And when this delay is then cut from 30 to three minutes… again, you just roll. The pre-race rollercoaster, well you just have to take it all in your stride.

The ‘fourth discipline’

I came to Poland in search of ITU ranking points. I raced well enough to claim some, but I did not race how I wanted to. Transition is the ‘fourth discipline’ in triathlon and it was at this point that I shot myself in the foot.

I swam well exiting with a group I knew would make the difference on the bike leg. My ticket for a one-stop ride to the front of the race was there and I knew it. I knew it too well though, almost to the point where I hindered my own transition. The run from the water to transition was long. I ran to transition well, not losing sight of those who I exited with. I got to my bike and started to strip off the wetsuit, but the simple act of getting from down to just tri-suit was too much of an ask.

All the while I fumbled, I was aware that the train was getting ready to leave. I panicked when it wouldn’t come off and I looked to see what was happening whilst putting my helmet on and I saw them going!

I was only a handful of seconds behind them I thought and before I knew it – another mistake… not getting my feet into my shoes before driving it on. I put my feet onto my shoes rather than in my shoes and this was the real mistake and lost me more time. I rode at 305 watts to get back on. I was there, but then a dead turn. I sprinted out of corner with my feet on top of shoes… and unsurprisingly it didn’t go well. Group gone and I was more or less on my own.

Anyway… the rain continued to pour, the road continued to flood and I got off the bike just over a minute down. I felt good out on the run and I thought I was on for a decent run split but looking back on a 19-minute run split afterwards I was disappointed.

I came for points. I got points. But I still walk away disappointed. I have another chance in 2 weeks. Olympic distance this time. There are plenty of process goal tick box opportunities to come from this race and I can guarantee my 4th discipline will be a new level for this race.

Sunday May 27th – Post-race day.

So, lots to learn from this one, but the biggest learning from the whole trip… don’t expect any fruit or vegetables in a Polish hotel buffet spread. A very interesting finding, but different cuisines are all part of the game. The hotel did however make a very incredibly tasty pancake for breakfast. The choice of filling was a dubious one though, but maybe some people like cottage cheese filled pancakes… Who am I to judge?

Always learning.

I went to Poland for ITU points. I got points. But I still walk away disappointed. I have another chance in two weeks’ time in The Netherlands and at Olympic distance this time. There are plenty of process goal tick box opportunities to come from this race and I can guarantee my ‘fourth discipline’ will be a new level for this race.

Until next time.
Practice, practice, practice!

Fancy winning a FREE Cycling trip to Mallorca? Find out more here

Meet Ailbhe – Q & A


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