4th at Challenge Roma 753

The cool thing about triathlon is that we get a chance to swim-bike-run at some pretty spectacular places. I’ve raced under the Eiffel Tower, in hype cities as Lisbon and Chicago, in the middle of no-where next to a Chinese temple, and in a poor Colombian city. Not just like “Yeah I’ve been there and seen stuff” – but more like, I went on my bike there and rode around in the city as fast as possible. To me, that’s exploring the world in the best way. So when I got the possibility to race in Rome, it was a no brainer.

I knew I wasn’t in particular great shape (this is how my last months have unfolded) – but on the other hand, there was nothing to loose.. So I booked my ticket to Rome and went off to Spain a week before to get some kind of a refreshment and just SOME days of quality training without distractions. It was all I needed! :)

I went to Rome 3 days before the race and my team mate Thomas Strange also made the trip which was really nice! We rode half of the course Friday and the other half early Saturday morning when the traffic was quiet. I felt confident after having seen the course – it was quite tricky so it was nice to know what was coming up, and I really liked the course. The first 20k was technical and reminded me of ITU courses. Then it was on to the high way to do some loops with no distractions, just head down and power it out. After becoming more comfortable with the TT bike, I’ve really come to love these power sections where it’s just about speeeed.

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Okay, back to Rome. We had our pre race pasta Saturday night, and that couldn’t be served any better than in Italy! On race day, the start was (supposed to be) at 7am, so the alarm went off at 4am. Gooodmorning! I went down to the lobby for a coffee, thinking there would be no one down there, so I didn’t even bother to change out of my PJ. But when you book the cheapest Ibis hotel, 0.5km from the race, there will obviously be crowded with triathletes craving their caffeine drink. Toast, honey and Purepower proteinbar went down in the company of excited triathletes. Couldn’t have spend my Sunday “morning” much better :D

I got some hints here and there, that things were a bit…let’s say different at this race (for example the briefing ended up being an hour late). I decided that “Go with the flow” should be the motto of the race and that I should expect the unexpected. I was confirmed of this when setting up transition. For example, we were allowed to have our helmet on our bikes, if they were placed at the left – and only the left – side of the handlebar, not to the right or in the middle – to the left. 💁🏼

After having checked and triple checked (due to language difficulties) mount line, transition flow and the swim course, I warmed up and got ready for line up at 6:50. This was when it was decided that we wasn’t allowed to wear swim skin….according to the rules of…”this” race. Whatsoever, equal for all. Just #gowiththeflow.

We were lined up on a bridge to wait for the start…and we waited. Time past 7am. And 7:15. At 7:30, I took off my cap and goggles and sat down. The roads were not closed yet by the police men, and we didn’t know when they would be…. At 7:45, I was almost getting ready for a second breakfast. At 8am, the officials were suddenly on fire: “Start in 3 minutes!” Cap on, goggles on, swing the arms twice and flip on the race brain. DUUUUUT, and just like that the race was on.

As you can assume, it was a pretty “cold start” and it took me some time to get the engine fired up – but I bet I wasn’t the only one feeling that. I got to the front immediately and only looked back after I’d ….swam directly into a fontaine (it wasn’t on and impossibe to see in the…”not so clean” water). I had a short stop, got my goggles back on while I did the look-around. “Oups, did anyone see it? Hmmf, okay there certainly was …just smile and wave at the camera…and heeey, I’ve got a decent gap to the other swimmers…okay let’s go!”.

I was out of the water with a 1:30min gap to the rest of the field. I was pleased with my riding on the technical part, holding the speed high and not “burning too many matches” in accelerations. When I got onto the high way, I zoomed in on aero mode and got the watts up. Little by little, I gained my lead and when I started catching pro men, I felt quite like a boss. 😝🤘🏼But after 40 k, when I was about to start the second lap, I physically signed “I have to go left?” – but the police officers yelled “No no no” and pointed right. The lead moto bike drove that way, and so did I…

I know it is our responsibility as athletes to know the course – and I also felt confident in it after having ridden it – but I think I had a gut feeling out there, that I maybe couldn’t trust the course on the map, after there had been so many changes and the problems with the traffic regulation on the morning of the event. So I trusted the officers 100% and rode with the moto. He eventually stopped, apologised massively, and showed me back to the course.

I rode back to the course with fire in my legs, probably fired by anger. Back on the course, I was now in chasing position. I kept my watts up but less controlled by emotions and I knew I had to play it controlled but still try to put in some time on the fast runners in the field. I started the run in second position. Laura, the later winner, was out of reach and it was now all about to hold onto the podium place. Fast forward, I was just overtaken on the last k’s to finish the bittersweet 4th. My legs were dead coming to the finish line, so with nothing more to give, that’s it. Luckily, Challenge have price money to top6, so I got away with a salary.

I am now back in Denmark, and adjusting to the “new life setup”. When I am a bit more settled, I will get back to racing.

This weekend, I was reminded that when things get chaotic, sometimes just #gowiththeflow. No need to try to control stuff, you really can’t do anything about – in life or at a race in Rome.

#notetoself 🤓

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