I think most athletes that have been competing at their sport for a number of years feel like they're struggling to continue to progress. You can measure progression in some areas, you feel like you're improving, but results often don't match up. Competition is like that - if we're all improving and comparing ourselves with each other, how can we really see improvement?
This year, probably for a number of reasons, most notably avoiding injury for a long period of time, my fitness and ability seem to have kicked on to another level at long last. I'm able to get skinny & still train strongly, and my running has become better than ever. My cycling seems to have followed, at least on courses that test your power to weight ratio, and even though I'm swimming less, I'm swimming better. (I still don't understand swimming). I lost the TTG Gloucester Triathlon in May by only 4 seconds to Richard Wilder (again), but I ran and swam really well. I won the Welsh Triathlon Standard Distance Championships in June with a performance that surprised me.
That's the second year in a row for me as Welsh Triathlon Champion at this distance, which is nice. It's not about the results, more the preparation, performance & the experience, but I'm usually disappointed if I don't do well. I guess that's one of the drivers of performance. It doesn't feel like a fluke, but certainly some luck was involved, alongside the meeting of preparation & opportunity.
This week I'm in Geneva, mostly noodling around and chilling out by Lac Leman before the European Triathlon Championships this weekend. It's part holiday and part not, but with so much busyness and excitement at these events I'm glad I'm camping with good friends a little way around the lake from the course. There are lots of other triathletes camping here but it doesn't seem to be difficult to find a quiet, leafy, shady spot by the water. The temperature got up to 40C on Tuesday so it's a bit warm for someone that lives in Wales.
The sprint race happened during the middle of the day today, so I stood in the sun too long taking photos & now have a sore head. Claire, James, Charlotte & Mike from Cardiff Triathletes all smashed it up over an hour or so in the midday heat over a not entirely pan flat course & it looked like a tough one. The standard distance race on Sunday will be first thing in the morning, so should be cooler but still warm. I like hills.
Watching the race I'm feeling less of a buzz again this year. I'm loving the travel to another country and views of the lake, mountains and city more than the racing, and while I'm in no doubt I'll love the race while I'm in it (clear water swim with some chop, then smooth dual carriageway Tarmac and a short, steep hill, followed by a slopey, twisty run around a park by the lake) it's probably time to find something a little different for next year. An XTERRA event in Europe maybe - this would all be more fun if I could bring the family.
Time for coffee and a little cake. Here are some photos from today's triathlon.