Mittwoch, 27. April 2016

Swiss Duathlon Champion!

That was well unexpected! I still can't quite believe it to have won my very first national title. So often I have been the runner-up. And it is more of a coincident that I was at the starting line in the first place. I have not finished a Duathlon in Switzerland for four years. In the end it was really my love Sandra who persuaded me to get on a plane home and start at this race as a bonus - you never know what happens.
So I arrived on Thursday in Switzerland, spent Friday in the Alpstein (quite a gem in the Alps) and had a wonderful time. For Sunday we looked at the starting list and we saw that there was a good chance for me to reach a good position in this field as some of the possible rivals just competed at the Ironman in South Africa and would be missing.

Sunday came and the weather got colder and colder and in St.Gallen there was even some snow. Luckily the weather forecast predicted no precipitation for the time of the race - be this rain or snow. It was great to see so many familiar faces and it felt as if I was never away. It was still dry when I installed my bike in the transition area but all of a sudden and about 20 minutes before the start another cloud passed and the wind and snow was everything else than what I wanted. I was hoping it was as quickly over as it came but you never know. I didn't change any of my clothing choices and if you take a closer look at the starting line its the fat bloke with most layers on - or the other way round ;)

Everybody was wearing at least something more than I did. At least I was wearing a short sleave shirt, gloves and a headband which saved me a little bit. Other than that I thought its the same for everybody and its over in less than an hour - what could possibly go wrong?

The race consisted of a 4km run/ 17km bike/ 4km run. Once the gun went Felix Köhler started the first few hundred meters rather quick trying to put some distance right away between him and everybody else. After the first kilometer we were on our own and we both did some work to get away from the rest. This was in the best of my interests as I knew I wouldn't be the fastest cyclist. I had to realize this again this year in the training camp that I have quite a disadvantage in the flat. However when it comes to hills, that's where my strengths lie. Unfortunately the whole course including the runs had probably under 50 meters of incline so it was flat as a pancake. 

I had a couple of seconds advantage before the transition area and was the first out. I positioned my bike slightly different than everybody else which gave me a bit of an advantage (professional secret). In the meantime the snow stopped but the roads were really wet. Out on the bike I thought Köhler would be right with me but I never looked back and just pedaled. After a few kilometers he passed me and it was clear he wanted to make a move so I had to shift a few gears up. I was hanging in there but I felt it would be hard. He pushed around the tight corners and because of the wet conditions and the fact that I was riding this bike for the second time this year I decided not to risk to much. If he would have been a Swiss athlete I would have given everything to stay with him but then again if I would have stayed with him I was taking the risk of hitting the wall. On the second bike lap of two I was still on my own and I knew that I should be able to close a potential handicap from now on if somebody comes from behind. I tried not to get irritated by the fact that one of the brakes was actually touching the wheel more or less constantly..

It was my teammate Martin Bader who first appeared next to me but then again he was another foreigner and as I was looking back I saw a whole bunch of athletes coming which were potentially drafting. Towards the end of the bike split Andy Sutz overtook us and tried to break away. It was clearly not his day because he should have been with Köhler and me after the first run. However, he didn't get away from the group and as the pace got higher we came closer on Köhler. 

Just before we entered the transition area I took a zip of my drink but was unable to put the bottle back because my fingers were numb. So I threw it away and I started to realize that it would be difficult to open my helmet in the transition area. I entered it on 5th position, placed my bike in the rack and tried to undo my helmet - without success. Alright i got into my running shoes and tried it again - again no luck I just didn't had the right control over my fingers and the gloves made it even worse to feel for button to undo the helmet. Instead of losing more time (this only took a few seconds but it feels like eternity) I decided to run out with my helmet still on taking the risk of finishing with it. I soon managed to get rid of it and a volunteer was kind enough to look after it. 

I was now in 3rd position overall with Köhler about 20 seconds ahead and Bader right in front of me. While I was passing Bader quite soon I wasn't able to make any ground on Köhler. All I wanted was to finish with a solid run and not getting into trouble with a potential sprint finish. On the last kilometer I realized that I was just about the be Swiss Champion for the first time. I have thought about the title throughout the whole race and all went according to my plans.
I have won medals at Swiss Championships in Duathlon, Half Marathon, Marathon and mountain running but never Gold. And here it was! I have to add that I am well aware that it hasn't been that easy for a very long time to gain this gold medal. However, it's not my fault other athletes weren't present and I am super happy to take the title. 

Now remains the question, am I going to do other Duathlons? As the national champion that's what you would expect. Unfortunately I will be very busy finishing my studies in June - just when the world championships are so this is not really an option. And after I finish my Osteopathy studies it is time to hit the mountains!

Gear used: 
Running Shoes: Scott Palani RC
Cycling shoes: Scott Tri Carbon Shoe
Cycling helmet: Scott Vanish
Sunglasses: Scott Spur

Click here for results
Click for Videos1 & Video2 of the event  

Montag, 18. April 2016

Kent 10 mile champion!

It is now already 3 weeks since this event but nevertheless worth to mention here!

It was Folkestone 10 mile race on Good Friday, the day before I flew to my training camp in beautiful Giverola, Spain. I then spent a good two weeks at the Costa Brava and was able to train about 1400 kilometers on the bike. It was my target to train a lot on the bike because that has been my base training for many years. It is almost like coming home if I approach the road along the coast to reach the hotel. It is now the 13th time I have been to Giverola in 14 years!

But now back to the Folkestone 10. My previous PB from Canterbury was 54:13 so my goal was to stay under 54 minutes. On one had Canterbury a few hills in it and I should be slightly faster in general. The preparation went also well but I was lacking a bit of running miles because I spent more time on the bike. That aside I was very motivated for this race too because it was the Kent Championship and quite often I am missing the top spot on any championship races. My last runner-up position was only last October at the Swiss marathon championships. It was also about the last of my Winter/Spring races where the intention was to get back to where I sort of have been over shorter distances.

The course is super flat. First you have to do about a kilometer loop on grass around the starting area before you head out to the sea side. It is an out and back course along the coast. The turning point goes has actually got a few meters of ascent in it but I guess after nearly 5 miles of dead flat terrain this is just what you want.

A factor at the coast is always the wind and that could not be discounted on the day. It weren't any strong cross winds but it starts to eat on you as they just wouldn't get any easier. On the way out the wind was slightly with us but that would change once we turn around. And from there it was pretty brutal as there is just no shelter at all.

After the start there were 2 runners going out fast but you could see that this was way beyond their 10 mile pace. So I hang in there in 3rd position and made my move after on the second kilometer. Soon I was on my own and thought - ha, that went well all I have to do is to get the pace all the way around. And as I was running along the shore I spotted Charles Bruford - the Principal of our school. After about mile two I heard that I wasn't alone. Footsteps were coming closer and closer so I was soon in company of Howard Bristow. I gave him the lead and just aimed to go with his pace. It was only a few seconds per kilometer faster than mine but I had to realize after another good mile that it was to much for me as I could feel that my heart rate was getting higher and higher. Ever so slowly he pulled away from me which was really frustrating! But on a positive note it was really nice as all the people who were just having a nice day at the beach cheered us on.

I spotted that he didn't wear the extra number you get when you are running for the Kent Champion. Even though I couldn't keep up with him I thought I still have a chance to win this title.
After 5 miles you get to the park with the bit of ascending. I could see that I got closer again but as we were back down at the seafront he pulled away again. With every step I tried to keep the balance between going hard enough but not to fast to blow closer to the finish. The pace dropped around 10-15 seconds per kilometer which was due to the wind.
I reached the finish after 53:28 in 2nd position exactly 30 seconds behind Howard Bristow. I was well clear of 3rd place - David Hattersley who was on the course shouted he would estimate two minutes by the looks of it and he was pretty accurate.

It was a good way to finish the early year road races. I didn't quite get to the pace I wanted to by the end of it but on the positive note I have not been injured or anything in this period. And this was before the training camp so hopefully this will give me a bit of a boost in the right direction!

Homepage Folkestone 10 mile
Link to strava
Shoes: Scott Palani RC