I’ve arrived in Denmark with a dodgy pair of ankles, a few extra pounds, a dent in my fitness but my spirits in tact…
Within hours of arriving in Denmark I’d got a hug from the best Ironman triathlete in the country, Michelle Vesterby, who was sporting an enviably long and shiny side french plait and an absolutely massive smile. She’s had a few full distance wins and a close shave on a podium at the Ironman world championship — it was a jolly start to the trip.
Said hug was on its way into the expo, with its buzz of triathletes looking to make last-minute bad decisions on calf guards in lurid colours and equally lurid High 5 gels.
The expo had a few stairs which was proving a mighty challenge for me. I had very cleverly spent the previous Saturday testing out my CX bike on the local MTB trails, and had thus discovered muscles I didn’t know I had about the anterior ankles. This rendered dorsiflexing almost impossible and resulted in me walking as though I was wearing enormous clown shoes; both hilarious and well-timed.
I walked awkwardly around the expo and tried to dart a sales chat from a lady selling creams. Moments before ducking out in favour of considering dropping about a month’s wages on a pair of lycra calf socks, the Danish lady mentioned ‘pain’ and ‘go away’ in the same sentence and my ears pricked up. Naturally I was terrified that my lack of being able to walk would not exactly translate into running a half marathon all too well in two days time.
Ten of your english pounds later, I was sporting a Please Go Away Pain stick and my ankles were smeared in chilli juice.
It worked. I woke up the following morning feeling somewhat more race ready thanks to the leg rub and the constant switching of a single calf sock lent to me by team-mate Tom Coe who had lost the other one.
Happier legs, I was ready to rock and roll and win my age group against all those keeno brits and Danes and bike-smashing Germans, right?
Well, not quite.
Thing is, the Fink plans, tailored turbo sessions, track nights and early morning winter sessions of a hopeful Janine in January 2017, with six months to go until the European Middle Distance Championship in Denmark, slid away to mere scraps of training thanks to life, otherwise known as a new job contract involving lots of travel, and AMT almond croissants.
As I settled into a new contract role that meant living out of a suitcase three days a week, my body and mind rebelled. The physical transition from a controlled level of training (I was up to already 8-11 hours in every week) felt absolutely disgusting. I felt stale, out of control and sluggish. The contract was to come first for nearly the exact amount of months that would take me to the race itself.
I’d surrendered to this state of affairs, cramming in bikes every weekend and runs during the week. The Middle Distance Champs weren’t going anywhere though, and race day did what they do best and swung around.
Suddenly, there I was, sipping my coffee on race day eve, Danish rain in droplets on the Velux window, my tri suit hung up ready for deep-water off.
Despite the challenges laid against me this year, I am going to give it my all and I plan to enjoy every single second of it — I’ve made it here and feel I have a right to just enjoy it, even if our team captain does keep telling us we are representing Great Britain and we should race HARD!
I’m going to race my own race tomorrow. I am going to smile and I am going to swim, ride and run for me, for a number of reasons which I will write about later.
So here’s to the the mass start of 100 or so european age groupers in yellow hats, and 2000 racers overall, to rolling with the punches and the gulps of water on the 2.1k swim, to the gritted teeth and occasional lifting of gaze to settle on the sights of Denmark on the bike, and to the four-laps of cheers and smiles and finish-line-focused run. And of course, to the big Danish beer afterwards.
Start time: 09:25 GMT-1