Last sunday I did my first International race in a long time and World cup in an even longer time.

On friday eve we had briefing so I rushed to Antwerp after work. Sadly enough Antwerp and traffic jams come in one sentence😫 but I made it on time. On Saturday we had bike familiarisation. (thanks Alexe and Lucas for letting me stay at your home @ Antwerp). I already heard a lot about the hard Bike course with 1/3 on coublestones, I was really curious to check it out. It’s always a good thing to ride the course before the race, to be well prepared for the details. I discovered quickly that 5bar in the tires would be a must if I didn’t want to bounce around like crazy. The ride would be technical and really hard.

On Sunday 5pm we had our start. So a long day to stress around. Oh boy did I have stress!! Let me explain to you why..

1. World cup means triathlon at almost the highest international level possible. (I started with number 59 out of 64 girls).

2. Most of these girls are training 24/7 and get a living out of the sport and training in groups to push eachother to the limit.

3. It’s been a long time since i’ve done an international race and even a longer time since i’ve done a World cup.

4. My life has changed a lot since that time, with a job which asks a lot from me, mentally but mostly physically!

But I wanted to do an international race and see where i was at. I kept in mind that every race has to be done so I tried to just enjoy the fact that no one had expectations this time (except for myself of course, I always have, way too much at times).

At 4:50 our line-up began. As the first athletes started lining up at the left side next to each other ( I knew this would happen because at the right side -where I ended up- was 7m further to the first passing point.)

At 5pm the start was given! With a super fast -on your marks, GO!- I was really slow in reaction. Most of the time it takes a bit more time and you never want to jump in the water too soon as this might give you an extra 10” penalty.
(Picture: Tommy Zafares)

Anyway, I passed the first point (the bridge) at an extremely bad position it was until the first bouyes at 500m I managed to move more forward. Not my best swim but with what I am training atm I knew this level would be too high to have a strong swim.

With a super fast transition I managed to get on the bike alongside the big group and I was soooo happy with that! But it didn’t take too long before I felt that the phase was fucking hard (excuse my language, but that’s what it was). On the coublestones you had no benefit of being in a group what so ever. I struggled with breathing and my legs were burning. As I was pushing through it didn’t seem to get to the part where it became acceptable painful, if that makes any sence to those who are reading this. After 1,5 of the 4 laps I had to let go. I was so angry with myself but I was way too high in that red zone and it never got any better so my legs blew up and my body Said no.

3 more girls fell out of the group and one catched up from behind. With 4 we finished the excrutiating ride and started running.
(Picture: Emilio Hernaert)

There was still a group with strong runners in the back and as my moral already had a harsh setback, I knew This Would end in a mental game.
(Picture: Emilio Hernaert)

My run was OK but not good enough. A few girls catched up with me and I ended 50th and was super dissapointed. (Picture: Emilio Hernaert)

If I could have kept up with that group a top 35 would have been possible. Instead I lost 15 places. It kept going through my head the past days.
But an IF Will never get you anywhere in sports. Only hard work and a strong mind Will change that.

I know where I am right now and it’s far from where I want to be. My surroundings might not be as good or perfect as other international athletes but I know that where I am will not define me.
I know that hard work will be needed.
But most of all, beside the fact that I am dissapointed I know I rather AIM high and fail a 1000 times than AIM low and hit it right.

Getting back there step by step.
Thanks for Reading.

Special thanks to my girlfriend with being around my headstrong, nervous, sad, excited me. I love you to bits.

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