ITU ld Beihai: China
On the Top of the Podium at ITU ld Weihai on the weekend!
Weihai was my first trip to China. An overwhelming experience at the airports where I've learnt when the lift says max 18 people, it means 30 Chinese people plus me and my bike. Weihai is a picturesque costal city on the east coast peninsular, apparently known to be a city for recreation and patient recuperation. It was the first city to be granted China's National Clean City award, definitely noticeable, the streets were immaculate.
The language barrier is the biggest I've experienced in my travels so far. Once I was there I realized I should've learnt a few more key phrases or at least downloaded an App. China also has incredibly regulated censorship on their internet, they block Google, Facebook, Instagram and any other sort of user generated contents information type platform (originally due to riots and now something along the lines of protecting their dessent and to make their own government owned equivalents). Apologies for my lack of communication over the last few days..
Race day had a delightful start time of 8am. The course was spectacular. Scenic, perfectly organised and excessive enthusiastic volunteers and spectators yelling "yeyyo yeyyo yeyyo" (go go go), the support was awesome! Race distance was slightly different, double Olympic distance with a 3km swim, 80km bike, 20km run.
Morning of the race I let the nephew, aged around 10, of the bike mechanic help me pump up my Tyres, unfortunately he snapped the valve of the tube when removing the pump and the mechanic had no spare tubes. Frantic start to the day and missed the swim warm up.
The elite men and women started together, it was a fast start, fortunately the first bouy was 800m off shore so plenty of time to spread out. I exited the water 4th women running into transition with 2 other girls. There was one short dog leg on the bike which enabled me to work out the deficit I had on the leader. 3 minutes down at 10km. I was a little bit worried as I thought I'd had a good swim.
The bike leg was 4 laps of a 20km loop and totalling 1200m elevation, technical with rolling undulations and corners for the first 10k, one big hill in the middle, a tunnel then few more rollers to finish the lap. I absolutely loved it, my favourite bike course to date. Though next time I would seriously consider taking a road bike instead. Despite my reasonable gap down on 1st I managed to hold back my excitement and ride sensibly. It's easy to push the hills too hard and blow your normalised power, which makes for a very hard day when you get the run.
I ended up with a 7 minute lead off the bike and was able to run the 4 lap course conservatively while lapping up the ice sponges and "yeyyos”. I finished strong to take the win. Solid effort by Mengying Zhong and Nina Derron for making the podium.
The medal presentation was a new experience. So rewarding having the New Zealand National Anthem played and the flag raising ceremony. (Unlike Ironman and Challenge brand races in ITU you represent your country). The Asian culture do love their selfies and I got to experience the celebrity photo fame post race. It took me 30 minutes to walk 200m to my bag.
Back at Thanyapura for another weeks solid training, celebrate my quarter century birthday and prepare for Challenge Jeju, Korea in two weeks time.
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