Over the last 12 months I've had my fair share of unfortunate circumstances: last year a lingering viral infection meant I missed the Worlds and had to settle for Silver at the Euros; vascular disease; a last minute search for a partner and then a DNF at the Cape Epic because my partner got sick; and since then a couple of illnesses including norovirus which prevented me from defending my title at the National Marathon Championships. It's now one year since my run of bad luck started and it's time to put it to bed. In the big scheme of things the year hasn't been as bad as it could've been and there are many positives, but the next 12 months are going to be better :)
Last weekend we raced at the European Marathon Championships in Singen, Germany. As a climber this wasn't really the best course for me, but being punctuated with lots of power climbs it played a little more to my strengths. Together with Spitz, Dahle Flesja, Neff and Suss, I was regarded as one of the race favourites. The weather forecast predicted blustery winds on race day, so it was clear it'd be a tactical race with riders staying together to shelter from the wind.
Wanting to split the group, I frequently set the pace on the climbs, but there was a reluctance to work together meaning that any breaks were soon caught. A couple of times the leading groups was reduced to Spitz, Suss, Neff and me, but all the soft pedalling allowed the group to grow again. In the last, flat 5km to the finish we were a group of 6 or 7. A lapped amateur rider crashed in front of me and I lost the group, although I was able to regain contact I was on the back foot from there onwards. I finished in 6th position, 9 seconds behind the winner, Spitz. A frustrating results, but Im pleased with my form - especially after recent illnesses.
After a few days at home we're packing up again and going to mid-Wales for the third round of the British XC series. Time for some XC interval training - my first for over a year. Full gas, full pain :)