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Pre 1997

Chièvres, 1.5 - 44 -9.5

Boy, it feels good when you are strong. It is a feeling I had missed for a long time, and while I hope to be even fitter in Hawaii, it is a good start. I finally visited an osteopath about ten days before the race about my back which was nagging me for about six weeks since Middelkerke. Well, it was probably troubling me a lot longer, most likely since I crashed with my MTB at the end of 1998. Anyway, the day after my visit, I was suddenly running a lot easier and faster. Nice :-)

As you might be able to guess from the pictures above, we (Kristien and me) had a good day. Though I have to admit the competition was not as strong as I would have expected, we were both lucky and/or strong enough for a victory.

It all started bad though. It was a long time since I put myself at the front row at the starting line, and in hindsight, it might have been a bad idea too. When the gun went, everybody started sprinting as if our bikes were 100m away. I was going out of breath in a real hurry. And somebody tried to swim over me (hate that - I strongly prefer ironman races were these starts seem to be much less hostile). In fact, I was starting to get quite afraid, so I backed of a bit and let the others go, instead of trying to swing faster then them. I moved to the outside and could get into a good rhythm a bit later. Felt much more at ease too. I quickly started to pass the group that was battling me before and actually managed to get out of the canal in fourth position. Much better than I imaged after the first meters of swimming.

Once on the bike I felt pretty good, and according to the times shouted to me, I was getting closer to the leader. I passed after a bit more than 2 (of 3.5) laps. Miguel (Jansens) tried to hang on for half a lap, but then I managed to get away, entering the bike park with about 35" lead on him, and 3' on the next guys.

When starting the run, I wasn't too sure that I could hang on. I obviously didn't know how far back the others were, and my rivals ran a lot faster then I did in Incourt two weeks ago. But I was feeling good, and the gap on Miguel looked good at turnaround point, though I was a bit disappointed about the third guy (Marc Clement) being a bit closer than I hoped (though it was more than I thought). I was happy that I didn't have any trouble on the uphill parts, and could roll downhill. I was feeling good. Still not confident that I would win, but I was planning to try and up the pass on the second half of the second lap. Hopefully soon enough to stay ahead. When I passed the turnaround point for the second time, the differences seemed to be about the same, so I was finally realizing that after a couple of years, I would finally be able to add a win to my resume. Still increased the pace though - and it felt good. In short, it was a great training and wonderful confidence builder towards Hawaii.

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