Daniela Ryf makes a big step forward

While she didn't get the record she'd hoped to go for, Daniela Ryf comes out of Roth happy because she's back on track after a few months of injury.

| July 10, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

We're used to athletes talking about injuries and then finding out that they are in better shape than anticipated, but in Daniela Ryf's case, what we learned from her race in Roth yesterday was just how injured she actually was. As opposed to her win last year, where she managed to make an 8:22 look easy, this year's race was much more of a stretch for the two-time Kona champ.

"It was a hard day," she told us after the race. "The conditions were hard, but it was also harder for me because I wasn’t as fit as last year. Last year was close to a perfect race and I was feeling great on the bike and really good on the run. This year I tried to push on the bike and wanted to give myself a good opportunity to still go fast. I also thought I owed it to the crowd to show a good race. It went well. I started the run and I felt quite good and ran well. But then I paid the price – the last 25 km were harder than usual. Normally the legs start to get heavy around 30 km, and this year it was around 10, 15 km. That’s where I knew it was going to be a fight, and I was just happy to make it to the finish line. I was just hoping my legs would carry me there and the crowd definitely helped."

While there was still some dancing across the line this year for Ryf, it wasn't hard to see she was exhausted from her effort.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

When asked about her slower swim at the press conference after the race, Ryf pointed out that she hadn't been swimming that much, so the slower swim had nothing to do with the course and everything to do about her fitness.

"I was at the pool sometimes," she said when I followed up on her comment that she wasn't even in the pool five weeks ago. "There were days where I would run seven minutes/ km – that’s pretty slow. So five weeks ago I was pretty sure I wouldn’t race. Then when I started to get better, the improvements were pretty amazing.

"It was a challenge to go into a race where you said you wanted to do a good race, but I am happy I went and did it – it’s not about the records, its about the race and I thought it would be a shame to not come here because I might not get the record."

Ryf says that if she's back in Roth next year she won't necessarily target the record. She says she'll just focus on getting as fast as she can. If that means she breaks Chrissie Wellington's world best, so be it. If not "Chrissie Wellington is an amazing athlete who deserves to hold that record," she said at the press conference.

For Ryf the day in Roth might not have lived up to her early season expectations, but does offer lots of hope and serve as a confidence boost heading into the 70.3 worlds in Chattanooga and Kona.

"After (Ironman 70.3) Rapperswil, today was a big step forward and today made me stronger again," she said. "It will help me for Kona. Brett (Sutton, her coach) wasn’t a fan of me racing here because it’s hard to be fit in July and then and I obviously wasn’t well prepared, but he knew that I would be able to do it and it would make me stronger. It would be a great training day.

"Today was much better than having a long ride alone in St. Moritz and then a run forever around the forest. It was a good day and it helped me to get another step forward. And for the confidence – the biggest concern before the race was my biking because Rapperswil was quite a shocker and I was not biking like I am used to. Today was a big step forward – I felt much better than a few weeks ago. I hope I can build up on that."

For Ryf that's all great news. For her competition in Chattanooga and Kona? Not so much.