5th October 2014
The race itself was 5 minutes from my house, this was great. I knew the course and exactly where to go.
My tri team (CE Vila Olimpica) decided to all meet up at 6.30am and go to the race together. This was unnecessary really, as we all had different start times and rack locations, but nice all the same!
Whilst waiting here, the heavens opened. We had a full on tropical storm, lighting, the works. We waited around until the last moment under the parasols of restaurants before heading off to the event, which was only 2 minutes away!
The transition area was in the athletics track on Mar Bella beach. At this point it has started raining hard again and the lightning was giving an awesome show. We were soaked, there was not much space to hide from the elements and what space there was filled up pretty quick. Taking some advice, I put on my wetsuit in an attempt to stay warm and a bit dry! All in all I wore my wetsuit this day for over 3hrs!!!!
We couldn't rack our bikes yet as it was deemed not safe to be around all that metal framing with the lightning coming down. So there were literally 100's of people around the track. At this point people we turning around and going home and I'd be lying if it seriously didn't cross my mind on more than on occasion, I think only the fact that I was with my new team kept me there. After all, how could the English boy (known as Guiri locally!) go home because of rain!!!
When we were finally allowed in to rack our bikes, I found my numbered spot and this is what greeted me!
I was one of the luckier people in that my spot wasn't completely underwater. Never the less, it was a mess. 10cm deep in many places and unavoidable getting to and from your spot up the middle. Stand still and your feet disappeared!
This made for my normal carefully laid out area to be more about hiding everything in bags and hanging from where I could. Many just stuck it in the mud, not me! There was good camaraderie in my area and we shared out spare bags we had and any tips for keeping shoes etc dry.
All this meant for delays. Although for me not a great deal. The pro's were due to start at 8, they started at 9. I was due to start at 9.10 in the 2nd wave of age-groupers, but started at 9.20ish. There was confusion over this, many of the officials thought everyone was delayed an hour, some not!
Time: 25:29 (including the run down and up the beach)
Having got my start time from a few officials who seemed confident I headed to the beach. This was to be my first "run in from the beach" start. I was equal parts nervous, excited to do something new and stressed about the whole mess of the situation and having been stood in the rain, in my wetsuit for the past 2+ hrs! People literally going all over the place trying to understand when/where to start!
By this time Luki had made her way here, she was hesitant to come because of the rain and I'm truly grateful that she did, even if I was stressed out and nervous at the time and really don't hide that very well. I gave her my bag with my valuables in and all the wet clothes I'd been wearing. I love doing these things knowing she is there, in the background, taking pictures and supporting me. I think she enjoys it too. Seeing the pro's and getting motivated to do sport!
Luckily for me the race start was in waves, it's no secret that I get very nervous with the swim, what could happen, being dunked etc etc. After this swim though I will be much more confident I can survive it all.
The swim was brutal, within 100m I had my goggles knocked for the first, but not last time, around the first buoy was carnage, I got a couple kicks and an elbow in the side of my head that gave me quite a shock!
It didn't ease up there however, the carnage continued for the whole swim, I had to sight every single stroke as I was constantly in a tight group with people either side and in front. At this point I tried to make a break as I could see a 5m gap ahead to the next people and desperately wanted to find some rhythm, this was to no avail though, I got past the person in front and made progress on the gap, but took people with me and was working very hard, so eased back.
My goggles also failed me with the "anti-fog", twice I had to clear them as I literally couldn't see anything through the "haze"! Weird, because yesterday they were great.
The next turn was carnage again, this time I was fully prepared and didn't give an inch!
The drag from the last turn into the beach seemed to go on forever, it was the most peaceful part of the swim, but by this time I had worked very hard and just wanted the beach to come...distance is very misleading when you're in the water I find!
All in all I'm very happy with my time and how I coped with it...
Meeting up with member of my tri club after, everyone seemed to agree that, ok, normally the start is tough, but this seemed a rough swim all the way round. One guy even had his wet suit unzipped!!!! I laughed at this comment, he didn't quite see it as funnily as I did!
Straight out of the water I was greeted with a drinks stand, this was perfect as I swallowed several large gulps of sea water and my tongue felt pretty weird!
OK, so this was epically slow, but did you see the pictures of transition!? I simply wasn't prepared to go knee deep in mud and throw my wetsuit in it. So I took my time, got the bags off my shoes, folded my wet suit up and kept it tidy, I guess I just wasn't prepared to risk ruining my wetsuit for the sake of a minute or two!!! I also put on a cycling shirt as I knew I would feel cold out on the bike, English I know, but experience tells me I really feel the cold!
I carried my bike off over the mud and once on the running track cleaned some of the crap from my feet before making my way of the "mount line". It was at this point I realised I didn't have insoles in my shoes!!! What an idiot, I had previously changed my insoles and left them in my other bike shoes!
This triathlon is a draft legal race, they don't really have a choice as it’s a street circuit and quite tight, it would be impossible not to draft. This was also a first for me in a triathlon, but I know how to ride in a group so was excited about the prospect. I knew I had to find a group. And BANG...within 2km there it was. A guy and girl who were motoring (it actually turned out that this girl was a pro and finished 2nd!) - I knew she was good based on her bike and the fact she was only wearing a little swimming costume! :-)
Anyway, I jumped on the wheel. We were flying, the guy up front was a monster, maintaining 40+kph everywhere there was a straight. Many tried to stay with us and jump on my wheel, but they didn't stay long, mostly it was just the 3 of us. They took every corner faster than me (there were lots of corners, very start/stoppy) and I had to sprint to get back on the wheel and push my way through people at time...but with only one "butt clenching" moment as I crashed handlebars with another guy.
Start of the bike, getting sorted! (not the most scenic spot of the course I must say!)
Me in the blue following behind the swimming costume!
The pro female was only on for 2 of my 4 laps before she made he way in, the other guy was on for one more. In that 3rd lap we worked together, albeit me having a minor role. He did try to drop me on the back straight, really hammering it, touching 50k up a dodgy part of the road, but I stayed!
I owed a lot to that guy, I turned around and said "Gracias" as he pulled in, he returned the thanks, but really, I owed him far more than he did me!
The final lap I was on my own, again searching for a group, I went past a couple of guys and gave a nod to work together, they jumped on and we worked well for about 5km, but I still wanted faster, so I pulled again and gapped them. At which point some dude on a Specialized with very deep wheels came "whooshing" past, I jumped up and gave chase, dropping the other guys, this guy must have been in a team, he had a very high race number. Ultimately I was coming to the end of my last lap and he was going at 50kph and dropped me on a corner (the corners were a pain, people in the way, not holding their line, wet roads, made it tricky...I knew if I didn't stay with him, I wouldn't catch and I didn't!) He was the only guy that went past me in the whole bike leg.
I was coming into the run, so eased off and rode steady into transition. Looking down at my garmin I was very happy with the time and with some simple sums I could see that running a sun 55m 10k I would be in under 2h 30.
Out the shoes and off the bike, smooth and steady...another pretty long transition, making my way around the carefully laid out path to the transition area that can only be described as a swamp by now!
Again I carried by bike over the mud and proceeded to organise my things. Getting my wetsuit nicely under the bike and tidy!
Looking down my bare feet were totally submerged in water and mud, so I took out my trainers and socks and made my way over to the running track to clean my feet in a puddle and make use of a towel that was on the ground to dry them, get my socks on and off I go! Looking around many people just slipped on their shoes and ran through the swamp...not me!
I should probably learn to run without socks, but really, for me, 1-2 mins more for the comfort is well worth it.
Ouch, within the first km, I, for the first time, started to feel the lack of fitness and training. I stopped at the first water station, got a few cups down and felt better! Also stopped to adjust my elastic laces that I'd put on late last night as my right foot was going a bit numb!!!
I proceeded to walk through every drinks station (of which there were not enough!!!). I had various pains popping up through the run, in my stomach, my chest and even my back, all of which I blame myself for not training properly.
The run course was very nice, I knew it very well as it went over much of where on run on a weekly basis. Crowd support was sporadic and apart from the odd dopey idiot walking out into the course was largely uneventful as I made my way through carefully watching the km ticking off.
Noticeably different from the UK where pretty much everyone claps for everyone, not just their friend.
Total Time: 2:27:21
Generally I'm happy, I always feel I could have ran better, but really, on the day, I don't think I could. I was suffering on the run.
It seems the Garmin timing chips didn't quite work as everyone has the same T1 times, transition time added onto the bike leg!
I learnt a great deal about "bunch swimming" and importance of brick sessions in your training! A once or twice 10 min potter on the treadmill after spinning really doesn't cut it!
There was of course a real race going on, of which Javier Gomez unsurprisingly won. With Mola coming in 2nd. Luki has a great view and commented on how small Gomez is! There were no Brownlee's in attendance at this race!! Has to be said though, I think "pound-for-pound" Jomez is the best out there, winning the 70.3 world champs the week after the ITU world champs goes to show it.
After the race start were compacted due to weather, I was really hoping to see the pro men out of the bike, but I didn't!
You probably wont recognise the girl at the back in 2nd, I wouldn't from the front either!!! But I was later told that she was who I rode with for my first 2 laps!
Fastest bike leg of the day was a Brit!
Next for me...
Next is the Barcelona Marathon in March 2015. I'm going to try and put a great deal of effort into my run training and the new tri club session, which includes a track session every fortnight will help for sure!
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