16 June 2010

Pontevedra ITU Premium European Cup

Down to the nitty gritty: I ate a huge slice of humble pie. All of those guys are fast at every discipline. Going into the event, I had posted some decent swim times this season for 1500m, so I was confident about my abilities in the water. Kiss of death. The water in Pontevedra was cold. Maybe 59 or 60 degrees. I didn't warm up, because I was already a little warm inside my wetsuit, so I figured if I warmed up I would slightly overheat. Mistake. The swim was two 750m loops, and I had the worse starting position on the pontoon because of my ranking, or lack thereof. The gun blows and I am immediately swallowed up by great swimmers. My first 750m were humbling, but I was able to make up some time on the second 750m loop and NOT be the last one out of the water. Onto the bike. The bike course was technical and challenging with a couple climbs, descents, 180 degree u-turns, and fun European roundabouts. There were initially four of us working together to catch the main pack. Aboard Roxanne (my Litespeed C1), I was able to hammer the first two of six loops and catch some dudes that fell off the main group. The guys in my group were able to drop a couple athletes as well, but it wasn't good enough to catch the main pack. The bike contained moments of 190 beats per minute heart rates, mixed in with moments where you can re-catch your breath. The cycling is very dynamic as opposed to a steady state sustained effort, like non-draft triathlon. Bursts of max power mixed in with aerobic riding; just enough to thoroughly thrash your legs for the run ;)

Onto the run, I hammered my first of four loops, hoping to finish strong. Before the race, ITU officials told us that if we were lapped, your race in done. Well, Javier Gomez flew by me as I finished my first loop as he was finishing his second loop. He ended up lapping a bunch of dudes on the run. Anywho, I thought since he lapped me, my race was over. So I stopped. I asked race officials what to do, and after 30-45 seconds, an official said that I could continue the run, as the lap rule only applies to the bike course. Sweet. "Oh no." Time to haul ass. I ended up running 35 minutes flat for 10k, which probably would have been 34 flat or faster had I not stopped...not that it would have made a difference. However, that run was encouraging for me. The sport of ITU draft-legal triathlon is a completely different sport than non-draft time trial style triathlon racing. The swim will kill you. The cycling is a bike race, not a time trial. The run is an all out suffer fest.

I ended up finishing 45th of 60 athletes. It's tough to dissect this result, as there are many factors to take into consideration; travel, new kind of racing (for me), etc. I had a wonderful race experience and travel adventure. My next race will be the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon on July 11th. I am more than excited to race this spectacular event in my home town, and on behalf of my amazing sponsors and support system.

Until next time,

10 June 2010

It always rains in Spain

...especially when Mother Nature knows you've rented a car in a foreign country. Here's the story:

The flight from Atlanta to Paris was a piece of cake, and I didn't have any troubles in de Gaulle, which is more confusing than Chinese Algebra. The final leg of the journey from de Gaulle to Vigo, Spain was a sleepy blur; something had to be too good to be true. It was.

Since Pontevedra (the race site) was only 20km from Vigo, I decided to rent a car in case I wanted to do some exploring after the race. I found a great deal on a sexy little red Citroen, and I was excited to hit the Autopista del Atlantico, which is the main road from Vigo to Pontevedra. The Autopista is a coastal highway, virtually identical to the Pacific Coast Highway, and Galicia (the name of the region in Spain where I am) is identical to the Pacific Northwest. Imagine San Francisco and the Oregon coast rolled into one. Except the signs are in Spanish.

So I'm scooting along the Autopista towards my would-be destination, when the road starts vibrating. "That's not the road vibrating," is what I said to myself. Luckily, the issue was the driver's side rear wheel. Not so luckily, the tire decided to detach itself from the wheel. Fortunately, I speak Spanish, so I was able to call the rental car agency and arrange for a tow truck. I was sitting on the shoulder of the road for about an hour waiting for a mandated tow truck, as my contract stipulated. All the aforementioned took place in the rain, which only added to the not-so-fortuitous ambiance. Since the issue was not simply a puncture flat, I deemed the car unsafe to drive, so I turn around and head back to the airport in Vigo to exchange the car...or so I thought. For no apparent reason I take a detour and get lost. No, I don't need directions. I know where I am. No I don't.

I happen to roll down my window and ask a caballero (Spanish for "man" "dude" "bud" "sir") for directions. This caballero was a priest. I couldn't make this story up if I tried. I find the airport, then try to exchange the car, but they had none. So, I resorted to taking a ride in a taxi to Pontevedra. My journey is complete...or so I thought. I had arrangements to stay at a hotel I found on the internet. Suffice it to say, the hotel was not as grand as its description. I then decided to call the host hotel for the race, and they were kind enough to offer me a great deal for a single room. I take one final taxi ride to my current residence where I am typing this blog post. After my journey I had a great meal of fish and veggies, spoke to my sweetie, then hit the hay, hard. Today, I have had a nice swim, run, and brief accidental self guided tour of Pontevedra. 

The race, which is the Pontevedra ITU Premium European Cup, takes place on Saturday at 6:30 P.M. I've never had a race at that time of day, so I'm excited to sleep in, have a relaxing morning, then hopefully light the road (and water) on fire.

I apologize for not having written a Memphis in May triathlon post. I think I may do that just now, but I wanted to share my travel story while it was fresh on my mind. Thank you for reading, and stay tuned.