Sunday, August 12, 2001

My First European Triatlon

Well, I am thinking (a bit) like a Spaniard. Definitely on Manyana time anyway.
First ~ when a cycling course is "dead flat", this should be taken in the context of this part of Spain having;
i) sheer walls of stone;
ii) v.e.r.y. high mountain roads; and
iii) very hilly ones.

The swim was good ~ although sans wetsuit, and known for my fast and elegant style (or not) ~ the goosebumps started before the first enormous red buoy, on a two lap triangular course. There were only three or four others without wetsuits. I was comfortable in the swim however, the water was clear, fresh and cold, and thought my style was pretty good, although it was quite lonely out there. As I neared the yellow & red buoys, which marked the chicane, through which one swum for the 2nd lap the thought crossed me that perhaps (for the first time ever), I may not be lapped in the swim. Just as I ruminated on this momentous thought, a young powerhouse came through, followed a long way behind by a 2nd. Oh well, two ain't too bad. The loneliness of a slow distance swimmer (hypothermia was beginning to set in), I kicked hard thinking what Vark would say. Lost in admiration for the beautiful fish and sea life near the exit, I decided I better get a hurry on. Stumbling up the strange "urban beach" (las playa urbane), a curved series of concrete steps, wide enough to place a towel & thumb ones' nose at skin cancer. A shower up the steps to 'box 1', the bike racks on the pier, and lonely with nary another bike in site (there may have been 3 behind me), onto the dead flat cycle course.

As Bob & I aren't so keen on dead flat, the Spanish equivalent ~ imagine Coppins/Cotter/Urriarra or the Gillies with fewer bends ~ and stunning scenery & pueblos every 2 km or so ~ was pretty good. Few raced with aero bars, Bob thought because of the terrain, I thought as the road cycling culture was so strong. We were both pleased with our bike legs, with more marshals, local, state and national police than competitors. They blew whistles loudly and often and were fantastic. Some of them in their uniforms are particularly attractive the eyes of one Australian lass. By the half way turnaround, the 3 guys behind me had overtaken on the bike. I caught a girl at about the 30 km mark, but she may not have finished the race, as I did not see her on the run.

Coming back through town with it's heavy tourist trade, cobbled and one way streets, the confusing entry was less of a challenge as I was riding abreast of a guy (fat) on a motor cycle, with whom I chatted (he spoke no English, so this was a challenging conversion for about 15k), however as the backmarker, he did assist me enormously in getting back to transition.

Confusion no. 2: You handed your bike to someone (this took Bob & I ages to work out during the race), went to a series of numbered plastic crates (box number 2) in which we had earlier placed our running gear. A Good System. As usual, it took forever to pull my extra large and wide (size 43) shoes on, grab my Gorgeous blue Cairns Half Ironman cap, and find out which way to go. Que sera sera. Eventually heading in the correct direction along the roadside "bici solo" bicycle lane, there were four laps of very pleasant running. The beachfront (sand on the eastern side) was choc-a-block with wall-to-wall sun worshipers, the cafes were a'pumping, and more marshals controlled the pedestrians who might cross our path.
I felt fantastic on the run, legs were turning over at a great rate, however I suffered from Deek's marathon victory complaint, and my perennial problem with running. Despite a special diet for a couple of days beforehand, the public nature of the promenade run with literally thousands of people meant that my case of the runs was particularly u pleasant. There are no toilets, even if I had a mind to pull out for a while. I dropped my intensity in frustration knowing that this would partially ameliorate the situation, however I just wanted to run, and run fast!
It was a vaguely respectable time in the conditions (hot, humid & hilly), with my famous slow swim and freezing for the first 20-odd km on the bike. However, here people don't do triatlon (the dropped 'h' is how they spell it), unless pretty good, they are young (none in the age group above me, and all but one chica (woman) in my F35-39 age group damn them; and it is a machismo sport. I was last in a tad over a language challenged 3 hours, however the draft busters were out in force with 13 or so disqualifications, and half a dozen DNF's.
With a $15 (approx) entry fee, one handed in the pliable plastic race number for your goody bag; local produce and drink assortment and basic printed white T-shirt detailing the race. A voucher for parking until 2p.m. worth about $5 was included with the race number, cap (to be returned coming out of the swim), and bike number. Good value.

Lots of ideas for conducting triathlons at home (Cairns y Canberra). Bob's cold is a little worse, and he hated the swim. However it was not in his nature to watch me, despite my imploring him to race a bike or foot race, but not enter the water. I guess I knew I never had a chance.

Snooze soon, then hopefully an attempt to plan the next direction in which to head.


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