mercredi 15 juin 2011

Half Challenge Barcelona-Maresme 2011

Two weeks after my second Long Distance Triathlon and
my thoughts continue to focus on the time  - 2 minutes slower than last year,  yet last year's winner, the excellent Sylvain Sudrie won again with a time that was 12 minutes slower - 3h47 against 3h35 in 2010). SO i should be satisfied - but somehow I'm not ! Bizarre.

The race went something like:
Swim : I had been really anxious all week about this - why? Probably because last year in this race I panicked after 200m and thought I couldn't go on (of course, i did), plus in the Olympic swim in Barcelona, the swim was so uncomfortable due to the sheer number of starters (500).
Anyway, I was on the beach early enough to take a brief warm up swim and to watch the pros and elite starters, before lining up right in the middle of the front line, with the butterflies still fluttering. My strategy - just get out there and head straight to the buoy at  200m. We were off - the sea was perfect and relatively calm. The inevitable washing machine kicked in and my hope that others would span out as we set out was not materialising. I just thought "kick, kick, breathe, kick, concentrate, everyone is feeling the same thing" - i swam onto someone's back, he stopped and turned almost, i veered left and sped past... kicking harder. Soon the first buoy and a right turn - no problems, but this is where i panicked last year - not this time, my breathing, not yet perfect, was fine, and i was soon in my rhythm.... i looked up to get the direction, the marker buoys should be on my left, yes... straight line, kick, breathe... this was it!!  I now knew i'd get through the swim and would soon be back on dry land !!  I wanted to smile, something i do when i swim because i love this feeling, the waves, the flow of the water over the wetsuit, the taste of the salt, the sun above.. but the smile didn't come;  i was concentrating too much on getting around, i think - not giving myself time to enjoy the moment - and this is what i missed generally throughout the race !

Soon we were at the second turn, left this time, and out another 150m, left again - no problems. Looking across to my right and left i now felt the satisfaction of the moment and where i was and what i was doing ! Other swimmers were far off to my right, i checked ahead - i had veered left and was on the wrong side of the buoys - back right.... remembering to concentrate on keeping a straight line. I started to pass the buoys just on my left at about a metre away, swimming freely and surprised to be so alone ! Great. Then the final turn left and the 300m straight to the beach. I could see the blue carpet marking the arrival - it looked really small ! Here the swimmers bunched more and turning was more difficult, but I avoided any knocks... then it was straight back, full ahead ! And who was that shouting me - "Marti! Marti!" Esther - we smiled - this was it! The smile was back !

Onto the bike - quick transition - a strange feeling of relief to have made it...i really was anxious at the start....
Onto the bike - i mounted too soon and was ordereed to descend, walk over the line and start again! Then it was off - water and energy drink - through the town of Calella and onto the  N11 to Mataro. Four loops of about 22,5 kms - the first and third were into quite a head wind coming in off the sea on the left; the second and fourth, coming back were much easier. This is Barcelona - windy city ! Every race i've done here - marathon or triathlon have been windy, and gusty.... never rainy !
I got down on the aerobars and barely changed position. I got into a really good rythmn and felt strong, especially for laps 2 and 4.  Last time out here i remember being fed up at km70 and wanting to just get to the end. But today I was really enjoying actually passing quite a lot of cyclists. It was getting hot though, and most of the water picked up from the aid station was actually going onto my head !
Up the final hill St Pol de Mar, the Calella lighthouse in sight and it's down into the town and back towards transition - a flying finish. 2h46. Quick check of the watch - as the swim (37mins) -  the same time as last year ! All i needed to do was run faster and i'd beat my time!!

Easy !! Yeah - easy to say. The first km of the run simply showed me how hot it was getting. Obviously on the bike the wind and breeze keeps you cool, but the was sweltering - the temperature had risen to over 30°c and i was feeling it. I just thought, take it easy for the first 5km to the turn round point in Santa Susanna, then try and pick it up - nice idea, but in reality it was just too hot and my legs were like lead. Breathing was getting difficult. Luckily the water at the aid station was cold, i drank and poured the bottle over my head, down my front and back.... i felt better, but couldn't run any faster. I was passing quite a few who were now running and walking - nursing cramps, and limping. The heat was taking its toll.  I just kept on going though.... my feet were hurting from being soaked from the water i'd poured on myself - blisters maybe? 2km to go. I was starting to get pains in the chest, the effort of breathing was actually painful. I repeated my mantra - "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"...over and over... i just keep going... and i find myself running along the beach and into the transition park. This is it. The end. 2H02 for the run. I am tired at the end - no feeling of satisfaction and two minutes slower than last year (my run last year was 2h with a sore achilles tendon). BUT in such heat !!
Come on Martin, give yourself a bit of credit...

The only disappointment i really have is that i did not feel GOOD, like i did NOT enjoy the race - even two weeks later. I hope the novelty isn't wearing off ! But NO - the swim was good, the bike i really did enjoy - head down on the bars...and the run was just too hot. Maybe I need a new challenge. The full iron distance should provide this !! Or maybe i just shouldn't be comparing two races ! I was told the bike route was slightly longer this year, which would make me actually faster, and explain the slower times for the elite athletes. I met a younger runner at the airport who said he had the same problem for the run, and only managed 1h52 - the heat being just too intense... so maybe i should be happy ! Check. Yes, I am... and now for PAris in July and runningforpearl :°) - more on this later.