Ironman 70.3 Barcelona

It’s finally time for a very belated race report.  Last fall I knew I was going to be headed to Israel for memorial week for a wedding.  Knowing it would be tough to train while there I wanted to make this a mid-season mini break.  Looking over my race options I found Barcelona 70.3, Chattanooga 70.3 and Rev 3 Knoxville.  If I did a 70.3 a low training week/time off would make the most sense.  After checking out the course for Barcelona I couldn’t stop thinking about doing that race.  A rough swim in the Mediterranean Sea, a hard bike with climbs into the mountains and a flat run along the beach, a perfect course for me!  I wasn’t sure if it would be worth it with the extra travel hassle, jet lag and having to lug a bike around Israel.   When I found a flight that stopped in Barcelona for less than 200$ more than I was going to pay to get to Israel, I was sold, this was going to be epic.

It was definitely an epic race course and what felt like an epic race fail on my part.  I arrived in Barcelona Thursday morning after a long overnight flight getting only a couple hours of uncomfortable upright sleeping on the plane.  After an hour cab ride I immediately swam and ran, both felt horrible.  I could barely run my easy pace without feeling like I was dying.  Friday running was no better and I felt horrible on the bike.   I tried to rest up, stay positive and relaxed but my body just didn’t come around by Sunday.

imageSwim:

  • It was a beach start running across a rough shell filled shore that cut into your feet.
  • Diving in the water it was the level of cold that takes your breath away and makes you feel like hyperventilating. Thankfully I did a brief warmup before the race start that helped me adjust quickly to the brisk temperature.
  • The swells in the water were huge, so big you couldn’t see the buoys unless you were on the top of a swell. Luckily there was a lead kayaker that helped me stay in the right general direction.
  • I actually thought during the race how scary this could be if you’re a weak swimmer or uncomfortable in the water.
  • There was one female pro that swam just behind me most of the race and tried to pass me near the finish, I made sure to kick it in hard to exit the water first. Thanks blueseventy helix!!

imageBike:

  • My helmet strap had tangled itself in my bike gear bag so I lost time in T1 and took off second onto the bike.
  • About five minutes in I started taking in nutrition. When I went to grab my first GU I saw one of my bloks drop.  I cringed to myself hoping I just lost one (more to come).
  • I wasn’t feeling great and I hadn’t caught up to the girl out in front of me which I had expected to do fairly quickly.
  • The entire amateur field was released on a rolling start two minutes behind the pro women so plenty of folks started flying by me.  I tried to use them as motivation to kick it up a notch but my body wasn’t responding.
  • When we hit the major mountain climb my speed went right down to sub 10mph. I went into my easiest gear and immediately heard that familiar dreadful sound of rubbing. I had tested it out on the trainer pre-race but with the additional wiggle of the road the derailleur was indeed rubbing my disc again, so I had to stay in a harder gear for the entire climb, ouch.
  • At the top of the hill I had one second to look off to the side, what an amazing view. I wish I could have stopped to enjoy the view from the top and take a selfie 😉
  • The downhill to follow was insanely fast tight switchbacks. Not knowing what was around each corner I had to ride my breaks.  I really wish there were some more markings on the roads showing which direction we’d be going, especially when it was basically a 180.
  • On my way down I caught up to an ambulance riding an athlete out so a few of us had to slow to follow it out of the winding roads.
  • Towards the end of the ride more and more women continued to pass me, I was not feeling great about my bike skills at this moment.
  • I also finally ran out of nutrition, I indeed had dropped more bloks than I thought. To make up for the loss of nutrition I took Gatorade bottles at the water stops, downed what I could and tossed the bottles.
  • Riding into transition I think I was sitting in fourth or fifth already.
  • In general I think there could have been a little more signage for turns. Most turns had volunteers but they’re not always waving their hands which way to go, so you have to shout to figure out where to go and there’s a bit of a language barrier.   Normally I’d drive the course but we did not have a rental car, so I just had to do my best.

imageRun

  • Running into T2 my back was in so much pain (I’ve been having some lower back issues). I wasn’t sure how the run was going to go but by the time I was putting my shoes on I was pretty sure I’d be OK.
  • I ran out of the tent right behind another female pro. I tried to match her pace but she shot out like a bullet so I stuck to what felt like the right pace.
  • As the kilometers ticked away I didn’t bother looking at my watch, I didn’t want to know how slow I was running.
  • I kept counting all the pro women as they passed, many more women that I had hoped. On my way to the finish line I was sitting in tenth.
  • After crossing the line I looked down at my watch expecting something like 1:35 or 1:36, which is a few minutes slower than I’d normally run. When I saw 1:41.xx I was more than disappointed and frustrated.  Even the hilliest course I did for my first half in Knoxville I was able to pull out a 1:35.  I couldn’t believe it.

I was very disappointed in my performance at this race.  I was excited to race this course with a field of women that I knew were talented but a field that I felt I could compete with.  My training leading into this race was solid and  I had a great swim and bike at St. Anthony, so I was confident coming into this race.  I feel in general I’m a consistent athlete so to race so far out of my norm felt horrible; I couldn’t comprehend it and I wanted to forget it ever happened.    The main difference between this race and my others is the 7 hour time zone change.  I’ve never done a race more than a few hours out of CST so my best explanation is that the jet lag had a serious effect on my body.  Since I’ll be racing in Australia later this year for the 70.3 World Championship I guess this is a good lesson to learn before I arrive there.  I’m planning a much longer period to adjust.

In the end I had a decent training day before some much needed rest and recovery.  The main purpose of my trip was to go to Israel and watch one of my best friends get married so I forgot about the race and enjoyed my travel time.  Training definitely took a back seat, I did a little exercise here and there but mostly things like walking around, climbing mountains and diving into the Dead Sea (which I don’t recommend, it’s like poison in your mouth J).  It was a much needed physical and mental break.  I’m looking forward to getting back into some hard training and racing leading up to worlds.

Check out the results. View more photos.

Some fun photos from Israel:

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