The race – an imaginary chase…? – TRI122 Race Report

TRI122 Teguise Triathlon Race Report

.

Cefalu

Cefalu

When I arrived in Lanzarote at the end of December, the plan had been to stay for twee weeks and then head back home to Abu Dhabi. It didn’t take long before I realized I was falling in love with the island. During my second week, talk of extending my stay became a daily occurrence. After lots of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ I called my parents and canceled my flight back. Now the question was, how long do I stay for? I then found this race on the island that looked really interesting, which would take place on April 2nd. Three months… is that not a bit long? It was a good reason to stay and a great target to get me through some though months of training.

I have to say that it wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, I felt I had other commitments back home, expectations to live up to, and people to please. But with the support of some important people, we made it work and I even found a perfect place for me to stay – a sailing boat named Cefalu, safely moored in Playa Blanca. For the next few months I breathed, slept, and ate triathlon.

Now on to the race!

Race morning started off okay – lots of time and a relatively calm mind. Then the first little things started to go wrong. My power meter wasn’t turning on. Oh well, only heart rate then. Wait… where is my strap? Shoot, left it back at the apartment! Mom??? Luckily our apartment was only about 500m away from the race venue so she so kindly agreed to go get it. When she came back with the strap in her hands I was relieved to know I wouldn’t be racing blind (speed on the bike in Lanzarote really doesn’t mean much..). “Failed to connect heart rate sensor.” What?! Okay nevermind, I’m racing on feel today!

SWIM – 2km

James Mitchel Photography

James Mitchell Photography


We stood around waiting a bit too long so I tried to keep moving as much as possible to make sure I stayed relatively warm and that my heart rate wouldn’t have to go from zero to 100 once the gun went off. We had a tiny field of just nine women, so the start wasn’t the type of chaos you can usually expect at the start of the swim. I managed to get on someone’s feet, who seemed to be on the toes of the leading lady. I figured this would do for now and we could stick to the fastest swimmer for a while. But the next time I looked up, there was a gap between the first and second female, and I would’ve had to put in a serious surge to catch up! Dang it, should’ve paid closer attention and stuck to her feet! After passing the first buoy, the pace seemed too slow so I took over and lead the rest of lap 1. Sighting was nearly impossible in the choppy waters and the distance between the first and second buoy seemed endless! I made it out of the water in second position after the first lap with a bit of a lead on third, and clumsily jumped over the breaking waves to start the second one. My heart rate had shot up and changing position from horizontal to vertical had made my legs heavy as bricks. I suffered for the first couple hundred meters and before I knew it there was someone on my toes again. About 100m before reaching the beach again, the swimmer behind me surged. I stayed on her feet but decided not to fight for it, the few seconds now wouldn’t cost me anything. I increased my kick a little to get some blood flowing, having learnt my mistake after that first lap.

.

T1 (Transition 1 – Swim to bike)
The run to T1 was on a long stretch of concrete – quite uncomfortable! I got to my bike and transitioned quickly. I left T1 before the other lady, but as soon as I got on my bike she came flying past and began to disappear into the distance.

.

BIKE – 85km
What was happening? Legs, common! My mind filled with questions and doubts. Why are my legs so heavy? Did I do something wrong in the swim? Did it have to do with the taper? Is it just not going to be my day? On the other hand, I also knew I was strong and just needed to push on. Be patient, I told myself.

James Mitchel Photography

James Mitchell Photography


The roads weren’t closed for the most part, which meant two things. 1) Ride safe! and 2) Lee and the family were able to follow me around a bit and shout things at me at different stages of the course. After about 15k I found Lee on the side of the road counting 43..44…45 seconds behind her! I didn’ think that was very much and thought I could see her in the distance. Turned out he was counting 2 minutes and 45 seconds, and that was NOT her in the distance. The way to Orzola, the very tip of the island was an undulating but not hilly, headwind stretch. From there it was quite a steep climb and I was happy to find my support crew near the top. I heard Lee say something about having lost another 15 seconds on her. Okay, one minute behind no. 2 now. (FYI: I found out afterwards this meant I was three minutes behind no. 1)
“But where’s there’s the one in front?”
“She’s three minutes ahead of you. She’s a pro you know, this is what you wanted. Now go get it!”
That was exactly what I needed to hear. Yes, this is what I wanted. To really have a race, and if that involved any pro’s – all the better!
My legs were feeling better now and I was preparing myself for the big Tabayesco climb where I’d have a good chance to make up some time. And apparently that’s exactly what I did, because about 4k into the Tabayesco climb I passed her with ease and started to gain a good lead on her. I knew she was a heavier rider than I was – which meant I had the advantage on the climbs but a disadvantage on the descents. I kept reminding myself there’s was no time to freewheel on the descents – I was going to have to put in more effort going down hill than she would. Now it was time to limit the distance between the leading female and I if I still wanted a shot at taking the win today. About 5k before T2, I see coach and fam going mental when they see me coming their way. A quick thought about maybe being in the lead crossed my mind but it didn’t make sense – I only passed one other female. Then a few k’s later a motor bike came up beside me and started leading me back into town. Don’t they only do that for the leading female? I thought maybe I was so far behind that they’d already brought be leading female into T2 and were just coming to see how #2 was doing.
James Mitchell Photography

James Mitchell Photography

.

T2 (Transition Bike to run)
“La primera chica!” – was what I heard as I jumped off my bike and ran into T2. My Spanish is rubbish, but I was pretty sure I knew what that meant. With a mega smile of disbelief I ran past the cheering crowd. Through the buzz of excitement I decided it would be easier if I sat down to put my shoes on then to struggle through the rush of adrenaline that I just received. I forgot about the caffeine tablet that I had ‘so cleverly’ placed in my shoe to take BEFORE putting it on. I remembered about it a split second later, took my shoe off again, shoved the tablet in my mouth, quickly washed it down with a gulp of water, put my shoe back on, and left T2.

.

RUN – 20km

James Mitchell Photography

James Mitchell Photography

Running is probably my strongest discipline of the three at the moment, and I can usually rely on pretty good running legs after a hard ride. This time wasn’t any different, and I started off at a fast (too fast..) pace. After 2k my average pace was still 3:45min/k, and I had to force myself to slow down because I knew it was not a pace I could sustain for 20k. I managed to run the first 10k just under 40min, which was just about my goal pace for the run. But I felt that things were beginning to drop off, my legs were starting to ache and I was starting to feel a bit nauseous. I was told a couple of split times and knew if I kept a reasonable pace I’d be able to take the win. But a ‘reasonable pace’ wasn’t satisfying enough and I wanted to get the most out of this race. I was starting to get disappointed that my pace was dropping near the end of the run, but the kind guy on the lead-bike lifted my spirits by getting random people (totally confused about why a bunch of people in lycra were putting themselves through the apparent suffer fest) to cheer me home the last 2k. At the finish line I was greeted by my mum, Lee, Sam, Meadow, Sol, Sennen, Shackle, Edo, Robert, race organisors and photographers, and random people asking for photos. Big thanks to all these amazing people for their invaluable support!

.

James Mitchell Photography

James Mitchell Photography