Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lessons Learned in Spain

Barcelona 70.3 would be my first Ironman race back after the extended recovery/get chunky/rest break. After I resumed training I made sure to do 'just enough' and to 'always save some in the tank' to avoid running myself into the ground again.  The 'always save some in the tank' was extremely hard for me.  Truth be told I like all aspects of training but I LOVE to train hard.  The intense sessions are the ones that excite me and energize me.

I believe if you want to grow/get faster/be stronger/crush goals - you need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Actually, you need to get comfortable being WICKED uncomfortable.  And being 'wicked uncomfortable' in this phase of my life meant NOT racing for strava segments every damn ride, sleeping in past 5:30am and not always racing the guys at swim practice.   

In retrospect, abiding to the 'do just enough' principle was great for my recovery but really terrible for my mindset.  Hard training gives me race courage and I wasn't feeling especially courageous going into Barcelona 70.3 -  But the motto has always been BE BRAVE.  Feeling scared and being brave ESPECIALLY when it's difficult is when all the magic happens.

Lesson 1: "This is a wonderful day. I have never seen it before" Deidre and I flew into Barcelona and took an hour long bus trip up to the beautiful coastal town of Calella.  I could feel the magic of the European city as we hiked our luggage and bikes through the tiny streets of Calella to our hotel.  We took a dip a in the Mediterranean Sea which was a convenient 2 min walk from our hotel and I felt immensely grateful for  the places sport has taken me.  We did a quick check over the luggage - everything arrived including the super fast VELOCIO SPEEDSUITS powered by DELTA DENTAL. Phew.

Lesson 2: "Never Trust Anyone Who Doesn't Drink Doffee" It should be noted that every day started with espresso. What is the appropriate number of espresso/capuccinos/americanos while in Europe? Turns out the answer is N+1.  Jet lag should have been setting in but my workouts were going great. Espresso anyone?

Lesson 3: "If you love life, life will love you right back" One piece of advice when traveling and racing is EMBRACE the culture.  I always make a point of eating the local foods and taking the local mode of transportation. Sport is really fantastic but this is lift after all - LIVE IT.   Embracing the culture in Spain looked like copious amounts of cheese, chocolate, baguettes, espresso and of course basket bikes. 

RACE DAY: "The scariest moment is always just before you start."

The swim start was no joke. Here I am in the middle of the pack about to enter a 1.2 mile water battle. For one reason or another it was an extremely aggressive swim but we were racing in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea so I couldn't help but smile ( and convince myself I was swimming fast).  I exited the water around 6th and started to CHASE.

I wish I had pictures of the bike course because the Catalonian Mountains were no joke. The climbs lasted 45 minutes and the descents were UNREAL.  I have never spent so much time out of my aerobars than I have on this course.  It was deliciously climb-y and beyond beautiful. 

The legs were feeling snappy and I was ready to hunt some ladies down when around mile 10 on the bike I dropped my chain which proceeded to get stuck between the frame and the little ring. DOH.  After 7 minutes of yanking the darn thing as hard as I could I finally dislodged it.  I spent the next few moments ordering myself to stay calm and to avoid over-pacing to make up for lost time.  But my rational brain lost this battle which ended in me putting my head down and chasing as hard as I could until I was nearly cross-eyed. You would think after 60 Ironman races ( yep, 60!) I would learn to be less reactive but once a spaz, always a spaz.

I made it onto the run course in 9th and put my head down to do some serious work. The first few miles felt great. And then it got HOT. Really hot.  I convinced myself that all the other girls were suffering more than me and focused on turnover, ice down the jersey and water on the head.  Five miles into the race I had passed 2 ladies and could see 6th place female a few minutes up the road.  The energy from the crazy Spanish crowds spurred me on and with 1/2 mile left I overtook the 6th position for the last spot on the podium and some prize money.  It felt great to be able to push the body hard again and to take an epic trip with my sister.


Deidre and I have been talking about this adventure non-stop since returning.  The beautiful country, the beautiful people, the delicious wine. 

Lesson 4: The best wines are the ones we drink with sisters.

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