So, this was the 4th time I did this race - actually it was in Calella that I had my debut in triathlon. First, this race is now in a completely different ball-game. Everything has undergone so many improvements, which is just great. I love racing, but I am also always very critical on race organizations - but for this edition I can say, that it is now as close to a flawless as you can ever hope for. I frankly did not experience any annoyances or surprises in the race. Even the post-race buffet is like a 5-star hotel :)
The new bike circuit is out of this world - its effin hard, beautiful on the Montseny climbs and this really benefits lighter and stronger riders. I had dropped 3 kg after ICAN Malaga, getting just below 70kg. That along with an almost 10% improvement in my cycling tests (FTP) during the months of spring, had me hoping that the curse of being a better flat-circuit rider, than a climber, was over.
I was sporting a brand new De Soto Forza ITU race suit in order to be able to compete legally in the ETU European Championships. Triatech even helped me printing my name and country on the suit - thanks a bunch, Hector. The fabric and quality of the De Soto gear is amazing - light and firm. The "compression" actually gave me a very steady feeling, especially in my thighs while running. The suit has a good cycling pad. Its nice to just be able to pick a suit off the shelf, put it on and race for almost 5 hours without anything bother or chafing. Great stuff.
So, the Catalan waters were really misbehaving the days before the race - almost 2m waves were pounding the beaches and I could feel people getting anxious about the swim. On race morning the sea had calmed a bit, but still very choppy - especially sighting and drafting in the water was a nightmare. Got in the first line and was one of the first at the first turn. Lost orientation a bit and had to stop to get back on track. Frankly I didn't feel I had the best pace. A french guy punched me so hard in the back of the head, but he was nice and checked if I was ok and said sorry .. Finished fairly OK in 30 minutes, swallowed too much water and got into T1 kinda cold and nausea.
I was excited to get going on the bike - I had setup my Argon 18 E118 with Zipp 808 front and back, whereas I saw some riding a disc here. Started getting comfy and pushed the planned 270 watts on the 3 climbs as planned, but I had to struggle a bit to maintain goal watts on the last climb. There was so much poplar fluff in the air, at times it looked like a snow-storm. I started feeling a bit of problems breathing - probably a bit of allergy or hay-fever.
Delivered the bike in T2 and felt ready to run. The run course is also updated, and we avoided the countryside, empty road that was dead boring in the previous editions of the race. I had been training really well, with many longer threshold sets the 4 weeks leading up to the race, after ICAN Malaga, where I ran in 4:05 min/km. I set off at 4:00 with the idea of dropping to 3:55, but quickly realized that this was not really an option. Legs actually felt quite good and even at 4:10 I passed many runners, who probably burned their legs on the bike. I had a bit of stomach cramps and every time I started pushing back closer to 4:00 I had problems breathing - probably my heart rate was going balistic. The last 7-8 km was pure survival and I dropped to running at 4:30-4:40 which is sub-par even for me. Finally did 4h47m and finished 8th in the European Championship - I guess I should be happy with that. However, I can see that I still need to work on hilly biking - I doubt I was even in top50 on the bike (compared to 2nd last year on the flat course)
Frankly it was amazing to race in Calella - I realize how lucky I am to know so many good people and being carried forward by the cheers of friends and having Blanca there was of course sweet <3
Coming up is the Ironman Couer d'Alene in Idaho, USA - the 23rd of June.