People are often quoted saying “never again” at the finish line of an Ironman. Zurich 2018 was somewhat different for me, straight ahead claiming I wanted to race another one in the same season. Not that Zurich was terrible, but it wasn’t at the level I wished it to be, and I had at heart the desire to show something better. It didn’t take long to have Daniel on board, and after briefly considering Emilia-Romagna and Wales we settled onto Barcelona early October.
Barcelona is one of the fastest course ever, and also the second biggest Ironman race in terms of participation. Only downside, there might be a lot of drafting (though it isn’t always obvious how it will turn out among the PROs in front).
From one IM to another
Barcelona being just over 2 months after Zurich, it leaves times for recovery, a (relatively long) hard block of training, and tapering. Thus not just riding on the fitness wave, but also potentially improving it. I felt like the small interruptions with holidays, military and conference in June prevented to show full potential at the end of July. The stomach pain on the day was also unfortunate, but those are things you might have to deal with at an Ironman.
Off we went and trained, with 2hrs on the week following the Ironman, but already 10+ in the next ones. Uster triathlon was great, and after a tough block (with two days off work) the following week-end, it was rather tired and doubtful that I joined the start line in Murten.
Remained a few long rides, one or two key sessions on the track, and time for tapering. Times goes by quickly. I tell everyone before the race that I am way better prepared, but doubt when Daniel says I should aim for 8h50-8h45. Only race performance is a true indicator of your shape.
Airport selfie #chillin'withmymuffin.
On Thursday the travel is a bit rough (good thing we opted for an early flight), with over 7hrs delay. I am happy Daniel keeps the mood “chill”, we’ll make it to race location (Calella, roughly 60km north east of Barcelona along the coast) and did not plan anything else anyways.
On Friday we mount the bikes (first time with the TTs), and get to test them on the first and last 20k of the course. My legs are just rolling, the pace is steady fast, and Daniel tells me to keep quiet when I ask whether we should do some race pace intervals. Turns out we were riding close to race pace already – it felt so easy.
After a quick PRO briefing we are joined by the support team (Nadine, Gianna & Jamie). Remains a few carbo-loaded meals, a short jog on Saturday morning with a few race pace (and faster) strides, as well as dropping the bikes and bags in transition on Saturday afternoon.
Before race legs shake out.
On race morning we are greeted with lightnings, stormy rain, big waves and the likes. Not the ideal conditions, but it is supposed to calm down by the time we get out of the water, and at least it’s not super hot like the last two ironmans. Apart from a last minute need-to-find-a-charger emergency all is good.
Race morning shower.
Let me introduce the salty washing machine: 81 PROs, beach start, sun barely rising at the horizon through heavy clouds, and waves climbing to the spectators’ feet along the shore. Contrary to rough conditions on the bike, this doesn’t bother me here (rather opposite, I was keeping fingers crossed the swim would be kept as planned). Once the gun goes, it’s a few meters of running until getting knocked down by the first wave, and swam over by the guy behind me. Boom, boom, let’s get this fight started.