If You Never Tri, You'll Never Know!

Ironman Barcelona 70.3

While I usually write a story describing my adventure, I’m going to try, this time, for a bullet point run through, sparing you some of the mundane details of race prep. I hope you enjoy!

ironman703 barcelona

Ironman Barcelona 70.3 - 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Luca was sent on a last minute mission so Jake and I traveled to Barcelona solo 
    • The race is actually in Calella which is about 55km further up the coast
If you are interested in my day to day race prep week, please find it here.
  • Every day I walked to the sea and just stood there staring at it, teeth chattering, belly churning, there's no way I can do that... 
  • Sunday, May 19, 2019: nearly talked myself out of starting the race. It's cold. It's raining. Oh man those waves.
  • Jake had diarrhea. Then threw up. Probably shouldn't be drinking the water here...
  • Texting w/Luca and mom. 
    • "If you don't think it's safe, don't do it... But these are your usual nerves." 
    • "Your job is to take the hits for the rest of us. How can you Coach if you haven't faced the worst?"
    • "Babe, you did your training and have the experience to get through it."
    • "If you don't feel like doing it, it's fine, but I think you can accomplish also this one."
    • "The only one that would be disappointed would be yourself."
    • "You are just having cold feet."
    • "Baby steps."
  • Walked the .8 mile to transition, watching lightning and ugly weather further out in the sea - just get there Lisa, baby steps. Although...
The sea was flat. I mean "flat". Ha! Swimming pools are flat. Lakes are flat. Rivers flow.
And oceans are washing machines! But at least it was better than the previous days! It was moving, but not crashing. 
  • She doesn't know it, but Linda was my moment of 'okay, I got this!' I met Linda at Brazil Ironman. She's basically one of the most bad ass people I've ever known. Her most recent achievement, besides fast faster and fastest triathlons including Kona, is climbing Mt. Everest! 
    • She purposely/accidentally approached me from behind, not knowing it was me to ask about the swim course. We were both pleasantly surprised! HUGS!! 
    • We walked the rest of the way, chatting out our anxiety. And honestly, I don't know if it was her confidence and courage or what, but it rubbed off on me. She gave me the strength I needed. She freaking climbed Mt. Everest! And then Lhotse 24 hours later!
  • So, now, all of my fears and/but I had a kick ass swim!! 
    • The water was cold - 16c (60.8f). 
    • The air was cold - 12c (53.6) 
    • A rolling start, busy water, space was limited (another anomaly in an IM ocean swim - this huge ass ocean and everyone wants to swim on top of each other)
    • Plenty of boats (my swim anxiety saving grace) and buoys (another palliative feature) and I repeated just keep swimming 😉
    • 48mins and 56secs (of course this includes the beach run)
  • I took my time in transition to dry off and prepare for a cold (and potentially wet) bike. Plus transition was really big: 11mins and 22secs
Fill your wine, here's where it gets ugly...
  • A few turns through the city and already a couple of inclines. Hmm, this isn't the course I remember...
So, I have this bad habit of not checking out the course of a race. I just think, ooh that sounds like a cool place to race, and register. I have found myself at some of the hardest IM on the circuit. Eventually I might look at it but it’s usually deep into my training. Why do I do this?! Idk, but it’s lunatic and I screwed myself big time. 

You see, I raced Ironman Barcelona (the full) in 2015 and finished with my best IM time. The bike course was fast!! A bit rolling but fast rolling!! I had a 6 hour split. I just assumed this was the same course, only half of it!! I even looked at the elevation profile and thought, hmm I don’t remember it being quite like that, but I was so sure it was going to be fast. 
  • The 70.3 course was COMPLETELY different. And hard as ?*!#
  • The first climb was about 1 hour of up uP UP!! I think I had a 5mph average.
  • The down was scary as ?*!# 
    • Tight on the brakes (disc brakes at that!) - I have bruises on my hands for proof
    • Technical, switchbacks, steep
    • And still a bit wet from earlier rain (thank goodness not currently raining!)
    • Oh, and cold!
  • The second, third, and fourth hour were more of the same for 4 hours 27mins and 37secs. There was one maybe 15min stretch of relief and the final 3kms into town. 
My goodness I was glad to be off that bike! I didn't even know how I was going to possibly run, my legs were jell-o. Not even! My legs were the liquid that jell-o is before it's jell-o! T2: 6mins 2secs
  • I come off the transition mat and I'm violently shoved out of the way. Seriously, almost knocked over if not for a fence there. Holy Hell!
    • I ran my ass off to catch him - I wanted to know his bib #
    • He stopped at the aid station - YES!
    • "What is your #, I am reporting you!... you shoved me!"
    • "Eh, it was just a little poosh"
    • "Bullshit, that was violent and it's not right! That's not how you treat another athlete and unnecessary. It's unsportsmanlike conduct!" I was pissed! There were only 256 women out of 2,200 competitors. Women in triathlon is less common over here and I'll be DAMN if a man thinks he can push me out of his way. I guarantee you if I was a big hunky Spaniard he wouldn't have put his hands on me! 
    • He changed his tune with that, "I'm so sorry. You are right." (we are side by side running) "I apologize, I should not have pushed you. Please, shake hands, okay?" and reaches his hand to shake mine. Fine. Fucker. 
Despite that, or maybe because of that, I was feeling fierce. 
  • I felt great on the run. My legs were super heavy from all the climbing, so obviously it slowed me down, but I felt good. I was very consistent and even mentally, I was okay. Kinda boring not having a cheer squad out there; spectators and volunteers were great though. They all loved my smile; so I had that going for me! Always smiling :D
  • It was hard knowing I was one of the last. I'm usually at least a middle packer or just behind the middle pack. Maybe leading the rear pack... 
    • At one point I was legit the last athlete on the run course. A French gal and I were leap frogging in last and second to last with the bicycle sweepers. 
    • I didn't like that feeling. And eventually ran down 6 more athletes. 
    • Finished the run at 2 hours 43mins and 49secs.
    • I ended up being 8th to last. 
Overall Finish Time: 8 hours 17 minutes 42 seconds read, FINISH. I finished *cheeeeeers*
(For reference, previous 70.3 finishes (10), my average is a 6 hour finish)

So I really feel like I was lacking (kind of) 3 crucial elements for Barcelona 70.3
  1. Confidence. I’m a firm believer that if you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t. I was heavy with can’t. Despite, I continued to slip in a few, “Come on Lisa, you can do this!” No matter how heavy your can’t is, CAN will always outweigh it. I was so proud of myself coming out of that swim that I almost cried. And even while struggling uphill on the bike, I told myself, HEY, I'm really proud of you. You started this race in face of your fear (the open water) and finished.
    • Self-talk is real. It is a powerful tool for increasing confidence and controlling negative emotions. You can be your own cheerleader or you can be self-destructive and defeating.
    • Hear that, copy it, paste it, write it down, print it, stick it on your mirror! Confidence. 

  2. Training and Preparation. I'm not saying I wasn't trained. I mean, clearly I swam, I biked, and I ran - my workoutsnaps aren't fabricated. But what I didn't do is prepare for and thus train for, this particular course. I should have been on mountains every. single. bike ride. Had I given the bike course a closer look I would have realized it wasn't the same course as the full, it was quite more difficult and I would have put in different bike prep. 
    • If you’re going to do an event like this, you have to prepare!! Research the course, KNOW what you’re getting in to. When my athletes choose races I go look at their course and prepare training sessions for them that set them up for success on the course! Why I lack that intelligence for myself is beyond me. Lesson learned! 
    • And then, don't blow off your training. You NEED it!! 
    • That said...

  3. Proper equipment. And I'm not talking about the rain jacket that I mentioned on my FB post. I'm talking about the fact that I didn't get the memo recommending you use a road bike for this course!! 
    • With my road bike, it would have been a different mountain game (my road bike has a granny gear, hello!). I would guess about 80% of the field had road bikes. Of course I should have had a road bike for a triathlon 🙄 
    • But for real, it would have been useful...
    • I was fighting this itty bitty tri cassette with 24 sprockets when I should have been on one with larger sprockets, say 32!? *face palm* - again this goes back to preparation. Piss poor planning. Maybe it still would have been a challenge, but at least I could have saved my legs some for a quicker run!
DESPITE - I got it done. And I love that and I appreciate you reminding me of that and a finish is a finish! The last athlete ran the same course as the first one! I reminded myself that during the race too - I told myself, ya know, they trained different than you. Some better. Some worse. Some have gifted abilities. Some train right here on these mountains. But, just, different. We're all going to finish.

YOU are in control of how to better prepare next time. YOU are in control of your attitude, your confidence, your training and preparation, and making sure you have the right equipment for your goals. YOU.
Lessons to take home: 
1. Be fucking confident. Clearly I can swim open water. Own it!

2. Start looking at the course BEFORE you register. Speaking of which, better go check out Kona...
*later insert: 5000+ feet of climbing - NOTED!!

3. Don't blow off training. It doesn't matter if you've done 15 Ironman or shooting for your first: YOU. HAVE. TO. TRAIN. This sport is not a go outside and learn to hit/kick/throw a ball. Can you jump in a sprint and probably get it done without much training? Yeah, maybe, if you know how to swim and own a bike. But beyond a sprint, it's not a game - it's a sport. It's a mindset. And it's a lifestyle. You have to be determined, committed, and you must be physically involved. TRAIN!

And number 4. Always pack a rain jacket!

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