Race: Bilbao Triathlon
Time: 2013-05-18, start kl.12.15
Location: Bilbao, Spain
Distance: 1,9 km – 90 km – 21,1 km
My result: 36,08 min – 2 h 50 min – 1 h 34 min (2nd place)
Complete results: Click here
The short version:
A day that both started and ended far from how I expected it to. Broke a mental boundary. The day stated with being foodpoisioned, but ended with finishing the race and finish in 2nd place.
The long version:
Before the start:
During the week up to the race, I spent with my sponsor Orca, and the Orbea-Orca team and the crew for film production, photoshoot and team buliding in Bilbao. Among the big group of people you could find the founder of Orca, Scott Unsworth, the product developer Oliviér, market managers from every corner of the world and sponsored athletes like Sebastian Kienle, Andrew Starykowicz and Matt Sharp. It was a week filled with laughs and inspiration, but some of the days were quite long, so the preparations weren’t optimial.
Though, the preparations got a new twist, when I got food poisoned the night before the race. I was for a long time in doubt whether or not to come to start, but as I got a little better in the morning, I decided to go with the rest of the team to the transition area, and make a final decision there.
Once I arrived to the transition area, everything went quite fast, and without really taking notice, I was suddenly on my way into the water of the Bilbao river to go to the water startline. I decided to swim the first 300m, and then re-evaluate whether or not to continue.
33 female athletes were at the starline in the current river. Since it had been raining a lot before the race, the river had been contaminated with sewage. But the Bilbao-people are hardcore, there was no doubt the swim would take place, despite the rain and the 12 degrees temperature in the water. So well, I didn’t want to be any less hardcore!
A gun went off, and people began to swim, but some didn’t. Someone started shouting, and people stopped. The confusion whether or not that was the startgun was big. When the gun went off a second time, the big favourite female, and 2009 Hawaii bronze medalist Virginia Berasategui, already had a lead of about 10 mrs, and I missed trying to catch her feet.
However, I came in a group of 2-4 girls who kept a suitable pace for me, with the new condition I was in. I didn’t want to push the pace, but rather stay at 70 % and hopefully be able to complete the swim. My stomach was feeling ok, but I didn’t really have any power trough the stroke.
I came out of the water without knowing neither the time nor place, and to be honest I did not care. My feet were numb and my movements slow as if someone had poured syrup into my arms. I had my slowest transition ever, but I didn’t care. I was prepared to get off the bike after a few kilometers anyway.
The course profile was very hilly, divided into two laps. Since I hadn’t installed my powermeter on the new race bike from ORBEA, the feeling decided the pace, which I think was good. Again, I was pretty far below where I had been on a “normal” day of racing, but so far the stomach was feeling surprisingly good. Luckily, I had Vitargo in my bottles, which is very gentle on the stomach, also in high concentrations, so I managed to intake a bit of energy, without upsetting the stomach any more than it already was. At times I didn’t even take notice of it being there. The distances between my re-evaluations on whether or not to continue got therefore longer and longer.
The weather condition was really bad during the bike, with constant rain, around 10 m/s of wind and 13 degrees in air temperature. I don’t know if it was the stomach feeling better, or if I was distracted by the weather conditions, but anyhow – I managed to complete the bike.
Almost as frozen as I was going into T1, I staggered into T2 on numb feet in second place, with one shoe in my hand, for some reason. After another re-evaluation I decided to jog out of T2 and see how the bumpy running would effect the stomach.
In a very slow pace, I started the run. When I had come this far in the race, and the stomach and the body worked surprisingly well, I started to get small hopes on being able to finish. It was a long way down to number three, and I started to count on how slowly I could allow myself to run to still be able to retain second place.
The run was a three-lap course, and was circulated around the river venue. When I glanced down at the brown water it gave me more motivation to get to the finish. Swim in that water, and cycle in the cold and rain – and not finishing? No, I wanted to finish. And given how surprisingly good the body had responded on the challenge of the day, it looked as though it could become a reality.
I was never close to the first place, that was never a goal for me on this day, and I managed to keep a good margin to third place. But for me the big victory was to get to the finish. And I did!
First of all, I do not recommend anyone to race if you feel sick. In my case I chose to try, because of the rapid recover and other circumstances, but to often critically evaluate whether or not it was a good idea to continue. It turned out that the body managed to stay at around 70% of normal race capacity on this raceday, and I was able to finish.
With that said, I’m very proud of my performance. I have raced under the tougher conditions than ever before, and I still managed to finish. I had a race plan that I adapted continuously throughout the race, where the biggest focus was not push myself too hard. The mental challenge was the greatest on this day, and there is where I feel the greatest victory. Losing the victory to the Bilbao-recident favorite, who does her last year as a proffesional triathlete, is nothing that I am particularly sad about.
Huge thanks to everyone supporting me, both before, during and after the race. Special thanks to my sponsors Orca, Orbea, CeramicSpeed, Asics, Vitargo and Bliz Eyewear. It wouldn’t been done without Your support!