Saturday, May 25, 2013

Challenge Barcelona & meeting Chris "Macca" McCormack

Challenge Barcelona European Middle Distance Championships
2nd 70.3 a European championship…seems like a good idea right?  Why not, I can make the distance at least it will be an experience.  Definitely the best race I've ever been to and like nothing I've experienced.  I really loved it in a brutally hard day kind of way :) I haven’t quite cracked this distance, I made a few mistakes that made it a long day.
I’m feel like I'm better at running races and duathlon’s, they are all about just going out and suffering.  Suffering I can do, I LOVE going hard and just seeing how close to the edge of spectacularly exploding I can get.  70.3 and Ironman seem to be a bit more elegant than that.  
I had a couple reasons to head to this race.  It worked well with my schedule with Ironman in August and it was in Spain and after living in Scotland for the last 8 months I needed some sun.  I’m solar powered and haven’t been getting my sunshine hit.  To top it off had the opportunity to meet an idol of mine, a guy who knows how to suffer, Chris "Macca" McCormack.
Got a chance to go for lunch with Macca before hand, get to know him a bit and hear some very entertaining stories about his experiences.  If anyone knows the history of triathlon its this guy, his enthusiasm and love of this sport comes through in so many ways.  You always hope when you meet someone you have looked up to they dont turn out to be a douche bag and full of themselves, and luckily Macca wasnt.  Just a down to earth guy that loves what he does.

This was almost funny to watch the start, I swear it took our wave 2 tries to just get into the water!  We would run in, massive wave would knock half of us down, knocking down the others, get up and run in again!!  I’ve never swam in the sea before and I was kind of terrified.  I should have gone in the days before to get used to it but honestly I was scared.  I started learning to swim a year ago and open water is still tough!  I had a teensy panic attack the first 200m, I couldn’t put my head in the water until after the buoy when I finally calmed down and just got into a rhythm.  The waves made it hard to sight, but it was actually fun going up and down :p I got off course (leave it to me in a straight line swim) but ended up swimming about 2250m – not that I needed the extra distance!
WICKED!!  I only got passed by 7 guys and passed hundreds of people.  Pushed uphill, and I was worried about loosing a lot of time on the descent, but motorcycle skills kicked in and I didn't get passed at all on them and passed a lot of people, crazy counter steering on a bicycle!!  What an adrenaline rush. I used to race supersport motorcycles and I have to say that descent was right up there with the feeling of your knee dragging along the concrete with 600 cc’s underneath you, the best part of the race for me.
BUT I did make a mistake that I know for Ironman now, when climbing we were going like 8mph so I got out of aero position and was on my handle bars for a power advantage.  Well, I never do that in training, I’m always aero.  My lower back started hurting, half way through I made the connection and dropped back down into aero and the pain went away…but the damage was done.
Now I love running off the bike, I know a lot of people feel heavy or dead legs off the bike, but even after my hardest lactic threshold work my legs feel good off the bike, at least for the first 3 miles.  It feels like they are locked into a tight form and pulling me forward.
Unfortunately this time PAIN!!  So frustrated, my legs felt fantastic, but my lower back was just in agony.  I’ve never even had so much as an aching back after a long bike ride, its just never been an issue.
It gets better – it suddenly seized up causing me to fall ass over tea kettle, landed on my knee and elbows and bloodied my hip as well about 1.5k into the run…right on the carpet area on the finish line – there are much better reasons to end up with carpet burns than face planting in a race ;)  One of those things you just have to laugh, and think at least the finish line photo will look kind of bad ass with blood dripping down.
As long as I could stay upright my legs felt great, but my back kept tightening pulling me into a hunched over, bent at the waist position.  I almost fell over the finish line it had tightened so bad, I was almost at 90 degrees.
You know what though, even though I was having a bad run, it was easier to let it go with the amazing level of crowd support on the race course.  Loved how many people showed up to cheer us along, and I know it kept my ass moving.

The day was made better though but the awesome after party.  Getting together with the group, the man himself Macca and partying with some big personalities.  Lots of beer, stories told and shenanigans had.  I could not have imagined how the weekend would end, and it was pretty unforgettable.

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