This weekend the GoTri triathlon of Marbella was held in Olympic distance (1.5km - 36km - 10km), one of the highlights that I had indicated in the calendar for this season. With two distances available, I had opted for the Olympic one that included in the cycling sector the climb of the port of Ojen. 11 kilometres with punctual slopes of 11%-12% and an average slope of 5%. Those 4 kilometres cut at the usual distance were more than compensated for by the good climb that had to be done.
The race began the day before with the displacement of part of the team running a marathon to make the collection of dorsal.
There was no runner's bag; just a bib, a set of stickers for a seat post, a helmet, etc. and a little bit of advertising. And those who managed to finish the race would exchange the competition chip for a commemorative pole (seems like a good deal).
Is there anything better than setting your alarm clock on a Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.?
Yes, that the reason to put it is to go to a competition.
As the race had its nerve centre in Puerto Banús, the logistics for that day couldn't have been simpler. In fact, I was able to go directly by bike, taking advantage of it to do my warm-up. The race started at 9am from the beach of Puerto Banús itself, so I decided to take a look at the jetty before leaving the bike in the pits and having a look at the circuit.
After seeing it, I could confirm that it had nothing to do with the one that appeared on the course. Apparently it had had to be modified due to the currents of that day. For us it was something irrelevant, 1500m is 1500m regardless of whether you do it in a rectangle or in a triangle.
After doing the last visual check I go to the pits to pick up the chip and prepare all the material. I was lucky with the location assignment, as I got the second position behind the assembly and disassembly line. In meters to go it doesn't matter to be at the beginning or at the end, but it's not the same to go 200 meters of transition simply by running to do it carrying the bike by the saddle while avoiding other riders. In T1 I would simply have to run to the end of the pits to find my bike next to the assembly line, and when I got to T2 I would be the first one to find its space as soon as I arrived.
Not to mention that I had no trouble locating the bike and no need to look for a reference point to find it. I was in first position and it was impossible to lose sight of it.
I left my boxing area prepared: shoes with rubbers on the bike, the running shoes next to the socks (today I preferred to lose a few seconds in T2, but in return I won't destroy my feet), the running cap with a pair of gels inside and the helmet on the handlebars with the glasses and the bib.
With the neoprene under one arm and the backpack under the other, I make a stop on my way to the beach at the clothing store. And just like two weeks agoBefore leaving the transition area, I realize that I am actually quite comfortable going barefoot to the beach. Indeed, once again I had forgotten to take off my shoes and was on my way to put on my neoprene with them on.
Back to ask for the backpack to leave the shoes and now, with the help of the typical plastic bag, I put on my neoprene and go to the beach through the same area where shortly after we would go to T1.
It gives me time to take a dip and confirm that the water was cold today, and quickly to the call room where to access we had to recite our bib number.
All ready and packed, waiting for the confirmation of traffic cuts by the Local Police and Guardia Civil (because as it is a test in which we go through several locations, they must also intervene).
The confirmation by the Security Forces was not long in coming, so we didn't have to suffer much time in the sun. The swimming circuit, as I said before, had become a triangle formed by a flag on the shore and two buoys in the sea. It was the same circuit that the participants of the sprint distance would do later on, so we had to do two complete laps.
After swimming a lap instead of making a turn directly into the water you had to go out to the beach, turn on the flag and go back into the water.
Of course, this had a downside, and that is that the beaches of the Costa del Sol are not those fine sandy beaches typical of the Caribbean. No, the sand is quite thick and there are numerous stones. So those of us who do not have hardened feet have to be very careful where we put our foot. And I, who have "soft" feet, even worse.
Returning to the competition, I started out comfortable and without being too tight. The group I had placed myself in was going quite well in terms of pace, which allowed me to follow the front man's feet comfortably and at a pace similar to what I wanted to carry.
On the first lap, after turning at the first buoy, the group started to disperse, so we had to keep an eye on which direction we were swimming. Every now and then, we had to look ahead to see where we were going. But of course, we had to make it coincide with the moment when you were at the top of the wave, because otherwise two things could happen:
- You do it when you're at the bottom of the wave, so you don't see anything at all.
- That you do it when you're about to ride the wave, so you swallow it whole.
And as you might expect, every now and then there was a little wave for breakfast. But the usual open-water swimming
My problems came when I turned the second buoy. Certainly you could see that the current was pushing you against the breakwater, so if you were not careful you would deviate from the perfect straight line, the one that guarantees you to cover the least number of meters possible. Already in the first turn I had a slight deviation that I had to correct. But the worst was after I went out to the shore and came back in.
I totally lost the reference and had to make a new correction, adding more meters to what I should have run (you can check the full track of the race hereSo I had calculated about 27-28 minutes for the swimming segment, and finally I went up to 30 minutes.
That way I'll be ready for the next one and I'll be able to swim better.
After coming out of the water, the long transition from T1 to the pit area began, which we had to do on the sand and then on the pavement and asphalt until we reached the carpeted area. A torment for my delicate feet.
When I get to the bike it takes me a few seconds more than I want to take off my neoprene, but nothing important. Back, glasses, helmet and towards the assembly line at a distance of 5 meters. I jump on the bike and start pedaling while I fasten my shoes.
The cycling segment was divided mentally into four parts: an almost flat straight line from Puerto Banús to the centre of Marbella, an 11-kilometre climb to the end of the Puerto de Ojén, a corresponding descent and then another flat straight line to the pit area.
The plan I had established for this sector was quite clear: to look for a power target of the 90% of my FTP (301W), which would allow me to be as fast as possible on the plain, not to suffer on the way up and to fly on the way down. My intention, therefore, was to roll around 275W constantly.
This Olympic triathlon was without drafting, so after the Benalmadena Sprint Triathlon I modified the bike. Long distance handlebar and turn the seat post. Doesn't make the bike a 100% goat, but it's not too far.
The start is a bit more irregular, as I take the opportunity to get comfortable on the bike, hydrate and start to get my legs used to pedalling. I get on the handlebars from the first minute and start to gain speed calmly.
If there was one thing I was clear about, besides the target power, it was that I should have no power peaks and be as regular as possible. No going out of turns with too high developments or trying to regain cruising speed too fast. I had to look for progressiveness to avoid fatiguing the muscles, which will then be needed to run smoothly.
And I can say that I fulfilled the objective of not having power peaks, although in the descent I had to press something stronger to get some overtaking. But the graph is quite constant at all times.
The truth is that in speed I have no idea how fast I was going, because when I set up the Edge 520 in race mode all I want to see on the screen is time, 10-second power and total standard power. I have other values on the screen like cadence and heart rate to check how I'm doing, but the only thing I pay attention to is the power.
On the first flat stretch the aero position gave me some advantage over the other competitors who were riding with road handlebars. I overtook several riders and only lost one position, to a goat that was rolling faster than me.
But as soon as the road went up, things changed completely. Now all those bikes I had overtaken were giving me back the pass. Although I saw more than one with excess momentum and I knew that sooner or later they would end up paying for it in the race. For my part, I took the opportunity to take a gel on the climb, since later I would not have a chance to take my hands off the handlebars.
My plan remained the same and I resisted the temptation to push after some of those overtakes. I concentrated on setting my target power and worrying only about not exceeding watts and looking for a gap outside the drafting area of the bikes in front of me.
On the climb I combined handgrip and trailer. After the first hard climbs I was able to increase my speed a little bit, keeping the same power, and again trailer, there were not so many overtakes. I had lost a few positions, but my bet for the cycling segment was focused on the descent from the pass and the last flat stretch. That's where I wanted to recover the time and positions I was losing on the climb.
About 55 minutes after starting the segment I crowned the port. Ahead a stretch of false flat that was perfect to regain speed and some positions, so back to aero position and look for the pivot point, not without first hydrate for the last time before facing the descent.
I turn 180º closed and start to go down gradually, gaining speed slowly. In the first stretch before the descent I already recover some positions I had lost in the climb, but the big boat was still to come. I start to go down and, attached to the handlebars, I start to overtake rivals.
The road has quite a lot of curves so overtaking has to be done carefully. I get to a point where we are two bikes that ride faster than the others, although I was getting a little bit in the way. I avoid overtaking anyone on the right, I brake and wait patiently for my moment to overtake.
After a minute's wait there's a clearing where only that bike is in front of me, so it's time to overtake and continue my descent, under all the sprockets and to make some corners without stopping pedalling.
A very fast descent in which I recover a lot of time (and positions). In a matter of 7 minutes I've covered the same distance as before I've gone up in 47, I'm only four seconds away from getting the Strava KOM for the descent.
After completing the fast descent there is a long straight line back to the pit lane. Same power target that, as you can see, I totally nailed (274W of standardized power and 0.90 of intensity factor).
Before arriving at the pits, I take the opportunity to hurry up the fluid cans and hydrate myself correctly, before facing the race on foot.
Arrival at the dismantling area and completion of the cycling segment in 1:17.
Running on foot
This time for the foot race I chose to lose some time in exchange for putting on some socks. 20 seconds difference was not going to make a big difference in the final result, but the 10 kilometers without destroying my feet was going to make a difference.
As I leave the transition area, I take the opportunity to take a second gel and pour another one on my back, just in case. The refreshment area was distributed in such a way that we passed through it up to four times, the first time just after leaving the transition. So, in addition to the gel, I took a salt tablet with the first glasses of water.
The plan I had for the race was to start at 4:45 and build from there, but I was just going to focus on sensations. And in fact the initial plan was not useful because after a somewhat slow start between passing through the refreshment posts and other distractions, I stabilized my race pace. Rhythms were between 4:20-4:30 and a little over 150 beats per minute, so everything was under control.
I make the first turn at the jetty back to the refreshment station, and take the opportunity to soak my head in the water to keep my head cool.
The race segment consisted of two laps of a circuit that, except for a bridge, was totally flat. On the climbs to the bridge I opted to slow down a little and shorten my stride, to avoid any muscular discomfort like the one I had had two weeks ago in the Benalmádena Triathlon.
But that doesn't stop me from getting scared. When I come back from the first turn and face the bridge I have a slip that almost ends in a sprained ankle, although fortunately it's just an anecdote.
First full lap and I'm very cool. I'm keeping up my pace and heart rate, despite the heat at that time, still very stable at 160 ppm. We went out to the breakwater again to do a second lap, taking advantage of the turns to take references with the other riders and see who you're catching up with and who you're losing.
There aren't many overtakes at this point, as we're all running at a fairly steady pace. I get off the breakwater and make one last pass through the refreshment posts, and while I'm at it, I take the last gel. I didn't feel I needed it, but the truth is it was more to get it off the dorsal carrier than anything else.
I go back to the bridge for the second time and, again, I pass it cautiously facing the last straight line, getting a little bit more rhythm. The sensations were very good, and maybe I should have started to increase the rhythm slightly before. I turn right and face the finishing straight where I do the final sprint.
I finished the foot race sector in 44'43" and a final time of 2:38:08; qualifying in position 45 for my age group and 93 overall.
Overall, it was a pretty good and complete race, with the spine of a regular swim remaining (two weeks ago in the Benalmádena Triathlon, even though I was sick, I was much better in both rhythm and orientation). But the cycling segment was really good, as I nailed the power goal I set. That goal was clearly not too pretentious and it didn't take its toll at any time during the foot race.
In fact, that time in the race sector is my best mark for 10 kilometers. It's true that it's been a while since I've competed seriously in a race of this distance, but it's still rewarding to get MMPs in the last sector of a triathlon. And checking the timing control, I'm running uphill gaining positions from the start of the swim.
Many positive things and almost nothing negative, so overall I'm very happy with the performance, but I'm sure it can be improved for the next one, so it's time to go back to training.
And with that... thanks for reading!