Thomas: European Championships – Challenge Barcelona

barcelonen maisemia. Kuva: Darby Thomas

barcelonen maisemia. Kuva: Darby Thomas

Triatleetti Darby Thomas aloittaa Hevoskuurin uutena blogistina. Thomas kirjoittaa omalla äidinkilellään englannilla! Ensimmäinen kirjoitus on puolimatkojen EM-kilpailusta.

What a day! I am the first to admit swimming is not my strong point but the conditions we faced in the European Championships in Barcelona were something special. High winds for the days leading up to the event left the ocean with 2 meter breaking waves and heavy swells in 15 degrees Celsius water. It was enough to make even the seasoned veterans nervous, which left me beyond nervous... actually relaxed! It was so bad I somehow found it funny. I knew I was in for a pounding, I just didn't know how much.

Once the gun went off I quickly learned how tough the real ocean can be. I was not able to get into the water before hand and in the first seconds in the water I was regretting that as the cold water shocked the air right out of my lunges. Then the first big wave hit me... and the 2nd and the 3rd and and and.... I quickly got into survival mode, which according to human nature, is find strength in numbers. By the time I made it to the first buoy, the race had properly exploded and I could barely find anyone but managed to get into a small group. We turned the first corner and headed straight into the rising sun, which only added to the difficulty of navigating in the constant rise and fall of 2 meter swells.

During the middle part of the course, the group I was in became so disoriented we stopped a couple times to ask each other 'where next?' A safety boat was whistling at us at one point and yelling we were off course. We did eventually make it to the end with a record setting slow time more than 5 minutes slower than my WORST 1900m swim ever! Post-race I checked the data gathered from my GPS watch in the swim and it showed I swam an extra 300m, which I supposed would make my time more understandable.

Into transition I jogged knowing any chance of a top placing evaporated on the horrendous swim, but somehow I was still really happy to be there and looking forward to the bike and run where I could at least test myself on the tricky course. The day before we had driven the bike course and I knew it would be a real tough one. Three major climbs of 3-5km each and some very technical descents made for a challenging day. But I really enjoyed pushing hard on the course. Maybe it was because I had no pressure what so ever as I was so far back after the swim, but I was having a great time riding the hills, which I miss so much living in Finland.

The bike rolled by surprisingly quickly and I almost wanted to keep going as my energy was fine and I was enjoying the day. However, I also wanted to push myself on the run course to prove I can run with the best, even if they were kilometers up the road. I settled into a quick pace and managed to build through the whole run to finish faster than I started. While Javier Gomez easily took the win and ran minutes ahead of 2nd fastest, I was pleased to find from the results I ran the 5th fastest time with 1:15 (my watch said 1:14 so not sure how they got that number but ok...). I was also pretty pleased to see I matched Chris McCormack on the bike and run sections.

I know I should be very disappointed to end up with such a poor overall placing but somehow this result doesn't bother me. I survived (literally) a crazy swim, rode a very well-paced bike and finished it off with a solid run. I know from this that given a different course (swim mostly) I am in a position to really race at the front, which leaves me excited and itching to race again. I won't have to wait long as in less than two weeks I will head back to the US for a two-race block of events in June. Both courses suite me well and I look forward to proving Barcelona was an exception.

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