Into the great unknown
Into the great unknown
As far is I can tell this triathlon business is 90% in the head. I'm really good at some bits, not so good at others, and mostly it's a great ever unknown. This is my experience of managing mind, and body, to be the best triathlete I can be.

Race report: Challenge Fuerteventura

ritatrisby ritatrisApr 17th 2013
Wow, that was incredible. Saturday was an amazing day - I'm going to struggle to get down how great the experience was, so it's a long one and prepare for some repeated superlatives!

We had two full days at the Playitas resort in Fuerteventura before the Challenge half ironman race. We had a bit of a test run and ride on the course - very short, just enough to check the temperature, inclines and wind conditions. By the Friday I just wanted to get out there!

After about 4 hours sleep we got up, got fed, put bottles on bikes, and got into wetsuits. The field was small - only 200ish, and I got right to the back of the start for the swim.

I've not done a sea swim before, and it didn't go well. The first c.550m were grim. I'm not a strong swimmer at the best of times, and I didn't get into any rhythm - kind of froze up mentally. I spent the rest seriously thinking I might not make the cut off time, being sick twice and resorting to breast stroke for at least half the distance. I kept focusing on how much I did not want to get out and be told I'd missed the time! But I got up the beach (sick again) and no-one stopped me, so assumed I was safe for some cycling.

Got on the bike, and everything clicked. From then on in it was perfect. It felt fantastic. I love my bike, the roads were great and it felt like me and my bike were on for a good one. I got the pacing and effort level spot on and held it nice and consistent all the way round, felt super comfortable on the aerobars, and did I mention how great the roads were?

Best of all were the ups and downs. It's not a flat course by any stretch, but the roads are well engineered which meant only one short steep climb and the rest were steady climbing, with some incredible sweeping descents. The lack of hedges meant you could see the road - no blind corners so no need for brakes! After some long headwind climbs I went over the final climb at c.70k, and it was downhill with a tailwind all the way home.

Me and my bike had an amazing time, but I was good to get off and get running. The last 2.5k cycle was alongside the run course, and there were a lot of fast people out there as I came in to T2. Ah well, I had some basic expectations for the run, so no worries about the competition! I'd never run more than 10 miles before, that was 2 years ago, and the last few months topped out at a sore 10k with ITB issues, so the plan was run 10k, stop and stretch if needs be, prepare to walk/run the rest.

The course followed two laps - one long out and back then round the resort, then a short out and back on the same route and final lap of the resort. Got to the turn point comfortably, then met boyfriend doing his second lap. It was really nice to get to run with him for a few k! Got to 10k comfortably, and nothing hurt, saw boyfriend through the finish, and went out for my last 8k. I dipped up the hill between 13 and 16k, but managed to keep moving, and picked up for the last 5. Coming over the hill for the last time I realised I was going to do this, and run the whole thing! And nothing hurt! Woo! It was such a good course doing laps, because you got to see the athletes you were running with lots which made for a great atmosphere.

Bizarrely, running over the finish line doesn't stand out so much now. I enjoyed it so much that the overwhelming memories are having an incredible time cycling and running around in the sunshine with lots of other lovely athletes. Mind you, the cup of coke downed after the line that was the sweetest thing I've ever tasted, sitting in the paddling pool set up for athletes (probably was still ice when the pros finished), the incredible hour long free massage, and atmosphere of everyone in the finish area were definitely equally amazing experiences!

I've never felt so happy about being 12th last. Being a somewhat competitive type doing a distance where finishing and enjoying was the aim, not times, or placing, or racing, was amazing. I am extremely pleased with my pacing, bike and run, and I will know what to expect for the swim next time. After months of training, some tantrums, some self inflicted pressure and some doubt, the best bit by such a long way was that I had such an amazing time. And seen as only three of us turned up, I got a nice trophy for second in category, which is nice ;)
sarahleonardby member: sarahleonard, Apr 18th 2013 14:48
Woo hoo! Superb :-) Sounds like you had a great race and a brilliant time doing it, that's what it all about. Now enjoy some sunshine!
twiggyby member: twiggy, Apr 20th 2013 15:30
Well done Rita!
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