Today I completed a sprint triathlon in the town of Manerba del Garda, which is on the western shore of Lago di Garda, the largest of the lakes in Northern Italy.
The first major difference between a race in the States and here is the start time- 10:25 AM for the first wave. My half ironman next month starts at noon. NOON. What are you supposed to do all morning? So weird. We get to the town and just follow everyone else with bikes in their cars and figure out where registration is. Another major difference in Italian races is that every competitor must have a medical release signed by a doctor in order to participate. Technically this has to be an Italian doctor and involves a stress test and an EKG or something, but luckily no one asked me for my (forged from an Army doctor) paperwork today.
Transition did not open until 9:30, and was only open for thirty minutes. As you can imagine that was a bit of a crowd. I got stopped on the way in because I had to take off my aero bars. I did not understand why and no one could explain it to me, but after asking a friend it turns out that the International Triathlon Union is draft legal, which means I can’t have my aero bars. I needed to have some sort of weird cap on the ends for some reason, even though I don’t have gears up there. Meh, whatever. So anyway, my transition set up was a little rushed, and combined with trying to put on a full wetsuit that doesn’t belong to me I got to the water just before the start. Luckily, my friend who speaks Italian was there to inform me that the start was down the beach from where I thought it was, so I got myself to the right spot and then the horn went off.
My swimming was off today. My arms were tired and slightly sore almost immediately, and I could not get my breathing to settle. I drank several mouthfuls of water, which never happens to me, and I was getting smoked by the pack. Like, these girls were FAST. My sighting was off today as well, but luckily I had people to follow (ha).
Transition was about 400 meters from the water. I spent this time trying to wrangle myself out of the top of the wetsuit. Not easy.
The bike was ok. My legs were tired pretty much from the start. The loop was made up of three hills with turn arounds at the top, which repeated to make the 20k course. In a draft legal race, there are no rules about how close you can be to other riders. Usually you have to stay three bike lengths away from other riders to avoid drafting, and can only pass on the left. In today’s race, there were cyclists flying through the course in giant packs, weaving to the right of others, and generally going all over the place in an unpredictable fashion. Sort of like standing in line in Italy 😉 At one point I almost crashed because I was passing someone and then this other guy decided to pass both of us… by going in between. I made it off the bike without getting run over by anyone so that was a success.
The run was a 5k that followed the sidewalk along the lake for a bit, then wound up a hill and through town back to the finish. Again, my legs were tired, and I got passed by several people running really fast. Convinced I was plodding along, I was pleasantly surprised by my splits on the run. I have been struggling with my running lately and it was nice to see the miles clocking in at a respectable time for once.
Our finisher bags including pasta, tomato sauce, and wine. Sure beats a sample size of Bio-Freeze! Oh, and there was Coke at the finish line. This was a nice, well run little race and it would be fun to get a group together to go next year.