So I think it is official- I am a triathlete. What that means is that I will basically talk about it all of the time, and in too much detail, for the average human to listen (or read) for longer than about 10 seconds. For those of you who are interested in the details of the race, please continue reading. If you are not that into hearing about it, just know that it was hard, the weather sucked for the swim and the run, but I am happy with how I did. Sharing the experience with my friends made it a truly unforgettable race weekend. Read about that here.
Coming into this race, I was mostly concerned about the bike course. It is hilly with apparently “technical” descents. For someone who can still barely clip in without wobbling all over the road, the word “technical” and “descent” do not ever need to be put together. My hands get cramps every time I have to go down a hill from braking so hard. Couple this course with the 100% chance of storms on race day and I spent a good deal of time complaining about my probable near death wipe out that was bound to occur. I tried not to get too nervous, and just remembered the morning that I was out with the guys and got caught in the rain coming down one of the hardest descents in our Berici Hills. I made it down that so I just had to remember I am capable. I was also concerned that I would “run out of gears” on the climbs and then somehow fall over from going too slowly. In case that sounds weird to you, just know that it is possible. (I know, super embarrassing but whatareyagonnado!)
We checked race day weather obsessively all weekend, but my friend LM said it best: “Maybe Italian weather is an unpredictable as the trains and Internet.” Just kept hoping so, cuz that 100% chance of storms from noon until 7 pm was really annoying. Wait, who cares if it is raining in the evening, right? Don’t most races start in the morning? Well, yes, yes they do. Except this one. We had a nice noon start. Let me tell you, sitting in an apartment for three hours race morning with nothing to do and three nervous triathletes is super fun times. How many breakfasts can you really eat? (The answer is 3).
We headed to transition for last minute additions to our bags and bikes, and then sat around for a while until the start. This is when it started raining. Good thing our bikes had been wrapped in giant bags, which made for good raincoats. With about 20 minutes to go until the start, I got into the water and swam a bit. This always helps bring my heart rate back to normal and helps me focus. The water was pretty calm, just a small amount of current but no real waves at this point. The swim start was a self seeded rolling start based on predicted finish time, so I said bye to RH and TP and headed to my spot in line. I was one of only a handful of females I could see up front.
What I could see, however, were huge masses of black clouds surrounding us on three sides. The wind picked up and there were whitecaps out in the water. I had a couple minutes to go before I would get in and I heard my name. I looked over and see my buddy BM from Vicenza! He had surprised our little crew by taking the train down and coming to watch the race! He had just completed his third half iron in five weeks. Quick high five and then I was in the water.
I enjoyed the swim because I passed a ton of people out there. It was a straight up washing machine. Huge waves coming from two directions made sighting tricky, but I feel that some of the crappy Siesta Key weather days helped me prepare. The only thing missing this time around were SR’s epic beach margaritas beforehand. People were getting smacked by the buoys, and I saw a couple people get pushed into the rocks. I actually duck dove and breaststroked the whole way out and then tried to ride the waves back in.
Once I got out and was running to transition, I saw all my friends and they yelled at me to stop. Turns out that they stopped letting people in the water right after I went in because the weather was too bad, and they were rescuing too many people. There were jet skis, kayaks, and surfboards out there to pull people in, and apparently there was a helicopter rescue as well. The race director made the right call. It was a mess out there and if the strongest swimmers were having that much trouble there is no way that anyone else should be put into that situation.
The director then proceeded to explain our rolling bike start. So everyone went and got their bikes, then lined up and were started 5 people every 5 seconds. This should have been easy, but of course I couldn’t clip in and almost wobbled straight into a bunch of spectators. One day I will not be such a disaster.
The bike- Phew!! We learned at the race briefing that the course was actually 3 miles longer than normal (59 miles total). Not super pumped about that, as I do not feel that 3 miles is insignificant. But, the race gods smiled on us, and it did not rain on the bike course!! CAN I GET A HECK YEAH. The course had three major climbs, and all I could remember was that one of them was between mile 20-23. I have blacked out most of the bike part. I do remember coming up to the first aid station more quickly than I thought, and chugging a whole bottle of Skratch so I could switch it out. Did not knock over any volunteers or drop a bottle which equals success. The other things that I remember on the bike were trying to convert kilometers to miles every time I saw a course marker, and having an embarrassing amount of trouble with the math. The good news is that distracted me for quite a while. It was probably 50 km before I finally got it sorted out. This is the part where I began singing to myself. “This is the bike that never ends, it just goes on and on my friend…” Unfortunately there were no other words to this jingle so it got a bit repetitive. Also, ladies, no new kits on race day. I repeat, NO NEW KITS ON RACE DAY. You never know where that seam is actually going to settle.
The course was lined with people for the majority of the way. It is always fun when spectators spot a female because we are few and far between out there. Lots of “brava! bellissima!” Little kids also get excited to see Americans. In one town they tried to give me a pint of beer and a kebab. If i can barely grab a water bottle I could only imagine what carnage would occur if I tried to grab a kebab!!
The other thing I noticed was the very nice placement of hay bales along some of the guardrails and stone fences on the descents, exactly in the location where one would skid out and bite it. Comforting, I suppose.
I would like to shout out to the nice Italian man, bib 286, who passed me on a climb and gave me words of encouragement. I saw him a bunch on the run and he was a jolly spirit. Also would like to shout out to the Italian, bib unknown, named Roberto, who climbed with me on the last hill. Virtual high five to Elizabeth from Great Britain who was with me on most of the bike course. And lastly, a shout out to Robin, from Clermont, FL. Always fun to hear “Let’s go, USA!” out there.
After the last descent, it was about 6 miles on sort of flat with a slight uphill back into town. My speed was at 16.9 average and I could not let that be…. so I picked it up to bring it to 17.0 mph. If only I had felt like cheating and riding in a pace line like EVERYONE ELSE on the way back in. Course marshals were all over though and I saw tons of people get carded for drafting. Into T2 and out on the run course. This is the bike that finally ended!
The run was miserable. It starts out over a big bridge, and then 3 loops that I am certain were each actually 12 miles long. It poured for most of my run and I was tired and my legs hurt. Pretty sure that is normal, though. It took me up until about 6 miles to get a rhythm. I had a mantra to keep me going, which is a trick I have learned from my bestie MG. This time around it was “You’re not hurt, you’re just tired, quit being a little b*itch.” Uplifting enough I suppose. The good news about the run was…. THERE WAS SO MUCH COCA COLA!!!! So once again, Coke at every aid station. Run, run, run, walk to drink Coke, run, run, run, (shuffle?), more Coke.
The run course was also lined with spectators which was nice. Thank you to them for standing out in the rain and yelling! The finish chute was on the beach and it was actually really cool. I finished quite near my goal time according to my watch, but had there been a real T1 I think I would have been a couple minutes over. My official race time is way off because they just gave everyone a one hour time for swim/T1 which is clearly an eternity more than it actually would take me to swim and transition.
Thanks for reading this far! I would certainly recommend this race, the bike course was beautiful and if the monsoons held out for the rest of it I think it would be amazing. If you are interested about reading about the rest of the fun we had in Pescara, please click here.