ITU World Championships
Mellow greetings and welcome to an extra special, extra exciting, extra rousing TRIO of race reports all rolled into one epic multisport almanac courtesy of, well, me! It’s been a very busy few weeks for me and for Team Tingle in general. When last you heard from me, I had just gotten back from USAT Duathlon Nationals on April 14th. The very next weekend, Manda and I were on a plane headed for Spain where I would be racing the ITU Sprint Du World Championship the following weekend. We got back from Spain (after a VERY long and frustrating return flight.. ) on May 30th. Then, I raced the Lakeside of the Smokies Sprint on May 11 before finishing up this trinity at the XTERRA Southeast Championship in Pelham, AL. Needless to say, I’m a bit tired but it’s been a great start to the season. I know by now I’ve either gotten your attention or lost you completely so, for those still here, let’s dig into each of these little diddies and see how I got on.
First up, ITU Sprint Duathlon World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain. I’m going to (maybe, probably) write another post about all the non-race adventures in Spain but for now, I’ll stick to the race itself. As I mentioned, we got into Spain a week before the race. We spent a little over a day in Santiago de Compostela before trekking south to Vigo where we spent the next three days. The race was in Pontevedra which was situated between Santiago and Vigo. We arrived in Pontevedra on Friday where we checked into our AirBnb that we were sharing with our good friends, Lana and Chris, who were racing the standard distance race on Sunday. After getting checked in, we headed to the expo and I picked up my race packet. Soon after we were joined by Lana and Chris who had arrived just in time for the Team USA pictures and the opening ceremony. We opted to watch the ceremony from the outside before heading back to get some sleep. Oh, I should also mention that I did not use my own bike. Since the bike portion of my race was only 20k and on a road bike, I didn’t see any reason to spend the money to fly my bike or ship my bike since I knew I wouldn’t have any opportunity to really ride other than the race. Honestly, it’s one of the best decisions I made. Not having to worry about packing and unpacking and packing and unpacking a bike was an ENORMOUS reduction in my stress level. Well, except for trying to get my pedals installed. When the organizer dropped the bike off, he didn’t have the correct size allen key for my Speedplay pedals. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just have one of the mechanics do it for me at the expo. Well, turns out, they weren’t there. And all the bike shops were closed for siesta.. And I had to check the bike in that afternoon. I was beginning to get a little antsy when my wife flagged down another athlete from Great Britain, Zoe, who had her multi tool in their car (I had left mine at home by accident). Pedals installed, crisis averted, new friend made and bike checked in. Success! Anyway, race morning came and we made the short drive to Pontevedra from our house in Marin. Traffic was no issue whatsoever and with the free parking pass distributed upon request at check-in, we parked around 400m from the transition area. I got a short 20 or 30 minute run warmup done and then headed to transition to get staged for my wave. Before long, we were corralled up and then 3..2..1..GO! The whole pack surged out of the chute like a cannon. I had put myself toward the back of the wave but the whole pack was just so fast. After we got out of the stadium and made the first few corners (probably 400m or so) the road straightened a bit and I looked down at my watch 4:59 pace! Holy NOPE! I backed the pace down to a more reasonable(?!) 6:30ish and found a couple of my Team USA teammates. We stayed close together for the first couple k’s of the 5k first run. Then, they surged a bit ahead of me and I couldn’t hold the pace. I wasn’t too worried because I knew in a draft legal bike I would be able to catch them back up and we could work the bike to our advantage. There was a LOT more elevation than I realized on the run and it made for a pretty tough 2nd loop. Still managed to come in to T1 with a time of 20:11 (6:32/mile pace).
Onto the bike I caught up quickly with the group containing a few of my teammates and we worked our way out of town. The roads were rolling with some pretty sharp pitches until we got onto the main climb of the course. It was a long grinder of a climb. Nothing too steep but several miles long. The pack I was riding in dissolved as we hit the climb and I found myself climbing my own mountain, so to speak, for quite a bit before another group caught me up. I jumped in that group where I stayed for the rest of the ride. Over the crest of the hill it was just a short descent to the turnaround then back up and over the crest again before a SCREAMING descent back toward Pontevedra. Rolling back into town I was really happy that my rental bike (which I’d only ridden in the parking lot) performed so well. I didn’t have a single mechanical issue. Ride done! 32:59 (22.2 mph avg)
Heading out on Run 2 my legs were feeling that first 5k and big climb on the bike so I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any 2.5k records. I just settled into the most uncomfortable pace I could hold and got back to the finish line as quickly as possible. That turned out to be 11:35 with a 7:21/mile average. Not too bad. When the results came through I was 30th of 42 in the Age Group but I was the 2nd placed American (out of, I think, 4… or maybe 5). I wasn’t expecting to do anything like make the podium and I’m very happy with the way the race went. The best part, though, was getting to represent my country and wear the colors of the USA on the world stage. That, and getting to see such a beautiful part of the world and share the adventure with my lovely wife!