-By: Tomas Swift-Metcalfe
Last modified: May 3, 2015
This was the first triathlon I did as an elite. I literally jumped in the deep end here. The field was pretty much as good as gets: Hector Guerra (ex-pro cyclist, whom I had said would win it), Bruno Pais (Ironman Pro and Silver medal in last years European championships) and Gustavo Rodriguez Iglesias another former cyclist and Bronze medal from last years European championships.
This last month, with a lot of work with the business I hadn’t swum or cycled much and even struggled to get the running training done. I had very specific ambitions for the race: Try and break 4 h, stick with the pros in the swim and do a good run.
In the swim the first group went off like a rocket, it was incredible. I’m used to seeing slowly edging away, this time I was just left standing. I looked around and found my group so just stuck on some guys feet. It was an odd sensation. Swimming on his feet it all felt easy. On the second lap of the age-group heat was mixed in and things became serious complicated, I lost the guy I was marking and just came in as fast as I could manage.
The bike had been a nightmare from the previous day… I had a clunking at the bottom of the left pedal stroke, which I though was the bearings, so I changed them; no easy task pushing out the press fitting bearings from the bottom bracket cups and carefully putting new one’s in. After finding the cranks still clunked I changed the pedals, still clunking. The carbon crank arm had become detached from the aluminium attachment. The ancient Corima 8 spoke wheel was also making a strange noise. Anyway, I figured I’d just muddle through and not worry about it.
The Garmim too was causing issues and not giving me any info of any useful type. I think it’s time to drop the 910 and go back to the 110 with is simple and works.
On the bike my form was pretty good. I have trained much on the bike at all, 2 in the past 2 weeks, plus one guided training with a client, so I was happy to catch a few elites quickly and control my losses to the front of the race which were oscillating between 4-5’ to Gustavo and 5-7’ to Bruno Pais. On the last hill, on the last lap right at the farthest point from the transition park I got a puncture in the tub (tire) on the disk wheel: Game Over. I wasn’t angry, I just felt it was fate talking.
It’s the bike I dropped out of the last Volta a Portugal with the infection and the rest. In Challenge Paguera where I was also doing okay I got another 2 punctured, now this. I haven’t had much luck aboard this bike.
As tempting as it is to give up after everything goes to pot, I decided on a couple of things after the puncture: I was roll in carefully not to break the wheel and I was going to try and get some training references from the run, but my heart wasn’t really in it and the busy course and uneven ground just made it frustrating.
It wasn’t all bad: It allowed me to piece together a strategy for the future. It’s not going to be this year that I ‘go pro’. Triathlon is resource and time expensive and this year with my business picking up and finally wrapping up my degree my priorities have to go that way. I discussed with my wife my options and I simply can’t justify spending 5K on competitive equipment, there are things like a house, business, education that are more important.
On the performance front there was good news too: I no longer fear the swim, I have hardly been in the water in a month and finished in a group (the last group admittedly) of elites. Biking, sure it needs work and investment, but I know that part and my running is getting there swiftly.
‘What if’s’ don’t count for much, but had things gone well and I had not punctured then realistically I would have come in 7th. That’s based on the time difference to Bruno Pais on the bike 15km from the finish (7′) and my run time (about 7′ slower than Bruno), in my own glorified brick session.
I was an honour to race in such a field and next time I do so, if I do so, I will be prepared. It won’t be something cobbled together round 80 h work weeks and done with crap equipment.
Basically the plan is now to train for my health and enjoyment, without pressure and without objectives at least till the summer is out. Once the summer is out I will be writing my dissertation so it might not even be then that I pick it up again. Next year however I will finish studying by March and that means that it will this time in one year, at Lisboa Triathlon that I will be racing with the proper form and conditions.