Ok here goes. RACE REPORT: by Bill Barry….
I don’t mind saying I picked Barcelona partly to get a fast time. I was between Barcelona, Roth, Austria. But my mate in Waterford Tri Club said he was doing Barca and a good gang from Waterford were going. So Barcelona it was. I had a serious look at where I could improve, and after a while I set myself a target of sub 10. Some people said I was crazy. But I don’t see the value in doing something like this unless I set myself a serious challenge and push the boundaries of what i’m capable of. Unfortunately, LIFE threw me some serious curveballs and speedbumps in the last few months leading up to the race. So going out there, I knew sub10 was highly unlikely. But I was still gonna throw everything I had at it and go for the sub10. I’d kick myself afterwards if I didn’t.
Flew out to Barcelona with Alma and the kids the Wed before the race and hired a car. Drove up the coast road to get a feel for the bike course. Couldn’t get up the new added section, so was unaware of what that was like. But first impressions were good. Settled in to Calella, and couldn’t get over how easy it was to get around. Everything was easily accessible, and the kids were happy. That meant the boss was happy, so less stress on me!!!!
And so to race day. I was very chilled out on race day. Slept pretty good. Bike check-in was stress free. Felt ready. I didn’t do a warm-up, and it came back to bite me.
SWIM: Picked the 50:00-60:00 start pen in the hope of getting on some fast coat tails. And GO,GO,GO. Started ok in the swim. But my shoulders just could not get going. Felt as stiff as a board. Water was a little choppy, but that didn’t bother me. Got to the first turn bouy and got battered. On the the long section parallel to the beach their just seemed to be wave after wave of groups coming past and bashing the hell out of me. Nearly had my chip ripped off twice. Kicked in the goggles three times. And still I couldn’t get on the back of any of these groups. I was really beating myself up mentally at this stage. And the next turn bouy just seemed to take forever to appear. Finally I got into a rythm about 1.5k in. Ya should’ve done a warm-up numpty!!!!! Once I got to the end turn bouys, I really felt like I was motoring. I sighted really well, and literally hit every marker bouy on the way back. The short leg back into the beach seemed to last forever, but I finally reached the end. I don’t have a waterproof Garmin, so I had no idea of my time. But I was sure I was a long way off 1:05, which was my minimum target. Later found out it was 1:08:12. Very dissapointed with that. But I’d done very little swim training in the last two months before raceday.
BIKE: OK. Was feeling pretty confident for this. I had put my training emphasis on this leg, as its my weakest. Bikefit, new bike and wheels, new helmet, a full year on Trainerroad. I had set myself a target of 5:00-5:15 for the bike split. I went out really strong on the bike. There were lots of big groups going out the road and it was hard not to be part of them. But luckily, a moped came alongside blowing his whistle like crazy and broke up the groups. I felt really strong going out the road and when I hit the flat sections I was motoring. Started taking in my nutrition and my stomach started cramping like crazy. It was cramping a little coming out of town, but as soon as starting my nutrition it got worse. Nevertheless, I kept the hammer down. By the time I reached the new section, which is a long torturous drag up a motorway, I had puked twice. I knew this wasn’t good, but I kept forcing down the Powerbar drink and gels. Back on the flat, and I felt a little down on power. Forced the nutrition down and kept the hammer down as much as I could. By the time I got to the first turnaround, and second aid station shortly after, I had puked again. But I was still on target for a 5:00hr split. Ok, I’ll take a bottle of water this time to see will that settle. Took two salt capsules straight away, and continued with my Clifbars. Gave the gels a break for a bit. The road back in was into a head wind and it was a real struggle. A couple of groups went past and I resisted the urge to jump on. Even though I was grateful for the brief respite from the wind. I felt a little drained going back in the rollers into town and when I got to the turnaround back in Calella, I decided to dial it back a bit on the way back out of town. The memories of completely dying on the second lap in Port Macquarie were fresh in my memory. Watch the heart rate and wait til yer on the flat and see how ya feel. Got to the flat and got the momentum going again. Stomach was starting to settle a bit. So pushed on again. It was noticeably starting to heat up now. But I pushed on. Got to the second time up the motorway climb. I died a death. I had picked up a bottle of water at the aid station at bottom of climb. And I guzzled it. I got really dizzy going up the climb and seriously considered pulling out. I was totally disorientated and energy levels were zapped. I got to the turnaround at top of climb and just rolled down. There was now a headwind going down the climb. Speed was way down on last time time, but I was thankful for the cool breeze all the way down. i got back on the flat, and after that cool down I felt re-energised. Picked it back up again and reached the turnaround for the second time. This got me going mentally. On the home stretch now. Again I was facing into a headwind, but not as bad as the first lap. Put the head down and stuck to the revised plan. Heart was telling me to push on. Head was telling me, you have a marathon to run ya big eejit. Listened to the head. Shortly after turnaround a couple of guys passed me, that I had passed about 10k back. And they slowed down. I was trying to keep my target speed pretty steady on the way back. So I passed them. And they passed me. We caught up with another long line of cyclists. And they sat in behind them!!! F**k this. F**k the plan. F**k the HR. I’m sick of this sh*t. I put the hammer down and passed everyone. Hoping the clowns wouldn’t follow. Kept the head down, hammer down, HR way up, all the way back to the rollers back into Calella. And the clowns all passed me on the last steep climb up passed the last aid station. Boy did i feel like the clown. Hammered it back into town and down the endless speedbumps back to T2. I saw i was close to 5:20, so raced flat out all the way back to T2. 5:21:34.
Set out on the run with a target in mind. I felt throughout my training that I was capable of running close to a 3:30 marathon off the bike. So I set off with that in mind, but also taking into account how I felt on the day. Ran the first 2K on target, and then the heat started to get to me. I had to think on my feet with regards to nutrition, as I was very aware that my earlier stomach problems could de-rail the whole day if they came back on the run. So the plan became, one gel, two bottles of water (one in the stomach, one over the head), EVERY aid station. Slowed the pace to what I felt I could maintain and ignored the watch a little. Just glancing at it every now and then to make sure I wasn’t going backwards. On the first lap the heat nearly killed me. It was up to 27deg and it was beaming intensely down on my head. I thought I was going to explode. I couldn’t wait to get to aid stations to pour water over my head. There’s a long section at the top end of the run course that seems to go on forever the first time. I just didn’t know where the turnaround was and it was mentally excruciating. But when I got to it, I got a mental lift. Ok, thats the tough part done once. Only twice more. You can do this. When I got to the end of the first lap, the sun decided to step in behind some clouds. It was still brutally hot, but it wasn’t burning a hole in my head!!!!. I got a lift from the crowd and especially from my family and a huge surprise to see one of my best friends Fran, who lives down the coast in Valencia, cheering me on. And I mean cheering me on. He was leppin and hollerin on a quieter part of the course and it gave me a huge lift. Between that and the sun giving me a break, I got a new lease of life. I pushed on as hard as I could. I felt really strong that second lap. I finished the 2nd lap and as I started out on the last lap, my legs started to feel heavy. Had I went too hard on the last lap? A few km’s into the last lap I remembered I had a few spare gels with caffeine in my back pocket. As i was expecting, I started to struggle a little about 35k in. So I took the gels. And a few from the next aid station. Got to the turnaround, had banana, more gels and water, and said “right, home stretch”. A few kms later my watch died after pouring copious amounts of water over it and my head. So I said to myself ” F**k the watch, lets f**kin do this”. I ran straight through the last aid station, and I ran as hard as I could the last few km’s. I was screaming like a mad man with the pain, screaming at people on the narrow finish to get the f**ck out of the way. Seen Alma and the kids about 200mts from the finish as she couldn’t get into the stand with the buggy. That really put a smile on my face. As I entered the finish chute I noticed a few finishers in front of me. I slowed right down to soak up all of it. I had sprinted through the finish in Port Mac and I wasn’t doing that again. I cajoled the crowd into a big cheer, and jogged over the line. A few seconds didn’t matter to me. I had really enjoyed my day, and I was taking it all in. I turned around to the clock to see I had finished in 10:30:17. With a 3:48:54 marathon.
Very pleased with that. Obviously a sub10 would have been amazing, but I’m very happy with that. I went into the finishers tent and it was like a sauna. I nearly passed out. Drank about a gallon of cold Coke (stuff on course was manky warm). Got a sandwich and went straight out to meet Alma and the kids, and our ex-au-pair who had travelled from Frankfurt to support me.
I’m already planning my next one and how I can improve. Definately a coach is required to go any faster. I need to drop a few more kg’s. A few other things. I’ve learnt so much in this last year about myself and about training.
A huge thank you to my wife Alma for putting up with me. I might give her a year or two off.