And they are very very different. I got lost looking for the changing rooms at the swimming pool as I couldn’t read the signs. But then again the “man” and “woman” silhouettes on the doors should give the game away. Anyway, after wandering around smelling that tantalising wiff of chlorine I found the water. Add that to the wee man guiding me around the bike course on his mountain bike during the race. He just couldn’t stop chatting and cheering me on. In Basque. I am sure that he was being inspirational and motivational but it did cross my mind that he could have been telling me that I looked a monkey and my granny could run faster. Who knows? That’s not fair to monkeys or grannies.
However, I digress…..
I was in Zarautz this past weekend for the Trigrandprix double Olympic distance triathlon. The race has actually been going for a whopping 24 years and has quite the reputation in Spain for being one of the most challenging and most beautiful courses in triathlon. And it sure did live up to the reputation. The sea swim was looooong. I know that the organisers told us that it was only 2.5k. However, when it’s point to point along the coast and there are only 2 buoys, you begin to wonder where you are going to end up. In fact, Rinny and Jo who were (strangely) relying on me to navigate were at the sharp end of my screw-kick breast stroke as I floundered to spot the buoys in the swell. I eventually dragged myself like an elephant seal (although a lot slower) out of the water with the thought that I should really fall to my knees and kiss terra firma. We’d been out there for days. Jo, Rinny and I were at least 2.5mins down on Leanda and it was time to get to work. Zarautz has a cheeky bike course. A three lapper – 2 big loops with a couple of hills and then a 20km final lap which contains the affectionately named “wall”. Let’s just say that even with a 27 rear cassette I really could have done with another emergency granny gear. That’s not to say that I did not enjoy the course. I love hills and a relish that sort of bike ride so I was in my element. Rinny and I had pulled away from Jo on the first climb of the day and by the close of the first lap I had put a gap into Rinny. It was hard to tell where Leanda was as there were very few people taking timings on the course so I rode as hard as I could and in the end could only put a minute into Leanda’s stonking bike split. The transition area was a blast, hairs stand up on the back of your neck because the crowd is so animated and are making so much noise! As I headed out on the run a made a deal with myself. Run as I felt, I did not want to push to a pace and pressure myself. Having completed an Ironman only 3 weeks previously and doing virtually no running before the weekend my intention was to take things as they came. For me they came good. Laps one and two were super and I felt as if I was dancing along the pavements. Lap 3 was tougher, running with Rinny stalking you is not a great feeling. I tried not to dwell on this and to focus on catching Leanda. The run course is a three lap tour through town and allows you the chance to see the competition on a short out and back section on the sea front. That’s motivational when you know that you are gaining. Around 4.5k from the end I passed Leanda and tried not to slow down. The finishing 500m through the town was a blast with loads of people lining the streets. I’m not known for smiling during races but it was impossible not to grin big time on this one!
Thanks to Jim and Jose and the race organisers at the weekend. It was an honour to race in such a wonderful place. It was also super to race against such a top class women’s field and to hang around with a great bunch of athletes. I hope that the Trigrandprix goes from strength to strength. There was even a Trigrandprix rose on my bed when I got back to my hotel room. I’m not reading too much into the fact that it was addressed to Mirinda……