Thursday, September 22, 2011

Arrival in Spain!

The Mrs. and I touched down in Madrid early Monday morning. Despite two LONG flights east, we were determined to stay up and acclimate to the time change as soon as possible. We stayed with friends in Salamanca, right in the heart of Madrid and since we only had two days here, we wanted to hit the ground running!

We dropped our bags and bike box (sigh of relief) and headed around the corner to a coffee shop for a quick croissant and cappuccino. I NEVER drink coffee (this was in fact my first cappuccino) and for some reason, after having drunk most of that cup all I wanted to do was lie down! What?! So, we weighed our options and decided to head back, get an hour of shut-eye and THEN hit the ground running… An hour of shut-eye turned into 2.5 and we didn’t get out the door until 2 at which point we deliriously shuffled over to the Thyssen museum. I have yet to look at the pictures we took on our stroll to the museum, but I have to assume they were pretty amusing because I don’t remember much of that part of the walk!

Happily, that 2-hour nap was all we needed to get us on Spain-time. We enjoyed some Paella with our hosts the first night and then the following day some botanical gardens, more croissants, the Palacio Real, more gardens, the Palacio Cristal (pictured) and a great inter-continental dinner again with our hosts to complete our trip in Madrid (another sigh of relief). I may be able to race triathlons full-time, but being a tourist for the better part of a day is EXHAUSTING. Before we knew it, we were headed to Gijon, Spain! USAT chartered a couple of buses to take their athletes from the Madrid airport to the northern coastal town of Gijon – about a 6 hour bus ride. Our bus route was as if we were driving through rural parts of the U.S. It started with open agricultural plains, followed by rolling hills, and then a mean, winding dissent to the coast. During this dissent, we hit a 5-minute tunnel that ventured through the base of a mountain and it spit us out into an entirely different climate. We went from dry, sunny and hi-80s to wet, socked-in fog and hi-50s!

We arrived in Gijon around 7:30pm, dropped our bags and immediately got some food. While Spain’s schedule normally consists of 9:30-10:00 dinners, today, mine did not! I wanted some food and then sleep! I woke up this morning, met with the USAT coach and a few other elite athletes and headed out for a little course inspection.

The course: 10km run, 43.2km bike, 5km run. Being an ITU-style (draft legal) race, the course’s main focus is being spectator-friendly. With that, there are 4 – 2.5km loops for the first run; 8 – 5.4km loops for the bike; 2 – 2.5km loops for the final run. Talk about being dizzy after all those loops! On top of that, the transition area is on a 400m outdoor velodrome track where the race starts, continues through, and ends!

The specifics: The runs will be flat and fast with only one out-and-back per lap. The only variable is that the out-and-back will be on 50 meters of cobblestones! The bike is slightly long but also flat and fast. What will make this portion of the race interesting is whether it rains Friday night, and how much?! There are a few technical turns and one out-and-back each lap so with a little added water to the course, this could make for an interesting ride..! If you're interested in more info regarding the Duathlon World Championships, click here.

I’m feeling good about the course and about my fitness. Barring any disaster, I’m ready to have a big race! Most of all, I’m proud to be wearing red, white and blue this weekend!

Thanks for checking in, talk soon.


1 comment:

  1. WOW, Gijon looks amazing! Can't believe I've never heard of it. Let us know how you like it.

    Good luck this weekend!!! Alex is racing a few countries over in Berlin the next day too, going for his 2:19! I'll be thinking of my teammates in Europe this weekend!