Lisbon Olympic plus Triathlon 3rd May 2014 – 950m swim, 45km bike, 10.5km run
I arrived in Lisbon the afternoon before the race. My first task was open up the bike box to re-assemble my bike and check all my kit. After satisfying myself that everything was perfect, I set off to register and attend the race briefing.
When I arrived at registration, it quickly became apparent that there was a problem! Despite being on the start list, with a bib number allocated, they could not find my race pack. After about half an hour they decided to allocate me a new number, and told me to come back later and they would give it to me. I whizzed over to the race brief, arriving with just one minute to spare.
After the briefing, I went back to race HQ, and was given a race pack for a new number, and was assured that I now had everything I needed, and that it was “no problem” that my number should have been for the half iron distance event that was going on simultaneously to the olympic distance race.
Later that evening when I started to organise everything for the race, it became apparent that I didn’t have any stickers for my helmet or bike, just lots of body tattoos. Never mind, I thought, I’ll sort it out in the morning.
Next morning, I set off at 6am to race HQ to get some more stickers, and was then told that they needed the new number back, and gave me a third number, again one which was intended for the half iron distance. And again, no bike or helmet stickers, just body tattoos. I was concerned about how I would be able to retrieve my bike after the triathlon if it was un-numbered, but they kept telling me not to worry. Clearly the Portuguese are much more chilled about these things than me, so I decided to improvise and cellotaped a body tattoo to my bike!
So, finally, to the race itself, the swim was a straightforward single lap of a man-made lake. There was an all-female start, with the men starting 14 minutes later. There was a bit of bumping and kicking, but nothing to worry about. I hadn’t swam in open water since last summer, so it was a case of settling into a steady maintainable rhythm as soon as possible.
I exited the water and entered transition, having made a note of the position of my bike beforehand. I jogged to where I’d left my bike, and was surprised to discover that it wasn’t there. There was a moment of panic as I looked along the rack. Paul was yelling at me from just outside the transition area that my bike had been moved, and to just look for my bike. I finally located it, along with my transition box, not far away.
Onto the bike course, and I quickly found myself smiling. It was 2 laps of a fast flat course on closed roads, so it involved long periods on the aero bars. I really enjoyed the course, despite quite a strong headwind in parts. After the second lap I headed back towards transition, much to the alarm of the marshal on the course. As I was wearing a half iron distance race bib, he thought I should be doing four laps, not two, I just yelled “Olympico” at him!
I did a good bike to run transition, and was just setting off for the exit when one of the race officials stopped me. A “conversation” ensued, she was not happy that I was racking my bike in a different place to my number, and also did not understand why I was back from the bike so soon, if I’d completed the “correct” distance. I still don’t know if she understood anything I was saying to her, but in the end she shrugged and let me set off on the run.
The run was 2 laps weaving along the riverside walkways and developments. It was hot, about 30 degrees and unshaded in sections. I remembered what I’d discussed with Rodge, and made sure I started slowly and built to a maintainable pace after about 3 or 4 minutes.
I felt like I’d paced the race well across the three disciplines, as I felt good on the run. After more yelling “Olympico” at marshals trying to send me back onto the run course, I crossed the finish line in 2hrs 54 minutes, with a smile on my face. Despite all the mix up with numbers and officials, which is quite funny in hindsight, I really enjoyed the event. (Wendy Drake)