Friday, July 22, 2011

Race Report - Polar Series Barcelona

It took me a couple of days to get my last race report out so I figured I would get this one done while everything is still fresh on my mind, however, I must say I did not have 5 days in mind when I first started typing this report.  I have been waiting for the official photos to come out and the sorry company who covered the event was not able to categorize them by bib number! Really, really disappointing!

I must start by saying that this was probably my favourite event ever.  As you can imagine, just the sheer beauty of the city of Barcelona makes it tough to beat, and then bring on the atmosphere, great camaraderie and the excellent organisation, I would give this event a 9/10, just cuz I wanted more free stuff! :) Anyway, alarm goes off at 5:15 and I get up, re-check my race day checklist, load the car and I head off to the Olympic Port of Barcelona by myself as Sonia and the girls would turn up a bit later.

I got there at about 6am, with 15mins to spare till transition opens, and I decide to go for a quick ride along the coast to loosen up the muscles.  Shortly after, when I got back from my ride, the crowd was starting to gather at both the transition entrance and at the "wardrobe" station.

As I go towards the transition entrance they send me back because no backpacks are allowed in the transition zone! "Hold on.. you guys just gave me this bag at registration"! Anyway, I then realised what the "wardrobe" station was for so I headed there, took the essential out and put the rest away.  I sent a quick sms to Sonia to let her know what wave I was on and what colour my swimming cap was so she could spot me, or at least my wave! No pink cap this time...go greens! This was supposed to be a 750m Swim but they had to shorten it due to the strong currents and it ended up being a 650m swim. Some of us didn't mind it too much!

Once I set up in transition I head down to the beach and start my stretches and watch how the pros and the Elites go at it on the first wave! DAMN they are fast, I thought! These Spanish buggers can do two things really well: Swim and ride a bike!  As I am stretching I see my mother in law looking at the swimmers obviously looking for me so I head their way to get a bit of family love before I shit my pants on the mass start!  I get my love, photos taken, kiss from my chicks (wife and two daughters), and off I went.  I decided to get in the water and feel how cold it was before the actual start, and it was great and cristal clear.

Me and my oldest daughter Sofia who gave me a big good luck kiss before I took off.
My wave must have been at least 300 people, and it was a completely new experience for me. We were all lined up at the beach behind a few marshals and two poles with a tape across them.  As soon as the beach was crowded with our wave a few of the guys up front started chanting "Vamos, Joder... con dos huevos, venga, venga, venga" pumping everyone up and we all started clapping and cheering as well "Vamos, Vamos, vamos". Im telling you, the adrenaline could be felt in the air and we were ready to hit those waves.  "Bring it on" I heard an expat yelling and I was like "Oh shit...who said that" looking for the fellow English speaker with a green cap on., but amongst a crowd of 300 there was no way I could find him.
This is the only photo of me on the event site :(
A few more yells, the gun went off, and the stampede begun: run, jump in the water, punch, elbow, kick, knee, elbow, dunk, gulp (thats me swallowing water) etc, etc.  It was mayhem. Crazy, adrenaline stacked mayhem.  I must have swallowed 1L of water, no joke, with all the punches and elbows I got, but surprisingly enough, the first straight to the buoy was easier than I thought, and then shit happened!! What happens when 300 swimmers want to turn left at a single buoy? Traffic Jam and punch, elbow, kick, punch, elbow, dunk, gulp (thats me swallowing more water...again) etc, etc.  At the traffic jam we could hear spanish swearing and guys telling everyone to hurry the fuck up so we could move on towards the shore, which we eventually did. Typical Spanish, but I love it!! :)

I get off the water and I see my wife, my daughters and my in-laws waving and yelling my name! It was a great feeling which helped me go up the steep slope to T1. As we reach the top of the slope I hear a guy talking to me, in Spanish, and he asks me if I am Cuban.  I tell him no, Im from Angola, and he says "it doesn't matter, we are like brothers"!! WTF... Im trying to race here man!... I obviously didn't tell him that but thats what I thought! I smiled, wished him luck and got on my bike.
OFFICIAL T1 3m:57s

Me after the race as I was visiting the race expo
The bike leg was great as it was on the road parallel to the beach, on closed traffic! Ohh, the feeling of freedom on this particular road was great, specially on such a beautiful day with hundreds of bikes on this main road.  Fantastic.  The bike leg was a two lap loop and I must have passed about 100 people, no joke.  There were many mountain bikes, few TT bikes, and many regular road bikes so passing 100 bikes in really nothing to be too proud of.  I was passed by 2 guys at the beginning of lap one, and then by a group of about 8 people on the middle of lap 2. As I near the end of my bike leg, I see and hear my wife and daughters shouting my name close to transition.  Once again, I notice I had caught up to the Cuban guy and he yells out "HERMANO", which means brother in Spanish, and I was like "heyyy". This guys is gonna haunt me for the rest of the race, I thought!

Shoes off, gel swallowed, running shoes on, cap on, off I go!
OFFICIAL T2 Time 2m:32s

"Almost over, almost there" is what most up uf think at this point of the race, but again, the venue, the atmosphere, the people cheering made it so easy to just keep going. It was an absolute breeze to run these 5km and, really, not much to say here.  As I reach the last 100m you can hear the DJ yelling everyone's name and shouting out in Spanish motivating people to keep pushing for the last few meters.

I cross the line and, this time, I see Sonia, Alexia and Sofia! My princesses and my queen. Nothing better to finish off the race.

If you are reading this blog and ever considered doing a sprint race while on vacation in Spain, you have to do this one.  I know I keep repeating myself but it was very well organised, great atmosphere, and the course was nice and flat.

As always my swim was my weak spot.  from my post race analysis, which the event website gives you with full details, this is where I place on each of the legs:

Swim: 1538/1800
Bike:    760/1800
Run:     517/1800

Pretty self explanatory and it reads "your swimming sucks Miguel". Oh well, I know my weaknesses and I am working on them, I promise I am.  Next challenge is the London Triathlon in two weeks and I am really pumped about it.  My first Olympic distance triathlon and, apparently, the largest triathlon in the world with over 20,000 participants. I can expect plenty of punches and elbows on that mass start.

OVERAL TIME 1h:14m:33s

I want to thank Fabio and Sophie for coming to show their support at my race.  Fabio is an ex student of mine from my PE teacher days here in Barcelona.  We have kept in touch through his University years and both him and his girlfriend, Sophie, came by to cheer me on. Thanks guys!

Also, I want to thank Inma for coming and saying hello.  I hadn't seen Inma in 9 years and it was great seeing her at the end of the race.  Gracias guapa.
Me, Inma and my wife. I hadn't seen Inma in 9 years
As I was saying goodbye to Inma I see my Cuban hermano again.  This time I did pay a bit more attention to him and we chatted about a few of the upcoming races here in Spain.  It was his first triathlon so I could relate to his excitement.  He ended up being a nice chap so I thought I'd mention him on my blog. Good going hermano!


  1. Sounds like you had a great race mi hermano! (sorry, but here in Texas we speak fluent Spanglish)

  2. great work dude! you do pick the glamour events!! whats next

  3. Buena carrera!
    Yo creo que es el mejor organizado de catalunya y con el mejor ambiente.
    Si vuelves por Spain, te recomiendo el de Gava (sprint / olimpico) que lo organizan los mismos, es el 2 de octubre!
    Ahora a seguir entrenando a tope!

  4. This is Great!I wish I could do this.The pictures are very good & the story with it was intrigueing.Keep It Up!

  5. Buena canya te estas metiendo MAKINOOON!!!

    A ver si coincidimos en la Garmin Barcelona,yo estoy a muerte con el Sailfish/Berga en Septiembre!!!

    Un abrazo my friend

  6. great report, and congrats on the performance :)
    the story about the cuban guy is a funny one, reminded me of an English guy who started making small talk about how beautiful the view was during my last race...haha..small talks for before/after but I was trying to concentrate on the road and my speed. nice guy though, but there's a time and a place for chat! :)

  7. Hola,

    Que buena crónica, yo también hice este triatlon este año y me pareció muy bonito y bien organizado. Claro que solo he hecho este y el de mataro (fue un desastre) por lo que no tengo mucho margen para comparar. Aun así, espero volver el año que viene.

    Con tu permiso, me quedare por aquí siguiéndote, pues aunque acabado de empezar en este mundo espero en 2 años hacer mi primer IM ... que vicio de deporte!!