HERCULES XTRM

I can’t believe what I’m about to do!

that was my feeling right before the start but the truth is…I want to do it again!

This race was the perfect recap of my last three months. Every day, every step was harder than the previous one. Trying to keep the balance between my job, my studies, my friends…and of course, trainings! Days are too short sometimes. I craved more time and more sleep…I had no time to poop peacefully, damn it!

For three months I’ve been waking up every day at 6 am to swim or run (bike on weekends). Surprisingly, I wasn’t the only stupid guy running in the streets that early in the morning. People -still groggy- staring at us from their cars, you could watch the confusion on their faces. They couldn’t understand  why anyone would wake up so early to run…Fun fact: I didn’t understand it either!

When noone understands what you’re doing, you feel alone.

When you don’t understand what you’re doing, you feel lost.

From time to time, I had to remind myself that it was my choice to accept this challenge and I could stop it whenever I wanted. Frustration and little sleep made me upset too many times, my family and coach had to bear the worst part of me… Anyway, let’s get back to Sunday 26th of July! 

Once again, in my hometown, A Coruña takes place the Hercules XTRM.
A Half Ironman distance triathlon (1.9km swim/ 90km bike/ 21.1 km run)

RACE DAY

Alright! There’s no turning back. I’ve got my race number and yesterday I left my bike in boxes. I’m scared as hell! I reviewed over and over the packing list of stuff I’m taking with me today but I’m still freaking out.

Suddenly, on my way to the race:  THE HELMET! My heart started beating so strong I could hear it and the only words that come out of my mouth started with F… I crossed again the city still in darkness, got the helmet and running again to the place.

Once in boxes I set my stuff in 2 minutes but people around me is taking their time and I wonder whether I’m missing something… Nop! Everything seems fine and..wow! look at those bikes! but nothing to worry about with mine from Bicicletas Aran. I’ve got it two months ago and always felt comfortable riding on it!

Ok! It’s showtime! Put my neoprene on, my googles and cap… Let’s go to the beach!

agua

SWIM

First steps on the sand and I can’t barely hear the waves crashing on the shore because of my heart beat. I need to relax so I decide to chat with a bunch of competitors. Some laughs, one or two tips from them and I’m ready to warm up.

It’s 7:30am. Nobody wants to swim at 7:30am. It’s cold. It’s very cold. Furthermore, my neoprene is borrowed and it doesn’t fit me properly so water leaks underneath it. I try few more strokes and I can’t control my breath, I feel a great anxiety when I dive. I need to calm down…

The kick off will be soon. I go to the back of the group. My breath is slow but deep. Ahead of me, the first buoy…No words, no cold, no fear. The only thing I can think of: I can’t believe I’m doing this.

Here’s the countdown: 10…9…8…my breath speeds up…7…6…5…My voice joins the countdown…4…3…2… My heart and breath stops..1…GO! Everyone screams and so do I. I run to the water following the people, my mind is completely blank right now.

Head under the water. I see nothing but bubbles, feet and hands. I’m not thinking on my stroke, I’m just doing it. I raise my head above the water and there it is, the first buoy already! Great start! I keep swimming, this time more calmed. This is just what I wanted, enjoy the race.

 

I got out of the water to start the second lap with a huge dizziness but I quickly recover my pace and I control my breath again. I enjoyed the whole second lap.

I finished the first section in a good time and in a good mood!

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BIKE

The transition is awful. Never trained this part. The neoprene got stuck. My shoulders hurt and it takes me too long to put my shirt on. Somehow, I get on the bike and start pedaling.

Soon enough, I find my pace and keep a good cadence, even though anyone else seems to go way faster than me. First two laps are gone, easy. 3rd and 4th lap I noticed they’ve been slower. I ran out of food and still got 3 more laps to go.

These last 3 laps against the wind were really tough. The last one was literally a fight. I just wanted them to finish. In all the 7 laps, we had to pass a short but steep climb. At each lap the climb was getting harder and harder. I will always remember that…

The bike section was full of accidents, flats, falls…due to the rain and the state of the streets. A big number of competitors were sent to the hospital. Need to mention a huge crash between a cyclist and a viewer trying to cross the street. Please, listen to volunteers!

I get off the bike tired, upset with the record I made, far from the mark I had in mind but excited to start the last section. This time, transition was better.

RUN

I’m closer to the end. Just a couple of hours running and it’s done! I’m going to complete my first triathlon!

My mind was full of energy, my legs weren’t…First stop to drink and eat like a real pig. I know I’m one of last competitors of the race but who cares? We cheer and encourage each other. We all high five when we turn. Love this atmosphere!

First lap done! Two more to go! These two laps were around Torre de Hércules. Beautiful and rough trials we had to pass twice.

After the 10th km my pace still decreasing and my mind starts to fail…This struggle is getting worse.

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We just left a bunch of runners on the circuit and I completely ran out of energy. I walk for a while, try to jog but I can’t. I’m too close…but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to accomplish it.

From behind, this guy appears. Another runner. We start chatting about nonsense, we laugh and cheer each other. Let’s finish this once for all!, we said.

Only 5km to go, a silly smile could be seen on our faces. Unconsciously, our pace increases. We can see the finish line! Our faces light up. Most of the audience are gone because noone cares for the last racers, right? We don’t care.

At the other side of the corridor we spot out family and friends. They’re so close! We step on the red carpet. Last meters! I don’t remember the name of this guy next to me but we smile at each other and we prepare to cross the line. I can’t believe it’s almost over. I can’t believe tomorrow I won’t need to wake up at 6am. I can’t believe I was able to do this. I can’t believe I decided to carry on when everyone thouhgt I could not be able to do it!

I cross the line next to the beach where all this began just hours ago. I’m exhausted but it’s done, I think. I did it. This was a race against myself and I won.

I’m not doing this ever again, I said but I knew it was a lie.fin

 

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