With a 17th place and 8:48 hours, Challenge Barcelona was nothing than a very hard earned finish for me. Indeed, the race started to get tough way before it began. I started my trip on Friday and the first thing was that I lost my credit card at the train station. I noticed this at the airport when checking in my bike and luckily had still some cash left to pay the bike fee. Next thing, plane late and because of that delay I missed my train at Barcelona. I had to wait for the next one. Still no drama since I would arrive at me hotel at 10:30 pm or so, enough time to get a good sleep. When I left the train at Calella (a little town 50k north-east from Barcelona, where the race is located) and entered a taxi to bring me to my hotel, the driver looked funny at me. But he didn’t speak English, I didn’t speak Span, so I really was not sure, what he wanted to say. Finally he started his engine and got the car moving. And rode… and rode… and rode… It turned out, that my booked hotel was not – as ensured by the travel agency – in the middle of the center of Calella, but in another little town at the coast, about 15k or 3 more train stations far from Calella.
In the meantime, I was really tired, and just happy, that we finally arrived. So I checked in, carried my stuff to my room. And encountered the next problem. There was music. Loud music. Very loud music! Down below my window, the hotel guests were celebrating a party. There was a live band and it literally was like they were playing in my room. So I went back to the reception and asked to change the room. They told me that probably tomorrow, but there is no chance this night. So I went back to my room and tried to find some sleep. But it was impossible. I really had a band in my room! Finally I went back to the reception again: No, room changing not possible, but the band will stop in 15 minutes anyway. This was true. But when they stopped, I had the bum, bum, bum of a close disco in my room… and the snoring of the guy in the next room. It sounded like he was lying besides me in my bed… I finally could find some sleep…
The next day, I managed to change in a more quiet room, but it took me 3 hours and several talks with different head receptionists until I finally was allowed to change. So, as you can see, not the easiest way to get into race mode. I still was quite positive, tried to be not affected too much by all those detractions, was quite happy about my new room and was loking forward to the race.
Swim felt ok, but when I jumped on the bike I immediatly knew that it would become a tough day. I felt not fresh, had no good legs. In an Ironman there normally always is some period where you enjoy your speed, enjoy your body operating at it’s limits, time flies. Not so this time, I literally had to push me every single minute. On the run it wasn’t better. I had to push me forward from the beginning on, suffering a lot. Still hoped to catch some more guys during the last hour, normally my strongest part in an race; I just had to focus all my energy to get me to the finish line.
After the race, the struggle was not over yet, since my body really hurt. I was happy that I had booked a flight for 3 days after the competition. The first 2 days I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip.
The race itself was very well organized, especially since it took place for the first time. The atmosphere was very friendly and familiar. I enjoyed this very much.
So what can you take out of that story? Watch out when you book your hotel the next time! Don’t loose your credit card when travelling! And if there still is some trouble, deal with it and get your job done!