Racing in Palamos, Spain was very nice because it’s only an hour drive away from our training base in Banyoles. We got there a couple days early and were able to ride the course a few times before the race. The course has a couple steep hills and some very technical sections that were good to know about so that when the race was on I would be prepared.
My start number was right next to my St. Raphael teammate and super French swimmer Raoul Shaw, so when we lined up I was in perfect position from the get go. Right after we dove in I was on Raoul’s feet and we were at the front of the race. By swimming in Raoul’s draft the whole time I conserved lots of energy and was able to enter and exit transition at the front of the race. What this meant was that I had some buffer room to be able to get my feet in my shoes, drink some water, get my sunglasses on, and see what was going on around me.
By the time the lead group got going it was just four of us and a small gap to some chasers. We pushed the first lap pretty hard, but by the time we were starting lap two the chase group of about 16 athletes had already caught us. When this happened I just tried to stay towards the front of the group without doing too much work, but positioning myself well. Once we were caught no one was willing to work and another group of about 25 riders were able to bridge up on lap three. The bigger the group became, the more important positioning meant, and on this course it was hard to make your move at the right time and stay safe. The trend of no one willing to work continued and a third chase pack of about 20 guys caught us on lap five. So now we had a group of almost 60 men on very sketchy, bumpy, technical, and tight course – not ideal. There were a few breakaway attempts and each time there was an American in a break I would sit up on the front and tell the other Americans to not chase. On lap six finally when one breakaway did stick, American Ben Kanute was able to be part of that group and from then on it was a game of trying to stay near the front, out of trouble, and not chase. Despite planning ahead, and knowing that the last lap was going to be very important for positioning into T2, I still ended up pretty far back coming into transition.
The back of the pack became all too familiar to me though, as I had just started running again, and this 10k was going to be my longest run I had done in a very long time. From the start of the run I felt like my legs were just two bags of bricks. Running felt so foreign to me and after the first K I could barely believe that I was going to have to run nine more kilometers! My shins and ankles felt fine though so I kept running. I ended up making it through the 10k slog-fest but it took me 37:52. I think this is my second slowest 10k I have ever run in a race, but I was able to finish the race, and my legs are completely uninjured! This race didn’t put me back in terms of training, and I was able to get another World Cup experience under my belt!
Now that I’m healthy and running again I will slowly build back up to where I was in the beginning of the year and hopefully end the season back in the form I was in Sarasota!