Yesterday i raced in the Vienna European Cup which takes place on the isle of Danube. This is a manmade island that divides the danube between new and old vienna. My first impressions of the island when i went to check out the race site on friday were not great. It was really dirty, and basically felt like a carnival...no offense if your a carny worker.
The feeling i got from the island and the race meeting, was .....hmmm i can see this is going to be a little different than last weekend. Last weekend in Poland the race was very well organized a part from the dogs, but here in Vienna not so much. You would think perhaps the opposite but this Triathlon was not only poor organized it was also freakin out of control....
Race day came and i felt good as i rode the U-bahn subway to the race site. Start time wasnt until 4pm, so i had a good bike warm up planned. The water was just over 20 so no wetsuit, but the air temp was 17 and windy. I made the mistake of warming up sans wetsuit and then becoming extremely cold before the start. This was not good...
The starting mechanism for this race was similar to diving off the rail at thetis lake. Good thing i do a few of those per year to prepare me for this. Basically you climbed over the railing on the pedestrian bridge and stood precariously on a float hanging on until the start, then dove in.
I had a good start, right on to sysoev in the first 100 but then i felt my shoulders become really tight from being cold and from then on it was a flail fest. I came out about 1min down from the lead group. not what i was anticipating.
On to the bike a good size group of 25 or so formed and worked really well. Almost too well. I was suffering out there, my legs wouldnt warm up and I was convinced my brakes were rubbing, they werent. I dont think ive ever rode that fast in a triathlon, maybe even in a crit. It was good though, because we caught the lead group with 5km to go, and then the paced eased.
The bike course was so dangerous and unbeliveable i cant begin to justify its silliness. Imagine having 50 guys racing along the galloping goose, or those revelstokians the greenbelt, that is how wide the bike course was. On one side you have about 1m of rocks that descend into the river and the other a stone wall! Because the path was so narrow, when the groups came together it was impossible to move anywhere. The course also had too many pot holes to remember and no one controling pedestrian traffic....smack smack smack, i wanted the ride over as soon as it started. No broken bones..i am OK!
THe run was the best part of the race for me this time around. 5laps of 2km, 1km out and back. First 2km went well, 2-5km i got another stomach cramp, go figure, then 5-10km i had the best running of this season. I really started to fly on the last lap and pulled back a number of guys who went by me earlier.
Finished up in 22nd. Im happy with it, but not overzealous.
After the race, i decided to ride the bike course once more just to take a look at this devilish deed. On the way back though i got very cold once again, and shivered my way back to the hostel. I suffered a bad fever last night, i think from the tough race and getting so cold. Laying in bed at 11pm my heart rate was 80, thats double what it usually is. THe body was definitley fighting something along with trying to recover. Well it did its job as today the heart rate was down and im feeling much better.
I went for an easy swim this morining and afterwards went down to the saunas. Much different experience in the sauna than in North America. Everyone in there is naked, except for me and it is hotter. There seems to be a "leader" of the sauna here. He is the one who holds the pail and ladle and pours water on the rocks. Along with the water, they also pour on some sort of herbal concoction which makes the room fill up with beautifully delicious scents, much like a ricola cough drop. The "leader" also does most of the talking why he holds the ladle, not that i could understand but it sounds like some jokes and chit chat that the others smile and nod at. That will be my last sauna experience whoever, because near the end of the session the "leader" noticed my wristband colour and kicked me out, "verbotten" i understand as forbidden now. I mistakenly thought that the pool and sauna were the same price, but it is not that way.
So the next part of the trip resumes on Tuesday when i fly back to the UK for 2 weeks before racing in my last race in Lorient september 27th.
All for now.