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Challenge Kraichgau - The Race

Race report

On Saturday morning we got up like on a weekday. My start was supposed to be at 9:25, but Martin still needed to do the bike check-in. Plus: I do not like pre-race traffic jams.  So we woke the boys, had breakfast, packed the car, watered our bottles, and set off to the race site. There was not too much traffic, we just drove onto the parking field in our non-off-road-car,  unpacked, and went to check in. At this oportunity I also organized some coffee for my race official colleagues (I've done so for three years by now - the first time out of self-interest, but then just so, for I'm probably the most local official around. So I dumped my box with coffee, tea, cups, sugar and milk, set up my bike, got rid of my bike bag. The announcer said, it would be a wet suit legal race - this had been quite a question over the week. Yet, the final decision was that it was ust 21.x degrees and we all were allowed to swim neoprene-clad. Many happy comments I heard...

Martin and I made our way to the bag-drop-off for the after-race-clothes,  I ate my gu, drank a lot of water, gave away the bag, kissed Martin goodbye and good luck, and then it almost was time to get to the swim start. Almost no toilet lines there, for everyone used the ones around transition ;-)

The first wave was the pros, and after the cannon fired, they shot off like the water had no resistance. Next, just five minutes later, and then our wave. Male and female mixed - they take care to mix the athletes, only the relays start in their own wave. Martin was somewhere around, probably meeting with his swimmer and getting ready, putting the walking shoes into the car and putting on bike shoes, getting rid of the jacket etc.

And the start signal. If it was my swim cap, or if they just change it - but while it was a cannon firing the start for for the first two groups with a deafening sound, this time it was not so loud. But maybe that's due to my position at the time - floating in the water, just waiting...

And off we went. A problem with swimming slow crawl stroke is that one ends up between breast strokers whihc means I got my goggles kicked off right in the beginning. And breast stroke foot work is really tough. Well, I  caught the goggles and re-adjusted them and they stayed water tight. The first buoys were easy to see, I went just straight, didn't lose any sense of direction - and I thought it should go on with the near-perfect navigation. Around the corner and I had to be much more careful, I don;t know if it was light wind or a bit of curent trying to bring me off course. Next corner and I swam into the sun - this didn;'t help for I could not see the buoy - whatsoever... But eventually I noticed it, brought in a turn to go around on the right side, and finally - finally I was in the finish chute for the swim. Off to bike.

I made my s-r transition in 3-minutes and a bit, went out and pedaled off. The first part - ca 6km - are fairly flat and one just warms up. Then - at the Kronau corner, my boys stood and cheered. After this, the street to Oestringen goes a bit uphill, not so much tat it's obvious. I'd say false flat, Martin said hill. Whatever it is, eventually one goes into Oestringen and around two corners there's the first real climb. Up Wagnerstrasse which starts out harmlessly, but halfway up the incline steepens. Then down, up, and the Schindelberg which is the notorious long climb - both ways - in the race. The way out is so-so, the way in is somewhat nasty (later to that)

The first aid station is Odenheim, and they have a street party there. Next up a longer Hill and down again to Menzingen - I probably forget some of the towns so I stop here. At least there is a reason why this is the land of 1000 hills. There is a traffic roundabout where one goes through twice and on  my training runs when I pass the second time, I get a bowl of raspberries, pack them between my aero bars (not this year for I trained on the cross bike) and eat them over the rest of the way. Yum. No stop to shop in the race, of course. The most tour-de-france-like feeling happens in Gochsheim, where there is a super steep, but fairly short incline and the whole town is out there cheering and making noise. It really carries you up there, but the next similar hill is outside of their town and unattended. Still a good reason to enjoy this hill even more. Sometimes in training I stop at a bakery there after making it up.

More towns lots and lots of people cheering, some really making it a village fair. And my new odometer works like a charm, the calibration is quite close to the actual race distance. Somewhere kids wanting the water bottle, but for at this place I had only one, freshly filled, they didn't get it from me.

And back onto the out-and-back part through Odenheim, then two shorter but steep hills (extra loop, not part of the out-and-back) and the Schindelberg retour.  Again, this is one of the climbs getting steeper only later. Only then you already have 80 km in your legs and despite of the happy cheerers in the town of Schindelberg who greeted a lot of us by name, I was glad when I had reached the top. A couple more more-or-less-downhill km  and we ended up in Bad Schoenborn where some friendly helpers picked up our bikes and sorten them by incoming time. Martin just caught up with me on that last stretch - his relay had started 45 min later.

On my bike shoes I ran to my run bag, and my frontal thighs already started to cramp up. This is the result of not enough tranisition training, I do know that, but for I haven't had too much bike training at all because my back wouldn't let me, it's a result which is predictable but changeable for the next time (hopefully)

This now really got to me - after I had almost no problems with my back whatsoever during the bike, I strugglet to get into upright position. Also y legs started cramping up, like I haven't expeirenced before - the quads right above the knees decided they didn't like to switch to running. Running on cleats didn't make it easier. After I got free of those, and switched to running shoes in - again - 3:xx Minutes, I could control it somewhat doing active relaxation and butt-kick-drills. Eventually my quads were more or less ok. THe first round came quite easy, I wasn't fast but steady, drank coke at each station, and the up-hill didn't kill me. I'd have wished the coke to be de-gassed, but this was incomplete.  The second and third round was interspersed with walking, not so much beacuse of my back or of cramping but for my stomach didn't like this too much. Also here - like with transition training - too little testing. One of my students plus family was around cheering, a couple of people from the triathlon club, and a few friends and acquaintances were around.

There is a lot of activity on Bad Schoenborn's roads and the whole town is out cheering. The weather was somewhat weird, windy (cold) and sunny (warm) so my body couldn't decide if to freeze or to sweat. Yet, with some walking breaks after which I always started runnin again, I eventually reached the finish. Unfortunately I took almost half an hour longer than last year, but this is mostly due to the bike time, which was slower beacuse of my incomplete bike training, to a non-aerodynamic position on the bike, no aero wheels. So I'm happy I finished, I'm happy I could still smile afterwards, and I got a cool shirt and medal...

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