I left off on my last post the family leaving Bilbao, Spain and heading five hours west to A Coruna, Spain. It was an amazing drive with breathtaking views the entire way. We drove along the coast of the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Mountains. The heights of these mountains are amazing! Looking down and seeing farms and cattle and up at steep peeks with multiple shades of green covering every inch. It was a sight we were honored to show our children.
A Coruna was a beach city focused on its rich Galician history. We enjoyed the amazing food they had to offer and were not disappointed. Our children on the other hand were not as impressed and begged to go to Burger King.
There were pedestrian lanes for biking and running which, both my wife and I took advantage of. The weather there was amazing, not too hot or too cold. The kids loved playing in the Northern Atlantic Ocean even though it was freezing. We spent the first couple of days just enjoying the local shops, alleys and the beach. While there, we toured the Torre de Hercules. This lighthouse was built in the late 1st century by the Romans. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the world and is still used for signaling. We stayed in the Melia Maria Pita. This hotel is named after Maria Pita, the cities heroine who fought alongside her husband when the British attacked A Coruna.
We had arrived in A Coruna on Wednesday and Saturday was race familiarization. This enables athletes to get into the water or out on their bikes and pushrims to become familiar with the water and road conditions as well as the route we will be taking the next day. These are sometimes subject to change depending on weather or other factors. We spent most of the day walking to and from this area as each of the events were at different times. At the end of the day was race packet pickup and so our day (although in chunks) was spent walking and preparing for the next day, race day.
Sunday morning came, we were well rested, and we prepared our children with how serious this day was. We don't take them on race trips because it really is not fun or easy to do so with me needing my wife's full attention. This trip was longer than usual due to a meeting earlier in the week. It is nice for them to see me "at work" since I do not work a traditional job. We spent a lot of time playing and sightseeing, but now it was time to work.
Everyone pitched in to get us through our 20 minuet walk to the race venue. My oldest pulled my pushrim while my wife pulled my handcycle. Our youngest carried a bag for a little until I carried her the rest of the way. My wife and I got our transition site set up, but honestly didn't have the time before the race that we typically do. Check-in was a little behind and we are only allotted so much time in the transition zone before we are asked to move to allow the first competitors to take off.
Finally, after an hour and a half of standing around and waiting for my division to begin it was go time! I entered the water and began my swim. About 3/4 of the way through, I felt something hitting me on my back. A storm had rolled in, and the rain and waves were pelting me. By the time I got out of the water, my wife was soaked, signs and metal barriers were being knocked down and I was just starting this triathlon. My wife met me and the water handlers (volunteers who pull us out of the water and carry us to our wheelchairs) with my wheelchair. We ran to transition where I stripped down from my wet suit, removed my goggles and earplugs, normally I would also dry off here. I got my helmet on and jumped on the bike and was off. Into the rain and wind I went. While out on the course, metal course barriers were being blown over onto the course, people were there picking them up. The course was miserable, I could not see anything. With my visibility extremely low and the pressure from the rain I had thought it was hailing at one point. I was however able to pass two people while on the bike.
As I came in from the bike, we were being rerouted thought the transition zone to maneuver around flooded areas. I looked up to see my wife signaling for how she wanted me to pull my bike into the transition box. This is where it is great that not only, we work together so well, having the same handler helps when we do not get enough time to properly set up before the race. She knows which side I transfer best from and how I like to enter each piece of equipment. She had the transition box set up and ready for me to jump off the bike and into the pushrim. As she held the pushrim, I jumped into it, she yelled how much time was between me and the lead guy. She handed me my pushrim gloves, and I was off yet again. This was extremely difficult. To move my pushrim you need grip, something I was lacking in the rain. I had to use my "rain gloves" which I have only ever used one other time and only a handful of times in training. This lack of grip between me and the pushrim made it more difficult to get up to speed and much longer to brake, if at all possible. Coming through the finish line I had to yell "I can't stop" to warn people. I still ended up bumping into another athlete.
I came in the finishers shoot in second place! We did it! Before this trip I had been bumped down to 11th place In world ranking. We were supposed to race in France the weekend before but were unable to travel due to my wife and daughter getting COVID. This finish in Spain however, moved me up to 9th place in the world for Para Triathlon.