Thursday, June 6, 2013

Italy Ironman 70.3 Pre Race Report #1

It is day 3 of my European adventure and I have lots to report. Mamma and I left Toronto on Monday, June 3, a little behind schedule (close to 5:30pm) on the Alitalia flight direct to Rome. The flight was pretty smooth...except maybe for the fact that the hot water on the plane wasn't working so there was no tea or coffee (there was free wine, though!). Other than having no hot water, everything was great. We got pillows and blankets, I had a great playlist to listen to, some episodes of White Collar downloaded on my laptop and lots of exciting thoughts in my head. The 8 hour flight went by in a blink and before we knew it we were in Rome and I was re-united with my bike. This is always the biggest relief when I travel to all these places. The moment I see my big grey IronCase labelled with my big orangy red Quantas sticker (a keepsake from my travels to Australia) my stress level goes from extreme to non-existent. We then set out to rent a car... unfortunately the Audi A1 they wanted to give us would not fit a bike so we upgraded to an Auda A4 hatchback...not too shabby! Once we figured out how to turn the car on - these fancy cars are quite strange to operate. It doesn't require a key, but a key fob. It wouldn't start until Mamma put her foot on the brake..and it turns off whenever she is stopped for longer than a few seconds...haha. Eventually we made it out of the airport parking lot and were on the Autostrada headed to Pescara. The drive was just beautiful! Two and a half hours of driving and we were at the hotel. Check-in went well and it didn't take long before we were all unpacked and looking for something to eat. Well, I learned something very valuable about Pescara...all the restaurants that had been recommended by the hotel manager were closed from 3:30pm - 8pm! It was 3:30pm and we were famished and so tired. So, we walked around in a bit of a daze for the next 30 minutes looking for food...and eventually settled on some food from a cafe. A bocconcini, arugula and tomato sandwich for me and some sparkling water. Completely refreshing. We were both in bed by 7pm and slept until 7am the next day!

View from the plane

More sights from the plane

On the road to Pescara

Day 2 started out in true Miranda/Mamma fashion. "Where had we parked the car again?" Luckily, Mamma was the one who remembered and we got in the car to drive to the pool. Now, the pool was 3.3km away, but didn't actually have an it was kind of a guessing game where it actually was. That fact, combined with the fact that it was Pescara rush hour and the driving philosophy here seems to be "stop sign? what's a stop sign?" and "no, pedestrians don't have the right of way" ... and we got to the pool a good 40 minutes later (lucky to be alive!). The pool was amazing. It's called Le Naiada and has an outdoor Olympic size pool and 2 25 meter pools indoors. Lane swim was only available in the indoor 25m pool, but just being in such a facility was very exciting for me. I did an hour long swim while Mamma went for a run along the beach. Next, we risked our lives and drove home. We stopped at the supermarcato to get some staple foods for me: bananas, peanut butter, rice crispies cereal, granola, milk, bananas and water. Now, they had about 20 flavours of nutella, but no peanut butter! Oh dear! I sent Rikki an email ASAP to bring some in his suitcase when he arrives on Saturday. Later in the day I did a 45km bike ride...I was a bit nervous given the traffic situation and I was right to be, as I have never had so many near death experiences in such a short time frame! Cars were running stop signs, swerving in front of me and braking, passing incredibly close to me and driving in the wrong lane! I think I actually felt one car on my shoulder. But I survived and got to take in some memorable scenery! The route I chose took me along the gorgeous beach and up some rolling hills that overlooked the towns on the sea and some of the farms inland. After my ride I did a short and quick 10 minute run and felt great! I finished the day quite pleased with the trip so far.

Coffee in Pescara

Biking in Italy

More views from the bike

Dressing nice for dinner

Day 3 began bright and early as Mamma and I attempted to beat the traffic and drive the Italy 70.3 Bike course. We drove 23km to the first town on the route, Pianella. We parked there and I rode for an hour on the next 25km of the bike course and Mamma went for a run. There was a shortcut from about km 45 on the bike course back to Pianella, so I was able to loop back to where we parked the car and do a short run. My running felt even better than the day before and my heart rate was super low for the pace I was holding. All good signs...let's just hope it continues feeling good to race day! Then we got back in the car and drove the last 45km of the bike course. It is a very technical course, with 3 pretty steep descents involving switchbacks...On my ride I did get to descend one of these steeper sections. I know that on race day I will be a little more gutsy, but when you are riding alone and there is traffic brushing you on the shoulder and you never know when a car is going to come rushing out of a hidden intersection this descent was quite scary. I spent too much time on the brakes, for sure! After arriving home, Mamma and I had cappucinos (they are THE BEST in Italy) and then headed to the beach. We spent most of our day there today...relaxing and napping. I did get in the sea for a 30 minute swim. The water is the perfect temperature...not to hot so that you get warm in a wetsuit, but not too cold so that you want to get out quickly. It was relatively calm, but wavy enough to give a better swimming a bit of an advantage. Plus, the salt water definitely adds some extra buoyancy! I am really looking forward to the swim on Sunday. After the swim we had some amazing pasta! The food here tastes so fresh and is so yummy. (Not that I don't miss my Tim Horton's muffins :)

Driving the bike course

Sights from Pianella

View from the beach (what's with my expression!?)

Pre-swim look

Warming up with some swim tubing

Lunch time!

Best smelling flowers ever, and they are all over!

So that is everything so far! I will report back on Saturday with a few more details and some more pictures. Rikki, Papa, Bianca and Thatcher arrive on Saturday. Can't wait!!!

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