Swim Bike Run and have some fun in the sun! What a wonderful location for a race. We are quite lucky to own a property in the Algarve region of Portugal which is on it Southern Coast but it was so nice to discover the charms and delights of Cascais, just west of Lisbon.
I think part of the fun of Triathlon is that it provides the opportunity to see the world and experience new and exciting places. Cascais must be on your bucket list of 70.3s
But if you think Triathlon is all about swim, bike and run then think again and think Nutrition and Hydration! Take a look at some of these great places for pre and post race fuelling. Portugal is famous for its sardines; sea bass; chicken piri piri; black pork and many other delights. The wine is not bad either!
One of the most important aspects of having a great race is to ensure that both before and during the race you have the correct fueling strategies. The day before race day it is important to keep hydrated with your chosen electrolyte drink, or if you are going with the on course race nutrition, then grab some of that from the race village. It’s important to have a strategy. Either decide you will be self sufficient, as far as possible, and use what you have trained and raced with before, or use the on course nutrition if you are familiar with it. Remember the old adage- never try anything new on race day. On the day before the race its important to eat some form of carbs to fully load your energy stores, such as chicken, or fish with rice, but don’t eat a meal late in the evening before the race as it won’t have time to fully digest before the swim. Eat small amounts regularly but nothing new and avoid food where there is a high risk that it could be off!
Cascais has some amazing restaurants and there are no shortages of fine places to eat. But preferably after the race!
The course is fabulous and the weather at this time of year is perfect. The swim is in a sheltered bay and was perfectly flat making for fast times. On race morning, when I wake up, I normally have some brown toast and honey and I have been known to take my own toaster with me. This is normally about two and a half hours before swim start. This is supplemented with some carb loaded drink, a banana about 45 mins before race start and finally a gel 15 mins before the gun. The water in Cascais is cold, 19 degrees, making it chilly for those of us from Dubai. It’s a rolling start and it always amazes me how so many people over estimate their swimming ability! A beautifully flat swim with a rising red sun! After the swim exit there is a 600m dash through the town to the bike transition zone, one of the unique features o f this race is the option to put on a pair of trainers to complete the transition run.
I had been given some excellent nutrition advice from, Tim Lawson, the owner and founder of Secret Training. The goal was to try and consume 60-90grams of carbohydrates per hour to ensure that there was enough energy in the tank for the run. So this involved consuming a 500ml of training mix, containing 40 g of carbs before the swim and a fruit energy gel ( 22g of carbs); and then drinking another 500ml of energy/ hydrating mix in transition with another gel before getting out onto the bike.
The bike course is stunning. A flat fast 25km out towards Lisbon to the turnaround point and then back into town before heading up to the race circuit at Estoril. I picked up a drafting penalty on the bike after about 40km which I thought was slightly unfair given the amount of people on the course and the large groups that bunched up. Technically I was drafting behind another rider as we both passed a slower group but I wonder how the marshall failed to spot the cyclist who sucked my wheel for about 5km! All you can do is to carry on but it did affect the rest of the ride. Still 5 mins in the penalty tent is better that a DQ or a DNF! After the F1 circuit there is a couple of long climbs up into the hills behind the town of Cascais. The long climb at kilometer 80 was energy sapping but provided a long descent into town with a tail wind along the coast. Simply great views and a very fast finish. Nutrition on the bike comprised a gel (22g) or bar (18g) every 20 minutes, supplemented by easy to digest bananas from the aid stations and three 500ml bottles of hydration and energy mix. Aim 90g of carbs per hour, especially the last hour as it is far easier to consume food on the bike than on the run. Here is a tip- learn to pee on the bike!
The Run its Caffeine; Caffeine and more Caffeine. And coke and water. Not coke with rum. Every aid station its water, coke, sponge and a caffeine Gel every 5 km.
Another race, another medal for the collection. Nice T shirt and great medal! Enjoy the post- race nutrition as it makes all that training worthwhile. Thank you for Cascais for a wonderful event and I am definitely signing up again for next year!