Hamburg Part 4: The Women's Race and Going Fast!

I write this post sitting in the Hamburg airport, eyes half closed from lack of good sleep, reflecting on my last day in Germany. Sunday morning began with finally getting to sleep at 2am, waking at 5am, reading a book from 5-7am, then finally going back to sleep from 7-9am. Needless to say, it was a rough night of sleep, if you can call it that. Linda and I met for breakfast and then I met with three of our male athletes to discuss nutrition and provide one of them a performance nutrition plan. Afterwards, it was a quick trip to my room to decompress before heading off to the women’s race.

We only had one female in the race so the logistics were much easier than the previous day when we had six males. We headed over to the transition area, found our athlete, chatted a bit and then headed down to the pontoon start. Our athlete came by and we talked a bit about how she was feeling, I provided some mental calmness for her and discussed positioning on the pontoon. The race had a few pretty good females, past Olympians, current Olympians and Vanessa Fernandes, who is the most winning female ever in ITU racing. The race began, Linda and I took our positions and away we went.

I was stationed just outside of the transition area this time and Linda was on the other end of the bike course. The front pack grew and grew and gained speed with each lap. Unfortunately for our athlete this was not a good thing as she did not come out of the water where she wanted and ended up getting lapped on the bike. In ITU racing, this means that you cannot continue so her day was done. We met her in the transition area and she was great in noting the positives of her race. While a bit disappointed, her spirits were high. We stayed to watch the finish of the race, encountered a dramatic display of rain halfway through the run and witnessed the finish of which was quite unexpected. Vanessa Fernandes, the apparent favorite, was nowhere to be seen. A German won the race, followed by an Australian and then Debbie Tanner, the Kiwi I met on the shuttle on my first day here. We later heard that Vanessa had dropped from the race just before the 5k mark, for reasons unknown to anyone.

After the race, we rushed back to the hotel because we had a date, a date with the Audobon! I had always wanted to drive the Audobon and since Linda had rented a car, we decided to venture off and experience the freedom of no speed limits. It was an easy drive out of Hamburg and after passing the construction zone where there was posted speed limits of 60, 80 and 100 km/hour, the road opened and it was time to take our Mercedes Benz station wagon for a ride! I had never driven a Mercedes before and let me just say that it is quite a machine. Very good acceleration and handling and before I knew it, we were going a modest 180 km/hour. My goal was to hit at least 200 km/hour and once accomplished, I wanted more. This was a huge adrenaline rush. My heart rate increased, palms started sweating and grip became tighter on the steering wheel as the speedometer needle progressed from 200 to 210 and finally topped off at 220 km/hour. I wanted to push more but we were encountering quite a bit of traffic and cars started pulling in front of me, which is a bit nerve racking when you are going 136 miles per hour (read: yes, that is correct!) and have to decelerate at a moments notice. As I reflect on that experience while typing this, I feel my heart pumping faster. It is that much of a “high”, if you will.

The speedometer as I hit 210 km/hour...I had 10 km/hour more in me but didn't want to take my hands off the wheel to flip that photo!

We were losing daylight and did not want to navigate back to Hamburg in the dark so we headed back, left the car at the hotel and searched for a place to eat. Along the way, we ran into our four male athletes eating so we decided to join them at a Thai restaurant. The food was okay but the company made the evening. We shared stories and companionship until it became dusk (about 10:15pm) and headed out to find a post-dinner snack. Our brief travels took us to a train station then to a part of Hamburg that was a little suspect. Let’s just say that while it wasn’t as bad as the red light district in Amsterdam, it was progressing that way so we decided to pick up the pace and circle back. We parted ways, without being successful in finding dessert and headed back to our hotel for some shut-eye.

I was a bit worried if I would be able to sleep based on my previous night’s performance but after getting back to my room, I called Sarah to debrief on her training day and how her body is feeling before her race this weekend (she is racing Lifetime Minneapolis), called my family, packed up quickly then headed to bed. Surprisingly, I hit the pillow at about 12:30am and was out until about 5am. I forced myself to sleep a bit longer and my eyes opened again around 7:45am. I hopped out of bed, met Linda for breakfast and off to the airport for my long trip home, of which I was extremely eager for to see my wife and kids again.

In all, this trip was fantastic. While I do like to minimize the time spent away from my family, I was able to provide service to USA Triathlon in a coaching role by supporting a good group of athletes at a World Cup, experienced a beautiful country and city in Hamburg and besides the lack of the quantity and quality of sleep, I had an unforgettable time.

Germany is definitely on my list of countries to visit in the future. It is easy to navigate, has very friendly people and is an all around beautiful place to visit.

I hope you enjoyed the posts. Until next time...

Coach Bob