Jun 16

VITA AdVentures Abroad: The Sleepover

‘Twas the night before the World Championship Duathlon and all though Spain – there was chaos.  You didn’t think this story was going to be drama-free, did you?  So, it’s the night before the biggest race of my life and I’m staying 20 minutes away from the start line.  My coach CRS, has my bike and we’re working though a bunch of logistics in a foreign country.  What could go wrong?


CRS, her husband Tom and their German friends Hans and Claudia, had rented a house in the hills of Spain near the race.  CRS graciously invited me to sleepover there, the night before.  She knew I was a 20 minute, anxiety ridden cab ride away, and that my family and I were sleeping in two twin beds pushed together at our hotel (Spain’s idea of a “queen bed”) with a kid in the middle, so she didn’t hesitate to offer her hospitality. She sealed the deal when she said I would have my own bathroom.  Done!

So arrangements were made, and I headed into Pontevedra the day before the race for bike drop-off.  In Duathlons, you have to transition from the run to the bike and then back to the run.  Basically, you’re putting on a helmet and changing out your running shoes for bike shoes and then you haul ass back out onto the course.  As my good friend Tara likes to say yell, during transition “You’re still racing!”  Preach on sister.

This was directly across the street from our first hotel in Vigo.  It was fantastic waking up to this!

This is the boardwalk outside our first hotel in Vigo. It was fantastic waking up to this!

So, the night before the race we could check our bikes into transition, which would save us the headache of doing it the morning of the race.  Sounds awesome, right? Wrong!  First of all, I had to get a cab to the race site.  There were different races held that day (Saturday) so all the roads were closed.  My obnoxious Team USA jacket actually came in handy when my cab driver kept pulling over and pointing to it so the cops would wave us in and around the barricades.  After 45 minutes, several u-turns and 50 Euros, I came somewhat close to where I was to meet CRS and her husband Tom.

They had my bike and Hans had fixed my computer.  Bless his German soul!

I was kinda lost when I took this picture.  The cabbie had just dropped me off, I didn't know exactly where I was but it was so damn beautiful, I didn't care.  And, I had to take a picture.

I was kinda lost when I took this picture. The cabbie had just dropped me off, I didn’t know exactly where I was but it was so damn beautiful, I didn’t care. And, I had to take a picture.

Once at the race site (a track around a futbol stadium of course), we got in line to gain admission to the in-field, where the transition area was.  Unfortunately so did about 500 other athletes.  With their bikes.

We got in line roughly around 8pm, which was the earliest they said we could, and when the sun was setting and we were still in line, I knew we were in trouble.  There was a lot of confusion as to what we were supposed to have to check our bikes in.  We had been told at our team meeting to bring our uniform and identification.  The morning of check-in, I received an email saying I needed to wear my bike helmet.  Others seemed to think we needed our shoes and the chatter in line was getting out of control. I mean, are these people serious? Who the hell would actually want to sneak into this race?  No one in their right mind wants to go through this in the morning.  I think it’s safe to say that if you’re here, it’s because you want to be here!

We didn’t check our bikes in until almost 10:30pm and I witnessed my very first sunset in Spain since I arrived four days earlier.

The track site (with a gorgeous bridge in the background) as the sun is setting.

The track site (with a gorgeous bridge in the background) as the sun is setting.

Hans drove like a madman though the tiny little back streets of Spain, until we arrived at their house.  It was gorgeous and the view was spectacular.  It was also nearly 11pm and we hadn’t eaten.

We didn’t have to be to the race for “athlete’s call” until 11am so I wasn’t panicking.  However, my mind was processing that I was now going to eat dinner at 11:30pm (late even by Spain standards!), sleep in a strange bed and have to wake-up and compete in the biggest race ever.  I give myself all the credit in the world for not completely freaking out.

We had a lovely pasta dinner (with bicycle pasta!) and the freshest salad. It was also the first and only night I didn’t have wine while I was there. CRS sent me to bed at midnight and said she would clean up my plates and make sure I was up by 8am.  The woman is amazing.

I thought about these two, in Vigo and having a restful sleep.  They had no clue what they were in for in the morning.

I thought about these two, in Vigo and having a restful sleep. They had no clue what they were in for in the morning.  This picture was also taken around 8:30pm the previous night.

I literally crawled into bed and tossed and turned for a while.  My thoughts were racing.  I was trying to stay positive.  I was thinking of my family, friends (of my bike in a dark field!) and of every single training session that led to this very moment.  Would I be ready?  Would my hamstring hold up?  Would I come in last?  Would I get a flat tire?  And on and on and on…until I drifted off from pure exhaustion.

The next thing I knew, my familiar alarm was going off.  I smiled big and thought “Holy shit. THIS IS IT!”

What thoughts keep you up at night?

What’s the worst thing that has happened to you the night before a race or other big event?



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  1. Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness

    So exciting Allie! I love how you are breaking this up into smaller posts so we can get the full feel of it! I love the pictures! I wish I had a smart phone so I could follow you on Instagram and see all of those amazing pics. Lately, my youngest and money concerns have been keeping me up. As far as what happened the night before a big race, that was my half marathon when my dog Suzi somehow injured herself and was a mess all night.
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…My Next New Year’s Goal – Ride For Roswell!My Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Kris! I’m sorry your kids and money flow are keeping you up – it’s always something but those two are no good. And, isn’t it always the way, when you have a big morning, that something goes wrong? Every time!!

  2. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    I always have a tough time sleeping the night before a big event. It always seems like I finally sleep the hardest right before my alarm goes off. Can’t wait for the race recap!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…Wild for Wheels: Teaching Your Child to Ride a BikeMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That is so, so true! I guess that’s why they say it’s the night before, the night before the race that counts for sleep. Thanks Nicole!

  3. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    Wow! The drama of it all! I seriously don’t think I could sleep at all the night before a huge ass race like that. Can’t wait to hear the details!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…Father’s Day 5K at Margarita’s RecapMy Profile

    1. vita88

      It was pretty torturous. The night before a lot of races are like that but, obviously, this was the biggest!

  4. Jess

    These pics are incredible!

    1. vita88

      So glad you’re enjoying them!

  5. Janine Huldie

    Allie, I so would have had trouble sleeping and I know when I have things (big like this) on my mind, I tend to get a bit of insomnia just thinking of everything. So, yes can relate and now I can’t wait to hear all about the race!!! 🙂
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Pley – Lego Fan’s Dream Come TrueMy Profile

    1. vita88

      It’s the worst feeling!! Thanks Janine 🙂

  6. Tina Muir

    That is a pretty interesting pre race haha! I love that the site for the bikes was at a track 🙂 Although i do not love that the line was that long to get there!!!! All part of the experience, and memories you will remember forever 🙂 If it would have been smooth sailing, you wouldnt have had as great of a story to tell 🙂

    As for thoughts at night…what doesnt keep me up at night is more the question…I have some weird thoughts and really struggle to fall asleep a lot of the time. I hate pre race nights the worst though!
    Tina Muir recently posted…Meatless Monday: Summertime SmoothiesMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I can imagine that some of your pre-race nights have been really tough. You compete on such a high level – I don’t know how you keep your nerves in check. I guess that goes with the territory of being an “elite” athlete 🙂

  7. Alison

    Omigosh, I can’t even imagine how you felt!
    What keeps me up at night? Stuff I’ve read on the Internet the day itself. 🙂
    Alison recently posted…Craft-ChallengedMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Sleep must be hard to come by for you these days!! I hope it gets better before it doesn’t 🙂

  8. thedoseofreality

    I am honestly on the edge of my seat waiting for the rest of this adventure!! The fact that you were still standing there at 10:30 p.m. is awful…but honestly, nothing is worse than sleeping on 2 twin beds pushed together! Cannot wait to hear more about the race itself…have been thinking of you so much!! :)-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Would You Rather: See Katy Perry Or Beyoncé In Concert?My Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Ashley!!! The twin bed thing actually wasn’t THAT bad. Whatever boy was sleeping with us on a given night had the “crack” part but I basically had my own bed 🙂

  9. Britt@MyOwnBalance

    Oh my gosh Spain is so beautiful! I love looking at your photos. CRS is like a one woman savior. She is literally coaching you all the way through.

    I kind of can’t believe how disorganized the bike drop off is…I mean this is a huge race!

    I toss and turn all the time. It’s so hard to turn my mind off sometimes. I’m getting better at meditation and refocusing but I definitely feel the stress before any big event!
    Britt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Dads, Target, the Beach and More!My Profile

    1. vita88

      I actually thought I did pretty well with not completely freaking and breaking down. I easily could have but I reminded myself I was “on an adventure!”
      No one could believe how crazy the bike drop off was BUT I think the officials underestimated how many athletes would take advantage of the night before drop-off. Lesson learned!
      Guess what?? I just found out that Worlds next year is in Australia!!!! I’m not going but oh man is it tempting!!!

  10. Carly @ Fine Fit Day

    You’re leaving us hanging!! I can’t wait for your next installment. I am usually pretty lucky with falling asleep quickly. I did want an early bedtime this past Friday night, since I had a race Saturday morning, then stayed up watching the Stanley Cup final. So, as well as not getting enough sleep, I was sad that the Rangers lost. 🙁
    Carly @ Fine Fit Day recently posted…A Healthy Dose of Link LoveMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I have to take it slowly my friend!! 🙂
      I think a lot of people are sad the Rangers lost. I don’t watch hockey but even I was sad 🙁

  11. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast

    I’m stressed out just reading about all the details you had to think of and take care of! Yes- the night before a race my sleeping is always terrible. But I’ve learned I can race well regardless of one poor night’s sleep, as long as the rest of the week is decent so I try not to stress about it!
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted…Do new shoes motivate you to run?My Profile

    1. vita88

      So very true!! A while ago I read an article in Runner’s World about a big race Ryan Hall had. He missed his flight, caught a cold and ended up getting about 3 hours sleep at a hotel the morning of the race. In the winter. Despite ALL that, he came in second or third. I always, always think about that when I wake-up on race day not feeling my best. Because you know – me and Ryan Hall have very similar abilities 🙂

  12. Yum Yucky

    I was clenching my computer mouse with anxiety as I read this! …and now I want a pasta meal. Does Spain takeout deliver to Delaware?
    Yum Yucky recently posted…How to Make a Kick Ass Power SammichMy Profile

    1. vita88

      If they did I would move to Delaware immediately.

  13. Kim

    So glad that you had a room to yourself the night before the race – even though the sleep wasn’t spectacular it had to have been better than a hotel room with kids (I never sleep well and hotels are the worst for me!!).
    That bike check-in sounds brutal – I can’t imagine trying to do it the morning of the race.
    Can’t wait for the next episode of your adventure!!
    Kim recently posted…Living in Fear Isn’t the AnswerMy Profile

    1. vita88

      The worst part is that I think the morning check-in had like zero athletes because we all did it the night before! If we were smart, we would have gone home and come back in the morning. Oh well.
      I usually sleep great in hotels. When I’m alone 🙂

  14. Tamara

    Oh my god, the excitement is palpable. So big!!
    I think my episode happened at BlogU. I had this big conference the next morning and I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if I ever actually slept at all, or if I got five hours or so. I actually don’t know! And I had this big day of learning and connecting ahead of me.
    BBC Philly will be better. I’m convincing myself.
    Tamara recently posted…The Stories Go On.My Profile

    1. vita88

      Aren’t those just the worst nights? I guess it’s better to be up for something that a positive stress, vs negative but still…
      I probably won’t be able to sleep the night before my Ignite speech at FitBloggin in 2 weeks – eek!!!!

  15. Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    I can’t sleep when I have something big on my mind either. It sounds like you handled things quite well. I would have been pulling my hair out at that bike check in!
    Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life recently posted…How to Make A Panini on the GrillMy Profile

    1. vita88

      The only reason I wasn’t is because of the other athletes. We were making each other feel better and there was a real “we’re all in this together” kind of feeling.

  16. Dana

    My body seems to know when I have something really big – I wake up multiples times in the hours before my alarm goes off. Then I get stressed that I’m not getting enough sleep, so I can’t sleep, and on and on…
    Dana recently posted…Out of the boxMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh I know!!! That’s why when Becky said she would make sure I was up in the morning gave me a huge comfort. I knew that even if my alarm failed, she would be banging on my door. She is the ultimate coach.

  17. Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

    Literally on the edge of my seat with excitement, you are such a fabulous story teller!! I still can’t believe sunsets in Spain are at 10pm, that would throw me all kinds of out of wack!! I totally agree, I don’t think anyone was trying to sneak in that race at all!! I love your pictures…so pretty!! My favorite one is of the boardwalk nah– its the boys! You know how much I love me some silly face pictures!!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…How To Train Your Dragon 2 Event + A Solo Date With My EldestMy Profile

    1. vita88

      You are so great Nellie!!! The sun was really killing my game there. I have to say, it’s the one and only thing I don’t miss about being there. This body needs darkness and rest 🙂

  18. Jen@milesandblessings

    EEEE! I just love this! I am sitting by my computer with a bowl of ice cream taking this all in :)!
    I NEVER sleep well the night before a race…never…even if it only a 5k. I don’t worry too much about that though. I would have been a mess if I was you. I always get really antsy before a race too. My last 1/2 my husband and kids came and when we got close I was telling him where to park and telling other cars to hurry up (even though we had plenty of time)…I just get antsy 🙂
    Jen@milesandblessings recently posted…A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…plus they are just fun to look atMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Yep – that is SO me. I get very antsy before races which is why I usually do an extra long warm-up. I always need to shake out the jitters!!
      I love that you’re reading and eating ice cream by the way 🙂

      1. Jen@milesandblessings

        Ha :)…this is my idea super fun night down time :)….ice cream and great blog posts!
        Jen@milesandblessings recently posted…A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…plus they are just fun to look atMy Profile

  19. Carla

    You are so calm and I’d be a total freakazoid. I’m glad you were able to get some sleep. I guess it’s hard to be totally organized on a race that size. CSR is truly a good friend. It almost makes me want to take up triatholons so I can have her be my bike coach. Almost. Okay, not at all, but you’ve got a good friend there.
    Carla recently posted…Grilled Chile Chicken Lettuce WrapsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I hear you Carla! She keeps asking me “what’s next” and I want to do something (anything) just so I can continue to be coached by her. She is truly amazing.

  20. Ali @ Hit the Ground Running

    The worst thing that happened to me was when I came down with an upper respiratory infection a couple days before a half. I decided to run/walk the race anyway. That’s way less stressful than maybe not having all my gear/stuff that I need!
    Ali @ Hit the Ground Running recently posted…For Father’s DayMy Profile

    1. vita88

      OMG that is awful! All that training leading up to it, just to get sick is very depressing. You are a trooper for doing it anyway.
      I had a similar situation once and I dropped to the 10K. I came in second. It was a great way to find out just how competitive I was at the shorter distances so…it’s not always a bad thing 🙂

  21. Tara Newman

    So, what WERE your transition times lady? I hope they were competitive because you heard me yelling HTFU! Don’t you love how I harass people but I have never actually gone through transition myself?
    Tara Newman recently posted…How to Gain Focus For The Week AheadMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Yes I do love it!! I have my transition times – don’t worry. I’ll be doing the actual race post on Monday!

  22. Kristen

    I am totally in awe of you…you are amazing Allie! I can’t imagine racing in a foreign country – especially when a 5K terrifies me! I can’t wait to hear the rest of your story – I imagine you were running on adrenaline…pun intended!
    Kristen recently posted…[VIDEO] NBA Finals Behind the Scenes in MiamiMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh yes – absolutely! Thank you Kristen!!

  23. Lauren

    Oh wow. I was so nervous reading this. I would have been freaking out in the bike check line.

    The bicycle pasta sounds amazing! And so does CRS–what a great support system!

    When I was in college and doing a lot of piano competitions, I was out of town for a competition and trying to save money, so I stayed at a friend’s apartment. Her roommates ended up having a HUGE impromptu college get-loud-and-crazy party that night, and I was the nerd trying to get some sleep.It was terrible. From then on out, I stayed in hotels all by myself.
    Lauren recently posted…Summer days.My Profile

    1. vita88

      Trust me, it was a constant process to NOT freak out in that bike check line.
      That is awful about your sleepover!!! OMG I would have been so mad!!! I hope you did well, despite your lack of sleep.

  24. Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes

    I can’t believe you hardly ate at all the night before a race!? How did you have enough fuel?? Worst thing that happened to me the night before a race…my husband got the stomach flu and I wasn’t able to race because he couldn’t watch the kids 🙁
    Sue @ This Mama Runs for Cupcakes recently posted…Summer essentials!My Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh no!!!!!!! That is so beyond awful. I cannot imagine training for a race and then not being able to run it, because of someone else. You should write a post about THAT – ugh!!! The worst part is you really can’t be mad because he’s sick but oh man – that had to be hard.
      As for me…I ate a HUGE breakfast in the morning 🙂

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