On Friday 29th of August, Carlos and I were packing all our stuff into the car at 7.00am, with a high dosis of happiness due to one of the main goals of the season was about to start: The IronMan 70.3 – Zell am See, in Salzburgerland, Austria. Next year this venue will host the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
Afterwards mounted our tetris in the trunk, we head to the office to face our labor day, as usual.
Around 3.30pm and after a smoothie swim in the Herzo’s outside pool, we started our trip to Kaprun, along all the Munich area and crossing the alps to hit our destiny at around 10.00pm.
Once there, we made the check in in the hotel, took and sort all the stuff to the bedroom and look for a place to take a pizza =)
On Saturday, we woke up with a rainy and cloudy day, not extremely cold but enough to use our jackets to make the riding and the running session to activate our body.
Checking the course in the breakfast, we realized that the bike segment would be tougher than expected, not only for the +1.250m of positive gradient gather in 20k but for the rain forecast and the cold weather.
Trying to smile and enjoy the event, we went to the fair to get our slots, take a walk into the merchandising tents and above all to feel the atmosphere of the triathlon.
A wet walk though, we took some food and went to drop our bikes to the huge transition area, displayed over 2 football pitch, with natural grass, therefore mud and drops.
Once we finished to drop the bike and prepare the bags for the race day, we went to the hotel to cook some pasta, prepared the rest of the materials, a final check to the course, schedule etc. and trying to rest as much as possible.
Is day race, so we are jumping out of the bed and preparing coffee and breakfast. In my case, big as usual, always 3h30′ before the start and not doing any difference with a normal day.
Last chat, check that we have everything and time to drive to the trasition to prepare our shoes, gels, bars etc.
It’s cold, quite cold, wet and looks like it’s going to rain. The landscape is beautiful though, but more desireble for a hiking practice or a coach+blanket day. Anyway, we’re here so let’s do our best!
The race is about to start, I’m alone surrounded by people excited, others with a scary face, a bunch praying…last kisses to the family, last hugs between friends and everyone into the water! Jesus, it’s colder than expected…hope they shot the start soon.
I try to move, to keep the body as warm as possible, but I’m in the first line and it’s not easy. I’m trying to visualize myself swimming, I review the distances between buoys and the counting down has started. 3,2,1 fire away!
I start Swimming, pushing hard in the first meters to avoid hits, but after 100m I realize that I’m not sliding and, worse, I can’t breath properly. I try to calm myself, trying to focus in technique, decreasing the pace and losing some positions. The next 1.800m were a fight between me and the water, not able to breathe properly, throwing up for the first time in my life in the water and with a sensation of feeling dizzy that I have never feel before.
For the first time since I’m doing triathlon, I don’t see the point to be there having such a bad time, my shoulders are extremely heavy and I’m not able to find a pace, to breathe properly and to enjoy this segment as usual. I try to draft a several feet, but honestly I can’t hold the pace today.
Therefore, I started to wonder to myself if I should stop and give up in the T1, because I’m having a really bad time.
T1 has arrived, I go out of the water, check the time and it’s around 32′, so just 2’30” over my forecast. I try to think cleary, I receive some cheerings from Nicky (thanks to help us!) and I’m going walking to the change area. I pick the bag and I decided in the last minute to overcome to this negative thought and at least hit the hilly part of the bike. I have time enough to stop later.
I mount my Bike, after a ridiculous slow transition of more than 7′. First surprise, the milestone is not working. Great.
Again bad thoughts, negative attitude that I hate, so I discuss for the 10th time with myself and I try to enjoy the rest of the race.
I start pedaling hard, with a good cadence and only some people is passing my like hell. I have not clue about my speed at that point, but I know I’m going fast. Afterwards I could check that my first 20k were done in 39,5k speed average.
The hills are about to start and a graphic is waiting us to notice. 20k of a tough uphill, with a lack of training of 3 weeks in the bike and no hills during the season. **When we registered, the bike course was different, that’s why we didn’t train uphill this season.
I try to go with a group, but I can’t. Second group coming, trying to grab them but I can’t neither. Third, fourth…nothing, I can’t find strength, so I put my pace and we will see later how much time I’m losing.
We arrive to the top, with some people walking the last part and others with a face signal of the effort that they’re doing. I can pass some people in the last 3k, with a steady pace and feeling better after a gel.
Downhill time, where the people is going like in motorbike, taking the curves like in a flat section. I’m quite impress at this point, with the skills of the people over the bike. Incredible!
The rain has started, and it’s not just a drops but a hard storm like if the end of the world is coming up. I can’t see nothing, I’m playing with the sunglasses to avoid the drops of the others, but I can’t. I pass the last 20k again with negative thoughts and worse, losing so many positions in a part that I was outstanding until this moment. Not my race.
T2, with a time of 2h45′ the 90k, better that I could imagine due to the tough course and the weather conditions. I’m totally frozen and wet, not feeling the feet anymore and shivering. There are people in the tent with some termic blankets and with some nurses trying to help them out, so it’s not being hard only for me but also for the rest.
With a lot of effort, I change the socks, I put the runners on and I start the Running. It’s my best segment and I know it, so I start pushing a fast pace from the beginning.
I can’t feel the feet yet, but I’m confident that after some kilometers on I will have this sensation again. I pass the first 3k in 3’50”, trying to keep the calm because the race it’s being hard. I’m running good, I feel I would be not able to run fast as in others races of this year but still an acceptable time.
There’s so many people walking, others with the blanket and the assistance crew, and the first pack running like if nothing happens to them.
We’re around kilometer 7k and things are not going good, I feel I need to throw up again, so I stop quickly and I do. After that, the race is over for me, I’m dizzy, weak and I guess my face is not showing a good looking anymore.
I cross with Carlos, he’s 8′ in front of me but he doesn’t look great that in other races neither.
Last 13k are a continious fight between head and body. Cramps, weakness, throwing up sensation and only counting down any single step.
A Half Marathon in 1h35′, the worst result of the whole year, over than 10′ in comparison of the other two half ironman of the year.
The Conclusions of this race is that I didn’t enjoy nothing such a event, I suffered more than ever and I have nowadays a bitter sensations to close the triathlon season on that way.
But loooking back after somedays, I think it was a great experience to know myself better, to understand that I can’t compete with cold because my body is not able to adapt (or need so many time to) and I don’t enjoy a race with this conditions.
I like the sun, I race better in warm conditions and absolutely in flat bike courses.