Feels a bit strange writing a blog long after the event took place. But this race needs special attention since it was one of the building blocks of my triathlon road. By this race, I mean Ironman 70.3 Zell am See 2018. I already mentioned this race at my home page and, for the strangers and non-triathlon addicts, the race might need some more explanation. This race should have been my first half triathlon of my life! I had been looking forward to it for almost half a year. I did spend a lot of time and money preparing for it.
However, it did not work out the way I hoped for. It was one of the bumps in my triathlon career and perfectly reflects the unpredictableness and the downsides of triathlon. You are unfortunately not able to control all aspects on race day and sometimes the only thing left is crossing fingers for things to turn around. It is just like daily life, sometimes bad times happen which make you even stronger eventually. For me, one year after the race, it is fair to say that everything happens for a reason and the race gave me a lot of baggage for the future.
You might be curious what happened on race, or you might already know. Lets start with a short recap of the week before race day! I went to Austria with my mum and stepdad for a holiday. It was a great week, sun was shining and the food was amazing! I always love eating kaiserschmarrn when being in Austria. I guess I am not the only one. Besides eating, we went hiking in the mountains and I enjoyed the quality time with my family. It is not that often that I spend time with my family because of the 2 hour drive between their house and my place.
After having a relaxing holiday, it was time to focus on race day! Finishing up my last taper trainings and focusing on rest and recovery. I did not feel ready for race day at that moment. Everything was so exciting. From race briefing to checking in my bike. It was all new and stressful. Did I put everything in my bike bag? What if I get a flat tire? Did I bring enough gells for during the ride? Will I survive the swim? How scary will the descent of the mountain be? All these kind of questions popped up in my head every now and then. I think this is the usual stuff triathletes experience before their first real A race. Luckily, after a chat with my coach and practicing changing my tire, I felt more confident.
There was just one thing I did not worry too much about, maybe I should have. The weather predictions on race day were awful. I did not take enough warm biking clothes with me. I did not even have them since I am a 'good' weather cyclist. Therefore I went to the Ironman expo and bought a jacket. One of the pro's of the commercial Ironman brand is that you can buy everything you need! Now I thought I was ready to face the rainy conditions on race day! That said, it was time for my last sleep before the big day.
Finally, 26 augustus 2018, was D-day! I woke up after a bad night, which is normal for me the day before race day. Luckily the start of the race is quite late (11 AM!) compared to other long distances triathlons. It gave me time to have breakfast with my family and to relax before going to the transition zone. When I arrived there, I started by putting by bottles of iso on my bike. Next I was clicking my Garmin on my bike. At that moment, one of my club members asked me what I was doing. I was like; 'preparing my bike, what's wrong with that?' At that moment, she told me that the bike part was cancelled. I did not know how to response. At first, I thought she was joking. However, I already saw that there was snow on the top of the mountain we had to climb. I had to face reality and called my family to pick me up from the transition zone. The start of the race was also delayed with 2 hours and it became a swim-run. I never did a swim-run in my life and it was not the race I hoped for. However, I did not drive all the way to Austria to give up. I had to change my mindset and accept the fact that my first half triathlon was nog going to happen that day. The first thing I started thinking about was if there was a possibility to sign up for a different half triathlon later that year. September was close to the end of the season, which did not gave me a lot of options. Back with my family, I realized that those thoughts were not my first priority at the moment. I had to change my race plan and get in the right race mood for my swim-run.
Facing the rain and viewing the webcam of the mountain, I was glad that the organization cancelled the bike. It would have been dangerous to bike there. Especially for someone who is not an experienced and technically confident cyclist like me. Seeing this, made it easier for me to face reality. I went, with a bit of positivity, back to transation to make the best of the swim-run. After the shot gun, I gave it all on the swim. I also was quite happy when I made it back to transition. I felt dizzy afterall and that did not dissappear when I started running. My body was not used to this crazy swim-run stuff. My stomach was also struggling. I still know that I gave all I had and tried my best.
Crossing the finishing line went together with a lot of emotions. I finally got the beautiful ironman 70.3 medal! However, it felt like I did not earn it at all... It took a while for these emotions to go away. My coach also told me that I definitely did earn it since Ironman 70.3 became a swim-run and I finished it. Finishing my swim in 40.25 min and the run in 01.41.27 hour brought me to the 5th place in my age group and 87th overall. I guess that was not too bad for someone who never ever expected to do a swim-run at the first place.
One year later, it is safe to say that this race taught me several lessons:
- Sometimes giving up feels easier, but pushing through makes you feel like you can conquer the world!
- When everything went as planned, triathlon would be too boring for me.
- Everything happens for a reason ;) which is well explained in my next blog.
- Triathlon is sometimes feels like the hardest mental game that exists.
- Never stop believing in yourself!