Ironman 70.3, Shanghai. Two weekends of pain and joy

"with more wisdom this time, more of my Tropical Isostar drink in the bidon and more gels for the run"

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In the last two weekends I did my first tri over the longer distance. A 70.3 half Ironman is 1.9km swimming, 90km on the bike and a 21km run. If I had looked at those numbers a couple weeks ago, I would have thought ‘yes’, this should be no problem. Some days I train in a whole day the same distance! But I can tell you it was everything else than easy, especially those last few km on the run ;)

The first weekend was in Wenzhou, China. It was a test event for an ITU long distance race next year. I managed to pick up my first experiences over the long distance. The racing is different to what I am used to. Especially the running! A lot slower and more about surviving ;) and the nutrition plays such a big part. So in my first race in Wenzhou I learned that I needed a couple more gel’s than I was expecting. I was flying on the first 8km, running without pushing, but suddenly every good feeling was gone and I slowed down. From a 3:30 pace to a 4:30 and that’s when I realized I “should” have taken a gel 2km before! It was too late and couldn’t recover. Two guys picked me up and I managed to just finish in 3rd like a walking dead crossing the finish line. So much pain all over the body, especially on my shoulders…but I was happy and to finish such a race made me proud! During my last 5km running I said to myself; “why am I doing this, never again you idiot”. But at the finish line I was like; “yes, ready for the next half ironman in 7days :P”!

I was so tired for the first two days, just did little sessions of training. 20min running totally easy, swimming around 30min and riding the bike with 100watts for 60min. To get the blood flowing and get these tired muscles back working properly. Eating and sleeping was also a big part of my recovery. I slept the first night 12h and every morning I was so hungry that I rushed down to the buffet to get myself stuffed again. I can tell you, eating in such a situation is awesome!

I recovered well and was ready to race 70.3 Shanghai on Sunday, with more wisdom this time more of my Tropical Isostar drink in the bidon and more gels for the run! As expected the swim went really well. After the first seconds in the water I managed to get free of the other athletes and swam in the lead the whole swim. With a big lead I ran into transition and changed quickly as always onto the bike. I knew I wouldn’t be able to ride on my own so I “waited” on the bike and got myself ready for the first chasers. The bike was hard. Always pushing in that aero position is difficult and not easy in the head. I had an average of 43km/h for the 90km on the. To get ready for transition was such a relief! I was tired of riding that bike and that saddle started to hurt my precious parts ;) don’t really know how you guys can do a full Ironman!!

We were around 10 guys starting the run together. It felt like an ITU race. Running in a pack, now and then someone was falling of the pace. I had a great feeling, as well my confidence was high. I wanted to go for a podium! After 7km we were 6 guys left and I was well locked in on the 2nd position. I swallowed my gels with water, even thought I was already so tired of eating that slimy stuff.

After 13km it happened again. My body started to shut down and I just couldn’t do anything. From a light feet run style, I started to almost not lift my feet anymore. I was dying and started to think of giving up! “8km before the finish, you’re stupid bro” I said to myself. The pain was real and I just couldn’t do anything. My nutrition was good, it was just my body that was not ready for that distance yet…more training ;) Lapped age groupers started to overtake me on the run. I was running a 5:00 pace or maybe even slower. With my 6th place I was in the prize money and the 7th guy flew by and over took me. No chance of following.

I stopped at the aid station 5km before the finish to drink 3 cups of ice cold cola. Oh my god that was soooo good! And I managed to get my pace back to a 4:30 speed. 2km before the finish again 2 cups of cola. And then finally I did it. Crossing that finish line was a relief. A 7th place with a time of  3h53min10sec, I can be pleased. My body was in a lot of pain. I had to sit down and chill for a couple minutes. But again, I was happy and that is what I love about triathlon. Every race is a challenge and every successful challenge gives me joy! But yes, so much more work to be done.

From those two races in china I bring home something really important. I now know what’s needed….and how beautiful we have it in Switzerland ;) So good to be back home.

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