Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ironman Switzerland

I am thrilled with my result. 

Awesome placement of "x"

Zee "short" report
And now the super late one...

A pb time of 11:18:47 on a day that showed scattered bits of strong hail, heavy rain, and sunshine. At times, I was soaked, I was dried, then I was pegged by little cannon hail balls, and finally I was back being soaked again. It wasn’t the most pleasant feeling. The weather gods couldn’t quite figure out what to hand us; luckily it wasn’t a waterspout that occurred only a week later in the exact swim location at Lake Zurich! 

Coming into this race, I knew my biking was by far my biggest challenge. I had little peace in mind. Did I put my bike together correctly? Also, just days before the race and biking in Europe for the first time, I began to question myself whether I am still a semi-competent bike rider, despite not speaking the language and not knowing the abundance of heavy Swiss-German signage nor being familiar with the traffic rules. The next round-a-bout could very well be the next round of butt beatings for me.

That wasn’t my only problem. Just like my experience at the Victoria half this year, buoys and swim caps were EXACTLY the same bright colour. Brilliant! Sighting will be a lot like finding where’s Waldo. 

We unintentionally skipped the pre-race dinner safety briefing too. Yikes. Meeting up with a friend (blame Max) got me distracted and we totally forgot. Oops, trust me I don’t usually pass up on opportunities like this to get food often. I was still in travel mode.

Considering execution on race day is almost 90% mental, I wasn’t faring well at this point prior to the race.

Luckily it did pan out!

Pre race, Brendan was very smart and got a taxi for us. It saved us a lot of time and we had plenty of time to settle the nerves.

Race bibs had to be worn on the bike, since there were no body-markings. This affected jels placements. Timing chips must be worn on the left ankle. 

There was a big talk in German, then English, then German again. Then they told us to shake hands to random athletes around us. The Swiss anthem was played shortly before the gun started. 

The swim was a unique setup. The beach start actually begins in a private beach park. Separated by two pontoons strips, there was also a section courted off for ladies only start, which I haven’t seen before. Firstly swim a rectangular loop. Swim under a little bridge and then run onto a little island to get a checkpoint. Then complete the hypotheses length and the remaining triangle as a second loop. Swim under the bridge again, while getting funneled in by lane ropes.  Then hop out on the other side to transition, and finally enter T1 on the public side of the beach park.

The swim sure felt a bit like those theme park boats rides hitting each other. 

The first 30ish km around the lake was nearly flat. Then as we deviate from the lake into landwards, there is a series of climbs leading the Beast, which is the largest climb of the course. My legs wanted a break, they were exhausted. I had to keep going because people would yell “bop bop bop bop bop bop!” It was a very technical course with questionable weather conditions. At one point my arms were barely holding on because of strong hail. There were a couple of instances when we had to ride over boards covering some rail tracks. Eventually the course meets the coast of the lake and heads back towards transition. We don’t turn at transition but tack on an extra 5km further out with a last minute steep stinger known as Heartbreak Hill. Boston had a Heartbreak Hill too, man oh man did I pick the right races in the same year. Both occurred on the latter parts of the course which probably give them such a reputation. The signage was what got me through the bike course. I was impressed with the multiple series of signage as you approach a particular turn. Then again, repeat for a second loop. Every component was tougher the second time around.

The run was a 4 loop course. It was crowded at times, but this made running feel blistering fast. There was always someone next to you. Aid stations were great, nuts and fresh fruit made my day. It was a mental challenge to run past the finish area 8 times before actually finishing. I was "yo-yoing" with a few guys until the 3rd loop. It somewhat annoyed me because they wouldn’t hold a steadier pace. Hahah I know I'm a running snob when it comes to getting pass. We were always checking out the number of arm bands on each passing athlete which indicated the number of loops you were on. These couple of yo-yo guys were on the same lap as me!  On the final loop, I just hammered it. At times, I even shut my eyes to conserve every bit of energy. I didn’t want to get passed by the yo-yoers again. It worked, and ran the 4th lap a few minutes quicker than the third.

I don't think I could had pushed harder. 

Overall it was a fantastic race-cation. 

Slush Puppies - the Swiss equivalent to slushies