I became an ironman :)
When I started triathlon in 2009 and first heard of the ironman distance, my inner crazy self already played with the idea of doing it. The real decision came in 2015 though, when I finished the race as part of a relay team for the third time. Ironman is an important milestone for triathletes, since this is how the sport started and then became a major hit. It consists of 3,8km swimming, 180km bike riding and 42km running. So in the same year I ran my first marathon and felt ready for next year’s challenge. My feet thought otherwise, and I couldn’t postpone my hallux valgus surgery anymore (genetic heritage.. ), since it was constantly inflamed. I started running again in 2016 September, and joined another triathlon team, Kistri in October, spending the winter with lots of swimming and long runnings. I did try spinning a couple of times, but it was just not my cup of tea, and I resorted back to just commuting with my bike as usual, riding in -15 degree was training enough 😀 It just happened that I could participate in an ironman 70.3 in Dubai in the middle of the training period, which went pretty well since I got my second best time there. So I just had to train even more, do the special distance in May and prepare myself mentally as well. I’m not saying it was easy to dedicate all my free time for biking and swimming in the last couple of months, but every minute was worth it. I felt I was in good shape so I set a target time as well, I wanted to finish inside 13 hours.
As usual, we set up our base in Gyékényes, where the swimming starts and there is no need to drive there early in the morning. I originally asked my mom to be my aid but she got sick in the last minute, so only my dad accompanied me. Sadly he couldn’t concentrate on me only and acted as usual, which didn’t help me mentally during the last few days. Luckily two friends ran to my help who wanted to help and cheer my teammates and me anyway. Tamás also offered to be the team’s bike mechanic, and Botond was helping me during the race tirelessly, gave me what I needed and massaged my legs towards the end of running. I wouldn’t have made it without them, so please accept my eternal gratitude 🙂
My aim which I set in the previous post, that I want to race while being zero waste, was almost fully accomplished, despite having just some small adjustments in preparation. I baked my muesli bars, found some leftover gels, and cooked my oat pancakes the night before the race. I also prepared a bike bottle with iso for the running, as well as my camelback. I ran a 28k on the previous weekend with it, and it felt comfortable, so I thought I could manage with it during the race as well, but as a plan B I had my bottle too.
I woke up refreshed on race day and finished packing in the transition zone just in time, although I missed the warm-up swimming. Still, I was waiting for the start in a relaxed mood, but when Vangelis started (the traditional starting song of the ironman of Nagyatád), my eyes watered and I got goosebumps on my back. Luckily I could stay on the left side while running into the water, which was the advice of my coach, Gyula, so I managed to swim in my own pace and without any major fights. I finished the first round in 43 minutes, so I knew the desired 1:20 was not possible anymore, but I didn’t care, you know what they say, you have all the time you want during an ironman, and 5 minutes won’t make a difference. I kept my pace and at least finished inside 1:30, so I was satisfied with my time. I quickly went through transition and jumped on my bike, aiming to ride around 30km/h.
The first 75km section of the bike course was really enjoyable, especially since we are riding through an arboretum so you get a stunning view. I was in such a good mood that I started singing my songs, and later repeating on and on the official song of the race – The way is the goal. This song really gives you the chills and it’s a good motivator, I will try to give you a rough translation: ” Whether you will have enough strength at the end, only your heart can see. Until the fire burns inside you, you can believe that the finish-line is waiting for you. It doesn’t matter who will win, no matter just go until the end. You are not made of iron, but sometimes, be harder than steel!” I was happy to see Tamás and Botond during this section as well before they went over to Nagyatád, so they could cheer me on, it helped me a lot 🙂 I only took bottles with iso and a lot of bananas at the aid stations during the whole biking, and barely touched my prepared food, but of course took a few salt tablets and a few muesli bars. I also popped in two gels at the end, since it’s not advisable to eat any heavy food before running. Banana is perfect for that as well, but I really got tired of it. 😀 After the 75km section you have to make three 35km rounds, going into Nagyatád at every round, so I could get some more cheering and a bit of suncream. During the last round I really tried easing into it, since I knew that I will reach my planned 6 and half hours easily, and I didn’t know what to expect from running, being my first time. Next year I’ll push a bit more I think. 😀
My second transition was a little longer, I used the opportunity to wash my face and go the toilet. There was some mix-up at the team tent, I couldn’t find my aids with my camelback, but another teammate’s aid, Kriszta got to my rescue, and after a few minutes I asked her to give me a bike bottle filled with water and started my first round (one round was 5,25km this year). Many thanks for the help 🙂 I felt strong and started running in a 5:10 min/km pace, but quickly scaled back after a few km because I knew this could get me into serious trouble later on. The bike bottle was perfect during the entire race, I could fill it up at every aid station and also pour cold water on myself any time I wanted. Sometimes there was no need to stop since I still got enough water, which was really crucial since it was over 30 degrees. Although Tamás found me during the second round and I tried the camelback, I gave it back to him the next round cause the bike bottle was more convenient and easier to handle. I will use this method exclusively I think during long races, it is way better than the plastic cups and not just for reducing my waste, it’s so much easier to drink from as well 🙂
I could only keep this quick, under 6 min pace during the first 2-3 rounds, and I started to feel my thighs roughly after 15km. I always drank a few sips of iso at the team tent, and ate a slice of watermelon at an aid station, but nothing else really, so my stomach started to hurt. I switched to eating crackers, tomato and household biscuits, and after 21km I always stopped for a quick massage as well, which got me a bit better. Even though I slowed down I really tried to start jogging almost immediately after an aid station. This got me into a nice rhythm and I managed to reach 6:30 pace most of the time. At half marathon I saw that I still had almost 3 hours for another 20km, so I really hoped I could finish in time, but still wouldn’t dare to believe it. In the last couple of rounds I was constantly munching away my crackers and drank a bit of cola, just because Botond told me to. Zero waste is important, but not life and death 😀 The finishing few km was my bonus, I just rushed through the last aid station, threw away the bottle and sprinted to the finish line, not caring about the pain anymore. I really enjoyed the whole event, so coming back next year for sure! 😀 And thanks again everything for the Kistri team, and especially to Tamás, Botond and Kriszta!