This year we have been specially busy. Not only because of sports (another Ironman training in progress) but also because finally the economic activity is picking up here in Portugal, meaning an additional (and very welcome) load at work!
On the road to Ironman Zurich I have already raced the 2 most important events I had scheduled:
a) Rotterdam Marathon
This was a marathon I signed up by the beginning of the year after having agreed with the coach that a marathon was due before the Ironman. This was a great opportunity not only because we had the chance to go there with many people from the team but also because we had never been in Holland before so after the race we stayed there for a couple of days.
Rotterdam is a somewhat small but very nice city with nice sights and where you feel welcome. This was a special race for me since coach had been planning a PR over there so the pressure was mounting on on the days before the race. I managed to had a little taper even if the IM training didn’t stop.
The race course is very flat and the sights are good. It is also a 10k+ runners marathon which is an additional plus. Overall it was a good day, maybe a little windy but the temperature was right and there was no rain.
Without any previous arrangement I managed to start with another Wikaboo and a dear friend with whom I have raced my first IM and he kept pulling us forward up to km 30. We were going at 4m30/km which is quite fast for me considering a 42k race. I was afraid the hammer would drop anywhere near km 30, but I was happy to see that didn’t happen. From km 30 to the end it was my time to pull and boy we did finish running below 4m/km.
On km 38, out of nowhere, there was our coach; as he saw us he looked to his watch and shouted “forget your watches, it’s time to go all out and you’ll finish with 3h10”. That was a huge trigger but also an enormous pressure when your legs are already crying and begging you to stop. But so we did, pushed all out, to the best of our ability and finished sprinting to the end to clock a PR with 3h09m57s, for which we were both very grateful. And I’m grateful for this dear friend because I’m pretty sure that I would not have pushed so much on the first 30k since I’m always a bit conservative, but the reward was worth it!
Also my better half managed to find a bib (after lots of tries 😉 to the 1/4 Rotterdam Marathon where she also finished with a very good total time! And still could cheer me at the finish line!
b) Lisbon Triathlon
This is my favorite triathlon race in Portugal. It’s probably the biggest one and most of the triathletes I know are there which makes it a lot of fun. This year it was very very special because I had my brother on his first half ironman distance triathlon, my sister-in-law racing the Olympic+ distance and also :-))) my better half!!! I think they were all inspired by the Ironman last year in Frankfurt and they started their own road at triathlon with little to none previous experience – the Ironman slogan “anything is possible” at its best!
But, there is more, a couple of friends with no link to triathlon were also racing, one girl friend on the Olympic+ and a male team racing the relay event!
It was a very stressful day because I tried to support every one of them to the best of my ability, which is not easy when there are so many friends racing and I myself was also going to compete.
In the end everyone was happy finishing their first triathlon races and a few of them have already signed up for others races meaning they have enjoyed the experience!
As to my performance I was also extremely happy to break by PR by almost 20 minutes, with the following splits:
Total time: 4h44m59s
It seems like this year I’m beating my PR’s and making my goals by just a few seconds everytime!
It’s worth to say that coach designed the perfect strategy for the race, which means he already knows how I think. He said to go all out on the bike (aiming at 33.6-34km/hr average) because we needed to see what I could do and then start running at 4m35 and go as I would feel.
I must confess that I’m used to being on the conservative side comparing to what I can do on training and that while I was pushing on the bike I was not sure I would my legs perform when the time to run would come. Anyway, just as I have learned before, you take you segment at a time, swim, bike and run, so I focused on doing the best possible bike segment and then we would deal with it.
When I left T2 I was happy to be able to push to 4m35/km (again coach was right…) and even a little faster. After 10k I was struggling to keep the pace but I managed to do so up to km 16/17 where it dropped 5-10 seconds/km but I could still finish strong and beat my PR.
One other thing I’ve learned is how much some nice wheels can make a difference. And here I must thank again another dear friend from whom I borrowed a nice HED carbon wheel, and boy it seems like you have a little engine pushing you forward. As you cycle to 30-34km/hr the bike just seems to keep going without so much effort. I would never thought it would be possible for me to cycle 90km in 2h37 – I was thrilled with it!
This post is not finished without a super special mention to my better half who was never a sports person but has been very committed to training to the best of her ability and finished her Olympic+ race with a nice smile on her face. It’s impressive to think that she had never swam or cycled before, yet from the day she signed up she took it very serious and she made it. You rock, girl.