18 Jul 2010

CHALLENGE ROTH 11:35:13 [Results] [Certificate]
Swim - 1:18:14
T1 - 4:10
Bike - 5:40:51
T2 - 2:00
Run - 4:29:59

M40: 378th out of 608
Male: 1476th out of 2370
Overall: 1587th out of 2678

A fantastic journey has come to a successful end. I am an Ironman!

We drove to Roth on Friday. The entire city was already in triathlon fever. Banners everywhere, flags on every pole and shop windows covered with memorabilia from previous races. It seemed perfectly normal that people walk round in compression socks, cycling bibs or sports bras. Very impressive triathlon village with huge expo. Registered and picked up my race pack, had a nice meal and the hit the pillows relatively early.

1 day to go. The hotel is full of athletes who are all starting to get their gear ready to check-in. Bike-porn in action... We drove to the swim start where I checked in the bike and dropped of my run bag. By this time the temparature had risen to the low thirties, but the forecast still promised us some rain during the night and a bit of a well needed cool down. Finished off the day with some more packing and a good carbo session with a few others from the club.

4am. I managed to get almost 6 hours sleep which was great. The weather looked promising, but the wind had picked up. Breakfast. Everybody is very quiet and I manage to get down everything I had planned.

5.30. In T1. Beginner's mistake: the cover got blown off my bike in the storm during the night. The cushioning of my helmet and the aeerobars were completely soaked. No problem. The Frenchman next to me is about to hyperventilate. I borrow his pump and drop off my swim bag.

6.00. The first start wave. Very spectacular and emotional. I am still relatively calm and start going through my routine. 30 minutes to go. Aileen is wearing a specially made Challenge Roth Guardian Angle body. I am very humbled. Good luck wishes from my family ("See you tonight...") and off into the start area. One last visit to the loo, a short lie-down in the grass and then our wave is called.

7.20. That's it. We are in the water. I am getting away ok, but seem to be boxed in a lot. I stay calm and manage to find a good rythm soon. For some reason, I keep drifting towards the edge of the canal. Orientation should be dead-easy, but I just don't get it right. I feel good throughout the swim, but I seem to be zig-zagging all the way. 100m to go - a quick wave to my 'support crew' and then into T1. Over 1:18. Very slow, but I feel good and had no cramps. The T1 tent is packed. I find a bit of space on a bench and a helper assists me getting my wet suit off. A quick pee before I get off on the bike.

The crowds after a few miles are already unbelievable. I start eating early as planned. Heart rate is good; bike is good; legs are good. After about an hour on the bike, I am overtaken by the first professionals. Rasmus Henning, Norman Stadler, Seb Kienle, support cars, TV cameras - all very spectacular. KM 30 - the first big hill, but no problems with all the spectators. Then, the bit on the plateau and the wind is getting quite strong. Chrissie Wellington is overtaking me. What an athlete. KM 73 - I turn right and there it is. The Solarer Berg. Thousands of spectators creating this Tour de France feeling. Cycling up that hill is impossible to describe. I am in tears. Lap 2. Speed is very good, but I start getting mild stomach cramps. I take another bottle with iso drinks at the feed station, but it isn't closed properly, so half its content goes all over me. I add the rest of my water bottle to wash off the sticky stuff from my legs.One thing that was a problem was my Garmin: the cadence sensor didn't work and the heart rate was shown incorrectly after a few hours.

T2. 5:40 for the bike leg. Wow, that was faster than planned. My legs buckle under me when I get off the bike, but I don't feel too bad. Relatively quick transition and off we go. I have to run the marathon in 4:53 to get under 12 hours, but all I need first very urgently is a toilet as my stomach is starting to rebel. First km. 5:08. Way too fast. Big relieve after a loo stop shortly after - I'll spare the details - and I am starting to find a good rythm very early. KM splits are still too fast (around 5:30) and I manage to get the pacing right soon. The feed stations every 2 kms are welcome as it is now quite warm. I walk all of them to take on plenty of iso and water. KM 15. Legs are starting to get tired, but I am still running. KM 20. My dad passes me some vaseline which I need as well as some needed encouragement. Half-way point. I am well in time, but I am gettig fed up with the canal and the ground we have to run on. I run from feed station to feed station and walk through them. Getting started is the worst, but things improve after 50m or so. 10 hours on the go. I know that I'll crack the 12 hours, but I just want to be there now. KM 35. Last encouragement from my folks. KM 39. Back in Roth. Down to the city centre. Cobbles. Almost a mile going uphill. Adrenaline is kicking in. I can hear the finish. I am in the stadium. I can see my family. This is not real.

Felix Walchshöfer shakes my hand, somebody hands me my medal. I can see my family. Hugs and kisses and tears. Aileen in my arms. I will never forget this moment!

On to the finisher's area. All I want is a drink - Erdinger of course - and something salty to eat. There are about a hundred beer benches which are used for massages. Bizarre. I pick up my finishers t-shirt to meet up with my folks. I feel much better than expected and we spend another hour or so at the event to calm down a bit.

Picking up my kit in T2 becomes a bit more challenging as my legs are starting to stiffen up, but we manage to get to the hotel ok to have a shower and some food. 10pm. In bed. I can't sleep as the adrenaline is still pumping through my body. I still can't believe that I am an Ironman...

Would I do another long-distance? Definitely. Would I do it next year? No! I want to enjoy the sprints, olys and middle distances next year, built up a lot of (core) strength and then have another go in 2012.


Unknown said...

Really well done! Don't know how you do it, especially the swim!!! - Fantastic!

Unknown said...

Well done Alex - perhaps as Iron man you should get an Iron Cross? - Maurice

marymckee said...

very impressive Alex, you are a star, definitely motivate me to try some open water swimming.
well done!