Thursday, June 16.
I just arrived in Luxembourg. Now checking into the hotel and off to the registration zone of 70.3 Luxembourg – Région Mossele 2016.
Friday, June 17.
After a big breakfast, I check in my bike and pack my transition bags to check them in later in the day. There is a briefing at 2pm about the rules of the competition and the change to a duathlon due to the recent flooding of the Mosel river.
The swim leg is replaced with a single run loop of 5km – shame, but what can you do.
After the briefing, it is time to bring in my bike and transition bags. I forgot my number, so I have to fetch it from the hotel first. My red bag has a hole in it, I must have ripped it with the chain. Nothing that a bit of tape can’t fix. I practice my route, where I come in and where I need to get out again. Then I do some sightseeing, charge my equipment and relax before the big day.
Saturday, June 18.
IRON-day! It starts off with a bowl of muesli, carbs and a protein shake. I am filling my bottles, arranging the energy gels and food bars, and then I leave to the Ironman village. Once there, I put the bottles on my bike and check the bags. It rained hard last night, but luckily everything is still dry.
10 am, time to go to the start. The schedule goes like this: 10:00 start of the male pros, 10:02 start of the female pros, 10:10 wheelchair start and 10:20 rolling start by the anticipated time on the 5k run. I go to the 25-minute box, because I want to take a slow start and not over-exert myself. One lap done and I am already in the transition zone to change to the bike (transition time: 5min 25sec). I have some problems putting away my bars and gels, I need to find a solution for that next time. I run to my bike and take it to the exit. It is about a kilometer run before we are allowed to get on the bikes. I feel I am in a good ‘leg-mood’ and I start pedaling. My goal of staying around 40/45km/h on the flat terrain by the river works out very well, even though for the first 10km I feel constant cramps in my legs. I overtake a lot of people and feel very motivated to keep my average.
I know there is a steep road uphill coming around the police building, so I start eating 4km before. I practiced this and I know going uphill is one of my strengths. I reach the summit and the road goes steeply down again for 3km. It is fun to cycle with the average 60km/h with little effort. Biking is still my thing 😉 The next 40km go without any problems and I start thinking I will finish on a good position, but then something happens at the last 15km and I lose all my energy from one minute to the next. I have no explanation for it – it is just gone and I struggle to keep an average of 27km/h. My motivation is low, but I manage to catch another breath and get back to my 30km/h for the last 3km. I am happy to see the transition and I am telling myself, you can make that up in the run.
At the second transition (transition time: 7min 4sec) I change into my running clothes, I start running and I feel I’m thirsty. In my head I see the bottle I forgot to drink at the transition. There won’t be a chance to drink for another 20 minutes and my throat is so dry.
I keep a pace of 5min/km and it feels good. I say to myself, try to lower to 5:30min and I do that, but after 5km I feel I need to lower it again. I go 6min/km and after 10km I am exhausted. I am thinking, I hope I can hold this pace for the next 11km, but as soon I had the thought I have to fall back to 7min/km. Then I need to walk a few meters before I can run again. Every 2km I have to walk some 100 meters to get back to running. After 17km I see that I passed the 2-hour mark and I feel so disappointed.
That’s when I think, let’s try and get back to the pace of 6:30min/km. I do that and I can hold until the end. The finish line appears and I am so relieved,happy and proud I did it. I worked so hard for this. Crossing that finish line is a feeling I can’t describe. What I learnt is that Ironman is more than just training and strength, or having good legs. There is another battle going on in your head.
Sunday, June 19.
I am packing and driving home with a feeling of a well-done competition. I can’t wait for the next triathlons in one month and another Ironman in 2 months!