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Ironman Switzerland 2010 - Race Report

Norman Rohr ist seit kurzem Mitglied beim Bautzener LV "Rot-Weiß 90", obwohl er arbeitsbedingt in den USA lebt. Am 25. Juli 2010 hat er seinen ersten Ironman bestritten. Hier ist sein Erlebnisbericht:

I have just completed our first long distance triathlon, Ironman Switzerland. In recognition of the unique experience, here my somewhat lengthy race report. Sort of a small story about a perfect training PLAN that never quite worked out…

Prelude

Well, we had quite some time for preparation. Given how quickly IM events sell out, you have to sign up as early as possible. The obvious choice with all the logistics involved is a race just steps away from your house. Why not Ironman Switzerland in Zurich? Oleksiy managed to convince me that after our first Olympic in 2008, and our first 70.3 in 2009, we should tackle the long distance in 2010. In Zurich. No matter what! Little later, we learnt that Abby, Becky and Fi had also signed up. Yeah.

Things started off promising: a nice training plan was put in place, I went riding to Lanzarote and Tenerife over the winter. - And then an endless series of unplanned mishaps set in: injuries (3 months no running due to muscle fibre rupture), family issues causing loads of travel, loads of business travel across Europe and to the US, eventually even my relocation to California, and finally a badly sprained foot and a broken baby toe just days before the big race. All in all much less training than planned, particularly on the swimming (no training for the last 2 or 3 months) and running side.

So what? Good thing is I had no illusions (but heaps of worries to disappoint my “fans”) – my plan was to take it easy and enjoy the whole thing no matter what. No pushing. Making sure my foot would survive with no massive extra damage. No time target (Ok, I did not want to go beyond 12 hours).

Race

Swimming

My broken toe would be a problem, for sure. Just days ago during a quick swim in the lake I had kicked into Fi – and almost blacked out due to the pain. Therefore, I decided to let the crowd go ahead during the swim. At the start signal I was still waiting at the beach, when everyone else had already swum to the starting line 50m into the lake.

Bad decision though! Despite my lack of training I was still much faster than a lot of the other folks. Which meant already at the first buoy 600m from the start I found myself in the middle of the crowd, with all the things I had wanted to avoid: breast strokers, punching, kicking. Same at the next buoys and the short walk before the second loop.

Out of the water after 1:15 h.

Bike

Transition. Bummer – not many bikes left in the transition area. I ripped off my wetsuit, put on my cycling gear, walked to the bike start (remember the toe!). Started cycling – learnt that I should have done a test ride in the morning before the start. Something was wrong – my bike computer’s speed pod was banging against the spokes! Only for 100 meters, though – then it fell off with a last huge bang. Which made me notice one more thing: my left ankle was blank. Where was my chip? Ah, that’s why it had taken so much energy to get out of my wetsuit? – No time to think. Go, go, go!

I know we all had told each other over and over again not to go to fast, to take it easy during the ride to avoid exhaustion. But I felt good. Why was everyone else so much slower? No time to think – go, go, go! Cycling was a pleasure. First loop finished after 2:36h. Quick stop at Penalty Box to tell the folks I had lost my chip and just completed my first round. (My biggest worry was they would tell me after the race they had no evidence I had done the cycling).

Back on the route for loop 2. Still feeling amazingly good. No problems, even on the climbs. Second stop at penalty box (to tell them I had completed my second round). Off the bike: 5:15 hours for the 180km. Yeah. And my toe was not hurting at all!

Run

Changed to running gear, put on my chip. Quickly iced my toe. Someone was calling me from the fence – Andy was there with a huge poster saying “Go get them Stormy Normy”. It’s these moments when I love my friends the most. Thanks all for your support ;-) And my toe was not hurting at all. Hold on, first step of the run – and there it was immediately, the bad pain of the broken toe - Ouch! After 100 meters I noticed another thing: As usual, I had forgotten my hat. Must be a routine by now!

Pushed by my many (amazing!) friends along the track the first half of the Marathon went well, nonetheless. Then, the last 15km became a torture. A combination of toe pain, lack of training and exhaustion set in and I had to walk every now and again. However, giving up was never an option! Last few meters. Finish. 10 hours 47 with loads of potential to improve.

Learnings

1) Would I recommend doing it with a broken toe? Been there, done that. Next time I try the version without the bit of extra pain.

2) Never count on the next year looking like the last one. A plan never works out the way it should.

3) Stay determined. There is always an indefinite number of reasons for not completing a mission, but achieving the goal nonetheless is a reward in itself. This weak body of ours is capable of achieving incredible things.

4) Be relaxed. Take your time during transition (chip, hat, etc).

5) Food. I definitely learnt a lot! On the bike, I need to eat more bars. Gels don’t provide enough energy and seem to screw up my stomach for the run. Taking a salt tablet every two hours was the right thing to do. Drinking too much coke/isotonic drinks during the run was not. Fruits and nuts are a no go in the future!

6) Heat. I am not a warm weather person. My ideal race temperature is below 20 degrees Celsius, especially during the run. Not a lot I can change here – except for carefully choosing my races. Constantly cooling my body with water during ride and run helped a lot, too.

7) Know your gear. "Fortunately", I had a puncture just on the day before the race. Why fortunately? Well, I had forgotten I had tubulars rather than clinchers on my race wheels!

Conclusion

I have never had the feeling that I did not want to do another one. In fact, particularly during the run I constantly imagined how many minutes I could save during my next race. Next year – after I have learnt to walk again ;-)

Day of Pain, Day of Glory. – What’s next?

(Norman Rohr, 01.08.2010)
Eingetragen am 02.08.2010 von Uwe Warmuth.

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