It was a sunny Thursday afernoon when we packed our things and hit the road to Czech Republic, more accurately to Otrokovice town. Moraviaman triathlon is a part of Czech national triathlon championship but it is also open for foreign athletes. We arrived in the late evening and of course all the restaurants were closed. So we took a look into the nearest restaurant with lights on (later we foud out that it was actually a Texas country style bar) which served us heated deep-frozen pizzas and, of course, Staropramen beer. It looked like we were the most complex guests in the last few years since they had to brush the dust from the menu. Well, we were satisfied anyway.
The following day was dedicated to “carbo-loading”…it is that sweet part of the preparations when you have to do “all you can eat” thing. Boiled potatoes, lots of bread, pizza (from the night before), pasta (in the days before) and some muffins. I must say that the last year I was actually tired of eating so much, but this year I ate smarter: less, but with more complex carbohydrates. I was really satisfied with how I felt: strong and full of OH. In another words, ready to make a lot of ATP molecules on the Ironman day.
Dušan and I went to do the registration on Friday. Iztok was our indispensable companion since he had to skip this Ironman because of some unpredictable health issues. Luckily, he shall be ready for Challenge Iceland since it was not easy for him to skip this emotional, amazing racing day.
Saturday. The swim start was at 7 AM, so we set our clocks at 5 AM. It was a sunny, promising morning. The sun was already up and we had to prepare our things and check in the bikes. I had prepared all the accessories on the desk the night before: swimming googles, swim suit, clothes, helmet, cycling shoes, running shoes, … For breakfast we had some croissants with no filling: this always works for the first hours.
And there it was…a swim start in the nearby lake. Dušan was already dressed up in his swimming suit, I had to dress up too. My thoughts were already in the evening, I had that weird dumpling in my stomach, I was trying to look calm but inside I was really tense …it was that exciting fear of the unknown, that feeling you get when you are coping with a challenge far greater that yourself. I was trying to visualize the finish line, the adrenaline that will flush me in the last kilometres of running and that deep pride inside.
As they say, the swim start in the Ironman can not be felt, it can only be lived. When the gun goes off, it is a war. A 3,8 km swim started violently, people were trying to swim over each other. I managed to make my way through the crowds. There were approximately 400 athletes and it was hard to swim for the first few minutes. The water was dark but it somehow did not bother me too much… I fell into my swimming speed and the time was flying by. We had to do three laps and in between I could see the dark clouds gathering above the lake… After approximately 1h 20 min I was getting out of the lake, the sun was shinning again and I was encouraged for the next distance: 180 km cycling.
I changed my clothes in the transition zone, that took me approximately 3 minutes. I put a banana in my pocket, took my bike and ran to the start of a long, challenging bike ride. We had to do 4 laps, each lap 45 km long. The first part of a lap was somehow boring, heading up the main road, but the second part was abundant with green scenery, with ascents and descents… altogether 800m of ascent. The winds were not helpful and so I can say that the bike course was challenging. I was cycling in a steady pace and I let my mind wander off… in the future, in the past, in imaginary worlds and then back to reality. One moment I felt so happy and fulfilled… indescribable thing. I was doing good until a weird cramp in my gastrocnemicus muscle spoiled that mental harmony… I poured some cold water on it from the bottle on the bike. It was ok then and I ignored the pain since I knew that some salt from the iso drink in the transition zone after the bike ride will save this problem. I was such a relief to get off the bike after more than six hours…
I was really relieved when the run started. 42,2 km, a marathon under the hot sun. We really tried to wash off all the salt that was left on the skin. During the run I reset my watch because I was somehow interested in the distance… and it is mentally encouraging to count down the kilometres. The runnig course was really beautiful, but not flat. There were many ups and downs and in that steep parts my running pace was slower. I tried to drink as much as I could… iso every 20 minutes. After three hours of running the tiredness was coming to the surface. The sun was already going down, loosing its power and when I took my last 10 km lap it was all so full of nostalgie, running in the middle of the wheat fields swaying in the evening breeze. I could easily cry of happiness and relief because the finish line was in the reach.
And there was the finish line in the evening after 13h and 12 min…. A gift for all evenings in the last months spent in preparations for this day. I took a glass of champaign in the finisher arena. It was again an amazing day, like in the last year”s Ironman. There are many priceless moments in life, those are one of them… We achieved two third places and this was a memorable award for all of us.