All trainings, midnight runs, evening swims and long hours on the bike eventually lead to a desicion that you are ready for your first Ironman distance triathlon. We completed the application form in April and what followed were the months of intense preparations. Anyway, it was not so hard… the hardest thing was to combine trainings with working schedules. The most important thing are block trainings when you combine a long bike ride with short runs, just to prepare your leg muscles for this alteration on the race day. We did 2 to 3 hours of training per day, leading to 10-15 hours of training per week. Enough to finish your Ironman with some extra mental toughness.
We arrived in Nagytad, Hungary a day before the race. It was already hot and we had to apply and give away our running gear. We had our little pasta party in a nearby restaurant. Dušan, Iztok and I ordered three pasta dishes and hot-dogs. We ate like crazy. Before getting to sleep I took one additional banana because I felt hungry or I was just so tense that every feelling felt like hunger.
We slept in a small hotel an hour away from the swim start. Well, it had no air conditioning, the windows were broken, our bikes were sleeping with us because we were afraid of leaving them outside in our cars. I slept one hour but though this is a lot…some first timers usually get no sleep at all. I felt ready like never before. Amzing feeling, not even for a second there was no doubt that in the evening I will pass that finish line.
We mixed our Iso drinks for the bikes and we were ready to go. For breakfast we had croissants with nutella. Always works. Well the swim start was an hour away. During the ride I kept thinking of the swim. My longest training distance on the swim was 3 km and I though that extra km could bring me trouble. Well we arrived in Gyekenys. The sun was rising, it was a magnificent morning. We gave away our bikes, searched for Dixies… it is all a part of this sport.
We gathered on the shore for the swim start. The priest came in the water to give us a blessing. He raised his arms, the Vangelis playing in the back…I felt so calm, so blessed to be there. It is the moment you can not describe.
Then the gun shot came and the swim started. Iztok gave me one last good luck kiss and rushed to the water. The water was really warm, there were divers looking for us from the depth. I started swimming and not thinking about the distanance. I felt ok, the first lap and the second. No collisions with other swimmers, arms relaxed. Swimming googles started causing some pain after an hour an a half when I was appraching to the end. Otherwise it was a really nice swim with no particular trouble.
Getting out of the water was encouraging, the crowds were loud and you really feel encouraged. I changed my gear, rushed to my bike, ate a banana and ran to the bike out area. The longest part of the day started. There were 180 km ahead in rising temperatures and hot summer sun. I tried to drink and eat every 30 minutes. Iso drink was available every 30 km and of course I took it. There were first 75 km leading to the city and there three additional 35 km circles. The countryside was amazing, sometimes you felt like a lonely rider somewhere in the desert…. and a deep meditative feelling, long, continuous conversation between your mind and your soul and between your legs and your mind. My soul was so joyful, greatful fot experiencing that day in its fullness…and from other bikers faces I could read the same.
Approaching the bike end I started feelling some pain in my legs, they started loosing power. I had enough of warrm Iso drinks and my stomach started fighting against bananas. I said to myself I guess I will have to run a marathon on gels which I really do not like. But if there is no other chance… My buttock muscles started burning after sitting on a narrow seat for six hours. The wind in my chest seemed stronger. Anyway I was rushing to the finishing arena for the marathon start. I gave away my bike and thanked God and my bike for the great ride we had that day. I rushed to the changing room, found my running gear, got dressed and prepared. I washed my face….I have never seen myself loosing so much salt. The heat must have been high. I felt sunburn all over. Anyway I had a marathon to finish and there was no way to start feelling weak.
The first km on the run felt like hitting stones. The legs were stone hard. We had to do 8 laps, 5 or so km each. I thought to myself, I will sit down in the next lap and take a rest for 10 min. The first hour went by and I did not. Again I thought to myself I will sit down after next 10 km and take a rest for 10 min. 3 hours of running went by and the last hour was approaching. I thought to myself…this is it, the last hour, no way to sit down and relax now….now keep running.
The last lap…I can not tell what keeps you going in this moment… is it the adrenaline or something more, some inner power you have not recognized before…. The last lap was my fastest running lap in the race. I had some tears in my eyes passing the last check point 1 km before the finish line…. I skipped all the chocolates and bananas by the way and rushed to the finish line. I wanted to remember this moment so I slowed down a bit before passing the line and took few slower steps towards the end. I took my 5 seconds of glory and passed the line. I can not tell what my thoughts were…I was so happy I did it. After receiving my medal I realised I had no thoughts at all… my mind shut down somewhere during the race. I had a feelling I ccould continue like this for miles….
I was waiting for my Iztok in the finish area, he had some serious trouble with his feet. Anyway he managed to get to the finish line properly. Afterwards we had a »romantic« pasta and beer dinner talking about the race and the day we had…. we decided to sign up for the next Ironman events in the near future, have 2 or 3 next year…. anyway we were so sleepy, sunburned and tired that our main goal for that evening was to get some good and long sleep.
My finishing time was 12h 32 mins and 53 second (1,5h for the swim, 6 hours and a few minutes for the bike, 4 hours and a half for the run). I look forward to beat it in the future.