Extrememan Nagytad, 25.7. 2015

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.

Run

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….

Finish

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.

Challenge Bahrain, 6.12. 2014

December 6th was the day of my first competitive triathlon experience.  Skipping the sprint triathlon competitions, I decided to go for the half Ironamn distance. Encouraged by my housband Iztok  and a few days after finishing  my undergraduate  medical studies at the University I was mentally prepared, excited, feeling encouraged to try something new-triathlon. Iztok and I have trained enough together therefore the distance was not concerning.  At least that is what I thought.

Iztok, his brother Dušan and I collected our bikes at the Manama airport after arriving happily. The good thing was that we had their parents traveling with us since excessive luggage is really hard for manual transportation. You are always afraid of being informed that your pollished, waxed, race-ready bike will land with another airplane in another country on another continent and you will have to spend hours, days to get it back. Meanwhile, staying at the side of the race track, loaded with carbohydrates as a part of you pre-race preparation (of course not knowing your bike would take another flight). Luckily this has not happened yet, I hearthly hope it will never happen.

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Bahrain bay.

We landed in the middle of the night. Of course we had no idea how to get to our hotel. The original plan was to grab the biggest cab, showing the driver a hotel adress… and that should pretty much do it. After finding our way out of the airport, we were pleasently surprised by the Challenge Bahrain organizinig team. They were absolutely prepared for the night incomes and yes they offered a wan and a ride to our hotel. That was a relief. Our hotel was located a few miles away from the Challenge area, the Bahrain bay where the swim start took its place. On a pre-race night evening there was a traditional pasta party at the Bahrain International Circuit in the south. The bus connections were well organized and transparent, they really tried to keep us informed. Pasta party was delicious, combining traditional Arabian cousine with our European dishes. Not to mention desserts. We  really enjoyed our time and got loaded with pasta, bread and potato. Some vegetables too. 🙂

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At the T1 area the day before the race start.

A pre-race day was dedicated to bike preparation. We went on a easy ride in the streets in the local traffic. Well you had to be careful not to fall in the sands and since there is a lot of construction areas you never know where there might be glass on the road. The bikes got a bit sandy, covered with dust. We had to transport them to the starting area. Since tourists sometimes make a mistake, we took a ride… on a highway…with our bikes. Driving 15 miles per hour and being overtaken by a giant, oil fueled »road monsters« (since the petrol is really cheap) was not exactly an overwhelming experienced but anyway, we had to get to the next overpass. Anyway, we managed to check in our bikes and gear. The night was coming and it was recommended to get some sleep. I soon realized I can forget about getting any sleep. There were two obsticles: the adrenaline and the outdoor noise made by car machines. They obviously had night time races or something. It was 2 a.m. and finally the sleep came… on the other hand, Iztok aside was totally calm, sleeping as a triathlon veteran, cute as always when sleeping.

The alarm ringed at 4.30 a.m. I was totally awake. Probably my puppils were dilated to the margins, infuenced by adreanalin. There was no sign of tiredness. Of course not, we had a half IM distance ahead.

There is something about race mornings. Some kind of peacefullness,  I can not describe it exactly but it is an addictive felling. The swim start was in waves. My age group started to gather in the water, few swim hits and that was it. We were waiting for the gun shot. I had no time orientation, when the shot should be launched… well it came out suddenly and that was it. I started swiming with the group.

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Swim start area.

The fisrt few hits were painful since the water was crowded and I got hit (and probably hit back too) by other competitors. During the 1,9 km swim I saw the World Trade Center which I took for my orientation in the water. It was my first competitive open water swim and I have to mention I had difficulties keeping the swimming line straight. I probably did a hundred metres more. I was looking out of the water occassionally, checking the route and where the others were. At the end of the bay we took a U-turn back, now passing the Four Seasons Hotel. What a view…

Getting out of the water after 40 min and  few seconds was encouraging. I thought to myself that the part I was afraid the most is now over. Legs were soft, I hardly managed to get out of my swim suit. I unwrapped a chocolate (300  delicious callories) and proceed to my bike. It was waiting there on a red carpet with Garmin and helmet prepared on the steer. I felt encouraged by the crowd and once on the bike, I knew that the next three hours chocolates and Isostar were my best budddies. Iztok and Dušan were probably way ahead, since there start took off before my group. We crossed the bridge to the community of Muharraq island. Then we looped back to the spectator areas of T1 and then the bike course headed out of the city to the residential area. it headed south to throught the land of million palm trees, heading to the desert. the wind was strong all the way, sometimes you had to push harder to overcome it. The legs felt ok, reaching the 90 km mark we had to drive a full lap on the Formula one track. I was surprised, I did not know there were so many ups and downs on a F1 track. Really. Well the legs started to feel uncomfortable. It was time to change the discipline, heading for the run.

It took me three minutes to get dressed for the run. The first running steps on leaving the F1 track felt like kicking the stone. I knew this was just a temporary phase and that after few miles the things will get alright. The run lead us to the wild park running past ostriches, giraffes, birds, camels, horses. Later, Iztok reported that he was almost hit by one.

The last miles were so rewarding, I did not slow down. I felt stronger and started accelerating, knowing that the finish line on the F1 track was somewhere there. It tok 5h and 51 min. I was pleased with the result as a first-timer. Well it even brought me a fifth place in my age-group.

And at that moment I must say I fell in love with triathlon finish lines. 🙂