I completed my first full Ironman distance triathlon on July 20 in Roth Germany. The training was great, I enjoyed almost every minute of it and I was definitely ready, fit and healthy for the event with the help of my coach Al Chud.
In the days leading up to the race the weather got increasingly warm, the race day forecast was for sunny, hot (32 degrees) and humid conditions. I began to fret about this forecast as I do not fare very well in hot temperatures, but I was assured that plenty of water/sponges would be available on the course to help cool down.
The morning of the race was indeed warm but beautiful. My swim was great! I felt like a pin ball as there were so many swimmers close together the entire time and finding a clear path was not easy. I stayed close to the middle of the canal which was the clearest path I could find. After swimming under the bridge (which is right across from the swim finish) I expected the turn final around to be close (as we were told by all the veteran athletes). The turn did not come for quite a while! This swim seemed very long. At last I reached the end, looked at my watch 1:05, very happy with this. I found out after the race that the swim course was in fact 300m longer due to them moving the last turn around 300m further from the bridge (so spectators could see the swimmers better) but they forgot to move the first turnaround 300m closer!
I walked to the transition area to retrieve my bag (just as my coach instructed me to do), brain fog set it in and I forgot my bib number, picked up a bag that seemed very light, looked inside to see a bib with Peter’s name on it…oops. luckily I wrote my number on the swim cap. Quickly took my bag into the tent and changed. Ate a bar while heading to my bike. The heat of the day was starting to be felt, I could feel the sun biting the skin and it is only 8am.
The first part of the bike was quite good, very scenic but I was getting increasingly hot, so at every aide station I dumped a bottle of water on my head but the water was not cold so it did not really cool down the body. As the time went on I found that I could not eat anything (and did I ever have food on board, sandwiches, bars, baby food, gels). the sandwiches were melted and runny and I could barely nibble at one. I managed a baby food and a good deal of fluid that was becoming hotter by the minute. I took salt pills regularly and quickly ran out! Not good. At the top of Solar hill (great crowds on this hill) my support team (Multisport Canada support) handed me my special needs bag with more food (I still had the food from the morning) but no extra salt, John Salt (very funny coincindence…) gave me some from another bag but it only lasted an hour. I tried very hard to get some solid food in but it would not go down I was too hot/bothered and just needed to cool down. Several more aide stations and warm water on the head did very little. My speed was quickly reducing and my legs were starting to cramp. The concentrated electrolytes in my bottles were very warm and gross to the palate, so I abandoned this and only took the electrolytes they handed us in bottles. Ate another baby food and one gel, hardly enough for 6 and 1/2 hours of riding.
At least I was not falling off my bike from heat exhaustion as I saw others lying on the side of the road or falling off their bikes as they passed out. It’s too bad they do not have ice cubes or ice water in Germany. It would have made the world of difference to me.
T2- changed, headed onto the run route slowly…tried to run. Suddenly my left Quad AND Hamstring cramp at the same time! I have never experienced cramping before and this was excruciating. Once I was able to move I walked and then tried to resume a semblance of a run. It was not be. Cramps again in the calf as well. Walked some more, drank electrolytes, met Richard Pady from Multisport who said it would be better with time and to keep drinking. He was right after an hour and 1/2 ( 10km) I was able to amble for 500m at a time before cramping. At this rate it would take me over 6 hours to complete the marathon. By 21km I could run and walk a little more and by 28km I was starting to feel human, thank heavens for the thunderstorm that rolled in at this time. By 35km I was able to sustain a very slowwww jog until the end. Yay…I did a negative split.
I finished the race, loved every minute of it even though the day did not go according to plan.
When can I do this again?