Ironman Zurich Race Report

Race day

4.15am wake up. Well that’s when I set my alarm, I was awake a good 30 minutes before hand. You know the feeling when you’ve set an alarm and you are just sat in bed waiting for it to go off. I was straight out of bed, light on (which went down surprisingly well with Emma) and ready for the day. I started making up my race day nutrition, so filling up my SiS (science in sport) GO energy drinks, making sure I have all my gels and bars for the day. I went to the kitchen, ate my porridge with honey, drank my apple juice and then ate a couple boiled eggs for good luck. I did my pre-race rituals before putting my tri-suit on and carrying my bags to the train station. I walked with Emma, Jon and Julia to catch the first train (5.30am) to the start line where I met my parents. 

I went into the transition area, pumped my tyres up, filled up my hydration unit, attached my nutrition and made note of where my transition bags were (which I didn’t do very well). I put my wetsuit on ASAP as I was a little pushed for time and made my way to the start line.

The Swim

I was in the queue for the start trying to push my way to the front, I got pretty close but there was still a decent number in front of me. I need to learn to stop being English and start being less polite. I have a really strong swim that I need to capitalise on. There is no point wasting my energy weaving my way around swimmers just because they pushed their way to the front. 

Anyway, the starter went off and within a minute I was in the water. I ran in and got straight into my rhythm the water was a toasty 23 degrees meaning it was wetsuit legal. My game plan was to go out hard and draft someone faster than me to the end of the swim. So, I went out hard to try and find someone, but I kept just catching them up and passing them. I couldn’t find anyone my speed. Within about 15 minute I decided to just swim my own race, try and find some open water and just keep the arms ticking over. The swim felt a little disjointed and a lot of swimmers went off track, but I was happy with my time of 54.55. Nothing overly dramatic happened in the swim, which was a nice change from Copenhagen. 

T1

Transition was smooth; I was out the water reaching behind me for my cord to unzip my wetsuit. It felt like I did it fast however looking at the photos I was reaching for the majority of the run to the bike. At least this time both my ears weren’t sticking out the side of my swim cap. My wetsuit was off, and I was sat down with my transition bag making sure I had everything on for the ride. I was to row G to grab my bike and I was away. 

The Bike

So, the interesting part, the bike started off on the flat next to Zurich Lake. I settled into my aero position pretty fast and was feeling comfortable. It was drizzling with rain but manageable. The first 30km was going to plan until the dreaded marshal pulled up beside me. Someone had just overtaken me so when the bike pulled up next to me, I dropped off to make sure I was 12 metres back (which is ridiculous so early on in the race!!!) but he obviously thought I was cheating so gave me a straight blue card. This meant I had to stand for 5 minutes at the next penalty box, to make it worse I had no idea where it was. After this happened you can imagine I was rather annoyed, actually royally pissed off. It is a rule that I think need changing, it’s basically luck if you get caught or not. Anyway, I could discuss this rule for a long time, so I won’t bore you with that. So, I was stood up in a tent with my bike for 5 minutes straight, watching lots of cyclists pass me. I’m not going to lie; it was so depressing. I had a very angry French man join me, which made the penalty box lightly more amusing. 

5 minutes felt like 5 years but eventually I was allowed back onto my bike and was up the hill in a flash. Looking back now I probably put far too much power down, but I had to let my anger out somehow. The bike section went from bad to worse, the heavens had well and truly opened. Zurich which had just been going through a heat wave was now pissing it down. The rain I could deal with, but the road got incredibly greasy and dangerous. My confidence on the bike had taken hit due to my nasty fall a couple of weeks before hand, so I was taking it extra cautious. I just missed out on a crash in front of me, a man took a corner too quick and skidded. I mean he was going a snail’s pace and still skidded so I dread to think how fast I was going… 

After the heavens had opened and I had descended like a donkey on some steep climbs, it was time for lap two. By this point I was already for the bike to be over. I had misjudged the amount of climbing involved and also how technical the course was. But there is no shying away at this point. I had entered this ironman to compete in my age group (which was out of reach now), but I was at least going to finish. So, lap 1, torrential rain & hail. Lap 2, boiling sunshine. I cannot tell how quick the temperature changed but I went from being soaked and a little cold to overheating. I can safely say, my head was gone. My race had thrown a few spanners in the works and I couldn’t take it. I managed to finish the bike after a slow second lap, feeling very sorry for myself. 

T2  

I took my time in T2, I mean I didn’t plan to but that’s what happens when you pick someone else’s transition bag up and you have to go running back… I took my helmet and cycle shoes off, applied my sun cream and was optimistic for the run. 

The Marathon

So, the plan was to stick to a certain pace all the way round the run. I knew my race hadn’t gone to plan so far but I wanted to do my running training justice. I had run my legs down to the ground in training and I was willing to do the same in Zurich. I set out knowing I wasn’t feeling my best, but I wanted to hold my pace for as long as possible. For the first 10k I managed to do this, but I have to admit that when It started to hurt, the fight inside me had gone. I couldn’t find that determination to keep pushing. I wasn’t on for a PB, I wasn’t competing in my age group, and I had finished an ironman before. I didn’t know what I was doing even running. The struggle was real. It was about 30 degrees, I was dehydrated, had stomach cramps and walking. In other words, I had hit the wall. From what I remembered I cried a couple of times, laughed at myself a couple of times and then tried to run again. The only thing that got me round was my friends and family cheering me on and my willingness to finish (basically I told myself I had paid so much money and dedicated so much time and sacrificed too much to have a DNF next to my name). 

I perked up and managed to run the last 7k, and more importantly the last 100m with a smile on my face. 

Ironman Zurich, I’m not sure I can say it was a pleasure but by god it is one I will remember!