IRONMAN 70.3 Rapperswil-Jona
As I am sat here munching on leftover Jelly Babies (I know I could save them but, meh!) I’ve realised that I’ve quite happily consumed about 8 in 30 seconds whereas on Sunday it took me the best part of 20 minutes.
However I was impressed with how relatively easy it was to consume said Jelly Babies, especially when descending at roughly 50km/hr on the bike (I know, fast for me right!). A new bike skill of which, I am very proud.
To be honest, I’m quite proud of myself for the whole weekend – Ironman 70.3 Rapperswil-Jona was awesome!
It’s been a whirlwind getting my mind and body ready for race day so soon after the winter, but I’ve risen to the challenge and with much help along the way I didn’t do too shabbily.
Training and kit
Over the winter I’ve managed to swim more regularly than last winter, ski tour occasionally, spin once a week and from March onwards I made an effort to gently get back in to running, going twice weekly. I do actually have a draft winter blog to finish but I’ve just been a bit busy!
Two weeks in Mallorca (again, another blog post to finish) saw me cycle 820km as well as run about 40km and swim about 8km. There’s nothing like cramming in training!
With Coach Amelia’s guidance I had a pretty accurate idea of how I should perform on race day and what was achievable. For the first time I had a proper nutrition plan and knew how much I needed to get on board to keep going.
Amelia and Joe helped me set up on the bike with time trial bars for the first time, use an aero bottle and Joe even added finishing touches by letting me borrow his more aerodynamic helmet. Thank you!
Accommodation/Travel – logistics!
The other Buzz and Tri Montagne athletes participating were very organised and I had very little to do to plan in terms of logistics – no plan needs too many chefs! Plus I reckon I was in denial about the race until about March and didn’t even look at the course route until I was in Mallorca, when people started asking me.
Anyway, Helen and I left at the crack of dawn on Saturday to arrive in time to do a 10 minute run and join the others to cycle to registration that was all part of our taper and pre-race day warm-up.
Phil guided us to the Ironman village that for me felt like a bike skill test negotiating twists and turns over bridges, around humans and dodging a fair amount of traffic; a heart raiser if I ever needed one!
We registered. We listened to our brief with jokes and advice that has probably been shared over and over again at IRONMAN events. The fact it was an Ironman event was quite a novelty. The Ironman Radio playing in the background made me giggle. As did the array of super swish bikes as I popped my snazzy blue Giant Defy (which is a very good bike) in amongst the Argons. We faffed and discussed many logistical dilemmas about clothing, kit and nutrition.
The heat was rising and we were conscious that too much time on our feet and in the sun would be detrimental to us being race-day ready.
Back to the hotel we went and as it was Helen’s birthday we snacked on banana cake I had made and put our feet up until dinner. Pizza or pasta and then to bed where we were asleep by 9pm. Great work team!
After a pretty decent night’s sleep we rose at 5:30 am to throw on our kit, grab some food and get a taxi to the start. I felt ok, not too nervous and thankfully a little more alive than the day before. I hoped the taper week had worked!
After a very wet spring, summer arrived in its prime with glorious sunshine and temperatures set to reach 35ºC. Awesome – looks like it’ll be a hot race then! Thankfully this rapid rise in temperatures helped with warming the lake. We swam in a balmy 16ºC lake and the full 1.9km distance. I didn’t want to be short-changed on race day; if it’s a 70.3, it’s a 70.3. Plus, the swim is my strongest leg.
The warm up was in the lido and I ensured I got water in the wetsuit and adjusted to the water as much as possible. Based on our predicted swim time we had provided, the organisers allocated us a start time. Myself, Erik, Phil and Sarah were to go at 08.10, Lewis and Helen 08.20 and Rachel I can’t remember, 8.50?
Phil, Sarah, Erik and I had fairly clear swims whereas the water was more crowded once the others started.
It was a rolling start and we set off in groups of 4 or 5. Sarah slipped into the group ahead of us but Phil ensured we set off together. He knew we were going to have a close race and for those who tracked us on the app, apparently it was quite exciting to watch!
I tried to stay on Erik’s feet but felt a little panicky and decided to back off. The second half I felt good and started to crawl back. Great swim, and I even got a cheer on my exit from Rachel as she was about to enter the water.
Who’s that shouting at me? Ah, it’s Rachel! Hiii!
AG 30-34: 3rd
The transitions at an Ironman event involve bags. Up the ramp and into the transition area I found my blue bag and went into the tent. Whipped off the rest of my wetsuit and put my bike kit on, shoving swim gear back in the bag. On exiting the tent, you dumped the bag ready for the volunteers to put it back on your numbered hook – what service!
I located my bike and ran off to the mounting line.
This was my first race with tri bars and aero-bottle. To be honest, my first ride with all the gear properly working! I was obviously keen to get hydrated early on in the race and have the photographs to prove it.
The first lap was very painful in my knee, my lower back and my hip. I kept eating and drinking and just kept pedalling. Gels, Tailwind (carb drink), electrolyte drink, a Buzz bar (like flapjack) and Jelly Babies were what I had on board. I’ll definitely use Jelly Babies again as they were so easy to consume. I’d had enough of the gels by the end of the second lap and the bar was faff-y and a bit dry to eat on a hot day. I’ll keep trying a few things, but in terms of what I can digest, I’m lucky that I don’t seem to have adverse reactions to anything.
A lovely Swiss lady called Claudia was cycling a similar pace to me and we kept leapfrogging each other over the course. We’re now Facebook friends and Strava followers!
By the second lap, my body settled and relief swept over me as I felt the pain ease and I could cycle in a little more comfort. And, I only cycled a fraction slower on the second lap, which was good!
I saw Rachel twice which was awesome and heard Erik shouting at me. A few other Brits cycled past giving words of encouragement. The atmosphere on the course was full of camaraderie and the respect between cyclists was great. We were in Switzerland after-all!
Helen did come past me, as did Lewis. They’d set off later in the swim and are stronger cyclists so I expected them to catch up. But, where was Phil? Oh the excitement!
2:55:42 AG 30-34: 29th
Off the bike, barefooted I’m proud to say, and re-racked my bike, double checking that I didn’t need anything or put anything back as it all just seemed too simple to only have to leave my bike. But no, I just needed to get back to a red bag this time, and into the tent. Off with the helmet, on with the visor, socks and trainers and I ran out the tent.
I’d mentioned to some friends that I’d be racing near them, and bless them they came to watch. It was a real boost for my morale. It’s great when people shout your name out, but when it’s someone you know it’s even better.
The first 5k were the hardest but my pace was ok and I just kept turning my feet over as fast as I could, trying to run tall and strong!
I high-fived Lewis as we crossed paths and saw him a couple of time on the course. The water and food stations were more frequent than planned, as due to the hot weather, sponges and ice were on offer more regularly to stop us from over-heating.
Amelia suggests for us to walk through the aid stations but it got to the point they were so frequent that skipping a couple probably wouldn’t have threatened to ruin the day. I was paranoid thought that I’d overeat, and the shot of coke and glugs of water were fuelling me brilliantly. The gels and tailwind I was carrying were surplus to requirements. In future, for local races where feed stations might not be as regular I’ll carry my own nutrition, but for this event and future bigger events, there was no need.
To ensure everyone did two laps, participants had to collect a red and blue hairband. I picked up the wrong one on my first lap so probably confused a few people, including myself! As long as you had both at the finish, you were all good!
The run felt great, even up the ‘stairway to heaven’ we had to climb. I really enjoyed it. Yes, my legs were beginning to ache but I felt strong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I wish I had just pushed a little harder on that second lap. Still, I finished with a spurt of speed and a smile on my face.
The others were waiting not far from the finish and in the time it took me to receive my medal, remove my tracker/tag and have a very brief chat (50s no less!) Phil appeared down the home straight. He HAD been behind me all the way!
If you’re reading this Phil, I know I’ll be eating my words at some point, as you will no doubt beat me very soon!
AG 30-34: 41st
AG 30-34: 26th/84
The aftermath – Nice, the place not the feeling
At each Ironman 70.3 event there is the possibility of qualifying to the Ironman World Championship. 60 spots were up for grabs in Rapperswil-Jona to head to Nice in September. The thing is, for the age groups between 25-40, no one was grabbing them! If the first person doesn’t want the spot, it’ll go to the second and so on in a ‘roll-down’ format until the spot gets taken.
We had originally gone to the ceremony to see if those in the club placed in the top 10 for their age group would get a spot. With only one spot awarded to those age groups, they went pretty quickly and sadly our Tri Montagne team members missed out.
I can’t figure out why we stayed, but we did and with 3 spots available for my age group and no one grabbing them, my name, at position 26th, was read out. The whole table shouted ‘YES’ and the next thing I was paying €425 to go to Nice.
I think I felt more wibbly, shaky and sweaty then than I had done all day. I’m glad I am going. Maybe I would have qualified another year, but maybe I wouldn’t have. It’ll be a great experience and I know that there are people out there who probably really want to go so I better start being grateful rather than feeling a bit out of my league!
Well done to Erik, Helen, Lewis, Phil, Sarah and Rachel! It was a brilliant week-end, I loved your company and look forward to a summer of training!