Friday was a pretty nerve racking day. Couldn’t really concentrate at work and just had one thing on my mind.
Got to the airport in good time. Sammy brought the bike boxes from home and I met him at City. Pasta supper at the airport and realisation that ‘it’ was happening. S opted for a cheeky couple of beers…and off we went.
Massive queues as we landed and slight apprehension that we wouldn’t have enough sleep – as they say that Friday night is the most important for length of sleep, as the night before you are full of nerves.
Managed to get a massive taxi and loaded our bike boxes in. Arrived at the hotel which was perfectly located, unpacked and went to bed.
Alarm went off at 7.30am and whilst Sammy put the bikes together, I made breakfast to test out our porridge making in the room. We’d brought our own bits to maintain consistency.
Cycled down to the event area around 9am – quickly reminding ourselves to be on the right hand side of the road! Lots of people around, and a couple of other events taking place so it was busy.
Had a swim in the lake without our wetsuits on – incredibly clear and calm, which gave us a good feeling. A quick jog to keep loose and then a pretzel to have some salty carbs. We had a look at the entry and exit for the swim and then headed back to the hotel to meet Paul & Fiona. Sammy got a puncture on the way back (!) – but a blessing in disguise, as it got it out of the way, and gave me a chance to practice…was a bit rusty.
Went for a pizza/pasta lunch in the old town. Spotted quite a few yellow ironman wristbands around town and the nerves were definitely building. Had a walk around town; really lovely to see Zurich in the summer – so pretty and lots of beautiful architecture. Nipped into Co-Op to grab some Sugas sweets (only available outside the UK!) bananas and yoghurts. Back to the hotel to get out of the sun, pack our bags and have a little rest.
Biked back to the transition area to do our bike check-in. They didn’t allow me to go in as I had a gap in the hollow of my handle. Took it the bike shop and they kindly fixed it and took a look at my brake pads as they had been a bit squeaky en route. We brought some additional inner tubes so now we both had x2 each. All set.
Met up with Paul & Fiona and took the tram back to the hotel. M&D arrived just before 7pm and we headed out for dinner. Rosti and an egg for supper then bed by 10pm. Woke every hr on the hr from 12pm! Nerves were high.
Alarm off at 4.30am. Porridge w/banana and honey. Then toast with peanut butter and jam. Black coffee. Sun creamed ourselves and hopped in our taxi at 5.30am. There was an eerry silence as we walked to the event area. Masses of supporters as well as competitors, so we were surprised with the crowds. Sorted out our bags and penultimate loo stop. Felt v.v.sick with nerves. Got into our wetsuits and vaselined up. e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. Walked to the swim start and got into the water. Realised the sun-cream on the face needed to be wiped off to make sure goggles didn’t slip, so got a tissue off a spectator to make sure goggles were all set. Headed into our ‘pens’ and had a last loo stop before the 1st gun went off at 6.40am. As we edged towards the water, my stomach felt like it was doing somersaults. Intensely nervous. We were on the 3rd gun and had a rolling start which
meant a relatively smooth entry into the water. And the bit I was dreading the most (clambering over one another) didn’t end up happening too much.
We were off.
First part of the swim was amazingly calm. The sun was rising, the water was clear and I vividly remember leaves and bubbles and thinking that it was an amazing setting. Kept a good pace, and got my breathing under control which is often the main challenge when you get panicked or have lots of people around. Took myself off on little list making exercise during the first half, and then only focused on thinking about the bike for the 2nd half. It was long but as the finish crept closer I was more and more motivated. Kicked my legs rapidly for the last 100-200 metres, as this is meant to get the blood flowing there and help with your transition.
Got out and the crowds were great. Was looking out for our supporters and saw Daddy in his turquoise t-shirt which was amazing. Lots of smiles and managed to get the wetsuit off and bike gear on. Was a bit confused about where to put the bag, but soon worked it out. Had half a bottle of carb drink and a banana. Didn’t reapply sun-cream which was a mistake, but lip salve on. Then I was off. P&F&M were at the start of the bike which was great and a nice boost. Timer on and started the bike at 8.27. Perfect for food as meant everything would be in even numbers.
First bit of the bike was flat, smooth and my average was high. 17.8. Gave me lots of confidence – knew I needed to have some back up for the 2nd lap which would be more trying.
Had a bit of a panic as realized after about 8miles that my ankle timer wasn’t there*. Was annoyed for about 15mins, but then decided to get over it and channel my energy into the bike. I would be able to work out the times. *I figured it came off with my wetsuit in the transition.
The first climb was alright and my pace felt good. Motivated by the fact that our name was on our bib numbers, and so a few encouraging words went a long way. And meant I wanted to pass it on.
Lots of green fields, and idyllic Swiss mountain backdrop was amazing. A couple of small villages had very local Swiss bands which was fun and v.motivating.
Long climb up The Beast was a bit more intense, especially as the day was getting hotter (30’) but still felt good.
The descent down was amazing and the flat felt good. It was a long way to Heartbreak Hill, but the vibes there were the best of the ride. So many people – plus saw M&D. M ran with me up the hill a bit and I found it quite emotional seeing them. Then Thomas, P&F and Daddy at the end. Lots of music and loudspeaker calling each cyclists name out – so it was incredibly empowering and the hill became secondary to the atmosphere.
I knew the 2nd lap was going to be tiring. So I just kept talking to myself and willing me and the bike. Pains were developing in my hip and both my knees. The climbs were challenging and felt much longer. Also as the fleet had thinned out, so there were less people and there were parts where it was isolating and I did feel quite alone. Small victories kept me going. My nutrition plan had worked well on the first half but it was a little out of sync on the 2nd lap. Had planned a loo stop at mile 80 which worked well. And gave me a chance to test my legs, as the longer I was riding the more fear kept creeping in as to if they would be able to hold up on the run.
Main focus on the ride now was thinking about the run. And I didn’t think of it as a marathon, merely a small run through Zurich – seeing the sights. Focusing on that every second.
The last 15miles of the ride seemed to go on for eternity and my average was much lower. Saw D as I came back into the city which was great. Then getting to Heartbreak hill the 2nd time around was v.bleak as there were no crowds, but M had come back which was amazing and a really great surprise. I was now looking forward to just getting off the bike.
Transition was ok and legs managed to hold up. Different muscles to the ride and it was almost a light relief getting running. Just knew I had to keep moving.
The run was 4 laps of the same course and until I had completed the 1st one, it made me feel uneasy as I couldn’t visualize anything. But then coming into the 2nd lap it was helpful as I could keep a marker in my head as to where I needed to get to, where the drink/food stations were and that gave me confidence. Saw Andy on the first loop – he was killing it on his last lap – amazing! We saw our parents 3 times on every loop which was incredibly lovely and such a help. It gave you something to look forward to, smile about and keep going. Caught Sammy up on the 2nd lap – saw his little white cap and knew I had to get there. We had 1.5 laps together which was great. I was feeling good in the run and thought I can do this.
The crowds were amazing and very helpful. Each person calling your name gave you that boost – I tried to give back to the supporters with a smile or a wave, as the interaction was really beneficial. There were two spots with music and some supporters who I remembered in each spot. All these things meant I was able to keep going. Tried to take on liquid at every station – and used the sponges they were handing out to cool down my head, shoulders and neck. Although the heat was dying down, the start of the run was quite hot still.
The final lap went on for a while, but all I focused on was the finish line and keeping it up. The sun had pretty much set and it was about 9pm when I headed down the final runway towards the end. An amazing feeling and very overwhelming. Sammy, M&D and P&F were there and I couldn’t really believe I’d made it.