Ger’s report from Ironman Zurich………………………….
I arrived in Zurich on the Thursday. The heat and the wetsuit ban dominated the pre-race talk. It kind of relaxed me as the main take away point was to disregard any time goals. I also decided to switch to the regular cycle helmet.
I had a quick swim in the river outside the hotel on the day I arrived and compared to the water at ‘Tri an Mhi’ in May it was like getting into a hot bath. I’m not the fastest swimmer but based on recent experience at the swim start for Hell of the West, I decided I would start near the front of the 2500 starters !
The swim start was packed by the time I got there so I swam around to the front from the warm up area. I took off fast (for me) for the first 500M – spurred on by the fear of getting pummelled by the following swimmers. The field spread out pretty well after the initial mayhem. I drafted for the entire race and tried to stick onto each person as long as I could. The swim slowed up a bit at the half way point where we had to get out of the water and run over a mat.
T1 involved changing into a cycle top to protect the shoulders from the sun and dolloping on the factor 50.
As Paul explained (read Paul Walsh’s race report) the bike was 2 laps of a 90km circuit with pretty good scenery along the way. I tried to stick to my planned heart rate as much as I could. It obviously shot up going up the big climbs but equally there were chances for a recovery on the decent. I took the descents pretty conservatively and sat up for most so that I could cool down – but still hit 75km/h in spots.
When the pace dropped on the hills the heat was very noticeable. The nice fresh breeze being generate by going fast was replaced with the smell of tar. I stopped at the start of the two big hills on the second lap to cover myself in water and swore to myself that I would take the run easy. One of the most notable positive things about the cycle route was the road surface. My bike and butt had an easy time compared to the usual lake spin. I didn’t rush T2 and stuck my head under a tap for a minute or two.
At this stage I was confident I would finish as long as I didn’t do something stupid on the run. I decided to walk all the water stations to ensure I would get two cups of water at each. I looked forward to each water station and to getting a new cold sponge to put down the back of my neck.
The good summer in Ireland helped on the run as Paul and myself would have done a few brick sessions in the heat. Also tried to do my long runs during the week at mid-day on extended lunch breaks. I managed a big breakfast that morning. Paul donated a bowl of instant porridge, along with muesli, bananas, bread and a few eggs.
At the half way stage on the run I would have had about 12 or more gels in me. I would normally have a few snickers on the bike but I didn’t feel like eating them with the heat. The stomach was holding up well up to this point but was starting to rebel. It was getting harder to stuff the gels down. For the last 15k I just had water as I reckoned it was more important to keep whatever was in there down.
It was always a boost to get the different coloured armband as each lap was completed. At long last I had 4 on my arm. I ran the last few water stations. Crossing the line was as good as I had imagined. I had put on a bit of a spurt at the end so I could get up the finishing chute alone – mainly so I could hear the commentator say the famous words (I know – a bit sad!).
I got very tired immediately after the finish. I found a spare mat laid out in the food tent and went for a 30 min nap. Then it was out to meet Ali, the kids and my parents. I spend on average about 8 – 9 hours a week training since January so it was great to go out and celebrate with all the family who helped in the time juggling.
Overall it was a great experience. The following day I felt pretty good and just as well as we had to pack up and get a train to Italy for a few weeks break. I thought it would satisfy the Ironman itch but the following day on the train I was wondering when I would get another chance to have another craic at a race like that!