Ironman. It’s difficult to out something so big into a few words. A challenge that begins the day you commit to it. The day you decide you are going to begin training. They say the race itself is merely a formality. That all the effort is made in training. This is not true. Undoubtedly sacrifice is made for and during training. Unbelievable sacrifices, like spending almost every weekend riding long 120+ km rides, building endurance. Spending all that time in the pool, working on improving efficiency, stroke, trying to catch glimpses of better swimmers techniques, asking for tips, recklessly jumping into open water while your friends are telling you that you’re crazy.
Doing all this without other crazy people would be almost impossible, hence I have to thank the guys from the Tri group, in particular uncle nadi, a true warrior, and Motala, who goes out of his way to offer any help, advice, or support. Everyone has their part to play, all the smallest bits of advice ring through your ears on raceday.
The preparation is tough. At first it’s all fun but then it becomes almost stressful. Months go on and there you are. Avoiding injury, still sacrificing time, trying to not get sick (for me to the point of paranoia), eating meter by meter of tarmac till you are sick of it whether on the bike or on foot. Let’s not forget constantly smelling of chlorine, and the permanent tan.
And as prepared as I was (over prepared as I like to be) the day had it’s own twists and turns. I had pushed myself to breaking point and beyond in training thanks to the guys, but this was not like that.
I am sure every person has his own personal battle and challenges to overcome, targets to meet, and mishaps along the way. As I did mine.
No training could prepare me for forgetting my nutrition race morning, running back to the hotel room only to find my wife and the nutrition not there. Running back to the transition area and again nothing. Already before the race started, I started panicking. Ahmed saw me and calmed me down, we borrowed a spectators phone and called my wife, she answered, back in the room. Somehow she ran back again and got zane to put it next to my bike.
Already I knew my goal finish time was out the window. I needed to pump my tyres and pack my nutrition for the bike leg and transition was closed. I saw uncle Nadi and the guys and his calmness seemed to pass onto me. I decided to just simply take each thing as it comes, and not worry about finishing fast. Transition would take long but it didn’t matter, I was here to fetch my medal, I was prepared. Swim start was something one has to experience, with the sun rising as they fire a Canon and the crowd screaming in the background. I started off well. Feeling like I was going to do better than I expected but everyone seemed to have a bad swim. I had a bluebottle wrap around my hand and found myself off course more than thrice. But I made it back to the beach. Probably one of the last out of the water. Change, sort out my bike, sort out food, and off. A beautiful but punishing bike course, where you had to work all the time. I remember thinking as I came in from the first 90km that this is enough, it feels like I cycled 180 already. I still have to do this again and then run a marathon. But I found some strength after stopping for food, and I really enjoyed the second loop, even more than the first.
Back to transition. Really enjoying myself now, feeling relaxed I took my time, knowing there’s at least four hours of running left. I think it was almost 25 minutes, before I started walking to the first water point, then built into a small trot and then started running, I walked every water point, but tried to maintain a decent pace when I ran. It was not easy running. It’s like you tell yourself just till the next water point then you can walk. Really if the crowd wasn’t there it would be a lot more tough, the atmosphere is tangible, it’s like the crowd somehow energise the runners, the run is painful and tedious, but amazing and beautiful at the same time. We have really got to thank all the supporters. Somehow the last lap feels like the easiest, you just find some inner strength and run faster. You know what’s coming, the red carpet, the medal, the end of a tough day. I respect every person that earns this medal. The training is hard, but make no mistake, the race will test all of that training and more.