Zurich Ironman : 25 July 2010
The stage distances:
  1. Swim: 3.8 km
  2. Cycle:  180km
  3. Run:    42.2km (marathon)
For triathlon events, there are time limits (variable).   The time limit in Zurich was 16hrs with a 07.00 start.
As many Ironman triathlons fill up well in advance, I registered in July 2009.  This gave me a year to train and mentally prepare for the challenge.  Like with any big race, the main thing is to make the start line healthy!  It involves a good bit of planning, considerable training and a nice dollop of luck.
My training plan was to do the Dublin Marathon in 2009 so building up my endurance fitness.  I did this in 3:30 and also lined up in the Singapore Marathon 6 weeks later with my brother who I was visiting in Asia.  That went well, after a novel 05.30 start, I finished in under 4 hours – ahead of 95% of the field!
I started specifically training for the Ironman in February 2010 when I could get on the bike after most of the snow and ice cleared.    I had also been going to a coached swimming class every week with Pulse Triathlon Club from October continuing until May.   These classes were great for my swimming.
For 5 months, I swam, cycled and ran a minimum of 3 times each per week building up the distances as time went on.   After my long bike ride on a Sunday, I always went for a short run and tried to run one other day after cycling.   I took time off work to train & recover so time wasn’t an issue.
My longest sessions were:
  • Half Ironman distance training day in May with a small group all training for an Ironman.
  • Wicklow 200km bike ride followed by a 75 minute run.
  • A 5hr bike ride followed by a 2.5hr run.
On 21st July, I made it to Zurich with the bike – it’s a tad worrying handing over the bike to baggage handlers!   I wanted to have a few days before the event in case there were any problems.    The flights had to be booked well in advance too as the airlines will only carry a limited number of bikes.
So I was on the countdown:  the distances didn’t bother me now as I had done them in training so ‘all’ I had to do was put them together and I would make the finish.
I did though have two main concerns about the event,
  1. crowding in the water – I’ve heard that people have suffered broken goggles to broken noses and with a 2,000+ mass start, it was a legitimate worry
  2. something going wrong with my bike that I wouldn’t be able to fix = equals end of Ironman
On the day
I started at the back of the field in the water and it worked a treat.   It was by far the most enjoyable swim of any triathlon I’ve ever done.   23.8 degree water helps!  I was able to get into my stroke straight away, avoided trouble at the turns and was really happy with my time of 85 minutes.   I took my time in transition, changing in cycling clothes and was away on my bike.
The bike is two laps of 90km.    The first 90km went very well also, we had a lovely flat start – I’m not used to that after training in Wicklow mountains!  I was well up on my expected time after one lap without pushing myself.  The Zurich Ironman is considered hilly but after the Wicklow hills, I found them fine.  Unfortunately, at 95km just when I was telling myself there was a good bit to go yet and not get carried away, I got a puncture.  I was unlucky to get one.   After training on roads that rattle teeth for 5 months,  I was spinning along on a beautiful smooth flat Swiss road and down goes the wheel.  I stayed calm and began to change the tyre.  Luckily a spectator went off to get the on-course mechanics who were nearby and they helped.  So I was back on course after about 10 minutes, but was a bit nervous for the rest of the ride!   The hills also seemed twice as long and high second time round….
I made it to start of the marathon with over an hour to spare.  My bike time was 7:15.  If you don’t get there by a certain time, you get taken out of the race.   I changed into running gear, pinned my number to my top as the number belt annoys me in triathlons so it was in my plan – pin number on – forget about it.
The marathon was 4 laps of 10.5km with 5 aid (food and drink) stations per lap.  I planned to run between stations and walk through them so that I could drink.   I did exactly that.  The atmosphere was fantastic as spectators lined the whole route.  I thought I smiled for the whole run as I knew that I’d do an Ironman that day but on viewing some finisher pix, I wasn’t always smiling!!  A marathon is a marathon and this was an end of event marathon.   I hit a dodgy patch at 33km when I thought all power was going from my legs – it was quite strange.  I made it jogging to the next station, managed to get some food down including pretzels and half a banana.  I recovered, and had a great end of run  – it felt like I was sprinting to the finish but I’m sure it looked like something else.    I was definitely smiling coming over the line  – it’s a fantastic thing to see that line and hear all the shouts.  Run time:  4:22
One very happy woman.
Ironman Finish Time 13:18