Monday, July 02, 2007

Ironman Zurich Race Report

Where do I start? Switzerland was lovely. I had never been there before.

We arrived and got settled into our hotel, explored the bike course and then the next day I FINALLY got to meet TriJack. Here are the bloggers: TriNick, IrongirlNyhus, me, and TriJack. He is just so darn nice you can't help but like him.

After he arrived, we went on another ride to view the Heartbreak Hill portion. This hill was not as long as The fabled Beast, but it was steep. I loved it actually because on race day there were hundreds of fans lining the hill with noisemakers and flags, just spilliing onto the road - this surely must be what Le Tour must feel like. Below are Laura, DV, Nick, Andy, Dave, Greg, and me at the summit.

Below we had dinner and enjoyed some pre-race carbs. Me, Jill, Kris, Laura, DV.

At the Expo, we got our group picture taken. There are a few missing - 17 of our group raced, but there were a lot more including the Cheering Team.

Below is the Swiss version of the Boys Room. Very clever. Keeps the regular portalets open for the girls!

The Race:

I got a little lost on the swim, so my time was slow, but the water was calm and clear and refreshing. Of course the mass start was choppy, but I finished with my goggles still intact and feeling strong. So I headed off onto the bike course, leaving my sandwich on my transition towel. That would come back to haunt me.

The bike course was BEAUTIFUL. All around lake Zurich, then up (and down) The Beast, back around Lake Zurich and up (and down) Heartbreak Hill. I took it nice and easy on the hills (6 or 7 mph), but felt like I was flying on the flats. The downhills were a bit scary for me so my max speed for the day was only 35 mph, and that was only once. Ask TriJack if he took it easy enough on the downhills! ;-)

I flew through transition (fastest T2 in my age group) and started the run. I felt great and started looking for my Run Special Needs bag right away - I had my food, imodium, pepto, salt tabs, etc in there. You've all heard me say, "Ironman is a thinking man's game. it's about pacing and it's about nutrition." I still know that. Well, everything is in German and I never found my bag. But I was nibbling on stuff at the aid stations and still sorta felt great. Until mile 16. I started asking our cheerleaders how much further; where's the Special Needs area; is it really hot out here... stuff like that. By mile 18 I was deep into a bonk which involved ...uh... digestive indignities. There were not enough portalets so I had to go where I had to go, fortunately still having the foresight to pick up some discarded sponges to... you know. It was ugly and embarrassing. My heartrate was below 100 - even on the parts I was still "running" (AKA shuffling). With only a couple miles to go I was laying down on parkbenches, crying, shi**ing, and trying to do the math conversion of kilometers to miles to figure out how many miles I had left. I was toast.

I finished in my personal slowest time of 13:04. I found TriJack, Kris, and a few others at the finish, but I knew I needed to stumble to the medical tent (my first time ever) for some assistance. My blood pressure was 90/50, so I was in pretty bad shape. I didn't recover until much later; not fully for at least a day.

Interestingly, I am more proud of this Ironman than any of the others because I really had to dig deep to get my arse to that finish line. I genuinely thought I was dying out there and the fact that I was able to drag myself in, is something I will forever be changed by.

I want to thank Speedy Pete for encouraging me out there all day... in my happy moments and my bawling moments. (Pete is our friend from MN who is biking across Europe for the summer. He altered his itinerary and rode over to Zurich from Iceland just to watch us race. After covering 2000 kilometers, he seemed tired but in pretty good shape! (BTW, Pete - I have your extra gear that you were sick of lugging - and it didn't make my baggage "overweight", either). I also want to thank Kris and Jill for taking care of me afterward - getting me food, retrieving my bike from transition, getting me to the van to go to the hotel. You guys are just so nice. Thank you.

Anyway, that's the report. My only regret is not seeing all my friends cross the finish line.

This is TriNick with TriJack and Richard, one of out guides, having a post-race beverage in the hotel bar. The next day we went touring to Baden.

This is Barb, Brian, Andy, Sue and TriJack soaking their hands in the thermal spring water in Baden. That was a gorgeous town, but it was drizzling and the springs we were headed to were closed. So we hiked over to the fortress and climbed the 440-ish steps to the top for a view of old Baden. It was worth every step. (Hey, DV - what's on your elbow??)

Baden from the fortress summit.

We said goodbye to TriJack and packed up our bikes and took the train to Grindewald and Interlacken, and First. (that's the name of the town). I have more pictures to load, but here are a few.

Jeff and Laura tossing a snowball as we got up closer to the glacier in Grindewald.

This is me hiking.

...with Nick.

Here the cloud's partially covering the glacier, but it was really scenic up there.

This is the train station in Grindewald. We stayed in a lovely spa hotel - so relaxing!

All in all, it was a great trip. But I must admit, when the US customs agent checked my passport and said , "welcome home"... I got a bit teary.