IM Sweden – A breeze? Nope. It was THE breeze …
Yes. The breeze. It beat me. Brought ‘weatherbeaten’ to a whole new level – and another DNF. That’s a record for me – 2 x DNF in a year. D’ye think someone’s sending me a message?
It’s taken me a while to get around to writing this but I promise I haven’t been sulking all the time! Hindsight is a real b**** – packed chock full of thoughts of ‘should have’ and ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ – which are of little benefit when you’re already hiding in a corner with a comfort blanket and sobbing because the rattle you launched across the room has fallen down the gap in the floorboards and is now the property of dust and spiders.
That eensy-weensy DNF aside, the Kalmar experience was very special and soooooooooo much fun. It was so lovely to be surrounded by friends and family – all supporting, smiling, encouraging, helpful, positive, fun, excited and just, well, magical. Huge thanks – Karim, Caitriona, Kelly, Kurt, Jody, Amy, Fiona and Russ. What an entourage!! You ALL know how special you are and I hope you know how much you contributed to making this trip totally fabulous!!
Not so many thanks go to British Airways – who couldn’t be arsed to put my bike on the plane and caused me untold stresses at Copenhagen Airport. It finally arrived THREE FLIGHTS/SIX HOURS LATER!!
And the biggest mention and recommendation for ANYONE doing an Ironman event ……….. Two words: NIRVANA EUROPE (http://www.nirvanaeurope.com/). I cannot recommend them enough. Punctual, super-helpful, nothing was too much trouble – they went above and beyond the call of duty and I can only say the service was EXCEPTIONAL! I would seriously urge any competitors to have these guys on your side!
OK. Back to the eensy-weensy DNF thing …
A quote from the official race report said … ‘For the 2,161 athletes lining up at the start, looks ended up being deceiving. Battling the choppy waters of the Baltic Sea, the athletes began racing under challenging conditions ….’, and then … ‘Strong winds whipped through the first 122 kilometers on the island of Öland, making the bike extremely challenging.’
(For the full article see here: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/08/ironman-kalmar-recap.aspx#ixzz3jxkWLFNG)
Ultimately, this meant that even swimmers in the elite category came off the swim 5 or 6 minutes slower than estimated – and came off the bikes up to half an hour over the estimated time. You’ve no idea how happy those statistics made me since it helped me regain a little perspective!!
Summary: I had an AWESOME swim. I loved it! The sea was wavy and rough and choppy and basically sh** but I loved it because I had no issues to contend with other than the waves and the jellyfish! No banana issues, no retching, no having to stop every 20 strokes. Best swim EVER!! Yes, the course was tricky to follow – I had NO idea which buoys to follow … but I DID have a pack of swimmers to follow (first time ever I’ve been able to keep up!). I was able to draft, I was totally unbothered by the kicking, elbows and knocks throughout the entire swim (not just the start line, as I’d originally thought), I never felt uncomfortable or panicky, I apologise to the jellyfish who got a surprise internal examination – and I even managed to ‘race’ (I use the term loosely) to the finish! I was SO happy – and I can confirm that I am STILL super-chuffed with that swim, regardless of anything to do with the rest of the day!
On to the bike! Let’s keep this brief. 122km of hell. I can safely say I didn’t enjoy one single second, I’m afraid! I was smiling when I got on my bike and started out on the course. Felt great. Soon as we hit the 6km bridge it was straight into headwind. That was it for the rest of that 122km loop – headwind or side wind – take your pick. Not till we reached the bridge again did we get a 6km tailwind to come across to the mainland – but by then it was too late for me. The first 40km were fine. Tough but I was managing to keep around 24/25 kph and I was pleased with that. About two hours in, though, I suddenly started feeling really really weary. And I don’t mean tired legs. My stomach started cramping and I just felt ‘weary’! Three hours in, I was forced to make a loo stop, which was supposed to be brief and ended up being ten minutes. AAAAAHHHHHH!! Unplanned and took me by surprise. You don’t need details. I emerged after ten minutes, thinking ‘Right! Let’s get back to it!’ I fuelled up, jumped on – and was thereafter beaten by that damn wind. I did everything I could think of – played with every single combination of gears available – but I could NOT gain back the average mileage lost from that loo stop. 22.5 kph is the absolute minimum to reach an 8-hour bike cut-off and the most I could manage was 21.8 kph. FRUSTRATION!! Not only that, but I actually FELL ASLEEP on my bike. That’s how hard it was (for me)! Too much wind to be able to look around and take in views so it was head down, pedal and watch the average mileage, and four times my eyes literally just SHUT!! It was so scary! I mean, how does that happen?
I think the swim took it all out of me – and/or I need to be more aware of the FIFTH triathlon discipline – FOCUS/NOT-FALLING-ASLEEP! I need to re-address this. I think I was just completely wiped!
I’m sure you’re thinking I obviously wasn’t trying hard enough or ‘How can anyone fall asleep on a bike?’ or ‘I should have been pedalling faster or stronger or harder ……?’ WHATEVER!!! That’s how it was. I don’t EVER give less than 100% and I was simply well and truly beaten. Kudos to the wind and to the awesome cyclists out there! I salute you! You inspire me!
I came back across the bridge and did the calculations – 2 hours 10 mins to rack up the final 60km. With nigh on six hours behind me struggling to even keep 21 kph, there was no realistic way I was suddenly going to pull out an extra 10 kph for another two hours. It was not going to happen.
I came down the hill to the roundabout and saw Karim and Caitriona and Kelly screaming there from the side lines and I rolled up and it was all over for me. And not a single teeny-weeny judgmental word from anyone – I LOVE YOU!!!!!
I am gutted to have once again not made the run but I can only be satisfied that I KNOW I did absolutely everything I was capable of on the day – and pulling out was the right decision/the only decision at the right time on that day. Another DNF and once again on the bike, but this time with a FABULOUS swim behind me – it somehow makes it a lot easier to deal with. That’s a whole discipline better than in Cairns. Hey! One step at a time …
Taking six months off now, I think. I am going to kickbox and run trails and climb walls and swing kettle bells.
A final, special word for BOSH TRI and the Facebook NUTTERS – your online support was overwhelming! Big big hugs and thanks to all of you, too.
For now ………………. This is Ironman Hyatt signing off for a wee while. XX