IM France – Race Report

29 06 2009

If you haven’t, please read Nice Day 3 before you read this.

I woke up at 3:30 feel tired, but no headache, which was really good news. I had one baguette with ham, two yogurts, a slice of bread with honey and almost a litter of orange juice.

I met with Ignacio at lobby at 4:50am. We walked to the transition area with the Beatriz and Natalia (his wife). Interesting enough, I wasrn’t eally nervous. I was focused, but not nervous. I was horrified with the number of bikes… it was an ocean of bikes.

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I found my bike and pumped up the tires, put my gels and drinks on the bike and got a good luck kiss from Beatriz. I thanked her again for taking care of me and told her “I would not  be here if it wasn’t for you!” I truly believe that.

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Now, the race… a long day:

Swim 1:09:54:

Mass start with 2500 people, that tells you something… it was crowded! Now, what did surprise me was that it was not as rough as one ould think tough. I was in a blender with1000’s of people, every one was on the same boat. People were less “aggressive” the any other race I have ever done. I was swimming with my head out of the water for about 3 minutes before I could start to swim properly, but even then I could not get to my pace because there was too many peo0plearound me. I started to drift to right to get some room and I started to go around the mass. I passed a lot of people, but I swam at least 100m more.

Mass Start 1

Mass Start 1

Mass Start 2

Mass Start 2

Swimming with the Mass!

Swimming with the Mass!

On the first loop I started to feel my neck burning from the wetsuite, it is very different in the salt water, I never got that on a lake. When I got out of the water (first loop), I was a bit dizzy, but because I started to kick at the end of the loop, it wasn’t too bad. I walked a bit and re-enter the water. This time I had much more space to swim. I manged (somehow) to get a good line to the buoy. Oh by the way, I NEVER saw the buoy until I was really close. I was just “following the herd”. First loop pace: 1:56/100m

I finished the second loop and I was like “Wow, this is going to be easy!” I was feeling absolutely great, not tired AT ALL. Second loop pace: 1:37/100m

T1  13:32:

What can I say? I wasn’t on a hurry. I was trying tofigure out how it works with getting the bag, sticking the wetsuite bac into the bag, finding the person to return the bag… very differnt from any triathlon I’ve ever done. The only thing that I did do right was sunscreen. I left the transition area totally white! Oh, who do I see at T1? Carlos! I couldn’t believe it. I thought I would be at least 5 min behind him.

Bike 7:28:26:

First mistake, the Aero-Helmet. There are a lot of long climbs, thus low speed and a lot of sun! Hot, Hot, Hot! I was cooking my brains.

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Anyhow, I started feeling great, but I thought it would be wise to hold back on the first 20 km, till the first long climb. The first 500m of climb at grade 13 or more, and my heart rate was 185 bpm! I looked at it and just thought “this can’t be good”. Fortunately it was just 500m and the climb wasn’t very steep afterwards. I mange to bring the HR back to 150’s and I continued trying to keep my wattage at around 200W. At the first down hill, I passed through Carlos. I just shouted “Go Sandbagger!!!” and continued the downhill.

Can’t remember how much we went downhill, but it was a good break. We then started to climb again, but this time for 20km. The worst was the heat. As I mentioned, my head was cooking. I ran out of water at the last 5 km of the climb and I was really suffering. At the last water station of the climb I stopped, got water, inifinit and Carlos passed through me.

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I’ve catched up  with Carlos and we finished the climb together. We even “hold hands” for the camera… which was not a good idea. Carlos felt flat on the ground! The camera man came running to check on us, but fortunetely he was fine, and he told us that the picture was good! 🙂

Once at the top, 70 km into the bike course, I was starting to get a bit worried. There was a big flat, and I thought it was time to get some speed… but I couldn’t keep up more the 120W. Just like on the computrainer. Carlos picked up a bit of speed and I was going to try to stay with him, but I just couldn’t do it. To make things worse, my chain came off and I had to stop completely to get it back on. It took me at least a minute to put it back on.

Then the first downhill! I started going down and I get a noise “flap, flap, flap”. My tires… the front tire. It didn’t feel like it was flat though. I look at it (didn’t stop) and I saw what look to be a tape on my tire. I kep going until the 180 degree turn. I stopped again and removed the tape from the front tire. I kept going downhill until the first flat spot, where I stopped for the first pee break.

The problem was that I was still feeling very weak. I was at the 80km mark and I thought “I wont finish if I don’t get better”. Until the 60 km, I was very good with my gels, but after that, I started to get full. So I decided to get a coke next stop, which went down like a real meal! I also took a banana After that point I started to feel much better. I got to the turn around, which is flat, and I could already do my 180W (my target).

I saw Carlos again, and I was about 5 minutes behind him. When I got to the 100km mark, another short climb (7km). This time there was a lot of trees and I managed to keep a 150 bpm at ~190W. Slow, but good. I was at the same pace as everyone else on that hill. I started to feel that I could finish again!

As the last 7km hills were behind me, I thought to myself “This is my downhill, this is my hill now!” I didn’t want to go down like crazy and end up in a stretcher, but I was going to go as fast as I could feel safe! The first part of the downhill wasn’t very steep, but it was getting there. I started to pass everyone that I was riding with. I could recognize the names of the guys that passed me on the way up. They really looked like pylons.  I kept shouting “On your left” all downhill. The problem was when I got after the shopper… Oh, did I mention that there was a shopper “parked” in the middle of the downhill? Yep, a big ambulance chopper which was there to pick up someone that crashed. Fortunately there was enough crew guys to tell me to slow down, betofore I hit the chopper!

Anyhow, after the shopper, there was a pretty steep downhill. That is when I caught up with a bus. It took me a while to pass it, as the road was narrow and I wasn’t sure if there were cars coming uphill, but I managed to pass it. Not much later, there was a car… also managed to pass it, then the ambulance, I left it behind too. Now the moment of fear: after I passed the bus, the car and the ambulance, there were no bikes in front of me! No one, nothing. I got to a relatively flat place and I couldn’t see anyone behind or in front of me. I started to think “Damn, I must have passed a turn while I was passing the cars.” I slowed down and started to think if I should turn around and make it up the hill… but then finally I saw a bike coming down and passing me (I almost stopped at that point). It never felt so good to be overtaken! I continue the road following the guy and at the next cross I could see the “M dot” mark again (every crossroad had one marking the way). I felt so relieved, you have no idea.

20x30-INAN0359At the end of the steep downhill I passed Carlos again and we went together the rest of the downhill. He kept some distance so that we were not disqualified. When the hills were done and we got to a flat spot I had to stop for a nature call. Carlos kept going, but I did catch up with him on the flat, which told me that he wasn’t in very good shape as he is always faster than me on the flat.

T2 10:34:

Carlos and I were chatting and we decided to go together on the run. Again, a very long transition with plenty of sunscreen!

Run 5:21:03:

I think this was the most frustrating run that I ever did. I started to run with Carlos and I was feeling quite good, considering the bike course that we had just done. We started the run at about 11 km/h (about 5:30 min/km).  However, it was very hot; it was around 30C, no shade, no cloud in the sky.

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We decided to stop at every aid station to get wet and hydrate. I had some gels with me too, but I couldn’t eat them anymore. I think that was probably my biggest mistake. I drank only coke for the first o two of the four loops of the marathon. When I started the run, I was already feeling a “want to cramp” on my left hamstring. That was the sign that I missed completely. At this point I should have started to eat bananas and take Infiniti at the aid stations. Brian also passed us, but he was in his 3rd loop!

Anyhow, we continue the run, and the heat was brutal. At half way on the first loop, I stopped the first time to stretch my left hamstring, but as I was stretching the left one… the right one started to cramp! So I decided to continue easy enough to avoid the cramp. That is when I started to get very annoyed. I was feeling OK, my HR was 130 and I was running at 8 to 9 km/h, I couldn’t go much faster.

Carlos in other hand looked tired and welcomed my company. I look at my watch and I was 1 and half hour out of my target… I thought “whatever”, let’s just finish it. So Carlos and I continued in that pace until we finished the first loop, walking at every aid station and running between them (well, jogging at 8 km/h).  When we finished the loop, we got our first “chouchou” (the band you got when you finished a loop). I kissed the chouchou and another three and I was going to be an Ironman!

The second loop was just pathetic. We slowed down to 7 km/h, my heart rate at 125 bpm. I was really annoyed, and just looking at the other athletes with the 3 “chou-chou’s”. I had only 1. I started to eat bananas at each aid station, on top of the coke. At the end of the second loop I was feeling quiet well. I kept with Carlos for another half loop, but then I felt he was slowing down too much.  I wanted to see if I could maintain a better pace as the sun wasn’t as strong. The temperature had drop to probably 26C (from 29-30C).

The second half of the third loop I started running again at 10 km/h at 144 bpm. At each aid station I took bananas and Infiniti. I thought I need salt… should thought about it in the first loop! I kept going, but I couldn’t go faster as I was still feeling that I would cramp. Beatriz was on the middle of the loop (i.e. 2.5 km from the starting line) and as soon as she saw me running (I mean more than 7 km/h!) she started to cheer a lot. It was great, but I told her that I was feeling great, but I couldn’t go any faster because of the cramp.

I finished the third loop. One to go!!! I could do it; I knew it was going to be very feasible. When I crossed with Beatriz again, she had a banana in her hand, which although I wasn’t suppose to take anything from someone outside the event… I took it anyway. Reality is that the bananas on the aid stations were small slices and a bit black and smashed, unlike the one I got! I ate almost the whole banana and continued. I continue to run at 10 km/h but walking at each aid station for more bananas and Infiniti, as my left leg was really cramping. At the end of the last loop, about 100 m to finish, I could see the “Finish Line” sign and the crowd shouting “Allez Hans!” but I had to stop 3 times because of the cramp.

Finally I sow the actual Ironman sign, the announcer shouting something that sounded like “You are an IRONMAN” and I started to run again, the last 30m I was running like a pro! OK, maybe not a pro, but it was a descent run.

I crossed the finished line and I thought “Wow, I did it, I did it!” then I looked at the time again and the second thought on my mind was “Man, I will have to do it better next time”.

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Looking back, I think I’ve done a few basic mistakes:

  1. Aero helmet: as I mentioned, way too hot for this course. There are just too many long hills to use one. I didn’t know it could make such a difference. That really dehydrated me on the climbs, where I ran out of water twice.
  2. Food (Bike): I started well with the gels, but I needed something else. Maybe another flavor to mix it, or probably even better, salt pills.
  3. On the run I should have started earlier with the bananas and not rely as much on coke as I did, since it didn’t have any salt or electrolytes.
  4. I need to improve my bike. Although I think that I could have done much better on the run if I had eaten properly, I don’t think I could have done the bike much better. Even with the right helmet.

In summary, I loved the race, I will do another Ironman. However, I’m definitely not happy with my performance. I think with the training that I did, I could have done much better, but the experience is priceless. Doesn’t matter how much you train, the actual race is much harder. You need the experience (yours or someone else’s) to do it right.

Leaving and learning, that is what it is all about. As long as I’m having fun, it is all good! Maybe not the time I wanted, but it was much better than staying at home watching TV! 🙂

Oh, I forgot to mention. I got an Ironman “tattoo” on my neck.

That is as close as I will get to a Tattoo!

That is as close as I will get to a Tattoo!

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12 responses

4 11 2009
Lu

Parabéns Hans!!! Que chique hein??
Tá “internacional” mesmo… rsrs
Beijo.

30 07 2009
Flavio e Meg

You are an IRONMAN!
Congrats!!
I have tears in my eyes, man! I am proud of you!
This is an awesome experience. I wish I could do something like that. I had to stop after some knee problems after doing the Half marathon of Rio de Janeiro!

Cheers,

9 07 2009
Jules

Hans!

I just read your race blog, awesome reading!! It gave me a perspective on how the race was going for you and how you felt during the race. It must have been comforting to have Carlos do the race with you. 14hours and 23 minutes you mentioned you could have done better, how much better? Congrads!!

5 07 2009
bryan payne

Great report and I love the tattoo. Best I’ve ever seen.

3 07 2009
paulo

ohhhhh my God !!! when I saw the picture of you crossing the line I just felt … “whatever”.. no words to describe. I can imagine how you felt.

Hans (now, it’s not even “Nose”.. heheh), congratulations, brother !!! you did it !!! it’s amazing.. who cares about time and etc… it was your 1st and you’ll get better and better …

now, enjoy your time in france and say hi when you get back to TO

valeu !!!!!

3 07 2009
Bruno

Hans, me again – just re-read the post.

What did I tell you about sodium before you left? One suggestion for your mix would be pretzels.

In any case… you’re an IRONMAN!

When are you back to TO?

Bruno.

3 07 2009
Shaun Bethell

Hans,
I just stumbled across your blog while searching for your race results. Congrats, you’re are an Ironman! I enjoyed reading your race recap, I look forward to hearing about the race during one of our “runs”. I am currently in Italy on vacation with my family… Just getting ready to go for a bike ride this morning. See you at Kingston?

Shaun

2 07 2009
Marcos

Hey Hans, CONGRATULATIONS, this was AWESOME!!!! You are totally correct, experience is the reason you did this Ironman, it will help you more than the training for the next ironman. And you seem to be pretty well after all, so I think you might have done some mistakes on the competition itself but not so much before it, on the training. Now you are at the top, what a big achievement, congrats!!!

Marcos

30 06 2009
paulo

hey nose…

good to knwo that you’re alive… heheh.. but it’s really cool to read that and please, finish the posting as soon as yuo can… i’m curious …

and now, enjoy your vacation !!! u deserve …. say hi to bia

t cuidae, broder !!!

30 06 2009
Bruno

He, he, he… just read this comment from Joe Pizzoferrato – so true, Joe! Add some kids to the picture, you’ll be the ironcouple!

29 06 2009
Joe Pizzoferrato

Thats Very Very FEW people can do.

29 06 2009
Joe Pizzoferrato

Hey Hans, Carlo’s Congrats!!! You must feel amazing to accomplish something like this. Something that very very people in the world can do. (I am sure Hans has the number on that) *winks*

Anyways, I will say it again Hans, your lucky you married an ITALIAN woman. *smiles*

Hans, now that you have accomplished this amazing achievement, may I suggest you encounter something even harder now? How about you and Beatrice have some kids *smiles* enjoy your vacation.

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