* Race report menu for Ironman Zurich 2013*
I’ll try my best describing my experience at Ironman Zurich 2013, splitting up the reports in phases so you guys can skip the parts you find too boring and lengthy. I know.. everyone just wants to see the pictures!
Smart packing is probably the most tedious labor-intensive part before the race; how I wish I had someone to do this for me. heeheehee..
Earlier, I had borrowed a bike box to transport my beloved Slice to Zurich. Taking it apart was not that difficult, just needed to unscrew some bolts here and there (remember to bring a torque wrench for the assembly). I bought some Daiso foam tubes and cable tied them to the bike frame while packing the rest of the parts in bubble wrap & newspaper as scratch protection. Masking tape was a great asset, using it to hold stuff in place so it won’t jostle around, and also labeling your drink bottles so you won’t forget which one goes where.
The rest of my racing gear was pretty straight forward; as a seasoned racer or not, I suggest writing out a must-bring list, making it as detailed as possible and check every single item before you leave.
Transportation was a little challenging because we had to get a bigger taxi (at least a MPV) to fit in all our stuff, so plan forward your journey well ahead to avoid unnecessary frustrations. I left my bike box at the airport “Left Luggage” (a storage room at €6/item/24hour) on arrival, before going off for a holiday in Rome. Most airports would have this facility and it’s really convenient if you are planning to go off elsewhere before or after your race.
When in Zurich, I wasn’t familiar with the buses from main train station to our hotel, hence lugged that 15kg+ bike box uphill (about 800m) when I could’ve just taken a tram right to the doorstep of our hotel.
Baggage allowance was another issue. Get the appropriate excess baggage allowance for your flight! To weigh it accurately, I used my own digital scale. First weighing myself then carried the ready-packed luggage to get the combined weight; using some complex mathematical formula involving subtracting human weight from the total, I got the exact weight of the luggage.. That’s the most accurate method I have used so far (:
Tapering is instrumental to prepare your body to perform at its best on race day. I obviously did terrible in this department because I had a lovely holiday before the race and wasn’t disciplined enough to stick to the written plan. Not that I’m coming out with excuses for not achieving my 12-hour target time, however after a week of cheese and pasta overload, I was feeling a little sluggish closer to race day. I only managed a 20-minutes swim the day before the race and rode for 5km around Zurich before returning home; terrified of Swiss traffic. I did a few runs there which took me to really beautiful places but that certainly wasn’t the sharpening sessions I had initially planned for.
Conclusion: tapering failed. Must do better next time!
Friday morning. Athletes would require a day license from the Swiss Tri Association but the TAS (Tri Association Singapore) card I had was good enough to get me through. Go early to beat the long post-breakfast queue where the sun was mercilessly roasting people. After signing the indemnity form and collecting the race pack, I started ogling at all the Ironman souvenirs at the expo. Achievement unlocked, yeah!
English race briefing at 2pm was held in a huge tent. The entertaining South African emcee went through what we would be expecting on race day, the crazy weather and nots, always coming back to emphasize on safety first. It was wonderful to see so many first timers present (70% participants were actually non-Swiss) with their supporters. It is a pet-friendly place.
Later that evening, it was announced that the water temperature would be too warm (more than 24.5 degree) for a wetsuit race which received disapproving grunts from the ground. Most people were rather disappointed as that would mean lesser buoyancy for a faster swim time; but since I wasn’t really comfortable being in the wetsuit, probably i was one of the few who was much relieved.. I wouldn’t have to struggle yanking it off in the changing tent :b
Then there was an exclusive Pasta Party (only racer goes in for free! Guest had to pay CHF 20). Jaime and Caihong were there with me to soak up the adrenaline-filled atmosphere, mingling around with the rest of the excitable participants. Over dinner, I bumped into a couple of Singaporeans who, like me, with insanity level high enough to train and travel thousands of miles just to voluntarily ‘suffer’ in a foreign land.
I met Clifford Lee, a respectable multiple IM finisher, who completed the coveted World Championships in Kona 2012. We listened to his many years experience of past races with wide eyes.. it’s not everyday that you get to meet a person who’s that IM consistent, you know what i mean. There was also Zhi Hong (maiden IM) and Wey Yuan (third IM) who sat with us as well. I overheard another group of Singaporeans nearby but didn’t managed to chat much with them.
We got home earlier than expected (how much pasta can you really eat?) and was drained out from all the new information.
Veet for vanity time!
Saturday evening. Depositing my bike and colored bags – blue for bike, red for run and white for 完w蛋 at the transition area. Unlike the races in Singapore where I set up my “convenience store”, these transition bags will be holding stuff required for the respective legs of the race. Again, I had to mentally run through the race in my head and made sure I had what I needed in the bags.
There was a really long queue for the check-in despite obediently turning up at my assigned time slot.. next time I’ll probably head down later when the queue clears up in the late evening!
At Bicycle Transit
– Partially deflate tires after racking the bike so that they don’t burst overnight in summer heat, you can pump (mass provided) them up again in the morning.
– 6 yummy power gels in bento box
– Check brakes are not rubbing.
– Sufficiently lube the bike chain
– Check the cables and derailleurs.
– Survival Tool Kit : Allen keys, a spare tire, 2 CO2 cartridge + valve, Vittoria PItStop, emergency handpump (i know i know, damn kiasu right?!)
In Blue Bag
– Helmet with race sticker, a pair of socks (powdered for dryness), bike shoes, sunglasses, chamois cream, 2 yummy Clif bars, a pair of gloves, race bib secured on belt, salt tabs & a standby pair of contact lens in a ziplock bag, 1 bottle of yummy recovery drink. And yikes, I forgot to put in a small towel to dry my feet that day :p
In Red Bag
– Running shoes, cap, 6 yummy power gels and 1 bottle of recovery drink
In White Bag (bring along on race morning)
– Post race victory clothes, slippers and shower kit
– 2 ewww recovery drinks (in transition bags)
– 1 chilled concentrated Ensure chocolate mix (on bike)
– 1 chilled concentrated Electrolyte mix (on bike)
– 1 plain water (bike)
Don’t forget to label the bottles the night before and prepare the fluids on race morning.
Surely you don’t want to risk getting irritable bowel movements right?
Jaime prepared a simple breakfast while I was busy applying sunblock on my face in anticipation of the scorching weather that awaits me. I usually have a peanut butter sandwich back home, but this time we had some crispy croissants with Nutella, bananas and hot chocolate! yums!!!
Race Day Checklist
– Heart rate monitor & watch (fully charged!)
– Timing chip
– 1 Clif bar; 1 hour pre-race
– 1 yummy power gel; 30mins pre-race
– 2 goggles (just in case, really!)
– Anti fog spray
– Swim cap
The transition opened at 0500hr.
Previously, we went through their very efficient tram arrival poster and decided to take the cheaper alternative instead of a taxi (by which we saw a few others did), arriving there at 0600hr, which is plenty of time to prepare since most of my essential items were already in the bags. I just had to put all my drinks in their places and fully inflate the tires. There were enough communal track pumps available so I would strongly suggest to leave your personal track pumps at home (Singapore) if you are restricted by baggage weight.
I was all happy and satisfied with my bike by 0630hr, leaving me ample time to warm up before the big start at 0700hr. If it were a wetsuit event, I’d probably reach there way earlier to butter myself up to ease squeezing into the unforgiving neoprene. Some guys were already doing their warm up near Swim Start as I calmly step towards the beautiful lake Zurich..
The water was so cool and so clear…
I walked in till the water reached my waist and…
took my first of many piss before the race had even started 😀
Now, we wait!