Race report : ironman zurich 2013 – run to the finish

* Race report menu for Ironman Zurich 2013*

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While flying out of transition, I was so relieved to get the bike leg over and done with. The run was my stronger discipline, and having completed a marathon before, I’ve at least a slight idea on what to expect in the next 4 hours or so
…. The wall, the pain and the gas (from my unique digestive system).

The run was 4 loops around a 10+km route and each runner will collect a colour band after completing each loop.

Bands – the mental game
The bands play mind tricks on you, I swear. Without one, u feel like a rookie, a newbie on the course; often running at a pace you’d probably can’t sustain throughout the marathon. Once you’ve gotten 3 bands you feel like you’re in senior year, and the freshman are looking at you with envy. You suffer on the 3rd band, many people hit “the wall” here, and you see them grimacing in pain. 4 bands and you feel like you’re clearing your leave getting ready to ORD!! (a local slang to describe the completion of military service in Singapore). 4 band-ers have that inner smile, knowing that the end is near.

1st lap
I just hammered away and grit through the pain. Pushing at 5:05-5:10/km pace with my heart rate spiking to 160-165bpm.

it went downhill after the halfway mark.

it went downhill after the halfway mark.

Not neglecting nutrition, I took a gel every 30mins and still supplemented it with coke whenever i felt sluggish. Goal still in sight and spirits were up! I don’t really remember much suffering at this part of the run; I was probably still able to focus on keeping my form and pace. Unknowingly, I’ve gone out too fast at the start…and I will pay for that dearly in the later part of the run.

The route was mainly flat and there were plenty of supporters along the way cheering you on! The atmosphere was fantastic, with a race environment like this, it just pushes you through the suffering and misery.

Managed to catch Jaime and Caihong after the first lap! Stopped for a kiss and a picture before dashing off. Left my cap and shades with them as it was getting a little cloudy and the temperature was cooling off a little.

stop for a quick pose

IMG_2976

kthxbye

2nd lap
Half way through the 2nd lap I could feel that things were starting to go wrong. I knew the pace was too fast for me to handle and I was slowing down to a 5:15-5:25/km pace. I reached a point where I felt that I couldn’t go any faster; that’s trouble! I’m supposed to feel like I’m still holding back a little while running, but now it seems like I’m close to maxing out.

I coaxed myself to continue going hard till at least the halfway mark, there I’ll know if I can fight through the rest of the run; or let go of my goal (12hours).

3rd lap
When things fall apart for me, it doesn’t crumble… It usually vaporizes!!

I reached the halfway mark at 1:57. Shucks! Nevermind, I thought. Just keep pushing through this 10k and see how it goes. As I continued at this pace, I hit a wall so huge I bounced off it into the opposite direction.

I walked….. I hate walking!

I had to walk at an aid station because my legs were not having any more of my nonsense. As I walked, it released a floodgate of thoughts, people giving up and swimming back to shore, some getting off the bike and lying in the shade, repeated thoughts of just surrender. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying that these people are not worthy athletes or that they’ve got no fighting spirit; everyone has limits, but its better to be safe; to live and fight another day than risking your health for this. Suffering is relative, and nobody will know how much you’ve suffered, or how much pain you have gone through; so the only person who can judge that is yourself, not anyone else.

At this point, I was in pain. It wasn’t a particular body part that was hurting, I was just exhausted. I tried a x2 dosage of caffeinated gel and it still didn’t work.

There and then, I decided to let go of that 12 hour dream….it was not achievable. Deep inside there is a horrible competitive streak in me; this same character has pushed me through certain boundaries I’d never thought possible. But today I’ve reached a limit where my mind have switched to a “safety first” mentality; deciding to cross the finish line in one piece. I felt really sad about if for a while, as if I wasn’t trying my utmost best out there. I’ve been garnering support for my fundraising, telling people how I’ll have to go through such a grueling event and all, but here I am feeling defeated and worst of all, not even trying to overcome it.

Final lap

That decision was a good call on hind sight; it let me enjoy the rest of the race with a more conscious state of mind. Waving and responding to the excellent supporters who have been around the whole day. People were cheering and some even called out your name! I’m sure Jaime and Caihong was wondering what the hell I was doing, taking so long to appear at the final lap. Fatigued has been overcome by emotions, and that fueled the remaining 10km, sort of like a “mind over body” experience.

like a rockstarrrr!

I pushed through the final 5km for a strong finish and crossed the line at 12:30hrs with arms raised like a war hero emerging from a successful battle, running through that final chute where they announce your name and say “You Are An Ironman!”.

I did it!

I’ve completed my first Ironman; 10months after crossing the finish line of my first triathlon. I was more relieved than happy that the day was over, my body and mind has been thoroughly punished and now it was time to rest.

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