It’s been more than 2 months since the race; details and emotions from that day have faded as quickly as chocolates disappearing from inside my fridge. Jaime says I’ve got poor memory, it’s really useful coz I usually forget how bad I suffered during the race; and silly me would just head home and sign up for the next torture session.
Having written and read a couple of race reports, I know what people like to find out first. So here are the numbers for the trip.
Results : 1:24 swim (yey!) 6:08 bike (not so yey!) 4:16 run – total time 12:03hrs (a new PB!)
SIN-FRA-IM Frankfurt registration
We traveled in style on SQ26 to Frankfurt on the A380, a smooth ride and a really quiet cabin compared to the B777. Cattle class was nothing to shout about and this is probably the only time I’m happy being a small person, plenty of leg space for me!
We drove our rented Audi Q3 to our new home 20mins away from the airport. Without wasting much time after settling down and freshening up, we headed straight to the event centre to get our registration done. With the Germans running everything like clockwork, admin work was a breeze and we soon found ourselves shopping for gear at the expo. European races seem to have bigger race expo-s and we took quite some time going through the shops before the sun and heat started to annoy us.
We met up with some friends and headed down to langerweisse, taking a nice cool dip in the man made “pond”. This would be my first time using a wetsuit at a race so I was really looking forward to floating around in my blue seventy. The lake was calm with a nudist beach on the other side which I honestly didn’t have any urge to participate in…. yep..not even a teeeenny bit curious.
After a distracting 30 minute swim, we got changed and headed out for a quick 1 hour ride along the silky smooth roads around the area. It was lovely weather that weekend, a little bit sunny on race day during the bike but other than that, it was optimal weather, even for a fussy person like me.
It was my third time preparing for transition in an ironman so packing the bags were easy with a checklist in hand. The only surprise I got was waking up to a flat rear tire on Saturday; I guess it was good practice changing a flat while my roomies cheered on in our apartment. It was a little worrying though, not knowing the cause of it; but me being…me, I totally forgot about the flat and slept like a baby that night.
Race morning was quite a rush, should’ve gotten up a little bit earlier for breakfast. A short detour was required due to some road closures for the race; and after finding a parking lot (plenty available), a 10min walk to the transition area left us with just about enough time to settle nutrition preparations and checking my bike.
Got my wetsuit zipped up, a final kiss and off I went into the lake. I had ample time to warm up this time round and it felt much better to soak and let the body get used to the temperature. Last time in Zurich I got a rude (cold) shock when I went into the water (non-wetsuit race), and made it worse by going out too hard, hoping to warm myself up on the swim.
I’ve been putting in a bit more consistent swim sessions this season and it paid off; it was a much more relaxing swim and navigation wasn’t too off. There were 2 wave starts that morning, Arthur went along with the first wave where 400 Age Groupers joined the Pros; the rest of us 2000 athletes enjoyed our own massive slugfest. As much as I hate being kicked and elbowed on the swim, the mass start has never failed to give me the goosebumps and excitement, the thought of everyone starting this long journey with you is just something special.
First loop came and went, crawled out and unto the Australian exit where I saw Jaime in her Dino suit, knee-deep in the water shouting her lungs out. I’m really amazed at how she can spot all of us when we’re in our wetsuits…..we all look the same!
2nd loop was much more peaceful when the swimmers started thinning out; everyone was happy to get their own breathing space with the swim end in sight. What we didn’t prepare ourselves for was the uphill run, up the beach. It was ridiculous, sand kicked up everywhere while struggling just not to roll back down into the water. Heart rate spiking, swim caps flying all over, people dropping their watches…. Chaotic would be an understatement.
Taking my time to clean and change-up, I popped by the porta loo to give a squeeze just in case there was something in the pipeline; stomach didn’t feel too good at the start. After the system check was done, I zoomed off on my bike into the abyss.
With all the training on my trainer this season, I was really hoping for some kind of breakthrough; alas it wasn’t enough to break the 6 hour barrier. Looks like I’ve got to have a proper structured training schedule next season.
The ride took us through beautiful small towns that were at the outskirts of Frankfurt city, residents were enjoying their sunday afternoon beer at the pubs, cheering for the riders that zoomed past.
On the bike, I messed up my garmin while I was struggling to stuff my face with snickers, so I wasn’t too sure how i was doing on the ride. Nutrition wise, I think I might have overdone it with 5 medium sized snicker bars in my tummy, 3-4 gels, and a bottle of concentrated Ensure mix. It was a buffet!!
The hills were manageable with the few Faber sessions I had before the race, the downhill were much better as there weren’t as many turns as in Zurich where you had to slam the brakes (byebye free-speed) at some parts. I think there were 3 main climbs with the infamous “heartbreak” hill where the spectators would line up, leaving you just enough space to pass through them. That bit was really something, and I think I used up a whole snicker bar of excitement to get over that. hahaha.
I caught up with Craig at about the 50-60km mark, had a bit of chit chat…. and figured that the Ang Moh (Andrew)had a fantastic swim (as expected) and it’ll probably be pretty hard to catch him on the bike.
There was a section along where the route takes you along a cobblestone section for a few hundred metres; gosh it was bone jarring!!! A couple of guys had their bottles ejected here. Craig was so unlucky that he snapped something on his bike which resulted in him being stuck on his big chain ring for the rest of the ride. This really sucked, can’t imagine going up some of the hills in the big ring…..
Arthur had a picture of his bottle being ejected from his bottle cage, he wasn’t too happy about that.
I finished the ride feeling pretty comfortable; similar to how I felt in my last Ironman. I’m not sure if I should’ve pushed harder on the ride; especially hearing Arthur describing his “almost cramping” effort on the bike. I always thought the saying “Train hard, race easy” was something really clever, but now I think this one is better, “train hard, race harder…you wimp!” Jokes aside, I need to work harder on the bike!
Started the run feeling exactly like in the race last year….Fresh (mentally, not physically!) It was my favourite leg of the race and it’s like I’m in recovery mode for the next 10km before things start hurting again in the later part of the run.
The first 20km came and went pretty quickly, the plan was to keep a comfortable pace and heartrate (about 150?), to survive the rest of the race. I think I was aiming for a 5:40-5:50min/km pace while walking through aid stations. Gastro issues hit me in the first 5-10km of the run and I had to visit the porta loo twice which cost me 3mins in total. I was getting a bit curious where the Ang Moh was, it was only at the 20plus km mark where Jaime told me that he was just 5mins ahead. Knowing that Andrew was ahead by a “mere” 5 mins, I went into crazy mode and spent the next 8ish km chasing him down.
The plan was to catch up with him, and just hold onto him…..even if it means grabbing his leg and let him drag me across the line. Chasing a 5mins deficit is bloody hard, I saw Andrew on the opposite side walking through an aid station and I thought I saw him picking up a slice of cake to munch on (yes they had cakes there!). CAKE!!! I want cake!!!
It wasn’t long before I caught up with him and I was telling him how we can comfortably do a sub 12; not knowing after 10 plus hours of racing, my mathematical calculation skill was reduced to a 5year old. Andrew gave up reasoning with me about my brilliant the sub 12 plan, it was only at 8km left to go when I went….errmmm…ok we need to pick up the pace a little.
I turned to Andrew and told him I’ll be on a suicide mission to make the 12hour mark and he told me to go ahead. So…with the “rocky song” in my head, arms swinging like a crazy person, I sped off. I just kept telling myself it’s only 6km to go..only 5..4.. It was all a blur. Timing on the watch was showing some funny numbers saying that I’m still too slow but it didn’t matter; I was in suicide pace mode…not even garmin was going to break my spirit!!
Clarity only hit me when I reached a u-turn point; I saw Andrew just seconds behind me.
“Eh I thought you were going to charge ahead?!” he asked.
I was charging…. and that was the sad truth…
I thoroughly enjoyed the last few hundred metres before the finish line, where the path was lined up with supporters cheering. The atmosphere was fitting for an Ironman European Championship race.
I took my time, smiling my brightest smile and high five-ing like a rockstar as a ran through the finish.
12:03hrs, 2nd ironman in the bag. Of course I would’ve wanted a better time, but it was not a time to regret. At the finish line, it’s always a celebration. It was the best I could do with the training I’ve put in this season, and I give my best at every race. No regrets.
My darling Jaime was there to receive me at the finish, as reliable as a toyota. Thanks for braving the heat/cold/drama the whole day Dear!
The rest of the guys
Arthur crossed the line at a back breaking 9:46hr, setting a new record for a Singaporean over an Ironman distance. Andrew crossed at 12:05hr, an awesome effort for his first Ironman. Craig shaved off 1.5hours from his last race with a 12:24hrs despite riding the whole course on the big chain ring; Ernest also earned a PB with 12:48hr, an excellent effort considering he just completed his first ironman just 6 months before.
well it was a great trip, and we have plenty of photos here. We’d like to thank all our supporters who have been following us so far; once again, we apologise for the low motivation level in our blogging department. I’ll be trying to improve on that next season. :))