Great Ironman debut by Lenka
How was the race preparation going ? Spend with Lenka her last days before the race and the ironman debut as well. Be ready to entertain yourself – you wont be bored!
Here we go - it is Friday morning, Kruťák and Královka, throwing the last bags into the car, heading in renovated car (purified motor and filters changed) for the last passenger – Miss Illikova and continuing to Cologne in Germany where I will be racing in my first Ironman distance and Roman with Misa will show their form at half ironman distance.
Míša is on board and without any delay we are moving forward, we have a long trip ahead and we would like to be there as quick as possible. Roman looks at the gps and announce that we will be there more quicker then the calculation say, so that we will speed up… well we did – we speeded up looking for a parking spot when the alarm in the car started to blink telling us that we have no oil in the motor. We are stopping at Baumax shop on Plzen highway, opening the motor with words we cant publish here. The first stop then takes 2 hours while buying almost everything needed for a car repair, 5l of motor oil, exploring the level of oil in the motor, calling car mechanic and his warning not to use this card to continue with our trip.Well then, Roman takes it in his hands, change the oil filter, chassis on which the oil was wiped with baby napkins and then says: “we are leaving now”. So we jump in and continue our journey. Arrival time although a bit shifted, but it does not matter, just there will not be time for any other stops. I have my own idea, so I sleep more then half of the journey, the rest of the crew is chating all the time and actually I feel like we are there in a minute. We arrived at 7PM, checked in as we want to make it on time for the race registration. We ask at the reception where it is, take the map and run across the city somewhere where it should be… I think we did a world record on walking 3km, but thats it. There is no presentation, well lets see tomorrow. So we meet with the rest of the Czech ream, enjoying the pasta party. Chat a little bit, eat a little bit and return to the hotel to take a nice sleep.
The next morning with information about the actual registration area, we go there, take the opportunity to cheer some friends on the spring triathlon and we are getting ready for a pre-race bike training. Wow, I have my rear wheel almost empty, as I already announced at home. Well, Roman – the serviceman – inflate it again and assured me that we have a spare wheel if needed. So I am calm, get on the bike and well, I cannot clip into one of the pedals now- panic nr. 1. Even so, we are taking the bike to spin, I have a good feeling even my leg flips out now and then, but I am still confident we might be able to buy a spare pedals somewhere in the city. Our trio returns to the hotel , pack our things for the transition area and Iconstantly remind them that we need to get the pedals. So another sprint in the city finding a bikeshop but no luck in buying what we needed. Hope is still there – we might get them at the Race Expo area.
At the transition area, I am preparing my bike and find out that the wheel is empty again. “So what? We have this spare whell, so you will have that”, those wise guys say. Oh no, that is a mistake as the wheel cannot fit into my frame – panic nr. 2. Roman is still confident and announce that I will use his disc wheel – panic nr. 3 as I never ever ridden with it, also doing 180km which I never did before and with half-demolished pedals, I have no chance to survive this race. But my options are clear, so I am taking the black wheel, ride 300m meters for testing and then I need to put my things to the transition area rack. I am at it with my name tag in the professional category – which I think has nothing to do with me.
As we would like to still look for the pedals, we are returning to the city, park the car and go fo shoping. Withou any success, we are taking at least a nice dinner with friends – soon to be ironmen as well. We also find out a scary idea that we can use a tape to fix the shoe with the pedal during the race. This is really crazy but I am coming to terms with the tape lately. We are then returning to the car to get back and go sleep early. At the parking we can not keep our eyes roll – it is closed with our car, most of my thing for the early start in it. There is a sing telling us that the parking is closed till 7AM- panic nr. 4. I am almost fainting, my friends are staring at it, but then they inform me that a right distranction before the race is needed so I would not become nervous. That I managed to 150% as I was distracted enough. However, the mood was surprisingly still excellent, twose two somehow managed to find a parking guy who after some minutes opened the parking and let our car out. I did some last tuning of the equipment, get the tape ready, set my alarm and finally get nervous like hell – so everything was exactly according the plan.
I cant sleep, ideas running trough my head – advice from Lukas, words and tips from Peter, just everything…. I cannot actually imagine what it would be like, but I eventually fall asleep with mixed feeling of fear and expectations.
The day is here – the alarm at 4:30AM is here, I get up and eat something even my body is not up to it. Roman and Míša, who normally start up around noon, taking me to the start point. Last changes in the transition area, wetsuit on, pre-race phote, last advice and suddenly I am in the water next to Tomas and another profi athletes. I am little bit in shock, I know that I am not the fastest swimmer, so I repeat for myself – I need to survive. I check the bank for the last time to see Roman and Míša and the start is here! Countdown, fireworks and our crowd (rather small) move forward at lightning speed.
Suddenly, all fear of me fell and I just knew that now I have to do what I really like. I tried to swim with other athletes but I know I cannot keep it like this for long and after while I was swimming alone. At least the race was in a canal with a great navigation, so I have not to worry about that at all. “Well, I cannot use all my power at swim” I am telling myself as per my coach advice. So I keep my pace nicely and realized I am at half way point – not really a big deal. After a while there is a group of 5 people rolling over my head as they did not noticed me. I am alive but starting to feel pain in my body, specially my legs and groin. Now, one competitor is coming ahead of me, so I get into her legs and swim with her. What a relief! And they are now pulling us out of water and Ihear something unbelievable – first two women are out of water at 1:02… I am thinking this is superb. I am looking for my bike, miss it, so I have to find it again… then I take my time to get my socks as I must be the slowest wetsuit striper on the planet anyway. I am ready for the bike race.
I am at an empty spot – noone near me, which feel little bit uncomfortable as I dont really know which way the track is. I only remember it is three rounds with city approach first. At least the pedal is doing fine and the tape is safely placed between the nutrition packs. There is a motorbike with a cameraman speaking german. I do understand nothing, but my foot flips of, I prented nothing is happening – no way I do the trick with the tape in front of the camera. They go away, I luckily clip my foot back in, but I cant see anyone, my groin still hurts from swimming and I start to hate it: “Stupid race, I hate it” goes in my mind. Finally I am in town, turn and go back which releave a little bit of the stress. At the nutrition zone I can see Roman cheering me up. Now in the middle of corn fields, the wind start to blow so I know that the last turn will be very hard. Next turn – I missed the right way, but the people return me to it quickly, so I continue and telling myself: ” Do no panic, watch your pace, eat every 30 minutes and you will survive”. Yeah, it works exactly until the moment when a wasp is coming around my face. I get two stings into my face and suddently I am not sure about surviving this thing. But what can I do, I go ahead, at least my attention moves from sore feet to somewhere else – my face:) I always see my friends at the turns, checking the 30 minutes intervals and waiting for a real crisis. In addition to the flipping feet and rising wind there is nothing special, so I go relatively smoothly and I am at the second transition area. I am checking my bike split and see 5 hours time – a dream come true.
Taking on my running shoes and while the people are cheering me up, accompanied with a motorbike and two bicycles with 2nd woman sign on, I start my marathon. After the first kilometr, I say to myself that I run very relaxed and confident. Checking the time – 4:00 per km is nice but I can do it for long. “This will not last long, so little respect” is running in my head. But this is very difficult when there is a camera and the crowd along the way. Good thing they are there, I have no worries with finding the way now. I start to think about two aspects now – I need a toilet and if I run a bit normally now, I can make it under 10 hours and defend the second spot because the first woman was definitely too ahead and the third far behind too. “Lenkaaaa, you are doing great” I hear from the road as Roman is approaching the city during his bike part. I still run preatty good although I slow down, but mainly it is running. I drink Coke, my salvation, I am not able to eat anymore at this point of race. I am running up the stairs along the river and it is almost my death. My feet definitely dont like that and protesting greatly. I drink an anti-cramp and running away. The second round is still quite OK, I found a toilet so I can rest for 30 seconds, walk up the second stairs. And here comes that last round - it seems to be infinitely long, my legs dont want to continue and of course there are more and more runners along as we are mixing with the half ironman distance now. Fortunatelly, I go diretly against flying Roman, we greet each other, which gives me the additional energy again. But anyway, it goes hard now, I think that the turning point is far far away, someone must take it farther then before.
Finally, the finish is close, last stairs – not even walking them, rather hanging on the rail and moving like snake upstairs. At the last piece of the track, when I realized I can make it on 9:30, I pick up all the energy left, run towards the finish line which is fortunatelly little down the hill. People cheering along the route roar and I am enjoying this moment as much as I can. I am on the red carpet, laughing, lifting my hands above the head in a victory gesture and I cant believe I am 2nd in my first Ironman. The time is something I never dreamed of.
What followed next is hard to describe, but I have the greatest joy when we met with Roman and Míša later on and talk about our experience – each of us made own personal record today.
I stayed awake the whole night, hardly able to move or walk in the morning, but the result was definitely worth it.
The victory ceremony was stunning and I enjoyed it preatty much along the other winning athletes.
The trip back home was surprisingly without any special experience this time
Anyway, I have to point out that the experience from these days is more then just my first Ironman finish. I have my own support team (but racing as well) who has proved a great organizational skills and I will be only happy to go with them towards a next race and possibly a next podium finish. So big big thanks to them!
And finally a huge thank you to Lukáš and Petr for their support, beliving in me.