by Vojta Lím
So, I decided to do Half Ironman (Czechman Triathlon). I can't really say that I trained any more than previous years (big mistake!), but after spending some miles in the saddle in Mallorca, and seeing that pretty much everybody from my tri-team was doing it, I wanted to give it go.
My pre-race logistics was not exactly smooth this time and I ended up packing my stuff around midnight. However, my morning "ham for kids and bread" routine went pretty well and I felt good before the race. We arrived to the spot, where racers were already pulling out their 6k USD bikes and heading to the transition area. I followed with my time trial aluminium rocket from 2006 (current market price 784 USD) and prepared all my racing stuff neatly in designed spot. When I saw 500 people in wetsuits and helicopter flying above us, I started to believe that things were getting pretty serious.
I had an ambitious plan of attacking 5 hour limit. Little did I know what this race and distance of 113 km is all about. I had little warm-up swim and headed back to the shore. The helicopter, which was supposed to serve as a platform for a series of aerial shots of the start, was somewhere in search for fuel. We waited for the helicopter then. It was fine experience to wait in a wetsuit in 30 degrees with other 500 like-minded people (thank you for the wetsuit EnduranceLab). Finally starting shot went off, and we set for the race. I am anything but an amazing swimmer, so my plan was to swim in a drag of no matter who. My strategy worked and after 35:55 minutes and 1,9 km swam, I was out of the water. So far so good and according to the plan.
As usual, change from swim to a run in transition area, makes me feel like on a rollercoaster, so I spent some quality time in the transition area before heading to the bike section. I still felt pretty dizzy for next 3 km and was lucky not to ditch my bike somewhere. Next 60 km was a pleasant ride along the meadows of Pardubice region filled up with regular consumption of fast carbohydrates and water. Around 60 km mark I started to feel pretty down, but I managed to paddle back the crisis by shovelling in a gel with coffein. I finished 90 km of bike portion in 2:43. Not amazing, but with 80 minutes personal best in half-marathon, I thought 5 hr time was still doable.
I'm not a big fan of running in hot weather (don´t know how you guys in Oz or Hawaii do it ?!?), so I knew pretty well that the last bit of this race will be fruitful experience. I wanted to stay around 4:30 per km, which I actually managed for the first 10km. For what came after, there is one nice name, "catharsis". I don't know if this is the famous wall that all marathoners are talking about, but I pretty much spent another 1:15 hours doing the last 10 km. I think, that when I was hiking with Radek in Scotland with full gear on my back, we had slightly faster pace.
My motivation for staying in the race shrank into one big mission from getting from one refreshment point to the other. After leaving each point, a thought of another sip of warm coke with no bubbles kept me alive. It was quite comical spectacle seeing all the poor guys barely moving, thus with such a strong will to make it to the finish. I somehow managed to drag myself to the finish line in 5:30 and for next hour felt into deep coma.
Lesson learned: I don't really know. I guess train harder, run longer and bike further. That's the plan for the rest of the season.