Sunday, August 5, 2012

2012 Ironman Switzerland, Zürich Race Report


After the “fun and games” of 2011’s Ironman Switzerland adventure I had decided to sign up again one boring, cold winter night, with the idea that I could put right all the mistakes from last year, while training harder on my swim and bike skills, and take a massive chunk out of 12 hours 48 minutes and 13 seconds.

2012 hasn’t really gone the way I wanted, illness in May, over worked, life getting in the way, so it wasn’t a perfect lead up to the race in any way, but then again it never is for anyone, that’s what happens when your trying to fit stupid amounts of training into an already packed schedule.

2011 vs 2012 training volume

Getting back to that illness, which I think was caused by not using earplugs when swimming, which lead to an ear infection, which lead to a respiratory infection, so my fault, anyway, this resulted to a measly 15 hours of training in May, compared to 26 in 2011, and consider six and half of those were spent at the Cyclotour du Léman, a 180KM sportive around Lausanne lake, something I would have dropped out of if I hadn’t already paid upfront from a starting place and Hotel room, you can see I’d done hardly any training at all in May. On the upside I’d managed to knock out 24 hours in June, up from 20 in 2011, although this had been all at an easy pace trying to regain some base fitness after being on my ass for weeks on end.

The week leading into the race I had two other problems, firstly on my last taper swim I couldn’t make it to my normal pool so headed to the local 50 metre outdoor pool after work,  I was expecting the water to be cold but with the sun out all day it was fairly warm and I started to knock out some easy laps, I felt rubbish from the start, not a big deal, what I wasn’t expecting though was to suffer some of the worse cramps I’d ever experienced only 10 laps in, these were so bad I had to stop immediately as I nearly sunk. The remainder of the week my right leg was aching, by Sunday it had gone but it might just explain the issues on the bike later on…

To add to this I was gluten poisoned while testing some High5 energy bars I got especially for the race…

Wiggle labelled these as Gluten free…


But clearly there aren’t, as per High5’s website


Two days leading into race day I spent most of the time, ahem, on the shitter……which was nice, unsettled guts going into an Ironman is not the best preparation.

So, a lot of things didn’t go to plan, it was no way perfect, but when is it ever perfect?  I really do not believe that I would have squeezed much more out of my 2012, no matter about the training I missed and the health issues. so these events are in no way excuses for what happened on the day.

I managed to get down to the race briefing this year, I have to say I liked the changes they had made, a big tent on the Landiwiese with lots more seating…


and plenty of seating outside for friends, family and bikes..



Conditions on Friday were perfect..


..but not so much on Saturday and by Sunday we were set for Rain, luckily on the morning of the race the sky was pretty much clear and the conditions were good. The plan was to go out fairly hard and try and get nearer 1 hour 20 minutes, it was going to be tough and it turned out that way, they say to cruise on the swim, I can’t cruise I just float, I found myself pushing hard but getting surrounded by too many other swimmers going at a similar pace, when that happens and there are no extra gears to move through it’s a case of being blocked, having to find another route or having to push and shove to get swimming space.

One decent thing about my swim was I was able to sight and find a straight swimming line on most of the swim, much better than in 2011.


The first 1.9KM were decent, a similar time to 70.3 Rapperswil and although it didn’t feel like it on the second lap I must have paid heavily for it as the time was way down, looking back I can only think my arms tired, I remember the my hands started to feel cold in the water, temps around 20 degrees.

For all that pushing, huffing and puffing I managed to come out with a time of 1:27:47, a couple of minutes faster than last year.


The bike this year was a bit like the Tour of Switzerland, there were so many people drafting, like these jokers below…

Drafting Jokers

I was hopeful, after putting in more bike work, that I could get my time down to around 6 hours this year, last year I’d run out of energy having not eaten enough throughout the ride, the good news is I got it right this year, eating little but often throughout, the bad news is that during the second lap of the bike I started to get sciatic nerve problems on the right hand side, similar to what happened at Rapperswil but ten times as painful. I was in enough pain to just want to quit there and then, I nearly stopped, turned around and went back to transition.

While the first loop of the bike had been spot on, around 3 hours, the second half was just slow and painful, and I was being passed constantly, not good for anyone's ego. I trailed in after 6 hours 26 minutes and 30 seconds, about 3 minutes 30 seconds better than last year.

Of course, the GoPro was hooked up to the bike and here's some footage of the day and the first loop of the  bike course...


I enjoyed the run, after taking my time in transition and hitting the portaloos…as my guts had started to play up by this point post “glutengate”, I was happy to be out running and couldn't help smile as the rain started to piss down as I passed volunteers handing out wet sponges while dressed in plastic macs to keep dry.

I settled into a nice 6 minute per KM pace and knocked out the first 18KM before I had to hit the portaloos again, this was the point when my run fell apart, after the comfort break I couldn't get back into a rhythm, I switched off and began to walk, 30 minutes later I was still walking , by that point it had stopped raining, I had a few jokes along the way with spectators, telling me to get moving, it was probably the best point of the whole race, then it started to rain again, with near enough a half marathon to go, and wind and thunder thrown into the mix, it was enough for me to speed up and get moving. Two hours and a bit later and I had finished, and despite of the crap that had happened I still managed to knock out a marathon time of 4 hours 32 minutes and 53 seconds and a new Ironman PB of 12:39:44.


I have to admit, one of the first things I said when asked how I felt after the race was to say “I never want to do another one of those again” whatever I had on the day I’d put everything I could into it. Since then I’ve mellowed a bit on those words, I’d like to go again, the real issue I have is putting in all those hours, looking forward to something all year, to see it all go wrong due to illness, it’s pretty disappointing, when you throw in the cost involved it really adds that extra bit of ouch to proceedings.I will be going again, at some point in the future, it may even be next year, who knows, work is getting in the way of training, spending time with my boy is more important to me and the cost of these events is so high it gets to the point where you need five credit cards just to sign up, so lots to consider.

I think now is a good time to finish this blog up, thanks to everyone who has left comments and taken the time to read, hopefully anyone who happens to stumble across it might find the info I've included of some use.