IM Tallinn 2019
My 12th Ironman! What an IM it was…Awesome organization with last minute changes executed perfectly, flat course, everything given to do my personal best (a finish time under 11 hrs was my aim) but I ended the day with mixed feelings and a poor personal result.
I prepared similar way training wise this year as last year for IM Copenhagen but many other factors changed in my life which had major impact; both positive and negative. Going to office everyday facing an unsustainable situation caused way too much stress, incomparable to last year when I could hardly wait to enter the door. Luckily my private life changed just the other way around.
I planned only 3 tri races for this season, no small “just for fun” races. After one success and one disaster with full demotivated racing, I was quite determined to put my best on the course in Tallinn. Well, the last weeks before the race I could not complete several key trainings, we also had to change one key weekend to a rest weekend with coach which was not a good sign.
We have arrived in Tallinn after a great holiday where I could mentally switch off but preparation wise it was not a good decision.
As the last step of preparation we checked the bike course in Tallinn. I knew it’s a flat course but the road quality was a huge positive surprise (btw never rent a car in Estonia there are flash cameras everywhere…). So the task for the last 2 days was to chill, eat smart, rest smart, get my head fully focused. Mission completed.
But then…3 days before the start an email arrived from the organization. They informed us that the temperature of the sea in the harbour where the swim course was planned was too low and therefore was likely to be cancelled. Holy shit, 11-12 degrees! I got shocked as swimming is my best discipline and I did not want to do this IM as a duathlon. I did not train for a duathlon the whole year to end up at an incomparable time with a “what if”.
Luckily the next day another email arrived, informing us that the swimming was moved to a lake, they just cut the grass and got the licenses last minute. Kudos for the organization! They received a standing ovation at the race briefing later that day.
Race day. The day I was training for 10 months.
Swimming. Saturday 6:45am start. Awesome lake for the swim, 18.5 degrees. I heard some fellow athletes saying it was cold, for me it was more than warm. I only swam during my holiday in 20+ degrees open water, so I have no issues with 14-15 degrees either. I had to stop already once during the swim, almost throwing up. It was not a good sign, I did not feel super strong. When I checked my swim time after the race, I had to realize that I swam 1:07 which is awful for me. I had some issues with my shoulders in the spring but I did not expect this time.
Cycling. 1st loop out of the 2 went quite OK, I was around the expected watts. I had some stomach pain but this is an IM not a 30 mins gym session, so you don’t expect to finish without going through some (or much) pain. For the 2nd loop we got a nasty and cold wind, which meant that the last 30K was totally headwind. I was draining, my power went also way below expectation. I knew my chance for a PB was over but I was hoping a strong run to finish this IM in a nice way and feeling that strength at the run at least…
Running. Unfortunately things went even more south, I got a diarrhea from 5k already though I used my usual refreshment. As it did not get much better, with no food in anymore I became really weak. I had to combine some jogging with walking but there was more walking than jogging. Of course I was considering giving up 20 times. Once I even consulted my boyfriend if this had any added value…my rule #1 at full IM races is that I don’t give up until I can move but this was really on the edge of the no added value. He said without thinking to go and finish if I don’t risk a permanent health issue.
I almost shout a spectator’s head off when he told I should run as I did not come here to walk. It was meant positive but I knew exactly what I came for and I have 50+ tri races in my backpack….
I did finish with a time of 12:50. A ‘bit’ more than I expected….
I needed some more time to reflect on this race than usual.
Did I have many happy moments? No, I can hardly remember any. I still think that I’d have felt worse giving up…
Did I find the reason what could cause that stomach issue? No, I have only guesses. I have to put this experience in a drawer next to some other non-sport ones where I will never get/find an explanation for and close that drawer.
I learnt a lot on the way, I had many fantastic people on my side helping to get there and I had some great moments at trainings and at the Hungarian race in May; let’s remember these moments from this season and I am looking forward to an awesome New York marathon and a great 2020!