Deja Vu

When skydiving, if your parachute doesn't open and you land on your reserve chute, you are encouraged to immediately jump again to get the negative experience out of your head.

With this anecdote I contacted the organizers of Ironman Switzerland and asked for an entry into the Zurich race. Switzerland being Switzerland no discussion was needed, a couple of hundred Fränkli and I was in.

Although both Frankfurt and Zürich are rather large cities and both Ironman races are to a certain degree held in downtown, the first thing I noticed when I arrived on Saturday afternoon was the stark contrast in the organization. Zurich, though having the Zurich triathlon, an olympic tri which is now part of the 5150 series on Saturday, just felt a lot smaller. Registration and bike check in were done in one sweep within 15 minutes at the shore on lake Zurich. Transition bags? Yeah, you can just leave them here or bring them tomorrow, or whatever.

Early dinner, off to bed at the great hotel Engimatt, which also managed to serve an awesome buffet breakfast at 4 am on Sunday.

The swim - really

The Zurichsee is awesome. Clear water, not too warm. The race has a land start on a rather wide beach, so the usual washing machine at the start didn't happen. That unfortunately also meant less drag and no feet to follow. On top of that, there is also a decent current, so I actually had to swim for a change, which resulted in a 1:20 split.

Sufferfest, pt. 2 - the bike

Transition, on the other hand is shorter, so the time I started the bike was pretty much the same as last week. The course follows the lakeshore for the first 30k, then it is off to some hills, one of them a very nasty, long incline. Overall, hillier than Frankfurt, but not by that much. Then again, I wasn't any fitter than last week, so suffering was the name of the game again. Weather wise, Zurich was a little different than Frankfurt. Less pouring rain, more drizzle, and more dry periods, less sun, even colder and - as a special highlight and totally the norm for a nice Sunday afternoon in July - some hail. Let me tell you, nothing feels better on the bike than some hail. That awesome stinging feeling as if someone was constantly throwing gravel at you. Also, hail greatly improves surface grip which makes turning that much more fun. All bitching aside, the ride felt not as bad as in Frankfurt and - conditions notwithstanding - resulted in the exactly same bike split.

Bringing it home - the run

When I was changing in T2, someone next to me said that we had over seven hours to complete the run. That had two effects on me. One, I knew then and there that I would finish. Two, for the next four hours or so I wondered in my carbohydrate depleted head, why my pace - finish time - remaining time calculations didn't add up. I think it was at km28 that I finally figured that the seven hour information simply was wrong.

Conditions were not all bad, on the run it stayed dry and relatively cool, so I did not experience any further deterioration. On the contrary, I think nutrition wise I recovered to a certain degree and actually felt better towards the later part of the run. The run, in all fairness of course not being a run, but more a very brisk walk with some very short running interludes. The German military term best describing what I do is "Eilmarsch", the US special forces use the term "ruckmarch" for something that sounds very similar, although I doubt the use five fingers and I didn't bring an M16. I was tempted several times to increase the pace, but decided against it, simply to avoid risking another d.n.f. and also to keep recovery time short. NYC is not that far away.

Bottom line, 8:20/km on average gave me a 15:14:46 finish time in what I consider a very good race. How is 15:15 a good race? nothing has really changed from last week, I am still too heavy, I am still not trained well, I am probably not even recovered from Frankfurt. But under these conditions, on the day, I think the race was pretty good. I could MAYBE have stayed under 15 hrs, but with an unacceptable risk and for a price that I consider too high. The season is still long. I came for redemption, and redemption I got, so all is well in the jungle.