mercoledì 30 luglio 2014

Eva Kovacs racconta la sua esperienza all'Ironman Roth 2014

Pubblichiamo molto volentieri il resoconto di Eva Kovacs, triathleta ticinese che vive ora, per motivi di lavoro,  in Inghilterra sulla sua recente esperienza al famoso Ironman Roth in Germania. Come sempre un racconto molto bello e istruttivo per l'approccio alla gara e le motivazioni davvero esemplari e sportive da parte di questa atleta che in passato è stata anche campionessa ticinese nella triplice disciplina.  
SORRIDENTE Eva Kovacs termina il suo Ironman con il sorriso: un
esempio di grande sportività e di giusto approccio alla gara.
Dear Family and Friends,

As promised, here is my race report, with a little delay as I am enjoying some vacation in Germany and France…

The good news is that I met several of my goals:
- I completed the race, which is all it matters at the end
- I completed the race within the cut-off of 15 hours (in Ironman branded races, we typically get 17 hours to complete the race)
- I enjoyed the great race atmosphere, particularly climbing up the Solarerberg, and finishing in Roth in the biggest stadium of triathlon history

However, I wasn’t happy with my time, or with my performance in general. But let’s start from the beginning…

I flew to Germany on Wednesday prior to the race, just to find out at the airport that my bike hadn’t arrived. There was no chance that I was going to leave the airport without my bike, so I waited approx. 4 hours for my bike to arrive. Not a good start of the journey and not good for my nerves… But I was relieved when I was rejoined with my bike.
On Thursday, I rode part of the bike course, and I was reminded that, despite the good times that the Pro’s typically pull out in Roth, it wasn’t going to be an easy ride. I also swum a little on Thursday and Friday in the lake close to where we were staying in Enderndorf am See, a little town about 30 min driving from Roth. It was very refreshing to get in the lake as temperatures were rising by the day. On Saturday, temperatures were reaching 32C, though it sometimes felt even hotter. The forecast for race day was sunny and warm, and possible thunderstorms in the late afternoon/evening. Generally, preparation felt good, as I was eating like a Pro, sleeping like a Pro, and otherwise trying to emulate a Pro, since I was sharing lodging with a Pro.

Swim, 3.8km/2.4mi (1:36:17)
On Sunday morning at 6:30am local time, the first of 16 waves was ready to start (with all men and women Pro’s). The swim takes place in the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, around 10 km outside Roth and is a single counterclockwise loop. My wave (all age group women) started at 6:45am. I was a little in the back entering the water, which meant that by the time the shot went, I still had to swim to the start, i.e. about 100m extra  to swim. Because we were “only” about 500 participants in our wave, the level of kicking and being kicked was pleasantly low. All went well until halfway, when I started to feel nauseous. Few minutes later I felt like I was totally empty of energy. I was swimming fairly close to the bank, so more than once I considered stopping at the side to catch breath, but instead I continued, just a little slower. I was very glad when I finally reached land and T1, though I was a little disappointed about my time…

Bike, 180km/112mi (6:39:21)
The bike course uses a two-lap course on the countryside, mostly south of Roth. The course is mostly rolling with a few tougher hills, such as the Kalvarienberg and the Solarerberg. From the moment I started pedaling, it was clear that my legs had very little strength: no fast time today, was the immediate verdict. So, I decided to just enjoy as much as possible the race atmosphere. It was quickly getting hot. Luckily my nausea vanished, which allowed me to keep drinking and eating sufficiently, or so I thought. The atmosphere on the bike course was incredible. There are ten so-called Stimmungsnesters (or atmosphere zones) during each loop of the bike course. The Solarerberg is absolutely crazy, like a wall of people, all cheering like you are the biggest star in the world. They say that there are about 25,000 spectators just on that hill, moving aside only just seconds before the cyclists come up, similar to what you see on some of the climbs at the Tour de France. Kind of scary… And I am still feeling the goose bumps when I think about it!!!
While my bike time wasn’t particularly fast, at least I felt that I could keep a fairly constant pace, not really fading in the second loop, like many athletes who I saw stopping at the side of the road to catch breath in the shade. I was glad to finally reach T2 though I knew that the rest of the race would even be tougher.

Run, 42.2km/26.2mi (6:10:06)
The final marathon run is mainly a flat effort and has two out-and-back sections with several turning points. The major part of the course is along the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal, with the finish in the centre of Roth, in a big stadium built especially for the occasion.
Unfortunately, the run didn’t go well at all. From the start, I felt light headed, and I wasn’t really able to run for more than a few hundred meters in a row. So, I combined short bouts of run with somewhat longer bouts of walking. My assumption is that the “iso” drink that we were given at the aid stations on the bike course may have been diluted too much, and that I might have not ingested enough sugars and salt, despite drinking sufficiently, at least in my opinion, but I don’t know for sure. The weather continued to be warm and humid, which made things even more difficult. Halfway through the run, the forecasted thunderstorms finally arrived, which meant I had to run a good part of the course in (sometimes hard) rain. I didn’t really enjoy the run, with exception of the last few kilometers, when we returned to town. The last few hundred meters were totally amazing, and the welcoming spectators in the stadium made all the pain go away and the smile come back on my face. For the books, I finished in a time of 14:40:07, not a particular good one. Nevertheless, # 23 is in the bag!
Immediately after the race, as a precaution, the medical team gave me not one, but two IV saline solutions to help me recuperate from my dizziness. Apparently, the medical team had a more than usual tough day in providing support to triathletes on the course and after the race.

Closing remarks
Typically, Roth is a very fast race, where world records on the ironman distance have been set in the past. However, statistics apparently revealed that this year times were not as fast as in previous years, and that 33% were DNF’s, which is almost unbelievable for an ironman distance that is considered one of the ‘easiest’. Well… It is called ‘Challenge’ for a reason… So, maybe I should be happy with my performance after all.
Next on my agenda is Challenge Weymouth in Dorset, England, on September 14th. But let’s first enjoy my vacation a little longer.

A final note to acknowledge the performance of Sister Madonna Buder (83 years old) who completed the race, making her the oldest athlete (male or female) to finish an ironman distance triathlon: a new world record! While she had an ‘unfair’ advantage – another Sister was spotted helping and supporting her in transition – her performance is simply amazing: a true inspiration!

Thanks everyone for the pre-race good luck wishes and/or post-race congrats, and for reading my report!

Best regards,
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