IRONMAN 70.3 | MARBELLA, Spain




Pre-Story:

Since the Paris marathon which I did on January 6th this year I decided to focus entirely on triathlons. Despite my coach’s concerns in regards to racing frequency, I set myself ambitious goal to do 5 IRONMAN Races this year. Four of them are 70.3 and one full distance, to close the season.

4 months I’ve been training specifically for the first race of the season – IRONMAN 70.3 Marbella. It’s also my very first IRONMAN Race. 


NUTRITION


Pre race 1-2 days:

This crazy trip didn’t allow me properly eat prior to the race. However I am really happy that I was thoughtful enough to bring three lunch boxes with food. No problems with security checks at the airports. Just make sure there is no meat and it’s secure in transparent container. 

Night before the race I went nuts and really overate going to bed stuffed like a pig. The reason of such overeating is partially due to my exhaustion from the trip. It was really, really stressful and I used the food to comfort myself. Guilty of that. 

I had a lot of oatmeal (250-300g) + 1/2 cantaloupe +3 bananas + 2 sweet potatoes. 1 scoop of protein and some BCAAs to sprinkle onto the oats. Listening to my friend’s suggestion, I totally eliminated any sort of meat or fish.


Race morning: 

Oatmeal ~200G + 3 bananas + BCAA, Creatine + 3 cups of coffee + Sweet potato.

Felt stuffed, should’ve eaten less.


Consumed throughout the race:


Lessons Learned:

  1. Oatmeal before the race is a good choice. You can find it at any grocery store around the world. I actually like the way it tastes. It doesn’t spike your blood sugar; slow burning carbs. It fuels you with glycogen and does not cause diarrhea or any GI problems. The only issue I see with it is that because of high fiber concentration it takes a while to leave the body. Don’t eat too much of it right before the race or exercise.
  2. Try not to overeat, especially before the bed, especially the night before the race.
  3. Have a gel 10-15 minutes before the swim.
  4. Take at least 2-3 lunch boxes with you on a trip. Plane and airport foods are horrible. You will thank yourself later.
  5. Don’t leave your nutrition in transition area, you will have access to it in the morning. You can then throw all extra stuff into transition bags and setup bike water bottles.
  6. Coke might cause the liver to spasm. Drink, but be careful. Not a bad choice for the last 5 km.

SWIM


15 Minutes before the swim found 1 gel laying on the sand. Ate it =)

Overall pretty happy with the swim.

Right from the beginning felt strong, however remembered Renee’s guidelines and pulled myself back from going too hard. 

The crowd was crazy. Got hit in the head 3-4 times. Some people were literally pulling me back by the ankles. Drank a bit of salty water, however didn’t panic and stayed calm throughout the entire swim. Didn’t sight at all on the beginning, however began to close to the end. The ocean was cold, so my feet almost cramped 2-3 times… reduced kicking, focused more on a stroke. I found it to be really hard to keep good technique in such crazy environment.

Came out of water feeling strong. Got pleasantly surprised with the time. No dizziness or fatigue.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t swim in the middle, stick to one of the outer sides.
  2. Blue Nike googles are good, don’t switch them. Wear them under the swim cap.
  3. Have a gel 10-15 minutes before.
  4. Don’t underestimate your swim time and instead of 40, go into 30 minutes swim wave
  5. If the water is cold – less kicking, so you don’t cramp.

BIKE


The course was absolutely amazing. Views from the top are outstanding.

A lot of climbing. A LOT. In addition, strong head facing and side winds made the bike part a real challenge.

Dropped one of my water bottles right on the beginning. I was surprised of myself that didn’t get upset or mad and simply let it go a second later. In fact, loosing a bottle was not such a bad thing. Isotonic drinks at the aid stations were pretty good and I had an empty bottle holder to carry them in. Also they didn’t taste like they had any calories in them. 

Found myself being pretty good climbing the hills. I was rarely passed while going up, however I felt like I could’ve used a higher gear on the downhills and flat segments. Fighting the hills I was constantly passing guys on fancy aero bikes, catching their eyes on me. However when the downhill time came they would fly by, leaving me in th dust. 

I didn’t eat as much as planned, however it didn’t affect the performance. I stopped once just to pee. I also saw some guys pee on a bike, right in front of me. Because of the winds urine would fly right on the people behind. Disgusting.

Last 20 km were really fast, all downhill. Trying to be as aero as possible I was even passing folks of carbon bikes. Strong side winds and sharp turns made it pretty dangerous to ride at such high speeds. By the end of the ride I felt pretty fatigued, however not too much. 

Lessons Learned: 

  1. Expensive, carbon/aero bikes are worthless on a hilly course. Hold on to buying a new bike.
  2. Take only one bottle on the bike. Keep the room for on course hydration.
  3. Adjust the speeds on your bike so you can switch the highest gear.
  4. Wear the race belt right away, underneath the wetsuit. Less hustle putting it on while transitioning into the run.
  5. Bike position felt good. No need to change anything.

RUN


Right off the bike felt a bit dizzy.

First 5-7 km were a struggle. Wasn’t feeling strong and the distance ahead of me set the fascination in my mind. I did not feel like I could do it. 

I was surprised that I didn’t have any GI problems up until half way through. Even when I did stop to use the bathroom, it wasn’t bad. It’s just the amount of food I ate days prior. Right after the bathroom use, the second breath opened up. I felt stronger and wasn’t struggling that much anymore. In fact 30-40 minutes into the run is when I began feeling better. Remaining half of the run I got to truly enjoy it. Loved it! Towards the end had some liver spasms, but nothing too painful.

Increased my pace for the last 4-5 km. Finished strong.

The course along the beach was fantastic. It was really, really cool and I got a lot of joy running through it. 

Lessons Learned:

  1. Right off the bike you might feel dizzy. That’s normal.
  2. First 30-40 minutes you will feel like crap. Push through, you will feel better as the time goes on. Focus on technique and pace. Visualize the finish and appreciate a chance to do what you do and to be where you are.

RESULTS



Update (May 13):


I’ve had some time to think and this are the thoughts & conclusions I came up with…


Is it so much about the race and accomplishment or about the experience? 
Is it about the medal 🏅 or the person you’ve become to get the medal? 

It’s about the lifestyle you’ve created to achieve your goal. 

Training for triathlon makes me better not just in one but three spots: swimming, running and cycling. What other sport develops the athletes so broadly? How about the mental training I get during the process? How about invaluable lessons I learn from this sport that applicable to my work, business, life and relationships? Only so many people gained access to this knowledge and you can connect with them through the sport. 

I know I won’t be doing triathlons for the rest of my life. However, when I decide no longer continue with the sport I will have a solid foundation of endurance, strength and health to bring into another pursuits I will choose to follow in future. Just think of all the adventures you can go on with your skills and fitness. You can follow a swimming path, and challenge yourself to do a cross lakes swimming or something that makes you excited. 

You can go on multi days or weeks of ultra endurance running trough the beautiful forests of Canada or USA. You’ve got cycling fitness that will allow you to become professional cyclist or go on a crazy adventurous cycling trip across the state or country. 

Essentially, triathlon opened up a lot of doors and opportunities for me. It give me options to choose from. 

You are doing triathlons because YOU CHOSE TO, not because you have to.
Don’t forget that.

No one forces you to train every damn day. No one, besides your ego or whatever motivation you have. You do it because you chose to do it. 

You can quit anytime you want.
No one gives a fuck! 

It’s your life, it’s your decisions.
Don’t forget that!

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