Ironman Frankfurt 2019 race recap by Fritz
Where should I start? October 2018 was the start of the preparation. So of course, I do not do all of this sport just because I wanted to finish a long-distance triathlon. I do it because I love to do it. But now and then, an Ironman goal is precisely the motivation you need!
My preparations almost entirely absolved due to two small injuries; both at fixed gear races led to short compulsory breaks. So, there were no excuses in the run-up this year, which meant that the tension in the last few weeks before the competition was a bit uncomfortable. So, I was glad that we could finally leave for Frankfurt. Together with my family and my girlfriend, we had rented an Airbnb house near the "Langener Waldsee". Therefore, from this site, I had perfect conditions, and I was well taken care off. The only thing that worried me was the weather forecast of up to 40 ° C, the hottest day of the year, that very day.
The night before the race, I actually swore I would never do this again, but probably that's just part of it, so I almost did not sleep. Finally, the alarm clock rang at 4:40, relatively late, because we had a short trip to the swim start, compared to the other athletes who lived in the city. I went up, choking down a breakfast somehow and get down to the lake. The mood before such a start is indescribable and you must have experienced this. The last preparations in the transition zone on the bike worked without any problems.
Then finally the starting shot of the pro men. So, I also put on my swimsuit, neoprene is a material prohibited at a water temperature of over 25 degrees, but this was also ok for me as swimming is another discipline I have trained in for years. After saying goodbye, to my father and my girlfriend, I joined the rolling start at the end of the group with a target time less than 1h10min.
Finally, the race started for me as well. I orientated just from the beginning right on edge, away from the crowd, and after a few meters, I found a swimmer, who swam his line also relatively alone, with exactly my speed! In the meantime, I thought, it could also be a little faster, but I stayed patiently behind him, even after the Australian exit on the second lap, I joined again behind another athlete. Unfortunately, after the turnaround on the way back, he slowed down, but I continued to save energy behind him, until he had to stop completely, apparently with cramps, he even had to wave for help. I also stopped to make sure assistance reached him. Poor guy, I wanted to thank him on land for his excellent pace! I continued swimming the last 800m alone to the swim exit. Back on the beach, I had light calf cramp when getting out of the water, but this was expected after such a long swim. It took much time to get my feet free of sand, maybe a water bottle in the transition bag might be useful. I also forgot a towel. Indeed, there were foot-baths. However, the feet got sandy again right after crossing them. With the swimming time of 1h16min, I was satisfied, considering I was able to swim efficiently, I know I can improve in this discipline although it was without neoprene suite a few minutes, of course, there is still the most room for improvement here! When changing on to the bike, I felt for the first time like a "real" triathlete... of course, I wore socks! I had left the shoes already including clipped in the pedals. The start went well. The time in T1 with just under 6min but, still room for improvement
The plan on the bike was to not over pace like the years before right at the beginning! The idea was not to push more than 240-250watt. I loaded the target watt with the connect IQ app and the program BestBikeSplit on my Garmin. How future is this technique? The day before, I created the Garmin Power Course file, generated out the gpx track and the current weather and wind forecast, crazy! My cycling felt good as I flew past an infinite number of athletes, although I have kept to my watt specifications. My Aero-position and my material seemed to be competitive. My fueling strategy worked out as well! I had caught up with my swimming delay after 2/3 of the cycle track.
Here the data from the first 3.5h (recorded with Garmin edge 830, Garmin HRM tri, stages power dual-sided)
After that, it started to be tough again, and the temperatures began to rise above 30 degrees. I had problems keeping my watt and also my aero-position. I was damned! Did I set my goal too high again? At these temperatures, I maybe should have set the desired power even lower. Besides, I could have ridden the climbs even slower, and the body could not recover on the descents, which was due to the heat. I still think that it was not due to lack of carbohydrates, my fueling on the bike worked out well. One other theory is that I already started to dehydrate. which also leads to a loss of performance. I added saltstick, but according to my current information that could have been even more., I'm a person who is sweating a lot.
From then on, I could no longer comply with the given Watt values. Unfortunately, even with stronger headwinds, I rode back to the city.
The data from the last 1.5h (recorder with Garmin edge 830, Garmin HRM tri, stages power dual-sided):
The section at the end dropped my time to 4h55min, which still gives an overall ranking of 19th.
So now only a marathon at 38 degrees was between me and the finish line. Running was much better at the beginning, compared to the end of cycling, but of course, I knew it did not mean anything. I tried to listen to my legs, as indicated by the first muscle twitch. The big question was how long my legs would last? How long until the first cramp? In the past, I've had problems with cramp, and I knew the temperatures would not improve that situation. From the beginning, I had to take this into account in my nutrition strategy and make sure I've had enough salt, but as already mentioned, it probably should have been more. My stomach kept up well throughout the day; that was a good thing. So, while I was running and thinking about how I should tackle the rest of the race, I decided to run my planned pace for as long as possible. Maybe that was the wrong decision. At the beginning of the marathon, there was 4min up to Top10, and I managed to close the gap in the first half of the marathon. The first lap of four I was at a pace of 4:16 / km, second lap still at 4:28 / km. Then, unfortunately, the first compulsory break came with the first slight cramp. From then on, it was clear; my new goal was to cross the finish line, even if the head was still clear and motivated, the muscles did not want to allow any more punishment. I tried to run from feeding zone to feeding zone and keep the cramps small from inside with salt and lemon and from the outside with ice water. Two hard laps with a pace of 5: 39 / km and 5: 46km, followed so that I reached the finish line with a marathon time of 3h37min.
The support at the track was overwhelming; my family and friends carried me home! The feeling of reaching the finish line is simply overwhelming, even if I would have liked to arrive there a bit earlier! Even the hours and days after the race was unbelievable, I have never received so many kind messages or sayings as after this day! Thanks to all who cheered with me and pushed me to this point. Of course, special thanks to Laura, who went with me all the way, and my parents who support me no matter what I do!!!
In the end, the clock stopped at 9:56 min, it was still the 18th place in my age group, which makes it clear that many others also had their problems with the heat. Although that was my fourth long distance triathlon, I missed the experience before, and in between the race of how to deal with the weather, others have done it and managed it to go through such a race with consistent performance.
Here the recorded marathon data (Garmin forerunner 920xt, Garmin HRM tri)
The next day I went to the award ceremony, in which the 80 Hawaii slots were awarded. That was my first time, at this kind of event. Again, it was remarkable how the brand Ironman as an organizer manages to stage itself. In summary, it can be said about the entire Ironman Frankfurt. There are many goosebumps moments, no wonder that the participants are willing to pay 700 € for participation! The media presence is enormous because you share the track with the best triathletes in the world.
At the Hawaii slot assignment, three people in my age group AK30-34 did not accept their slot, so the last one with the ticket to Hawaii had a time of 9h49min at the 12th place. In the end, there was not so much missing; another 100 slots were issued for the Ironman 70.3 World Cup in Nice, France. Ironman had already announced on Saturday before the race that my chances to get one of these slots seemed to be quite good, So with a quick conversation with my girlfriend and seemed I had a new, unexpected goal this year.
In September I will participate at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Nice!
Here we go again!