Frankfurt Ironman – July 8th 2017
Race reporter David B
The journey started on Friday morning catching the 9am train from Gare de l’Est to Frankfurt. A 4 hour journey that went by well, with only a few other people on the train apparently heading to the Ironman race (by bike bag counts) which made it easy to store all my gear.
I checked in the hotel in Frankfurt and met with Chmou to go and get registered and sort out our bib and bag check in. We had both monitored the weather forecast throughout the week and out of 3-4 websites, none would give the same predictions for Sunday. Everything was expected, from thunderstorms, to heat, showers, mist, sun, clouds. One thing was certain: it was going to be hot, at least +30/32 in the afternoon, on the run leg which we knew was mostly exposed to the sun.
Once we got our stuff in order, and got our wallets lightened by the Ironman store, we went to the briefing at the finish line. This gave us a nice taste of what to expect on Sunday in terms of vibe. Nothing special in the briefing apart from the addition on the run course of water/ice/sponges stations as it was definitely going to be hot.
We had some nice Italian pasta for dinner and I was in bed by 10 on Friday, trying to relax and get as much sleep as possible.
Saturday went smoothly. Bike check in was 15km out of Frankfurt as T1 was near the lake in Langen. Shuttles were arranged and I went as early as I could to get everything out of the way to be able to chill out on Saturday afternoon, when my family was coming to join me. Was happily welcomed to T1 as a AWA (All World Athlete) and had relatively faster check-in and low bib number so, well located.
The rest of the day went well, as I got more and more nervous about Sunday. Meal repeat: pasta and early bed time (21:00).
Sunday 4:00. Alarm went off and I was ready to hit it. My morning routine was well planned and it took me less than an hour to get ready and out of the door after a substantial breakfast at the hotel. They had staff in place at 3 am to open the buffet breakfast for athletes which was very convenient.
Walked to the shuttles and got to T1 with 40 minutes to start time which was just fine to get the tires pumped, wetsuit on and a 10 minute warm up swim.
At 6:40 the start was officially given with the pros heading out. I felt excited and a little confused not exactly sure what the hell I was doing there at 6:40 am, ready for (sport) war and looking ahead of a long day.
This was a rolling start and I had no idea what to expect in terms of timing for the 3.9km and just went with my gut at around 1:15-20.
Went in the water feeling great and ready for a little plunge. 100 meters in the guy next to me started yelling and was very agitated saying he was drowning. I stopped with a few people for a minute or so to signal the staff on the boats that someone was in need. They were quick to intervene and that incident sort of put things in perspective.
1.5km + Australian exit and the remaining loop went fairly smoothly and got out at 1:20:21. Not the best, but I knew the day ahead was far from for over.
Since I got out relatively late, T1 was not too packed and I was able to change properly and get all the stuff I needed.
The Bike course was splendid, pretty flat and splendid rolling surfaces. Very slick and fast. 2-3 climbing sections the first one with a cobbled stone bit of about 300m ‘The Hell’ and a further one at km 65 ‘The Hearthbreaker’ where you really had a ‘Tour the France’ vibe with a narrowing of the course and people ch
eering all the way up. My first loop went well and I liked the course a lot with several sections of high speed on rolling hills. After the cobbled stone sections on the second loop, I hear the sound that I prayed I’d never hear: flat tire.
Believe it or not, it was a first for me in my cycling career and it HAD to be on Ironman day! Started changing the flat when bike service drove by and helped out…only to hear the same sound again after a few meters! Second Flat!!! I couldn’t believe it. I was now scared I’d run out of inner tubes (I had 3) or that my tire was punctured. Got everything repaired and I was just hoping to be able to get to the run course as I knew this was my strength. The day was getting hot however and the last 10 km were a bit painful. I followed my nutrition plan until I just couldn’t eat anything solid anymore and switched to gels at about 100km. I kept repeating Chris’ comments in my head: “see the day as a marathon race with a very long warm up”. By then, I was definitely warmed up!
Was hoping for a sub 6, but considering both flats, happy with the Bike in 6:05:21
I got pretty excited arriving at T2. I knew I was ready for the run, I was looking forward to it, having trained over 800km in the last 6 months. got out of T2 at an average 5:25 to 5:45 pace, but I would walk at every single aid station to get hydrated and cooled down with sponges as it was way above 30 degrees by then and I had no appetite for solid foods. This served me well I believe as I was able to stick to my objective of a negative split time on the second half marathon. I saw my wife and daughter at every lap and she had the brilliant idea of telling me on the third lap that my expected finish time would be just under 12 hours (11:56). Being stubborn as I am, I pushed a little more on the last 12 km, getting my pace down to 4:50-5:00, with stops at stations to make sure I wouldn’t dry out. I had to walk km 38 and 39, very frustrating being so closed to the finish line, but was able to pick up for the last km.
I simply couldn’t believe this was it, the end was there, not only of the race but of the entire journey to get there! Happy with my marathon time: 4:07:36 for an overall time of 11:49:11.
It was a fantastic day, difficult, no doubt, but incredibly exciting and rewarding.