At the start of 2013 I wanted a new challenge, that desire resulted in me signing up for the Switzerland Ironman on 28th July. Having done 6 months of around 8-10hrs worth of sessions a week and a few ‘warm-up’ races, finally the time had come. On the 23rd July we set off for Zurich and I was feeling relatively confident about the up-coming 7am start on the Sunday.
Swimming is not my favourite nor my strongest of the three disciplines. Unfortunately for the slower swimmers (including me), 24hrs before the race we were informed that because the water temp was 26 degrees – wet-suits were banned! Initially gutted, I accepted this and got myself to the start ready for approximately 2hrs of swimming. As expected it was noticeably more difficult but I managed to complete the swim in a pleasing 1.56 and headed into T1 to get ready for the 180km ride.
Through T1 and onto a rather hot bike course (35 degreees!). Rodge and I had decided that I should ride slightly easier than IM pace to account for the extreme temperature, this tactic was working well and I felt nice and controlled, passing more people than I expected. Unfortunately at approximately 90km into the ride and without good reason, I had developed some quite nasty blisters on my left foot. The next 90km were painful as I felt them on virtually every pedal stroke, it cross my mind more than once to stop and call it a day. The support all over the course was incredible and inspired me to persevere. I made a deal with myself to at least get to T2 – which I did.
Spookily I had some rather appropriate plasters waiting for me in my transition bag. I spent a few extra mins applying these before I limped out of T2 and into the 4x10km ‘run’ loops. Having started the run I intentionally recalled how much training I had done and how much I really wanted to finish. It was ridiculously hot, and rather disconcertingly there were athletes lying on the road side, some wrapped in blankets and some staggering – on the verge of collapse. A number were even taken away in ambulances. If anything this made me concentrate on exactly how I WAS FEELING and to stick to the plan. This meant walking through the feed stations to take much needed food & drink on board and to try to keep cool throughout. I stayed focused and though my feet were still in pain I managed to clock up my 4 laps. Towards the finish I was feeling excited that I was about to make it. I made my way through the funnel and onto the famous blue carpet at the finish. With a huge smile on my face I high fived what felt like the population of Zurich as I approached the finish line. My husband Paul, and my daughters Rosie & Evie (tired after their ‘Iron Kids’ event earlier in the day) were patiently waiting for me there. I crossed the line – genuinely un-interested in my finishing time. I was just extremely pleased I’d got around safe and inside the cut-off time.
Overall it was a positive experience and because of the tough conditions I did have a great sense of achievement. The race was well organised, and as always the athletes and the supporters were truly amazing. If anyone does fancy doing a long distance triathlon then I would certainly recommend Switzerland.
After finishing and once sat down, I had a quick reflection of the race and came to the conclusion that although I had ‘raced’ I didn’t really feel like I was in a race. I’ve now completed 2 long-distance races but I’ve decided I want the challenge of gaining some speed. So I’m excitied to be switching to the Olympic distance format for next season – hopefully with wetsuit swims! (Wendy Drake)
Wendy showed a lot of courage and incredible determination to complete Ironman Switzerland. On anaylsis of the results it transpires that from approx 300 women who started, unfortunately more than 70 returned a DNF. I’d say that’s a good indicator how brutal the conditions were that day and how impressive Wendy’s performance really is. This will stand her in very good stead for the hustle & bustle of the Olympic distance races……….roll on 2014.