Ironman 70.3 Zell am See 29 Aug

Registering for a half ironman without any previous triathlon experience and the lack of ability to swim might have been a silly thing to do but I actually quite enjoy the thrill of throwing myself into the completely unknown. Opportunities to challenge our bodies in various events are everywhere, just need to click on that registration button.

Must admit there was another reason I fancied taking part in the Zell Am See 70.3 Ironman on Saturday 29 August. I hadn’t seen my family for almost a year

and a half and this race weekend provided a perfect excuse to get the family together in a lovely chalet in the Austrian Alps.

Since I started the ‘7 summits’ project in April last year, my life had been revolving around the mountains; making money to pay for the expeditions, training, climbing, repeat. To test my legs I did two half marathons earlier this year, surely the next step is to swim 2km, cycle 90km and run a half marathon in one go ☺

Training for the 70.3 has been rather interesting and eventful. First job was to learn how to swim. I managed to squeeze in two coached sessions with a swimming instructor in an 18m indoor pool before heading off to Denali where I spent almost the entire month of June.

Thomas asked me to show him my front crawl then when I swam back he said; ok we’re going to have to start from scratch. We had another two sessions after the climb then he said I was ready for a 90m outdoor pool, the famous Tooting Lido. Looking back not sure I was! ☺

First session was a disaster. My wetsuit didn’t fit properly and I had a mild panic attack in the pool. Everything was alien. Next time I felt a bit more confident so I signed up to do a swim relay race with the Wimbledon Windmilers at Ham Lake. Trust me when I say I had no idea the reason I was so slow because I was literally crawling in the water like a dog with my legs instead of kicking from the hips. Not to worry, I learnt that from a youtube video a week before the half Ironman (copying the guy from the video laying on my flatmate’s exercise pad). Bring on the 2km lake swim.

I knew cycling 90km wouldn’t be an issue; after having tackled the hills of the Etape du Tour, Surrey and commuting to Richmond through the park on the hybrid, a flat bike course in Austria was going to be a piece of cake. Until I found out the bike course was rated 3/5 Ironman standards. Oh even better, loving the mountains don’t we Rocket!

So far so good preparation wise except that during the previous two half marathons I ran, I couldn’t break 2 hours on fresh legs. I was careful not to

combine all three disciples in the training but had to get the legs used to the run after the bike. As often as I could I dropped the bike as soon as I got home after work, changed shoes and headed out for a run. I’ve been building up the running distance very carefully since I had the pain in my knee (which turned out to be an IT band related issue) What would happen on race day though I had no idea and it was approaching pretty fast…

We left London at 5pm after work on Wednesday and arrived at a ‘luxury campsite’ (these two words shouldn’t be used together, you still sleep in your own pop up tent..) at 3pm on Thursday. My parents arrived on Friday and we all moved into a lovely Austrian style hous. Went back to the transition area Friday afternoon to leave Rocket there and sort out the transition bags. I wouldn’t see the bike and the bags until the following morning before the race. We had early dinner that day and a reasonably early night, the alarm went off at 4am.

We dropped the cars at the nearest official car park and made our way to the start. Said bye to my family and walked into the bike transition area around 5.30am. It was still pitch dark but the football field size area was lit up. Enjoy the cool and fresh morning air I thought, soon it would be over 30C. Went to check my bike tyres and the transitions bags before putting on my wetsuit. Decided not to warm up in the lake, didn’t fancy standing around cold and drenched until the 6.45am start.

© copyright 2021 by Alexandra Nemeth