Training for a triathlon is something I already did when I was still in high school. Our gym teacher was a tri fan so everybody who joined his yearly mini triathlon would get an 'A 'at the end of the year, so that was a good motivation to start doing tri’s I guess. Over the years I developed good running and cycling skills, although swimming remained my weak spot. I even did some ¼ triathlons and really enjoyed the practice. When I went to university I dropped the sport habits and enjoyed other things in life. That continued when I started to work, got a family and slowed down to enjoy the “good life.”
Around 5 years ago, I woke up from the “good life” and really started to feel the urge again to train running and cycling, so I did. It was hard in the beginning, my senior body was not the same as 25 years ago. But 5km became 10km and 10 km became 21 km and cycling went more or less the same. Fast forward to7 August this year; I was after 2 years intense training, coached by Dora, I really felt I was ready! Ironman Maastricht, here I come!
On Saturday morning we got up early and drove together to Maastricht for the administration and dropping of the bike and bags.
It was nice to see so many fellow athletes, all with their beautiful bikes, sports gear and Ironman shirts on. I already told Dora before; Ironman is actually kind of a tribe. A tribe of people with the same lifestyle (suffer every day and only eat healthy stuff) and the same symbols and looks.
During the athlete briefing the question was asked: how many first timers are in the hall today and guess what?? To my own disbelieve almost 80% of the people stood up. All fellow athletes that were there for the first time, all fellow tribe-members that were a bit nervous for the next day but all very
anxious to start.
Amazingly I slept well that night, but at 05:00 the alarm went of and it was finally RACE DAY!!
The start was good. The river Maas had a nice temperature (22.6 degrees) and my swimming went very well 1:18 in total, which was my personal best so far. I was a bit sceptical how many people I would “meet” during the swim but that didn’t happen much.
After the swimming we had to run to the T1 and the 3*60km laps cycling could start. First round was great, the bike course had 5 steep hills in it, so not that easy, and all went very well, until the moment in the 2nd lap that my shifter broke.... in the heaviest gear..... SH.T!!!!! What could I do now? I can’t climb those steep hills in my heaviest gear and I couldn’t fix it either. I could still cycle but only in 2 gears extremely heavy or just heavy. I decided to continue cycling and in the meantime keep trying to get my gear to the lightest mode so at least I could do the hills. After 15 minutes of intensive trying I managed to get the gear in the lightest mode. That was a big relief because now at least I could finish the cycling, although my speed would reduce substantially on the flat parts and I would need to cycle with way too high cadence for the rest of the 100km. I managed to finish the 2nd and 3rd lap, my time was not good anymore, but at least I could continue towards the finish line and the running, which is my best part, had yet to come.
Eager to start running I arrived at the T2 and quickly switched to my running gear. I was eager to make up for the time lost!!! Over the bridge of the Maas into the centre of Maastricht. It was a 4*10km laps course, which I trained well for. In the first lap I got well into my running mode and was
able to make up some of the lost time. The 2nd lap as well. Then the famous 3rd lap (around 25 –28km) the Ironman wall hit me, and it hit me bad. All of a sudden my body seemed to have decided that 12 hours sport was the maximum and it didn’t want to continue. What didn’t help is that a lot of
fellow athletes were in the same situation so it was difficult to get out of it. There was nobody I could use as inspiration to start running again. Just keep walking for a while is all I could think of and that is what I did. Luckily after some km’s slowing down, I was able to find some more energy
somewhere to finish of the last 12km. Perhaps it was all the crowds along the road cheering you up or perhaps the support of my family who were at multiple places across the course, but somehow I was able to get into the running mode again and finish of the last part.
And then..... at about 40KM you realize it... you’re almost there! You almost made it! Just 2 more km’s and you can cross that finish line. That important red carpet that will bring you your victory!
Energized by that very thought I found some other hidden energy levels and inspired by the moment I finished my last km’s run into victory lane, got on the red carpet and there, hands up in the air and cheered by my loved ones I ran towards the finish line and heard.....
Arthur... YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!!
Those words I will never forget!
As a final line I want to thank my coach Dora for all her time and dedication during the last 2 years of training and preparation. I was not always the easiest athlete to coach and couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you!