So its been almost 10 months since last full distance race in Kona, Hawaii. During spring I have raced 2 half distances races with limited success, but the feelings and numbers leading into Ironman Frankfurt this year were actually better than ever. I raced in Frankfurt back in 2012 also - where the rain got the better of me and I can say that Frankfurt still owes me a perfect day. But this being my 12th Ironman race, I have sort of settled with at least one conclusion: There are NO perfect days in Ironman, no tea-parties - you can be top-prepared and you can still get humbled. But hey - you learn and come out stronger.
Leading into this race, most conditions were very fine. I had trained very stable and steady and have good improvements to tighten up running, biking 10-12 watts harder than in 2013, coming fine back into swimming after Kona and race weight was on par.
After the last 2-3 longer running sessions (around 23-25k) I was a bit indecisive on my choice of race shoes for the run. For at least 2 years I have had smaller issues with Morton's Neuroma in both feet - a result of running with elastic shoe laces. Just 10-12 days out from race day, I ran with massive pains after running in my race shoes, either came home with the very light Asics DS Racer or the bit more padded Brooks PureCadence. Eventually I took some anti-inflammatorics the week up to the race, and decided to go with the Asics DS racer.
On race day things were calm. I started with the 300 best age groupers and had a fairly OK swim, but quite a few unexpected fights in the water. Felt the swim was long, maybe 4000-4100, so exiting in 1h02m was actually not that bad. Most good AGs had a longer swim time, maybe around 2-3 minutes longer.
The bike was great - I quickly founds my goal watts, settled well and kept going conservatively around 15 watts below optimal/hardest possible IM watts. I figured I could still do around 37 km/h which would give me a good time around 4h50m and then have good legs to run well and easy in maybe around 3h20m. The cut for Kona Qualification would be around 9h30m.. A bit more wind on the 2nd loop and I entered T2 in 4h53m, so if I could just run at 5:00 min/km Kona was absolutely still in scope - so far, so good.
As expected, my legs felt really fine at the start of the run, running steady around 4:30, but I immediately felt the pain in both feet. Took some ibuprofen almost straight after leaving T2, which initially calmed the pain, but still, each step was like stepping on small nails and it became more and more painful, but still bearable.
The heat was really on now, maybe around 34-35 degrees and the sun was blazing. I tried to find shadow, cool down with ice, water - still hydrating well, keeping up a fine pace.
At around km 15 I decided to walk trough the next aid station to get plenty fluids. Started to feel really dizzy and had to stop completely and hold on to a pole for some seconds to remain standing - that was NOT good. Drinking and go back to running OK, but really fast started fainting. I must admit this was a horrible dejavu from Kona and I kinda lost my motivation right there too - I was falling apart, now both feet and my head was a mess.
I think I made it sort of running/walking/stopping to hydrate to around 25km where I was fairly confident that DNF was the only option left, - the bad memory of my only Ironman DNF in St. George in 2010 got me going - walking mostly, talking with other athletes, made quite a number of new friends walking/jogging/suffering. Passed good people cheering and cheered back. I turn off my GPS and just decided to make it to the f**king line - Kona was out of the question for this one. Eventually made it around in something like 10h16m. No complaints - tough day, everybody suffered on that run.
It was amazing to be with so many friends in Frankfurt. Some cheered, some raced hard, some suffered, some became European Champions - but you all reminded me once again, how much I love to be part of this great sport and family. Thank you so much for a great time in Frankfurt!