It was 10 days before Swissman and I was getting out of the pool on a Wednesday evening when Christophe Parent, our president / swim coach, came to check on me asking me to write a race report and send a few pictures after Swissman which was my A race of the yerar. While being confident in the training plan that I followed since January, I kindly told him that I will focus on finishing first and then write the report !
For those who don’t know me, I joined the club early January 2017 after moving from San Francisco, where I started triathlon in 2015. I took it step by step doing my first Olympic distance in April 2015 in Half Moon Bay, then did a half Ironman in Napa Valley (the “Vineman”) and eventually completed my first Ironman in Lake Tahoe (California) in September 2015. Before triathlon, I played soccer until 2013 and had two marathons under my belt. Time wise, I was happy to run New York in 3h57, which as a new runner was a big deal to run below 4 hours, considering that at this time of my life, I was living in Luxembourg and I was a DJ playing gigs up to three week-ends per month. Still love music but I sold my turntables as it was not really compatible with triathlon. Running away from the night life, I ran the San Francisco for the second time and cut 30 min off my overall time, just below 3h30. Being a “triathlete” for two years, sleeping better and eating healthier wee the keys of this faster running.
When I started training for Swissman, I knew I could finish as long as I would be able to train consistently for 6 months and do some serious climbing. The bike course on the Swissman video was pretty impressive. Overall, I managed to have a solid training leading up to the race. On average, I was training 5 to 6 times per week around 15 hours per week. I was swimming with the club mostly Wednesday eve and Saturday morning (thank you coaches !). I am a poor swimmer but I like swimming. I really started feeling better in the water when I started going to the pool three times per week or even 4 times. I was running around twice a week (including a long run on Sunday with a pick up to 30km). On the bike, I was riding mostly on my home trainer (using Zwift app) until the end of March or when it was raining. Otherwise, I went outside discovering our beautiful Jura or the Haute Savoie to get plenty of climbing. Two weeks before the race, I made the trip to check out the Swissman course. It’s a tough course so it was good to do it being fit as a confidence builder. The descents were pretty steep and I realized riding down Furkapass that something was going on. I could not control my speed and I was in a “scared mode”. No good. Short story long, after talking to my frieds and doing research, I quicly came to the conclusion that my hand positioning was wrong . I could not control my speed my hands were not correctly placed on the drops with two fingers on each of the brake. The following week, I went practicing my “new” descending techniques at Col de La Faucille. Much better. On race day, I was a different cyclist and I enjoyed descending.
Going back to the race, we boarded at 4.30am on the Ferry that took us to the island. A few feets away was sitting James Lawrence aka the Iron Cowboy (this crazy dude who completed 50 ironmans in 50 consecutive days in 50 states in the US). I was not talking much until this guy next to me made a comment on my GU energy gel. He was from LA and he also did Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2015. We talked until we arrived on the island. Gun went off at 5.00am. It took me 1h27min to complete the swim (which is a few min faster than my time at IM Lake Tahoe) and I felt great during and after the swim. Water was warm and the scenery was stunning. The trainings with the club since January and the 3 + swim sessions per week were the reason of this comfortable swim. Bike went good despite feeling pains (I never had) just below my hamstrings when I was in aero position. I started to worry a bit as I was only at kilometer 60 and the 1st summit was coming. All went good during the 1st summit until the top of the 3rd summit where the race organization told us that the bike course was over because of an accident in the decent of Grimselpass. It was 3.15pm at this special moment and they told us to drive to T2 which was a huge detour….As a result, I started the run at 6.45pm at kilometer #8 (they made us start at km #8 not to penalize us because of the time lost in traffic to drive to T2). I got concerned that I could miss the cut-off which was at kilometer #33 but my legs felt great and I was able to run at a good pace. I ran my first 10k in about 50min which, to me, was the reward of the whole training, to be able to run at this pace and catch up a bunch of people. My brother was waiting for me at kilometer r# 33 and we walked all the way up to the finish line where my girlfriend was waiting for us. It was 11.45pm when I became a Swissman Finisher.
Summer went crazy fast between 3 weeks of recovering, climbing Mont Ventoux with a friend, spending 3 weeks in the Netherlands for work and discovering the dutch coast on a rental bike the week-end (that was only the first week-end as I had to work the two following week-ends cutting down the volume of training). I did my best to stay active as I had sign-up for the Ironman 70.3 in Santa Cruz (California) on September 10th. It was nice to be back there and do this race with my friends. Swim was good (but only a 800m loop because of the fog). The whole bike training for Swissman helped me to get my fastest bike split on a half ironman distance by 15 min so I was thrilled. My run was slower than usual due to my lack of training in August but overall, great day and I was ready to take off to Mexico for the rest of my vacation.
Teammates. I am not a fantastic athlete and it will be extremely hard for me to qualify one day to the Big Island. That said, I had this dream in 2015 before signing-up for my first Ironman and this motivation to become a Swissman finisher. It was my first year in Switzerland so there was this extra special in Swissman. I did the best I could to be consistent with the different trainings. Just wanted to share this testimony to show to people that if they dream to do an Half Ironman or a full Ironman, you should go for it !!! Trust the coaches, their training plans and they will take you to the finish line.
Thanks again to the Triathlon Club Genève for welcoming me as a new member and for all the coaching throughout the year !