IM Zurich Race Report

So I chose the races I chose based on location: All are as close together as possible. So really I chose Zurich because in theory it’s a simple train ride from Montpellier. So I didn’t really have many expectations except I knew it was their 20th year so I did expect it to be well organized and it was.

I arrived the Wednesday before the race, which is my standard arrival day. It’s funny, I’ve made a career out of traveling, living abroad and helping others do the same and yet, currently, travel just exhausts me. I usually arrive on Wednesday tired, pick up the race package Thursday morning and then rest all day Thursday. Which is what I did.

It’s a very big expo at least compared to what I’ve seen in the past. Friday I got my bike double checked by the bike doctor but in fact it’s not just one bike doctor, there were many. It was like a bike shop- I had never seen that before, it was awesome, no long wait. I could leave it, look around the expo and in about 15 mins collect it.

I almost always rent an apartment to control what goes in my stomach and this trip I stayed on target with my meals. Went out a couple of times to eat but honestly, I think I’ve been living in France too long; there was nothing tempting to eat; just a lot of Italian restaurants(I love authentic Italian food, I’m not attacking anyone’s cuisine). I think I’ve become a bit of a food snob even still.

Saturday, the most important pre race day went down almost perfectly as I got up early, did a short bike followed by a short run, ate bacon and eggs on boiled potatoes exactly at noon. Took my ritual nap, dropped off the bike- excited to find bike covers available for 5 Swiss francs ( they predicted rain for the entire weekend but it never happened) and ate at 7, which included quinoa and vegetables and while I normally have a glass of wine to unwind, decompress and reflect, this time I had two, not a huge deal but I did feel a little dehydrated in the middle of the night. It’s weird, once you find a plan/ritual that works, just stick to it. I use to make fun of people like me but now I know, there are plenty of other things to think about instead of worrying about food/drink and it’s consequences. Went to bed at 10:30 and actually slept until about 1 am and then just lied still until 3:30 But I was calm, it was fine.

From then on everything went like clockwork. Showered, I recommend it, it gets you in the mood. Got on my clothes, and ate slowly, hard boiled eggs and bananas, sipped a little coffee. Took an Imodium and left. Everything else is packed the night before. 20 min walk to the bike park. I used to hate long walks to the bike park but it works out. It’s a warm up. I’ve got time to think about the race, it’s always calm and I can continue to eat and sip very slowly and as such, without being too indelicate, I’m ready to visit the toilet as soon as I get to the park before the lines fill up.

Set up the bike, put on my wetsuit, and calmly moved on to the swim start. I still didn’t have time to warm up and I should have. Everything was moving calmly but I think a warm up would have given me a better start. I was a little too calm. And for the swim; I wasn’t a big fan. I know it was a new layout and overall makes a lot of sense except at the beginning there were a few turns that were not clearly marked enough to navigate. I definitely lost some minutes in the very first part of the course. But after the two,( what I think are awkward turns) it was fine. I don’t know if one could call that lake crystal clear but it definitely tasted like clean tap water. That swim seemed to have last an eternity and indeed I lost about 6/7 mins on that course.

Out of the water, into the bike clothes, I was excited to get on the bike and see the region. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a very beautiful course of two loops and as one loop is 90 kms, you get to see it twice. Stayed in aero probably the longest than I ever had on any race. I did my best to take breaks so I could maintain it but it’s true I was uncomfortable for the last quarter. Nice hills on this course. Well first know that I’m a climber, which is why I don’t always spend a lot of time in aero. I enjoyed the climbs on this race but let’s just say I liked them more the first loop then I did the second loop around. Gorgeous views of the lake descending back into the city. There’s so much talk about “Heartbreak hill” and it’s true, on the second loop, it’s almost the end of the course, you’re spent and it’s definitely more difficult the second time around but it’s short and you know you’re almost done and that gets you thru. It’s that “Egg” climb (I think it’s the Egg) that kills you the second time around because it’s really long followed by a false flat and you’re nowhere near finished-that gets you. Unbelievable support on Heartbreak hill. It’s was definitely like a climb in Le Tour de France. There were so many people that at one point I couldn’t see the road in front of me until people gradually moved out of my way. On TV it looks dangerous but while actually in it, I loved it. It’s like all that yelling and cheering floated me right up that hill. If you’re on the slower side know that the second time up, there are a lot less people so you will feel like you are moving at a snails pace all alone.

So this was the first time I followed my nutrition plan like clockwork the entire race. Usually the second half of the course things start to deteriorate for me. This time I sipped every 12 mins ate a gel every 45-50 mins from beginning to end. That worked well on the bike as I wasn’t looking to gulp down liquids on the run course. I was pretty excited the first loop about this but towards the end of the second loop it happened again with the nausea-need to vomit. The only way for me to control it is to stop and walk, let my stomach settle then run. Of course the run segments got fewer and the walk segments got longer….it’s just the most depressing thing ever. Especially since my legs, even though in pain, were up for it. And there’s where my time goals for the run were completely lost. I was able to run almost the complete 4th and final loop of the race. Great support at the end but I just felt like a total retard.

As soon as I finished I was proposed a beer and a hot tub soak. Honestly, at that moment in time, a beer was the last thing I could stomach. And while the hot tub idea was tempting, I already knew what my legs really needed was cold not heat. So I got all my stuff so I could get in the tub for the ice bath waiting for me. Not exactly an ice bath but what I do when not at home is freeze water bottles. Then when ready, fill the tub with cold water and add the frozen water bottles. I can’t say how cold it gets but the body responds well.

Ive spent this recovery week doing only a couple of swims and well, a lot of sleeping and eating. I will get back to my training tomorrow and I have to say, I’m looking forward to it. Vichy is now in 4 weeks. My main goal is to just maintain my level, whatever you want to call it, and recover. And most importantly rethink my nutrition on the run. My brain is looking forward to Vichy, so in theory my body should follow, correct?

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