Ironman Copenhagen 2017 part 3: Gone with the Wind

Weekly Wrap. Week 36

What a peculiar week to have behind myself. Today I will be racing in a very special event for myself – Vilnius Marathon. This event has lead me through so many different phases of my life – from a smoking student, who was very proud to have run 5 kilometers, through 10k self-proclaimed runner, who still smoked and felt that he conquered the world and finally to a half-marathoner, who thought he will never run farther than 12 kilometers, due to severe pains at the end of the distance. Even though, the event itself is called “Vilnius Marathon”, I have finished the full marathon distance there only once. Last year I was unlucky enough to get a very nasty flu, which made me lie down for quite some time, just a day before.

Unfortunately, all my knowledge and precautions this year did not help me dodge this bullet. I got ill with some sort of flu 5 days ago and it was spiraling into same direction – that I might not run. Within these 5 days, I drunk 18,5 liters of anti-inflammatory tea. 18,5 liters! I did not have a single hour, where the tea pot was not starring at me. Today, I am close to be rebuilt. I would consider myself to be at 95% completion, but the most important thing is that I will be running the full distance.

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Apart from battling with the flu, the week was lining up to be great, I finally received my new toy – Garmin Fenix 5. Which took me from Suunto’s sport watches camp, after my 4 years friendship. I myself am very much loyal to some brands I choose, so it was a difficult decision to ditch Suunto and get a transfer to Garmin. However, the new watch fit me better in terms of what I wanted.

In addition to that, me, Dovile and our friend Andrius, we raced together in Lithuania’s Triathlon Cup last event – Druskininkai, which hyped us up to some new levels. We were so happy with our results, with the event itself and could not contain ourselves, but keep talking triathlon. In Druskininkai, I managed to finish 21st out of 86 athletes, with my best time yet – 2:21.

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Having my fastest bike split in Olympic Triathlon at LTT Druskininkai. 36.2 km/h average!

Lastly, this was supposed to be my first week with my new coach. Combine all this into one and it supposed to be something I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, the flu had other plans. It took me all my composure to stay calm, battle the flu and look forward to Saturday, where I will get better and be able to make this pre-race picture of my gear lined up and ready to take me through the last big race of the year 2017. (It felt strange to understand and write it down – that year 2017 is closely coming to its end) . It took a lot of time for me to teach myself to be calm during such situations and not always I manage to do so, but I know the direction I have to take. I always think that everything can teach us a lesson, it is only a matter of whether we want to be taught. With this in mind, let me come back to most strict teacher of year 2017 – Ironman Copenhagen.

 Bikeside of Copenhagen

Last time, we ended on a note, where I had just battled through the first 40 kilometers on the bike and after a long straight I turned to outskirts of Copenhagen. Those 40 kilometers were very punishing, I could not stay in the planned bike position, could not put out the power I was aiming for. And finally, I had to battle my own self, who was very heartbroken after the difficult swim.

After arriving at the outskirts of Copenhagen – we get exposed to Danish weather, which until now, I thought was reasonable. Yes, you do get those strong winds, but when they are not there – it is pleasantly warm. You might get some rain as well – but it is nothing over the top. So to me it seemed like a very logical weather, as much as there can be logic in it. However on this day, logic seemed to have other plans and does not show up. This had me participate in a lottery of “random weather effect applied”, where I could be hit by a pool of different weather effects. I kind of expected that it might rain, but I was hoping to dodge it. Rain is supposed to come by only at noon and according to my hopes – I wanted to be done with the bike by that time and running in the rain was never a bad thing to me.

With the weather lottery in place, I am biking through strong headwinds, which then changes to mellow breezes during direct sunshine. Afterwards, it rains, but does not pour, just a drizzle. After a drizzle, I am greeted with a new direction of the wind. It does not take many of such changes, to make me struggle. I get cold, I can not pedal the bike strong enough to get my heart rate up and I am sitting in a “cruise-like” position. A knitted-bag in the front, baguette, and I could easily go for auditions on “Amelia” or some other french romantic comedy.

With all this weather changing around me, I am still struggling to find my composure, to stop bleeding from the mental rashes I received during the swim. I spend the next 60 kilometers having a debate on whether I should even continue with the race. I am already beat, I am tired, angry and I do not feel the beauty of spending 100 more kilometers on this bike. I want to be comfortable.

Shame-o-profen

Prior to the race, I had 1 tablet of a painkiller – Ibuprofen taped to my bike. In those cases, where sitting on the bike would become so uncomfortable, I could not withstand it. My plan was that I might need it at 120th, but not at 70th kilometer. I take the pill, hoping that it will suddenly become magically comfortable. After some time, my bike does not become a sofa, but I am risking it and trying to get into more aerodynamic position. On the straights, it works, but turn, then another one, a pothole into my shoulders and I scream in pain. I should have taken two of those, I consider to myself. The fact that painkiller did not kill anything, apart from my hope to have some ease on the pain, puts me back at the ground zero. I want to quit the race. At the turn for the second loop, I will stop, I will tell Dovile how tired I am, how much am I hurting on the bike, how the swim still haunts me. I will inform the race official, we will go to the metro and I will watch the race from the side, resting, comfortable and happy.

So tempting to give in to this. By now I start to reflect upon all my time, prior to the race. All those mornings, when I got up at 5 am, those times, where I had to tell my friends – nope, I can not come. That moment, when I left early from my friend’s Tomas’ bachelor party (and I wanted to stay and have fun so badly). Times, when Dovile had to adjust her free time to my training, when we skipped going out, because we were beat after training. These memories collaborate with each other and present me, what could be an album of some band, “Best of Skipped Moments: Volume 1” and I now feel – ashamed. I am ashamed that I can not withstand this pain, discomfort. Embarrassment, because I want to quit and I want to put those sacrifices I have done to people dear to me to nothing. And this shame, becomes my driving engine. I get to the turn, which was supposed to end my race, I see Dovile. I am so happy to see her, I wave, I yell “I miss you”. She can not hear it. I swallow my tears and I go to the second rendition of war.

In-betweener

Never during my training sessions I had experienced this biking through pain and discomfort, I am now. I keep telling myself that I am more than halfway through. My speed is dropping – only if I could drop onto the aerobars and push through, like my speed does. I am in-between. One side is still unhappy that I did not quit, another side of me is grinning its teeth with every pot-hole jump, which makes me feel like unhappy Mario. At least I am hitting the potholes with my bum. Mario had to hit the sewers and potholes with his head. This joke carries me through some kilometers. I battle through,  I pass nobody, nobody passes me. It is lonely, but the distance to the end is less and less. I start going through my mistakes prior to the race. I should not have ridden that loop on that yellow bike. Yesterday, we walked too much. Was Indian curry a good choice for the “last meal” of the day. Why didn’t I try my bike more, after I had assembled it. I feel the separation in me, my body, which still fights through and my mind – which stopped battling and wants to give in. I knew my body is capable and trained to withstand this race, I did not expect my mind to struggle so bad. In-between these thoughts and separations, I understand what a long road it is in front of me to learn and master these feelings, which I am going through today. I recollect myself because I am coming to the end of the bike. I am in Copenhagen. I am so glad to be here. Now I only have to run.

Run’s the limit

I quickly get into the transition zone, where I give my bike to the volunteer to place it. Find my bag with my running shoes, sit down on a bench and try to comprehend what is going on. I have just finished 3.8 kilometer swim, then biked 180 kilometers and last part of this sleuth is left – a marathon. I chug down a caffeine filled gel. It tastes like I would chew some instant coffee and then would pour some water into my mouth. Now I want and will focus only on the marathon. I have trained my running the most,  my running form is great and I was looking forward to breaking a 3 hour marathon. All I have to do is to run. I love running.

For now, I will have to stop here, I will continue this journey and end this chapter next week. Thank you for staying with me and I hope we all can look forward to this last bit.

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Me being captured by Dovile, walking out of the underground parking place, where the transition from bike to run was taking place.

Random

Song of the week: Oasis – Lyla
Reading: Haruki Murakami “Norwegian Wood”
Game: Wolfenstein: The New Order
Average Weight: 76,9 kg

By the end of this week I got obsessed with Oasis and started re-listening a lot of their albums. It all happened because of this documentary, which you can find on Netflix – Oasis “Supersonic”. I was always interested, what happened within the band, why two brothers could be so hateful towards each other, that it ultimately breaks the band. The documentary touches some of those questions, so if you had the same wonders as I – I would recommend watching it.

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