Who doesn’t know them, the impressive pictures of Ironman Hawaii, which is considered the oldest triathlon in the world. Year after year, athletes meet here to determine their toughest and best in the triathlon of swimming, cycling and running.
Certainly a few numbers smaller but no less challenging, Ironman Zurich presents itself as a complete, internationally recognised Ironman Trial with the 3.8-kilometre swim course, the 180-kilometre bike course and the 42-kilometre run course. Anyone who wants to take part here as a hobby Ironman needs a long, good preparation, an iron will and of course the appropriate preparations.
A long journey always begins with the first step
Two years ago now, I discovered a video on YouTube about “Ironman motivation”. This video was the inspiration for me personally and probably the first step to try Ironman Triathlon myself. Of course, it was immediately clear to me that this could not go well from a standing start. But: Anything is possible!
After all, I had already gained a few years of experience on the mountain bike and the road bike, so at least the bike course shouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge. I can also swim and running is almost part of my daily programme. With a slightly above-average level of fitness, it should therefore be no problem to complete the Ironman 70.3 half-distance triathlon. So, after a year of training, in June 2018 I embarked on the Ironman adventure in the slimmed-down version. 1.9 kilometres of swimming, 90 kilometres of cycling and finally 21 kilometres of running brought me to my first intermediate goal on the way to the big Ironman. But the half-distance is not the whole Ironman and so I set a new goal in summer 2018. I wanted to tackle Ironman Zurich 2019.
Training, motivation, renunciation
Regardless of whether you are a professional or a hobby participant, if you want to complete the Ironman in its full internationally recognised distance, you have to expose yourself to regular and hard training. The only question is when and how. The recommendations speak of at least 10 to 15 hours a week, with all three disciplines equally represented if possible. That means at least two hours of training every day. And that alongside family, work, conferences, congresses and emergency missions.
It takes a lot of motivation, which can only be maintained over time if you know what you want and have the necessary support from your family. And, of course, this motivation also means overcoming your inner pig dog every day and removing the small and large obstacles in your self-motivation. Only if this succeeds is good and regular training possible. And of course it takes time.
And it was precisely the time for training that was a point where, in the end, it was not possible without renunciation. I didn’t want to give up life with my family and I didn’t want my patients to have to give up anything when it came to my professional commitment. All that was left was to give up sleep. And surprisingly, this works quite well despite or even because of the active sport.
In the preparation phase for Ironman Zurich 2019, I got up three times a week between half past four and five in the morning, set about cycling training, which I then also liked to repeat on the weekend as a 3-5 hour activity. Swimming for one and a half hours twice a week in the morning and running whenever possible in the evening. And that at any time of year, in any weather and in almost every place I have been in the last twelve months.
A balanced training always includes the appropriate rest days, which I limited to one or two days a week, depending on my workload and family plans. In the end, I felt better and better prepared for the big triathlon in Zurich and felt what good individual training can mean even for such big challenges as the Ironman.
21 July 2019, Zurich – The Big Day
After almost exactly one year of training, the time had come on 21 July 2019. The Ironman Zurich 2019 in the full distance was coming up and now there were no more doubts for me after the registration. I had to and would pass Ironman Zurich. The preparations are ready, wetsuit, bike and food are prepared. Here we go.
I didn’t feel any nervousness at the start itself, I just felt well prepared. After an early start of the day at five o’clock and the impressive start procedure for the professionals, it is then the turn of the amateur athletes. So also me. It all starts with the rolling start at the swim course, so that every few seconds five to ten swimmers start the race. Quickly a few nice words to the comrades-in-arms on the left and right, then we’re off. „See you at the finish line!“
With steady strokes I complete the 3.8 kilometre swim in the fresh Lake Zurich, then get out of the water dripping wet, almost directly onto the bike, which is now to be my friend for 180 kilometres on the ride along Lake Zurich, out of the city, through lush green meadows and small villages. Then it’s off to the running course, which runs four laps through the historic old town, and then it’s done. „You are an Ironman!“
After a total time of 10h31m58s I cross the finish line exhausted but happy and now I know one thing: I am an Ironman. And that’s thanks to good, consistent training, thanks to the support of my family, colleagues and friends and, above all, thanks to the motivation to achieve something that is exceptional. Now it’s time to relax! And, of course, time for the joy of my own performance, which was also always a journey to myself.