Winterman will forever be my first long triathlon and has became a race of my heart. Since last October I have also done Stone Brixia Man in Italy and Janošík Slovak extreme triathlon in Slovakia so I've gained more experience.
Few friends including Vojta, another Winterman, and I rode the bike course two weeks before the race. I had been struggling since 30th kilometer while other guys were OK and after 90 km it was unbearable, I did drop them and went back home with ruined self-esteem. Lot of doubts about Winterman participation revealed...
|Autumn in Valachia.|
I made a decision to relax myself and find lost joy. Weekend in the Valachia (the East of Czech republic) and its mountains was the best possible choice. Next weekend we visited the Western Tatras with Miška (a girlfriend and support). I competed in a vertical race, suffered, failed, but finished. When I put on my shoes the afternoon after race I went low pace and just enjoyed the moving forward and lovely surroundings so much, that I ran half a minute faster than in the race with considerably lower heart beat rate, I got the trust in endurance in my legs despite of the missing power. Sunday hike to Rákoň (1870 m), where a snow cap reached 60 cm was totally refreshing. White mountain tops, sun and dramatic clouds provided full package sensual experience. We figuratively and literally found a peace there.
|Western Tatras, what an autumn day?! =)|
In the working week before race I have prepared new Equinox carbon wheels and hoped that they would help me to improve the poor bike performance which has stuck to me during autumn season. Since my throat was sore I ate a lot of garlic to get rid of this pain in the
throat. It was typical pre-Winterman illness which left a day before the race.
|With Vojta on a ferry.|
Registration, briefing, accommodation, everything went smooth, thanks to the organizers providing comfort to their athletes.
At 5 AM we stood on a pier (me and Vojta, who was attending his first long distance triathlon) and were waiting for the shot which started the race.
|At your command!|
I stepped on and suddenly had fairly meter of dark cold water above my head. However, water was a bit warmer than last year, swimming course prolonged from 7 to 8 km and my goggles were leaking. Those were main differencies, otherwise my swimming was slow and steady, I felt well. Arrival to Decin remained as impressive as I remembered.
|Fighting with wetsuits. :-D|
Transition 1 was the first supporter experience for Miška, she fought with my two wetsuits, but otherwise did well which resulted into an 8-minute improvement with respect to the last year.
The start of the bike should have been loosely ridden, but I got over few racers what encouraged me to push a little bit more than I had planned, but I still tried to keep the heartbeat rate in a reasonable zone. I got into a spiral with increasing heart rate and decreasing power which forced me to slow down the speed. My shifter didn't work properly (string popped up) due to a rush during early morning bike preparation, so I had to go with the gear 34-26 instead of 34-28 in the steep climbs.
|Smooth tarmac, new wheels, cycling made me happy.|
I have approached the part, where I died during ride two weeks before race, so keeping the rhythm was the only goal. I went from the saddle when the ascent told about it and when I finally rode away the Polish guy, I got calm and I believed that different day is coming. Eventually I started to feel better, because my stomach was working pretty well and I had been eating since T1, sweet gels and energy bars were compensated by salty baguettes with ham and it was something, which worked for me really well! When heart rate dropped down I shifted harder gears. No more valleys full of tears, I was enjoying happy sights from tops and horizons. I was totally in the race but didn't see other racers for maybe 50 km. I had info that I was catching Vojta, but did not see him, we went had similar velocity and serious effort, at least I had.
|Love these roads in the middle of the forest.|
Whole cycling was painful (it is always hard with lack of serious training) but I really enjoyed being able to squeeze out myself enough. Km 160, I caught some guy, then Tomas Racek and at T2 also Vojta. To see Mara Peterka was promising (he was 35 minutes ahead after the bike part last year).
|My mother learnt how to do with camera. =)|
I had no info about my position and that was good point, because I went according to my feelings. Nevertheless the desire to catch Vojta had changed my plans to save some energy for running. Anyway I looked forward to run and also felt confident (and a bit foolish).
|Chips as a compensation to sweet things. I did not feel like to eat them during the race.|
I started with the pace below 5 min/km and after a while, when I caught Vojta, we exchanged our feelings, wished all the best to each other and I run away from him slowly. After 5k I felt my problematic hamstring which set the pace lower. I ran first 10k in 51 minutes but still was not able to catch Tomas, until we reached the first serious ascent. Then we ran together, compared our egos and talked about man things, training portions, etc. When we met Mara, I was not able to keep up with Tom and after a while storm in my belly escalated quickly into a brief trip with pants down into the bushes. In a minute I was back on the track one kilo lighter.
|It looks, that I lost my taste.|
Despite of the good pace I still ran alone without eye contact and in combination with weaker stomach I was down and continuously falling deeper and deeper into crisis. Road to Křižany going through the valley was endless. I suffered badly. Fortunately, Miška read the situation pretty well and ran short parts with me and supplied me with BCAAs dissolved in coke with water. I realized that nobody was curious to see my crooked face. “Fuck it” moment did come.
|Synchronize your run. =)|
“You are not here to walk the tarmac road, but you should squeeze out everything! Support is not here to see your crooked face during hiking.” I realized how awesome was that I could still run only with some minor pains like breaking blisters and I should enjoy actual moment. Once Miška joined me again I ran freely some serious ascent and from this moment everything turned better. Bitter BCAAs with coke neutralized my stomach saturated by sweet gels and I believed that I could push harder and improve my position during last 15k. Time up to time the tears welled into my eyes. It was touching to see what legs are capable of and once the legs are yours, you are defenceless.
When pace dropped below 5 min/km, I got back racing and I was determined to improve my 5th place. According to the information from my support the 4th, 3rd and 2nd place were in my possibilities in the best case scenario. Briefly behind Januv Dul I got over David who probably paid for really fast bike. In the steep part at Rozstani Martin was caught and on the 38th km I caught Tom who run away from me at 15th km. I felt really well and pace in ascent remained between 6:00 and 6:30. The 4th 10k with 400 meters of elevation were under 57 minutes, which was great and satisfying! However, fatigue accumulated for the whole day and I heard last call of my stomach. Pace decrease was logical consequence. Since the slope of ascent was really steep in next two kilometers, the pace was 7:35. I reached Jestedka, „flamme rouge“ and place to meet with support and enjoyed the rest of the course with ladies. Getting through the finnish line before sunset was romantic and definitely relieving.
|Finishline with my support. (=|
Great atmosphere, full of positive energy, in the finishline as well as along the whole course, where supporters, random people, volunteers and organizers cheered racers up, that is a great thing on extreme triathlons and especially on the Winterman! Atmosphere was great since very beginning, especially a cruise on the boat to the startline with inspiring people like Petr Vabrousek, Tomas Slavata and Marek Peterka, who gave the race dimension of humanity. Yet I am not talking about organizers, who had to spend hundreds of hours by preparing this awesome race and in the end they donated 2000 € through winners hands to chief of medicine from children cardiocentre Motol. Organizers performance was flawless and it was an honor for a racer to be there, to see it and to feel it. Eventually, everybody left Malevil after final ceremony with yawning face and good feeling. Good feeling, they did something right. Good feeling came out from sharing a tough day in beautiful nature with great people in supporter t-shirts in a friendly atmosphere. All pre-race doubts are pointless and even result wasn't so important, but just all those emotions create unique experience and all the pain and struggling that’s the fair price for that.
|Panorama from the finishline.|
After short interview we found the shelter in the tower on the top of Jested. I breathed out and saw the whole day in front of my eyes, all emotions touched me and I was defenceless, again. Tears welled into my eyes. Nevermind, a soup need some salt. What a day full of contemplation and living in a presence! The greatest victory is victory over yourself, moments when you stop to perceive all the disturbing things and get to the zone where time flows smoothly and you just put one foot in front of the other. That happened to me and it was wonderful!
|Top 3, what an honour to stand right next to Petr.|
Here comes thanks and honour for professional work to everybody who participated on the organization of the race. I have to thank Miška and my mom for the great support from start to the end. They got me over the crisis on the run, they were magnificent! Thanks to Ferry firstly for support in sport generally and secondly for lending me a wetsuit. And of course thanks to everybody following on the internet and cheering, because audience is motivating and also kind of commitment to do my best.
Before Winterman I was demotivated and had escaping intentions, but now I know, that Socrates was right when told:„No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable. “