Ironman Zurich: Race Report and Gallery
Racing an Ironman in Europe was on my bucket list for 2017. Through the years I have heard great things about the races across the pond and in my 10th season as a pro I decided it's about time I see for myself! I chose Zurich because it fit nicely into my schedule. Initially I wanted to go to Frankfurt or Challenge Roth, but decided I didn't want to sacrifice a good performance at the New York City Tri. I hadn't done much research into the course and was very happily surprised to find that it is right in the city and that the bike course is very challenging and full of hills. Right up my alley! Ironman Zurich has a homestay program for athletes (for both pros and amateurs which is very cool) and I was set up with an excellent host for my trip. Thank you Robin for pairing me with Robert! I was based right next the the Zurich Operahaus just a short distance from the lake and just a few blocks away from the center of the city. Before the race I was able to walk around and stretch out my legs, explore the different neighborhoods and get a feel for Zurich. I usually don't travel with my camera (not exactly fun to schlep a 50 pound bike case, suitcase, AND heavy DSLR across the ocean when you are 100 pounds), but I recently got a Sony a6300 that is a small and great for travel. After a long break from photography (I don't think I touched my two beautiful cameras more than a few times for 3 years because I was uninspired and stressed out), my eye has come back and I feel like I'm out of my slump. It's just like riding a bike, right? Hope you enjoy the gallery of photos and I am excited to continue to produce more images and build up my portfolio.
Now, back to the race! I traveled to Zurich by myself. I actually don't mind going to races alone (ok, I would LOVE for someone to help me with the luggage, fixing my bike, going back to get my bike when it gets lost by the airline, helping me get to the race site at 4:30am etc etc)...but, I find that I always end up meeting great people when I travel. Plus, I had all my family, bff superfans, fellow competitors and insta friends online (thank you all!!) checking in on me- so I never feel lonely. AND, my host Robert stepped right in and was an incredible superfan. He was there for the "first splash" (this is an inside joke going back to swim meet days) to the 10 hours later meeting me at the finish line. Amazing!! I am so grateful for his enthusiasm throughout the day. He popped up all over the course and even relayed messages from Bec, like "Your sister says you can catch 4th place!". Oh and it was his first triathlon experience. Well done, Robert!
I finished 5th in the end, and was happy to get the job done, but I was also disappointed I did not perform better. I was up against some very strong girls local to the area. They knew those roads and they were on for that race. I would have had to have a perfect race to beat them. Showing up to the line without a minute of sleep before the race (no seriously, NO sleep, not even for a second, none. An allnighter. Talk about frustration.), without seeing the technical bike course ahead of time (my bike was lost and had to go finding it when I thought I'd see the course) and with my body still on US time - nothing was aligning for my perfect day to happen. BUT, I just told myself: you made it, your bike made it, you are very fit, you are strong, you don't give up, just do your thing! Right as I was giving myself this pep-talk on the starting line, Natascha Badmann, reached over and tapped me on the shoulder and said with a glowing smile, "Wassner!! I'm so happy you are here!". With that I returned the smile and ran into the water and did what I could for the next 9:56 to get to the finish line. My swim was not good, I was just not going anywhere, and same with the first 4 hours of the bike. When morning rolled around for the US, I woke up and suddenly I looked at my powermeter and it was seeing lots of 230s watts when I was barely cracking into the 190s for that same stretch on the first lap. I was flying passed men who had passed me and had that feeling that I do when I'm biking well, that I could hold that forever. Too late... but it gave me hope and I started the run with feeling great - although VERY far behind. After about 4k I moved into 5th place. It was hard to tell where I was in relation to 4th but I just keep trudging along at an even pace. It was very, very hot - the sponge, ice, water, type of marathon, like Kona almost. Finally on the last lap, I got the message that 4th was close, and I downed a bottle of Xrcel and pushed myself to the limit and got within 2 minutes. I crossed the line happy and relieved. Nothing hurt too much and I completed my 11th ironman!
I learned a lot from this race. Mostly, that I can't adapt to time change from Thursday night to Sunday. Also, I figured some things out about hydration and fueling (I need 6 Xrcels on the bike next time) and I know the course now. It was beautiful!! The hills were real and the descents were real. I absolutely loved every minute of the race (except the 1st k of the run which was a hot and sandy dead zone!). The crowd support was amazing and even as the only American I still heard my name out there. There was also a group of non triathletes at a bar that I passed 8 times on the run who really got up and screamed every time I passed. I think it was my new mint green Wyn Republic race suit that got me all the cheers!!
Just want to finish up by congratulating Celine Schaerer for her big win - her first Ironman victory on home soil. That's kind of a big deal! I'm now deciding what race will be next for me, but in the meantime, I'm more fired up than ever to get in a good block of training before the 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga.