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    Ironman Switzerland PR.

    Fri, 1 Aug 2008 00:12:00 -0800

    Jason Tuffs and PJ's European adventure. Encinitas crew takes on Ironaman Switzerland.

    Well, I’m home now after 3+ weeks in Europe where I competed in Ironman Switzerland and then spent 2 weeks in Italy with my family. This race was a long time in the making as “PJ” (Pretty Jay) and I signed up in June 2007. I figured having that much time to get ready, there could be no excuses!

    My training went fantastic all winter and spring. I worked on my strength and speed, spending a lot of time in the weight room and racing a bunch of 5k’s (which I finally got back down to the 17min range). I was also able to “work” at a couple Multisports.com Ironman camps which were really hardcore training vacations for me.

    July finally came and with it, time to get ready to head to Switzerland. Of course I was looking at the weather forecasts and wouldn’t you know it, race day forecast – RAIN. So, I packed everything and we headed to Zurich. Jay and I had borrowed a double bike case which we packed to the hilt and I traveled over with it. Of course, we got to Zurich but the bikes and gear didn’t. After a nervous day of wondering where our combined $15k worth of bikes and gear were, they finally delivered it to the hotel.

    Race week was gorgeous, but the forecast still called for cold and rain on race day. We went through the usual race week stuff, registration, check out the swim course, easy spin, run, etc… The expo area was the biggest I’ve ever seen at an Ironman. The weekend finally came and the weather changed quickly and we soon discovered the differences between an NA Sports event and others. My bike check in time was listed and 8-9pm Saturday night. I thought that was ridiculous as I wanted to be in bed by then so I went with Jay at his time of 4pm. They would not let me check my bike in! So there I was back at 8pm in the rain putting my bike in transition. They did provide nice rain covers for our bikes overnight…

    Race morning came and I looked out the window at 4:15am and it was POURING. We got a cab to the start and found ourselves in a cold downpour with no where to go. The race organizers had no tents or anything for the athletes to get out of the rain. So, we put our transition bags down in the mud next to our bikes and went to find a place to change. Finally we slipped through a fence into the kids play tent to change. Headed for the start, we left our dry clothes bags in the designated mud puddles and hoped they wouldn’t wash away while we were racing. (Let me tell you how much NA Sports spoils the athletes at their races)

    We crossed the timing mat and entered the water to swim the 100 yards out to the start. Jay told me to stay on his feet and I told him to slow down and wait for me so that I could. He didn’t. The cannon went off and I fell into my version of a swimming rhythm pretty quickly. The swim was 2 loops with an exit up a ramp, across a small island and back into the water. The ramp was so narrow, that it took over 1 minute to get out and cross the 50 yards across the island. I still felt good on the second lap and hit the swim exit in 1:18. Trust me, I didn’t expect any better than that. I’d have to actually swim a lot to do any better.

    T1 took 5 minutes as I took the time to clean the mud off my feet, put on a jersey, arm warmers, vest and gloves. Let me tell you, I was glad I did. I read later that over 200 people DNF’d due to the cold. I took off in the pouring rain and tried to settle in. I was passing a lot of people, but a lot of German guys were blowing past me in the early miles. I felt really strong on the bike and tried to ride smart, remembering Paula’s email to me the day before – PACING, NUTRITION, HYDRATION, FOCUS. The big climbs came and went on the first lap with no problem and I finished it in 2:46. The rain was still coming down and wouldn’t stop until 4.5 hours into the bike. Apparently drafting is not a problem for the race marshal’s there but heaven help you if you cross the center line. By lap 2 the crowds had thinned out and I spent most of the lap by myself finishing the bike in 5:38.

    Rolling into T2 I was pretty stoked, I’d just ridden 20 minutes faster than ever before and had passed nearly 700 people. I got onto the run course and felt pretty good right away. My goal was to run 5:00/kilometer (3:30pace) for as long as I could. I just kept it rolling and hit the half marathon in 1:45 exactly. I had a little rough stretch on the 3rd lap but remembered Newby’s advice and backed off just a bit, took in some extra fuel and rebounded to run strong on the 4th lap. I passed another 300 people on the run. All along my goal had been to get under 11 hours. With 5k left I knew I had that in the bag and crossed the line in 10:41 – a 37 minute PR.

    Of course now I’m thinking of what I could have done better to go under 10:30 and trying to figure out when I can race again. China 2009???