My First Ironman 70.3
Loving the struggle :)
In October 2021,who had just moved to Aix-en-Provence, asked me whether I was practicing any activity around here. Truth be told, besides a few 10km runs in 2015, 6 months of squash in 2017 that ended up with a broken astragal, and a mere attempt for one year or so to do some climbing in 2019, I haven’t practiced any sport, really… But I had always been attracted by road cycling, maybe a fantasy after watching the Tour de France with my grandfather for so long.
So when Pierre told me that he was cycling with friends all around the region, I decided to give it a try, and off we went for a first ride on a Saturday. It was A lame performance during which every climb was torture and during which I couldn’t figure out how to use my gears properly. But Pierre didn’t give up on me, and soon after he introduced me to his group… The Aix Dynamo :)
I love the bike as a machine, and I love all the data that we extract from our rides: speed, power, heart rate, cadence, and elevation, and how we put them in perspective with the profile of each rider. I also love the struggle when climbing. My first Mont Ventoux by Bedouin came out of nowhere in August 2022 when an entrepreneur, Nicolas, offered me to join their crew during a long ride of 150km starting from Carpentras to Bedouin, up to the Ventoux and for another 100km after that. I loved the whole thing! The crew, the climb, the struggle, the long lunch after which we pushed even harder.
Then in January 2023, Hugo, an entrepreneur I had briefly met years ago, but whom I am following on Strava, texted me that he was participating in the Ironman 70.3 on the 21st of May in Aix en Provence and that he was looking for a place to crash. 20 minutes later, after a brief conversation, he had also convinced me to sign-up for the race. I knew that the cycling part was my forte, but besides that, my last run was like 8 years ago, and my last crawl was never. I am such a poor swimmer. I decided to give up on the swimming part and attempted a couple of swims, realizing that I could only swim breaststroke. I ran four of five times, realizing that my average pace was not too bad. And voilà. Not great as a training plan, especially with an injured back and holidays that brought April to zero training.
The half Ironman is 1.9km of swim, 90km of biking, and 21km of running. In Aix-en-Provence, the tricky part is that besides the swim, it seems like we’re always climbing... The swim was long and frustrating because it seemed like I was the only one who didn’t know how to swim properly. Fortunately, 42 minutes after, I was out of the water, struggling to find my balance on the ground like everyone else. During the whole ride, it was raining non-stop until we reached Aix-en-Provence. For the first time, I was trying extenders on my bike for a better aero position, but I didn’t look at my monitor, and instead of cycling at a cadence of 90 which is optimum for inertia, I was at 80 on average. Quite a rooky mistake. I was done after 2h46 and ready for the last part of the race, or so I believed. I started running, but quickly after the 8th kilometer, my legs were giving up on me. A mix of several things certainly: a lack of training, I pushed hard on my legs during the ride at the wrong cadence, and maybe the breaststroke didn’t help with my legs as well. To that, we can add that I wasn’t really handling my supplies of water and bars with a lot of accuracy. I was a bit short on energy I think. I had the goal to finish under 5h30. Well, it took me another 6 minutes for this very first time, and for a few minutes, I admit I was in tears. It’s good to go through the struggle of any challenge you set for yourself. Hugo finished in 5h15, in great shape ahead of his full Ironman in Nice on the 25th of June.
It was very impressive to see the strength of all those athletes and how disciplined they are in their training. It’s an inspiration in terms of mindset, resilience, effort, and competitiveness among many other things.
The struggle reinforces your ability to reach the next level. Constraints allow you to achieve more. We tend to forget that. As we raise capital and spend that money, we’re not organically growing. In fact, we’re pumped, which is not a sustainable long-term solution.
I really like entrepreneurs who manage, despite their war chest, to spend wisely while keeping a high rhythm.
Have a good evening :)