All good things come in threes – mission completed
Ironman Malaysia is a fantastic race and my parents and I really enjoyed our time on Langkawi the last two years. Thus, the decision to come back racing this unique event was quickly taken. On the one hand, late season racing is great, because you ”just” have to conserve the form you have had for the World Championships on Hawaii. On the other hand, the season has already been long and travelling, jet lags and climate changes stress the body on top on the physical workload you put on it with training and racing.
A challenging 5 weeks between Hawaii and Malaysia
I decided to back up my 13th place at the Ironman World Championship with racing Ironman Malaysia already before racing on Hawaii. This year it took me a long time to recover from Kona though. The weeks I spent in Germany in between Hawaii and Malaysia were tough for me. Body and mind were tired from racing and travelling. A lot of commitments at home and the jet laglet to a sleep deficit that has worn out the body even more. Especially my run was anything else but easy. Nothing hurt badly, but my strides were stiff, short and with a low cadence. The days passed by and it did not improve at all. I became more and more worried about the next race coming up. I was incredibly helpful these days to have my coach Ute and my run partner and coach Bernd on my side. They decided on my run training on a daily basis. It helped me so much just to let loose and run next to Bernd and just doing the drills and efforts he decided on the go. I knew it was right to be patient withmy body. I gave it the time it needed to refresh. Though struggling a lot, I was still faithful that I could win Ironman Malaysia if I keep listening to my body. I arrived on Langkawi already 12 days beforethe race. Plenty of time to acclimatize, digest the travel stress and restore energy in the beautiful Meritus Pelangi Beach resort.
A damaged bike for the final preparations on Langkawi
Arriving on Langkawi, the Profile Design handlebar of my Ceepo Shadow was broken. It was a shock, but at this time I was so happy that I had brought my wind trainer with me. My parents were moaning why I have to carry this heavy thing all the way to Langkawi. The main reason I brought it was that I suffer a lot from the jet lag travelling eastwards and to be flexible with my training times. On the windtrainer I can ride my bike already 4 am in the morning. This time I rode it, because of the damage. A big shout-out to Profile Design and the Malaysian distributor 2Escape, that fixed my bike and prepared it perfectly for race day. Having settled on Langkawi, I picked up training. My mum loved to spend time in the ocean when there werewaves, I preferred the calm ocean though. When I spent time on the wind trainer, my mum helped me with the laundry, and my dad accompanied me when I was running and did the grocery shopping.
Race week passed quickly
During race week I was kept busy with training, some activities for Ironman and media appointments. As every year, I visited with some fellow professional athletes the local children’s hospital handing out some presents for the young patients. Again, I was impressed of the caring atmosphere that was present. Pressconference, interviews and the Ironkids event filled the other days and suddenly race day was there! I was honored to wear race number 1. That has motivated me in training and racing. I was on a mission and ready to show I truly deserved this special bib number.
Time to swim-bike-run again
The swim course is the most beautiful course I have ever done. A white sands beach start and swimming two loops between the beach and two of the countless islands Langkawi has, is truly impressive. I knew my swim form was good, but with the fellow athlete Jocelyn towing the start line, I will look at a deficit after the swim. My swim time of just under 58 minutes was good thus I was expecting to be back about 3 minutes. But it was a hit hard to hear I had lost 6 minutes on her. Credits to this great swim performance!
“Ok, let’s push to close this gap!”, I thought mounting my Ceepo Shadow. The bike ride was anything but boring. 45 minutes before the Ironman started, 1000 agegroup athletes started the race to accomplish half the distance. I overtook many of them and saw at least 20 people cycling in their run shoes rather than cycling shoes. That was the moment I decided to donate my bike shoes after the race. Around km 40 I biked into a heavy rain combined with a storm. For about 10 minutes there was no way to stay safe in the aero position: I navigated around big trashes of palm trees and ponds of water while overtaking many of the half-distance athletes. Later on, I met 3 monkeys sitting in the middle of the road, a dug family crossing the road and a girl on a scooter cutting my way. I was glad to have very responsive disk brakes, especially with the wet roads.
At 110 kms I had closed the 6-minute gap and upon completion of the 180km bike course I had established a 5-minute lead. Showing by far the fasted bike split meant not only taking the lead, but also putting a solid buffer into some fast runners. The transition was in aclimatized hall and given the tropical climate in Malaysia it was very tempting to take some extra time there. However, I was on amission and that meant there was no time to loose.
I started the marathon offensive, but controlled. Usually in racing I never walk the aid station, but here I stopped, took the time to put ice into my race suit at every single aid station and walked them to fuel the body with liquids and energy. I knew managing this well is crucial to succeed at Ironman Malaysia. It is always hot and humid on Langkawi, but this year the conditions were especially tough. Usually you have some clouds and even rain on the run that cools down the temperature substantially. This year however, there was not a single cloud assisting for some fast running. On the first turnaround point at km 8, I could see that I had a 10-minute lead. Then I knew, if Ikeep up my running, I can win this race. Thus, I concentrated on listening to my body and not making any mistakes that would put my win on risk. I took a bit more time at the aid stations than I would have needed, just to make sure to keep the body cool. I felt good the whole time and could see my lead increasing as the race continued. At km 33 I had a 22-minute lead. However, I did not want to slow down alot, because I was afraid that the body then says: “Ok, done forthe day. Let’s relax!” And I would not make it to the finishline. As you know in an Ironman, anything is possible. I kept the momentum in my body and carried on. The last few kms I just enjoyed the crowd and fellow athletes cheering. After 9:25 hours I won Ironman Malaysia. That also meant I got my qualification spot for Ironman Hawaii 2019. Grateful I was hugging my parents. Missioncompleted!
And as so many people asked me:
Sure, we had Pizza Hawaii for dinner!
A well-deserved Offseason
Winning my second Ironman in the 2018 season was a great finish of a great year. Having two nights sleep after the race, I decided not to move on to Busselton to race Ironman Western Australia. This was not mainly because I had won Ironman Malaysia, but because I struggled so much leading up to the race. I managed to get myself back on track just in time. Now it is time to look back at some great performances in 2018 and enjoy the offseason.
Enjoy your x-mas time!
1st Ironman Austria, Klagenfurt
1st Ironman Malaysia, Langkawi
13th Ironman World Championships, Hawaii, USA 4th Ironman 70.3 Luxemburg
1st. Köln Triathlon – half distance
1st. Indeland Triathlon – half distance
1st. Aasee Triathlon Bocholt – half distance
1st. Krefeld Triathlon – olympic Distanz