On August 25, 2013, in Louisville, USA, I finished a full Ironman with a time of 11:10:50. Ironman consists of 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of cycling, and 42.195 km of running. This finish was preceded by 8 months of special training (and 9 starts at 3100 miles).

It was an amazingly positive experience! During long training swims and rides, I started gaining confidence that I would succeed. Several times I swam 3.5 km without stopping and twice cycled 160 and 178 km. Starting from May, after participating in a six-day race, I was able to absorb the workload and recover well, so I trained 7 days a week. Now the goal was not just to finish but to show my best time.

When my daughter and I arrived in Louisville two days before the start, we immediately liked everything: the cozy city, the friendly people, and the superb Ironman organization. There were many volunteers eager to help both before the start and during the race. Participating in well-organized competitions is a balm for the soul.

The swim started on a first-come, first-served basis from two piers. The net time was recorded by chips — within 40 minutes from 7 a.m., all 3,000 athletes were already in the water. We swam at sunrise — a majestic sight, and I even had time to admire it. A third of the course was against a moderate current. Then we rounded an island, turned, and swam downstream on the Ohio River. It’s an interesting feeling when you swim under bridges — near the transition zone was the famous John F. Kennedy Bridge, which appears in almost all photos of Ironman in Louisville. At the swim finish, I wasn’t even tired — 1:13:00, 1:53/100m.

The long transition zone took more than 5 minutes to get out with the bike.

I overtook tons of athletes on the bike. The bike held its speed down perfectly. And, of course, the Zipp wheels! A marvel of technology. The entire course was very hilly, with only a couple of flat sections (later I saw that over 180 km, I gained an altitude of 1600m). It was hard to monitor the pulse, but on average it was 146, which fit perfectly into my plan.

Beautiful course — ranches, farms, open spaces, a herd of yaks in a pen…

Nothing hurt; my back tried to ache but passed. I made only one stop on the bike to put pre-prepared bottles of drink on the frame, somewhere in the middle of the course (Bike special needs). Just super!

At mile 60, a butterfly landed on my shoulder! I was riding with the wind then.

Fantastic time of 5:32:15, average speed 32.7 km/h! Maximum speed — 71 km/h (of course, that was on the descent).

There was a wonderful atmosphere of self-transcendence, even if participants didn’t call it that. Superb attention to athletes — in the second transition zone, they almost put socks on me and laced my sneakers :)

Huge support from spectators on the course and at the finish — many athletes came with their families and friends, and often these support teams were in matching T-shirts and cheered and made noise together.

At the end of the bike stage, I was slightly tired, but when I started the last stage, it turned out that my legs were more tired than it seemed…

At first, I tried to monitor my pulse, but my legs didn’t respond well to efforts to run faster… And then the peak heat arrived, around 30°C. In general, my breathing became more frequent, and my pulse dropped to 133, and I couldn’t raise it… Probably, I could have pushed harder, but I was cautious with the heat, and it seems the 3100 runner habit kicked in — you need to be able to run tomorrow too…

What inspiring series of signs along the wonderful course!

If Ironman will not leave you breathless
The city will

The first electric light
The first Jewish Supreme Court
First cheeseburger

City faced plenty of firsts
Will you be next?

After such a hard race
You need a place to fall

Live easy
Race hard

I sped up in the last 2-3 km and flew into the living corridor on the finishing path to the cheers of the spectators. I high-fived the outstretched hands and, very happy, became an Ironman in 11:10:50!!

Out of 2994 participants, I was 276th overall and 56th in my age group 40-45.

Data from Garmin watch


Although I was prepared for different scenarios during the race, everything went perfectly, without any contingencies. I’ll try to summarize my experience in the table below:

What I Did Right

What Could Be Improved

| Bike and Run special needs – did not carry an extra 1.5 kg of drinks with me, but picked them up halfway. Same for the run. | |

| Rented top Zipp wheels. Wheels are crucial for speed. | |

| Had a bike tune-up shortly before the start – everything was cleaned, lubricated, and adjusted. | |

| Used tried-and-tested special nutrition during long training sessions – brought my own to the race. No stomach problems. | |

| Sunscreen spray with SPF 50 – quick and effective. | |

| Running cap with SPF 30 – kept my head comfortable. | |

| Triathlon suit for the entire race specifically designed for extremely hot conditions. Lubricated seams with Vaseline – everything was perfect. Didn’t overheat in the suit and could pour water on myself during the bike and run. | |

| Listened to favorite music right up until the start – stayed calm and confident. | |

| Used health and energy mantras from the Upanishads during training and before the start. Everything works! | |

| Studied the book “Total Immersion” during training and made a breakthrough in my swimming. | |

| Utilized paid coaching services – had a training regimen, strategy, and preparation plan for Ironman tailored specifically for me. | |

| Participated in two Half-Ironman events 3 and 2 months before the main race. | |

| Acclimatization and deep spiritual practice during the week leading up to the start. | |

  • Develop a nutrition strategy for the marathon. In Ironman, the marathon is decisive – you can either make great progress or slowly fade.
  • Lubricate toes with Vaseline in T2 – since I poured water on myself, my socks were wet, causing blisters.
  • Even though I ran in tried-and-tested training shoes, they were too heavy for Ironman. Consider lighter, more comfortable shoes.

  • Run faster :)


More info

Book – My First Ironman: From Dream To Finish

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