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Demi Ironman d’Aix en Provence, 2013, by Olive


After my first nature triathlon (swimming / mountain biking / trail) in 2012, I decided to do long distance triathlons. But I can’t find this MTB + Trail format in long distance… all I find is the Olympic format 1.5Km / 40Km MTB and 10Km trail…

So I am moving towards road cycling and running on asphalt to have long…. So I have to invest, a bike, shoes for the asphalt and a little gear for the bicycle (because in this area it’s a bit special between the weight, the aero, the geometry of the bike, the gearbox / trays) in short from July 2013 (and after many months of research and information) I finally buy my bike! At the end of July I run the 6000d, it goes not too badly and hop the following week I register for this ironman 70.3 or half ironman 1.9km / 90Km / 21.1Km

My first experience in long triathlon and first Ironman experience. First surprise the price! A registration of 300 € (approximately) it calms down !!!

I have been swimming for only 1 year but I do between 2 to 3 trainings / week. This year I have improved a lot in swimming. I have my road bike that for 2 and a half months, I ride about 200Km / week during this period.

Preparation level I am not at the level of a club licensee or a triathlon cracker, but I go there confident, no stress and I set myself a goal of less than 6 hours, hoping to do 40min of swimming, 3 hours of cycling and 1 hour 45 minutes of running with less than 5 minutes at each transition.

Saturday September 21, go to the city center of Aix to take the bibs, the transition bags and see the atmosphere. There are a lot of people, the race is full with 1600 triathletes, a little queue then we take our things, an irnoman 70.3 backpack as a welcome gift. I leave my T2 bag (bike / cap transition) in Aix and now I have to go to Peyrolles en Provence (start of the race) to drop off the bike and the T1 bag (swim / bike transition). Here 90% of the bikes are Formula 1! I only see time trial bikes. Classic bikes are rare, it’s a fashion show, we take full eyes! What beautiful machines!

I put my bike down, put down my T2 bag and I went to see the magnificent Peyrolles lake dominated by horrible electric pylons! What a waste because the place is beautiful. We can already spot the buoys for our 1.9Km swimming loop. Bug it seems really far this buoy!

Return to Marseille for the evening and a wake-up call on Sunday morning at 5:10 am to take off around 5.50 am towards Peyrolles (the bicycle park opens at 6 am and closes at 7.20 am). I have to inflate my tires, install my GPS watch, put my bottles on the bike.

I do everything just in time, I put on the wetsuit, the water is announced at 18 ° C, I have 5 minutes of warm-up left, I jump into the water and instantly, very good sensations are felt. It is therefore very confident that I enter the starting airlock.

The pros leave at 7.45 am with orange caps, follow the women at 7.47 am with pink caps, those under 40 at 7:57 am with blue caps, then the over 40s with white caps and relay with green caps at 8:07 am.

The start is very eventful !! The starting line is however super wide!

The first 200m are complicated, you really have to find your place. Between those who do not advance in front (1 crawl movement then 5 breaststroke movements …) those who push in the butt and those on the sides who crash into me …

I can imagine that it’s the same for everyone! I always keep a hand in front of my face to avoid taking critical hits. Then by dint of insisting and not being eaten I manage to make my place. The unpleasant 2/3 minute mark has passed! I haven’t suffered too much, I’m not out of breath either… now it’s much calmer, I “put down” my swim and it goes on. Always a few people but at least the contacts are not permanent.

It’s rather pleasant, I am quite happy to be in the water, I who dreaded this part! I really have the feeling of advancing and I overtake a lot of competitors. The swimmer’s pack is still compact, it allows me to stay with my head in the water and go straight! Neither one nor two I see very close the buoy which a few minutes before seemed so far away !!!! A “WOW, THE COW !!” comes out of my mouth underwater, I’m very happy. We are shooting and I know that half is over, it will be time to pick up the pace just to be on schedule. I start to see and double pink caps! It comforts me all the more. There the peloton is well scattered, and I find myself sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left… I really don’t swim straight as soon as I have no more marks… (Steps of a few meters, I really find myself in the West…). In short, I get back to the race line at each deviation and try to raise my head more often.

I get out of the water with the help of a volunteer who reaches out to me, and run to the transition zone. The swim is performed in 0:35:58.

I take off the wetsuit, put on a jacket and my helmet and I go to the bathroom… Arf every time I am immersed in water I systematically want to pee…. These desires which are useless but which lasts a lead once the valves are open … I have the impression of spending more than two minutes there … great here is at least 90seconds lost (no big deal I know, but it’s so hard to gain 90 seconds in swimming and so easy to lose them while peeing…).

The shoes are already clipped on the bike so a light transition that includes only 200m of sprint, put on a helmet, the bib and a jacket I get away with the pee break in 7min !!!!! ARFFFF one of the slowest of the 1600 participants !!!

To go I jump on the bike and forwards for 90Km, objective to make an average of 30km / h. I am careful not to take the wheel of the one in front of me. Try to find a cruising speed but the first 10 kilometers are a bit accordion with a little wind … it doubles quite a bit, I double a bit, we hear helicopters coming but in fact those are lenticular wheels or with rims over 80mm tumbling down!

Then the shorts dry, the temperature slowly increases. Around Km 20 I start to press a little, to be in better temperature (feeling of a little heat in the helmet). Passing Km 45 in 1h30, so impeccable on my average, you just have to keep up. It doesn’t seem complicated to me, I’m impatiently awaiting “the difficulty” of the course … the Cengle pass … Between Km 68 and 71 of the course.

Living near Grenoble, the profiles with uneven are my playground, I have a lot more power going up than on the flat. I’m not very comfortable going downhill, but I’ve done quite a few passes (over 20 climbs) over the past two and a half months.

And finally it happens! BIM BAM BOUM, let’s go for 3km of ascent standing on the bike! Here, no one will overtake me during these 13 minutes to reach the top. But on the other hand, leaving all these triathletes on the right, what a pleasure!

Then big descent to Aix to put the bike down in 2H55min (30.2Km / h on average). I am very satisfied with my time. I jump off the bike and give it to a volunteer and then I go get my T2 bag. Changes in less than 30 seconds and a big urge to pee… Great… go one more wee… during the relief I hear the announcer announce the arrival of the winner who will cross the line. In short, I finished my business and got out of my bike / heading transition in 5min.

The half marathon consists of 4 loops, with 2 supplies, doing the loop once is pretty cool, the second is always fun and we tell ourselves that half is done! I’m in my time, even if a little belly pain is felt as soon as I lengthen my stride a little, so I run cool at a pace of 5min per km… to accelerate a little in the last loop… it is a little painful at the end we know all the passages … the arch, the ravito, entering the park, leaving the park, the refreshments, the arch, etc …

I complete the semi in 1:47 and finish this half IM in 5h31min28s very satisfied and quite fresh.

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