Ironman Switzerland 2009: Soon To Set Sail

Hop aboard as the Pirate Ship Of Fools heads to Switzerland for another epic swim, bike and run


Posted: 7 July 2009
by Alice Palmer

It’s summertime, and that can mean only one thing – the Pirate Ship of Fools (PSOF) is soon to set sail for its annual team challenge.

This year, our forum triathlon contingent is heading to Switzerland on July 12, where Pirates old and new will be taking on Zurich’s Ironman triathlon course – that’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle, and 26.2-mile run (yes, a full marathon). The trip promises to be the biggest and best ever with more than 60 forumites heading to Switzerland's largest city, including a record number of absolute beginners.

The Zurich adventure all started a year ago with a call for new shipmates to join the Pirates on their 2009 voyage to Ironman Switzerland (IMCH). Since then, the plucky IM virgins who heeded the call – and a trusty band of old hands too – have spent a busy year training and chatting on the forums.

And this Sunday (July 12), you'll be able to follow all the latest news and updates live from Switzerland on the IMCH Armchair Supporters Thread.

We'll be catching up with the Pirates from the other side of the finish line, but before they set off, find out what first-timers arctic lady, Nam, PSC, Rio! and seren nos had to say about how they found themselves in skull-and-crossbones lycra and heading for their first IM – and how they’re feeling now they’re almost there.



Arctic lady

Call me spontaneous, but when everyone signed up for Ironman Switzerland I suddenly wanted to join in. The Pirates seemed like a nice bunch, and with their "go get it" attitude who wouldn't want to swim a little, bike a lot and then warm down with a marathon?!

There have been highs and lows throughout my training - days when I couldn't wait to get out the door and clear my head through hours of training and days when I couldn't face it and would procrastinate all day. But there would always be a Pirate to reassure me that they’d been there, or tell me to pull myself together.

The Bala Middle Distance Triathlon (June 14, 2009) was my first ever tri and I knew that there would be huge Pirate support. I just didn't know how fantastic it would be. Out on the course, my muscles were aching but every time I heard "Go Pirate!" I managed to push it. As I was coming in to the finish there was another woman just ahead of me and Iron Rose shouted "You can get her!" Mustering all my strength I sprinted, overtook the woman, crossed the line and then promptly collapsed. But I’ve been told it’s good experience for IM – the collapsing, that is!

With the IM so close, of course I wish I had trained longer, harder and better but I've done what I've done and I can only hope I can pull it all together on the day. At times I’ve felt alone doing this, but I know I'm in a group of people, some of whom are new like me, and some experienced, but we all want the same thing and we all want the best for each other. I couldn't have got this far without the never-ending support and advice from the Pirates – the people who helped me believe I could do it in the first place.



Nam

I was never athletic in school – sports days were an exercise in humiliation and I would think up all sorts of excuses to get out of them.

By 2008 though, I had taken up running, done a half-marathon and a couple of try-a-tris. It was a pretty bad year – I’d finished a relationship and wanted a new focus. Completing an Ironman by 40 sounded good but I was 38 and rapidly twigged that as most IMs fall later in the year than my birthday I’d have to do it this year.

I remember my first 40-mile bike ride – it was a distance I would have thought twice about driving, never mind cycling, but a few months later it's a treat to "only" do a three-hour ride. When I feel sorry for myself about being slow, sometimes I need to remind myself how far I've come.

An absolute highlight for me was the Bala Middle Distance Triathlon. It was the hardest thing I've ever done and I finished last. There was nothing left and no finish line except the make-shift one made by a fantastically raucous bunch of Pirates with some security tape.

Don't get me wrong – it's not all fun and laughs. Sometimes you're full of doubt, tired and begrudge the time spent training. It’s not easy to get up at 5.30am in the middle of winter and cycle to the pool for an hour and a half before work. 

At the moment I feel calm and pragmatic. If I get out of the water unscathed I have a decent chance of making the bike cut-off, but it'll be hard to make up lost time. Either way I'll give it a damn good shot. I'm very realistic about the possibility of missing the cut-offs, and if that happens I'll support with the rest, have a cracking week and try again next year!


PSC

This whole crazy venture started in 2006. I had an accident on my motorcycle, resigned from my job and realised that my life was in a rut – all work, no play, poor fitness and failing health. I started running and a year took me from retching after half a mile to a sub-2:00 half-marathon. I wanted more.

The RW forum sowed the seeds of this madcap tri adventure. I bought a new bike, a £10 Aldi tri suit and put in a few weeks of training before turning up for a sprint tri. The bug bit deep – I finished and loved every weary second of it.

Soon, the Pirates were at every race I went to, who all seemed to have entered an Ironman from a standing start. I wanted to spend a year preparing, but the seed was sprouting and next time the circus rolled around, I hopped aboard.

My training has gone solidly, and my stats show constant improvement. The big downside of that has been missing out on family stuff. If I do another Ironman I must work out a way to make the schedule slightly less all-consuming.

The Bala Middle Distance Triathlon was four weeks out from race day, and time to put it all together. Would the kit work? Had I sorted my nutrition? How fit was I? Had I over-cooked the training? There were Pirates everywhere you looked at the start – fantastic!

It was a brilliant course – I don't think one bit of it was flat. A few swimming issues aside, I felt fresh through the bike and the run, so that's the plan for Switzerland sorted!

The full distance is going to be hard work, but warmer water, going easier on the bike and my newly discovered run-walk strategy makes me positive that it’s in reach. I’m feeling much more confident that I was even three weeks ago – bring it on!



Rio!

Sometimes I wonder how I got here. Coming from a completely non-sporty background, Ironman felt like the ultimate physical challenge.

I had done a couple of tris and I was tempted by the talk about Pirates doing Ironman Switzerland. Then mid-life crisis struck – my son told me I was going to be a grandmother. My fate was sealed!

Buoyed up by race reports and with training programme in hand I started preparing. Luckily for me there are four of us who can train together – Nam, Hope and Seren have been fantastic when things got tough. Slowly, over the winter I began to pull it together.

Speeding towards July I was feeling feeble, and the Bala Middle Distance Triathlon loomed large. I was scared about how hilly it would be. But I had trained as well as I could, I hadn’t missed many sessions and I felt I had done enough.

It was great to see all the black and yellow on race day, and I set off confidently. It was hot and my legs were tired, but I knew I could do it so I plodded on. Soon enough the finish line was in sight, complete with Pirates doing a Mexican wave! A sprint to the finish and I had done it – and 40 minutes quicker than last year’s Vitruvian

Now I’m heading towards the Big One, and my thoughts are the same as anyone training for their first 5K, 10K or marathon – whatever the distance, it’s the same nerves. Hoping that I’ve done enough, thankful to have stayed injury-free. I swing wildly from being scared to feeling calm because I know worrying at this stage is wasted energy and that I’ve done all that I can.

I know if I can have a relaxed swim I will be OK for the rest of the race. I am definitely not looking forward to the hills on the bike course but I have been reliably informed that they’re not as bad as I’m imagining – we will see!


seren nos

I'm married with three boys, two of whom are autistic. Four years ago, my son started residential school and I had spare time, so I tried running. I did couple of miles the first time, came home, entered the Edinburgh Marathon and loved it. My first 5K and 10K races were actually after my first marathon – I seem to aim high straight away!

Training for the Flora London Marathon last year (2008) I had an injury and decided to swim as cross-training. I was only off running for a fortnight and training went well, but during the race I had trouble with my knees. I decided that triathlon would be kinder to my body.

I turned up to a local try-a-tri a couple of weeks later with my rusty hybrid bike and loved it, and then entered the Bala Middle Distance Triathlon two weeks out from race day. I hadn’t really trained, so I had to rely on my fitness and just hang on. I loved the day – my first time out with the Pirates and the support was unbelievable. It had been hard and hot, but I survived and I was hooked.

When the time came to enter Ironman Switzerland I knew I wanted to be part of it. Training went well but in August my right Achilles went – my first ever major injury. At the beginning of October I was told not to cycle or run for four months. I was gutted. By January, with everyone posting good training weeks I worried that I would never get there, but I could still picture myself going over the finish line. My heart was still in it.

I returned to training, and it soon picked up. The months went by, and then came my highlight for another year – again, at Bala. I took 14 minutes off last year’s time, won first female vet in the Welsh Championships and finished without any injuries – brilliant!

I know I’ll be close to the cut-offs in Zurich but I will manage it. I have to – I don’t think I’ll have the energy to go through all this again next year!


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For those of you what want to join me in the non Pirate race of IMCH.

 The online registration for the IRONMAN SWITZERLAND on July 12th 2009 will be available Monday, July 14th 2008.

I will be happy to book the Youth Hostel for those of you that want to stay there. See you all at Nice.

This years race filled up in 3 months, so you should have some time to enter, but not too much...


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 10:59

so, what WAS the result of the vote? Obviously it wasn't IMCH then.
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:31

It was just being discussed as we left so I'm not so sure but I'll be up for IMCH
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:35

yup - if I'm not retired then ch is my destiny - Shiraz declared yesterday that she was definitely not doing IM ever... then told everyone to vote CH as she didn't want to do Lanza.... women, huh?
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:38

According to the Polling day Thread, it is LANZA, ROTH and IMUK!!!
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:49

Not true SB...if you look again, you'll see that he made it up.....I don't know what the result was tho'.....
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:52

I have just looked at that... and this is not the first of April either...

I should just edit the first post and call it the Pirate championship and be done with it...


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:54

Sorry... just tapiring... I think the result became more and more CH the longer the Bala bike ride went on....


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 11:58

Oh well i have started the thread...

If it is definately CH I will get a fax of the YH asap so we have lots of rooms, I can get about the whole hostel at the moment....


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 12:00

think the idea on saturday was whoever started a thread first then that was where it would be!!

Get the title changed SB


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 12:05

I'll probably be doing both Lanza and CH, but if you ask me at mile 20 in Nice, I will give you another answer. But count me in SB.
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 13:22

pebble - remind me - didn't you retire from IM after Florida??


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 13:31

I probably will again at mile 20 in Nice
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 13:38


PSC
how many family rooms in the hostel.....?
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 14:25

I've already discussed the idea with Mrs Podro and she is keen on IMCH. She really liked Schweiz when we visited after IMA last year and wants to go back.
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 15:00

16 double rooms en suite

14 4 bed rooms with en suite

37 4 bed rooms with washbasin shared showers

9 5 bed rooms with washbasin shared showers.


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 15:23

I reckon wherever the 'championship' race goes this'll be the target for next season for me. Bobby you are a brave man taking on the booking two years running, but thank you, takes so much of the hassle out of entering a foreign event.
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 15:42

although me and P didn't stay at the Zurich YH we did visit as quite a few pirates stayed there - it's a cracking modern building unlike many of the "olde worlde" ones in the UK and much more like a hotel. internet PC's and - what more do you need - a bar!

if you want to camp there's a good campsite about a mile down from IM City - it's on the bike course and just past a turn point on the run so well placed. be warned though - arrive early to bag the best places as they will truly cram you in like sardines. good facilities all the same and on the lake so ideal for a quick pre and post race dip.......



Posted: 09/06/2008 at 15:56

seren nos wrote (see)
Its iron man switzerland

looks like it's official.........word from the camp fire!
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 16:17

woohooo switzerland it is then!

 


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 16:24

I think it was only Carl that was protesting over Lanza at the end of the night

Lots seem to favour Switzerland a few interested in the new Barcelona one in October


I shall enter IMCH if I have enough cash by July ......   or whenever it is likely to sell out !

Posted: 09/06/2008 at 17:44

Symes 2 years nice is already my second time organising the accom... i did it for Klaggers too!!! Well to a point then Lindi had to take over as i was going skiing at key points when you all had to pay...

It will less of a problem this year as you will just have place money in one of my swiss bank accounts so i can pay the YH... might look at setting up PayPal too 


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 17:45

Woo  hoo - where's the list!!
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 18:17


PSC

Oh bugger me, this has suddenly got very real! Ha ha.
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 18:20

If I do Lanza next year, then I will be out to support at this. But I may if I can stretch that far do this as well, Just don't tell MrsGOM!


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 18:23

List:


Calf


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:29

List:


Calf

Iron Swissbobby 


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:33

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:51

List:

Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe

 .


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:52

is that a record for xposting the list??
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:52

well sort it out then gyraffe
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:55

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
Meldy
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:56

this will be hot thread soon
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:56

Just pray there are places left by the end of July ....
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 20:58

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
GyraffePodro

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
Meldy
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:00


PSC

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe
Pit Stop Crew

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
Meldy


Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:01

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
MeldyFoggy, but will be going on to DOING list after an appropriate amount of dithering
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:03

Now I ve  ballsed list up!

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
MeldyFoggy, but will be going on to DOING list after an appropriate amount of dithering
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:04

DOING
Calf
Iron Swissbobby
Gyraffe
Pit Stop Crew

DITHERING (till after IMF, pay day, leave pass etc)
Kanga
Meldy
Foggy, but will be going on to DOING list after an appropriate amount of dithering
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:04

*deep breaths*
Posted: 09/06/2008 at 21:05

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