An Inferno in Heavan – A Re-Visit!
This was a great finish to my 2012 season! A 5th Place overall finish in the Inferno Triathlon and 3rd position in my Age Group (W30-34).
2 Hard Races in One Week
With only 1 week in between the Züri Metzgete and the Inferno Triathlon, preparation was all about trying to get my body into shape and my gear sorted before taking on the mountain beasts in this hardest of Alpine Triathlons.
This year I am lucky to have been sponsored a 29er mountain bike from Zaboo for the Alpinathlon and the Inferno races. I love that bike! It eats up the trails both up and downhill and renewed my enthusiasm for mountain biking. Along with the Moser road bike and a nice set of wheels (thanks to Alain Baumann at Netcycle), I knew my equipment was better than 2 years previously when I did this race on much heavier bikes.
I travelled to Thun on Friday morning before the race with my friend Abi who was also doing the event, to start the long trek to each of the transition zones to drop off our road bikes, mtb’s and running gear before going up to Mürren to sleep the night there.
It all went according to plan – again, a different story to two years ago when I got a puncture the evening before the event and I was probably the last person dropping my gear off at each zone!
The morning of the event was very relaxing, not just because we were half asleep for the first few hours of it (the alarm went off at 3.30am). I was excited but not as nervous as before the Metzgete. I knew that I had achieved more than I had imagined this summer, therefore a decent finishing position at the Inferno would be a bonus. Before the swim started we met Liselore Völlmer and Barabara Schwarz in the water and that was a really nice moment – 4 strong female athletes all wishing each other a great race just before the gun goes off.
This actually went well! I had only been swimming about 1 time per week since April but this year I felt a lot more comfortable in the water. I seemed to have a better feel for it, and whenever I swam with friends I found it easier to keep up than previous years. I drafted the same swimmer for the bulk of the swim leg and came out of the water with Liselore to my right. 3.2km in 59 minutes – putting me in 26th place…no worries!
The Road Bike
Without saying this was going to be my strength. As soon as I got on the bike and managed to rub all the sunscreen into my skin I could really get stuck in. I reeled in and passed a lot of girls on this leg. I climbed 22 places on the bike and moved into 4th place. That was a nice feeling but it also reminded me that I am not a triathlete if I am so many places behind on the swim!
I really didn’t know how I was doing during the race – this is something I miss by not having ground support. I thought I was probably in 6th position so when onlookers told me I was in 4th I got quite a shock!
I had some back pain but I tried not to focus on it. Often in races this summer I have had a niggling lower back pain but I have been getting treatment for it and it releases with certain movements that unfortunately I can’t perform while cycling so I just have to put up with it!
Almost at the top of the Grosse Scheidegg something funny happened. I took a quick glance down when I heard a girls voice and I saw what looked like a skinny guy powering up the hill behind me, I wasn’t surprised – I just thought it must be a guy from a relay team. Until I heard the same voice behind me say “Hoi Fiola!” I got a shock! It was Andrea Huser, and I replied “Andrea! What are you doing here?!” (Erm…yeah – I put that unintelligent question down to brain malfunction that often happens in races). She told me she had a really bad swim and left the water about 25 minutes behind the leader. I rode with her for a little bit and left her off. Her pace would have jeopardized my plan to finish the race! She was on fire! I really am in awe of how much she has achieved this year…
The mountain bike was uneventful, I had a little tumble on gravel but I wasn’t the only one. The transition to run was also quite ok. I ate up the first 5 kilometers and my legs felt really good despite the heat (25 degrees)
The Run – Where the Race Begins
Once we started to climb I started to get slower. Then I noticed that Barbara Schwarz was just behind me and we started to battle against each other for a good 45 minutes or so. Then my back pain returned and to top it all off, every time I ran on the flat I got a stitch in my side. I tried everything, to massage it, hold my arm up in the air but nothing would work. I could only walk on the flats and I really needed to run those. Eventually she passed me. There was great comaraderie though as she asked me if I was ok and tried to cajole me into running with her too.
Getting Passed Once
Once I got to Mürren my stomach started to cramp. So now there was full system breakdown. Back, stitch and stomach! Brilliant! Anyway. I took a longer break at the refreshment station and as soon as I felt able to go on, I did. No point in getting upset, you just have to keep going forward and I definitely wasn’t the only person in this situation there were guys with various problems all around, from muscle cramps to tummy problems at this stage it’s a usual scenario.
Getting Passed Twice
About 1 hour from the finish line, right up in the middle of those majestic rocky hills, I noticed another solo woman closing in on me. The face was familiar. The same woman passed me in more or less the same stretch 2 years ago. I couldn’t believe it. I was determined not to let this happen again, so, with all my might, I tried to push some more. I held her off until the stitch came back and again I couldn’t run the flats! BUMMER!
I didn’t let it get to me. There was no point. The objective now was to keep going, to finish and not let anyone else pass me. This, I did accomplish, and I crossed the finish line in 11 hours and 19 minutes – 46 minutes faster than in 2010, 3 positions higher and in much better shape than 2 years previously!
The only disappointment I had in this race was not to see Liselore and Abi cross the line. We had been looking forward to celebrating together at the Schilthorn. Abi suffered a nasty fall on the mountain bike and couldn’t continue, Liselore had bad stomach cramps and pulled out at Mürren. However, we shared stories over drinks later that evening and I’m sure both of them will have better luck next time ’round.
For me now, the season has to wind down. I would love to travel home to Ireland to do the Ras na Mna but I don’t feel as though I would be properly mentally and physically prepared for it. I would like to travel to Austria to do the Eddie Merckx Classic at the end of September, and enjoy the rest of the pass rides while they are still open this year.
Next year will be a big year for me. I plan to focus more or less exclusively on bike racing – therefore its probably not a bad idea to finish this successful season hungry for more! Bring it all on!