It has been a while since I have written anything to my English side of diary. For a simple reason: Google translator. But I guess the translator leaves a big whole where Estonian humour ends and English really begins.
So I just became Ironman New Zealand champion. Pretty surreal considering all the previous IM winners that were racing in Taupo 2014. We had skinny Ozzy mate Tim Van Berkel, local heroes Cameron Brown, Terenzo Bozzone and Bevan Docherty, British national long-distance squad with Philiph Graves, Tom Lowe and Daniel Halksworth (I think the Queen herself sent them down to NZ to make some order in triathlon).
As previous years I have truly enjoyed my stay in Taupo. Its a small city, touristic city but has a real active community feel. I did take part of local Tri club events with my home stay Chris. By the way, we lost the splash and dash in team competition so I’m expecting hime to work harder so we can win next year! I have my own people to turn to when in town. Darrel (Balmoral bike) has always helped me around when it comes to bike work and Lisa has taken care of my body. Both of these are very important towards the result on race day.
During the talk in the dinner table (thanks Sandra for those wonderful meals) I made a promise to jump a Bungee Jump naked if I’d win. Something I’ll never do again. Making promises like this I mean. Because I try to keep my promises.
Another wonderful thing about Taupo is that we get to do school visits. I really enjoyed meeting children and answering their questions. I don’t get to do this in Estonia, so if anybody invites me somewhere else I’m always happy to go. One 8 year old even knew where Estonia is. Wow!
Race day came and as always I’m one of the first pros in transition setting up my bike. Thankfully my home stay Chris was taking me in so early. For some reason I enjoy preparing everything before it gets crowded and have some time to sit back and relax before the race. Soon enough I was sitting behind the “morning clothes” truck and talking to last years winner Bevan Docherty and his friend Dale. Can’t say that I remember what we were talking about…
I really didn’t have a game plan sorted out. I just thought that if I swim hard enough the group out of water will be small enough to work together. I knew that I didn’t have quite the swim I had previous year. So I just went and swam and saw that there is a long string of men behind me. Its a nice long run to T1 and I really enjoy running trough the crowd. Amazing how small the trail seams when there are people everywhere.
Once on the bike it was really fast 10km in the beginning. Looking at my power meter only confirmed what I felt in my legs. And then it all stopped. At that point I was the last guy in the pack. Just hanging on to the tail end. The next 40km was uneventful until I went to the front and started to race my own race. I didn’t look back before we were back on the Napier hill and I only did it because people were cheering on Cameron Brown and I didn’t know that he was already in the pack. Few km later was spacial needs station where I dropped my bag. I got angry at myself and really powered the next few km. And then it was 15sek gap. 2km later it was more. So I went on, powering at my desired speed and not thinking about anybody else. At 135km I had 2,5min lead. Thinking nothing of the gap and leaving everything on the road. I had dreamt about that last 45km. I trained for this last 45km all winter. Last year I fell apart and rode as fast as I could, not as fast as I wanted. So this year things changed and I was riding. I was so happy about the fact that nothing was cramping up and my legs still had some zip in them that the gaps to the next athletes didn’t matter. As I had been in Taupo for the past two weeks I knew exactly how to ride that course. When to stand up and power trough and when to sit back and stay aero. I used every bit of that knowledge. Coming into T2 I was feeling well. I had eaten every SIS bar and gel I had put on the bike, even my backup food.
Jumping off the bike I actually felt my legs. I wasn’t running on wooden sticks, I was really running! Oh boy, wish I’d have that feeling every time I race an Ironman. As I ran out, during my first km the only real thought was “ This is your day”. It was something I remembered when my good friend Rasmus Henning won his first ITU World Cup in Athens Olympic course in 2003. His coach at the time Michael Kruger was saying that to him. As he believed, he came off with a win from a really tight finish sprint against a light footed French guy Cedric Fleureton. So I wanted to believe as well. I wanted to be best at that day and at that place. After hearing from Chris that I have 6,5min lead I decided only to concentrate on each step and just leap forward. I enjoyed that people cheered me on, calling my name. It felt good. During the run I got regular splits (about every 5-7km) and knew that the magic Kiwi Trio is hunting me. When I heard that Bevan dropped off, I knew I can be on the podium. When I heard that Terenzo dropped off I knew it was between Cameron and me. It came close and yes I was running scared. But when I got to last 3 km and Cameron was still more than 3min off, I was a little relieved. But knowing from training its sometimes easier to run with a higher pace than to slow down. So I didn’t slow down until I reached the finish shoot. Then all the emotions started to come over me. I couldn’t believe that I was winning an Ironman. Something I always dreamt of. And it was not a-cherry-pick-no-prizemoney Ironman, it was a real one. Uhh the joy!
I promise that I’ll write my entries to the English side more often. Or maybe only when I win 🙂
*Oh and the title. Flying over to New Zealand I saw this movie. And while training in Taupo I thought it would be a good title for a blog. I think that illustrates my way of thinking and the promise to do a Bungee after the race. The win was never going to happen 🙂 So I’d say the biggest lesson learnt from this race was “BELIEVE”!