Gabriella you are an ……… (ExtremeMan Nagyatad 2020)

I wasn’t planning to do this race at all, but when COVID happened and all my races got cancelled or postponed to 2021 I really had no idea what to do. I mean I love to have a routine in my life and when I have a race booked in I know well that I will do the training because there’s an end game to it. Hope it makes sense haha

So around mid June when PM Boris announced that he’s going to ease up the restrictions and foreign travel, it meant that I could travel to Hungary and I don’t need to quarantine for 14 days on my return. So at that point I’ve messaged Phil ( my coach ) and asked him what he’s thinking about me doing an Ironman race abroad ? Luckily he was totally up for it. At this point it was 5 weeks till race day.

extremeMan here I come 🙂

So I’ve signed up for the race, booked the flights and found a flat to rent. Then a few days later PM Orban announced that everyone travelling from the UK to Hungary will need to quarantine for 14 days or get 2 Negative COVID tests 5 days before arrival. Ahh well great, nothing is never easy in 2020.

So after all the hurdles, cancelled and rebooked flights, flooding in Nagyatád, I got to Hungary in safe and sound. 

All packed and ready to go

Pre race:

I had to pick up my race packet before the race, which I’ve done on the Thursday.

Friday morning I went out for a short ride, just to try out that my bike is ready to go, and there is no mechanical issues. It was a long flight from England to Hungary, and you never know how was the bike box handled on the flight.

On Friday I did drop off my run stuff and they had a really nice opening ceremony and pasta party. 

It was pretty well organised for a non IM branded event. 

Race day:

The swim was in Gyekenyes in a lake. Because I went all by myself I opted to take the shuttle bus which cost 1200 Hungarian forint for me and the same for my bike. 

As I expected I couldn’t sleep well at all the night before. But that’s normal for me. My alarm went off at 3am and I was wide awake. Looking back at my Garmin I only had a few hours sleep, so not great at all. I had my usual pre race porridge, filled up all my bottles and made sure I have all my race bags packed. Going all alone is hard, and requires loads of organising. I mean I didn’t have anyone who I could have sent back to the flat to grab be things if I forget. But luckily I’m a well organised person 🙂

The last things I’ve done before I left the flat at 4.15am is that I put on my race numbers. I’m pretty chuffed with my temporary tattoo sticking skills.

The day before I walked to the School where the meeting point was, so I knew exactly were to go. The bus wasn’t full at all, and no-one sat next to me. It was a really boring 40-50mins bus journey to the start.

When we got there we had to wait a bit for the lorry to turn up and to collect our bikes. But luckily the bikes turned up pretty fast, and without any issues.

Before the swim I had to go and rack my bike, sort the bike stuff out on the bike, hand back the post race blue bag, and hook up the bike bag which I had to grab after the swim.

Swim (1:46:17) :

Well I knew it will happen, but secretly I was hoping it won’t. They told us that the water is too hot, so it will be a non wetsuit swim. Yay … great … I think I was the only one who secretly wanted to cry. I mean I’ve spent so many weeks swimming in Reading, and because England is pretty cold I always wore my wetsuit. So at the moment I already knew that my ideal 90mins swim time is out of the window. Even before your race starts, your planned time is over. Not the best start for it.

Then they start to play Vangelis – Conquest of paradise and you know you’ll have a crazy long day ahead of you. You can’t cry, because you supposed to save your energy for the 140.6 miles, and no-one seems to cry. So you suck it up and look like someone who knows what she’s doing, even though you have absolutely zero clue. You stand there amongst 100s of other participants, and you just keep hoping for the best. Like all the training you have done in the last few months, all the tears, all the sacrifices, all those early morning alarms when you just wanted to sleep and had 0 motivation to go out and run 3 hours or cycle 5hours all alone. But there is no time to question yourself, because it’s 7:30 and its time to go….

7:25 …. 7:26 …. 7:27 …. 7:28 …. 7:29 …. 7:30

Well let’s talk about this non wetsuit swim. 300m into the swim I wanted to give up the whole thing. Not the best start, people swam over me, punched and kicked me, all was in accident, but I really didn’t expect it. So I had to breaststroke for the half of the first lap. I did thought about giving up, but then I remembered that I have told the whole Facebook and I never even expect the give up the swim, maybe the cycling , or the run, but not once I thought about quitting at the swim.

But I manage to put myself back together and I just plodded along in the water. 2 laps to go … 1 more lap to go.

The swim sucked and I was 16 mins slower than I wanted to be. So when I sat down in the changing tent I tried to gather my thoughts and don’t feel too upset about it. 1 part is down , only 2 more to go. I can do this, even if I won’t finish with the time I was planning, I mean I was already 16mins behind. Luckily my coach didn’t tell me his expectations, so I didn’t know if I’m really bad or just a bit bad.

TimepointTimeSplit TimeDistanceSpeedWomen OverallWomen 30-34 Year
Swim 133:2833:281.266 km2:39 /100m377
Swim 21:08:5035:221.266 km2:48 /100m387
Swim 31:46:1737:271.266 km2:58 /100m397
Transition 11:54:518:35377

Bike ( 6:30:53) :

That feeling when you pushing your bike out of transition, and you have millions of thoughts. Like how the heck am I going to cycle 112 miles? I hope I won’t get any mechanical issues, because I have 0 clue about how to put a tube into a tubeless tyre… I do have fixing patches but my that’s all my fixing skills.

My face on the below photo says it all.

But then I realised there’s a photographer at the depot exit, so quickly changed my facial expressions.

The first 30-40mins of the bike was hard, I still can’t decide if that’s because of the swim before or my mind was just wondering about the distance ahead. But it felt like I hardly had any speed, even tough I tried to push myself as much as I can. Phil told me to take it easy and stay in Z2 HR most of the time, so I’ve set up my Garmin to beep every time I went over 160. Because of the heat it happened frequently but then I just stopped peddling and took it really easy.

I need to prepare myself about the feed stations a bit more. I mean I knew that there will be 3 of them on the long stretch , roughly about 22-25km apart but I didn’t exactly know where.

To my total surprise the bike did go much better than I thought it will go. I’ve refilled all my water bottles with High5 at every feed station, and also got an extra bottle of clean water and just poured on myself.

All the way round I was really worried about the non drafting rule, so whenever I have approached another person I did try to make it obvious that I’ll going to take them over. They had so many race officials on motorbikes, and I didn’t want to end up in the penalty box.

There wasn’t many female participants ( only 48 of us, out of the 446 participants ) , so on the bike I’ve got to roughly the 25 km mark and finally seen a lady cyclist, and took her over, and the other one I’ve seen was almost the 80km mark. There was a few guys I keep taking over but then 10 mins later they took me back over, and we did keep repeating this for almost all the way round. It was fun.

They had so many spectators out, and kids as well. It made me smile when I heard from the kids that ” Mum / Dad, its a lady cyclist” haha bless them.

I really have no clue how, but so many other participants “knew” me, like they went past me and they did ask me if I’m the Brit? Well technically half and half . Also ended up getting so many compliments for my bike, and for my matching Base tri gear. My motto was ” If I can’t be fast , at least I’ll look good “.

When you cycle around so long, you end up keep counting the time, because there’s not much else to do. So my plan was to try and do the big long lap ( 95km) in under 3hr 30mins, so it will give me another 3:30 to do the rest of the course. My aim was to do the whole 180km under 7hrs. There was no pressure from anyone, it was just a personal aim. When I got to half way I still felt fine, so I just wanted to see if I can do it. Also I really didn’t have anything else to think about. Phil told me to keep my HR below 160, so whenever my Garmin beeped I made sure I take it a bit easy for the following few minutes.

After the big lap, we had to do 3 small ones (28.5km) , and they had a feed station at both end ( Nagyatad and Segesd). Every lap I stopped at Nagyatad and filled up my big bottle on my bike frame with 2 bottles of High5, and then poured a bottle of water on me. This did cost me some time, but I really didn’t worry about my bike time. I thought it’s more important to have drink , than get de hydrated and fall off the bike or end up with the ambulance crew. The volunteer was so nice, by the time the second lap came she seen me and had the 3 bottles ready for me.

The 3 small laps are went really well, I mean I can tell from my split times that the Nagyatad to Segesd part was slower but that’s because the feed station stop. On the way back I just grabbed a water bottle from the volunteer and poured on me and didn’t stop, so those splits are almost ended up being 30km/h. Will put all my timings at the end.

During my latest 5hr training ride I realised I’m not eating enough on the bike. So we talked this through with Phil, and agreed that I’ll have a gel on the hour mark, and then at the half an hour mark I’ll have an energy bar. Even if I’m not hungry I had to have it. It was spot on. I wasn’t hungry and didn’t have any fatigue , so pleased to say nutrition worked out really well.

The only issue I had on the bike is that my foot started to feel sore (????) , it never happened before. So I’m not too sure if it was the compressions socks, the heat or what else. I did have a bike fit done back in march and I never had any issues with the bike. So it well could be heat related. Other than this the bike was totally comfortable ,and I had no pain / ache. Also total proud of myself, I’ve spent most of the race in aero position.

So to my total surprise the bike went much better than I thought it will. I’ve finished the bike part in 6hr 30mins 53sec, with an average speed of 27.63km/hr. So have to say I totally smashed my own 7hr time limit.

Whit this time I ended up finishing 3rd ( later 2nd because of a DNF ) in my Age Group , if someone tells me this pre race I would have laughed at them. But it turns out all this cycling in the hilly Lanzarote and than more cycling in the totally hilly Hampshire worked wonders.

Timepoint. Time Split Time DistanceSpeed
Bike 80 Km4:50:512:56:0082.000 km27.96 km/h
Bike 95 Km5:14:4923:5912.500 km31.29 km/h
Bike 109 Km5:52:4237:5416.000 km25.34 km/h
Bike 123 Km 6:17:4825:0612.500 km29.88 km/h
Bike 137 Km6:56:4038:5316.000 km24.7 km/h
Bike 152 Km7:21:4225:0212.500 km29.97 km/h
Bike 165 Km7:59:3037:4816.000 km25.4 km/h
Bike 180.58:25:4326:1412.500 km28.59 km/h
Transition 28:36:1910:36

Run ( 5:22:06 ) :

When I got to transition I really really had to go for a wee. I was debating going during the bike course, but I didn’t want to get off. So after a quick change into my run gear I went to the loo. Even with that my transition time was only 10mins 36sec, pre race my aim was to be no longer than 10 mins so I’m happy with this. My swim/bike transition was only 8mins 35sec, so I’m happy with this.

Hmmm.. lets talk about this run. Everyone who knows me they know that I do love running.

But even though I have run 7 stand alone marathons, I really had no clue what to expect from an IM marathon. When you already swam 3.8km and cycled 180km, you still need to run for 42km. It’s totally insane. But as Phil told me just concentrate 1 lap at a time, and I had to do 8 laps.

8 laps = bit over 8 Parkruns, I totally can do them . Well that’s what I thought. My face says it all below.

The plan for the run was to run 9 mins and walk 1 min, and keep repeating it. I’ve managed to follow this for the first 2 laps, but from lap 3 I changed it to 4mins run 1 min walk. Looking back at my splits, it did work out really well, because I managed to keep constant pace.

1 lap was 5.2km roughly and I didn’t push it at all, just wanted to see how long does it take to get around. The fist lap took me just over 40mins, so I thought that’s a great time. I didn’t push it hard, kept an eye on my HR, and I did try to enjoy running this marathon.

At this point I really didn’t think about my overall time, so many times I went out too fast in my stand alone marathons, that I had no energy to keep up a constant pace. So the only thing I promised to myself that I do try and keep this 40mins/lap as long as I can. There was a fair few water / feed station on the course. So I made sure I took my time and got the refreshments I wanted or needed. At one station they were handing out Pepsi, I never been happier to drink Pepsi in my life. Usually I drink Pepsi max, because I don’t like the taste of Pepsi , but at this point I didn’t care, I just wanted the sugar, and something other than water / High5.

Lap 4 = half marathon….. Yayyy I can do his, and to my complete surprise I managed to keep those 40mins laps.

Half marathon in 2hr 40mins roughly, I was over the moon with that. But did try not to carried away, because there was still a long time to go.

Lap 5 I really had to go to the loo again… I don’t think drinking that much Pepsi helped haha. But on the other hand I really wanted them. Now imagine taking a trisuit off when you hot/sweaty/wet, oh and try to put it back on afterwards haha. It felt like forever till I pulled it back up.

I had a few random people keep shouting my name, turns out they did see my posts on different Facebook groups, and they knew that I’m there all alone. So hearing my name was great.

3 laps to go, at this point I looked at my watch and seen that my 40 mins laps are still pretty spot on. But most importantly I decided to have a look at my ” Overall time” on the watch. I haven’t done that before because I didn’t want to stress myself.

By this point I’ve got pretty good with my calculations, I clearly had too much time in my hand. So a quick calculations later I realised if if keep up with these 40mins laps I can (but just barely) finish in under 14hrs.

Me… who’s always slow.. me… who always think she’s never good enough… on my first ironman… when the cut off is 16:30… me… who always doubts herself… me… who’s there all alone and no-one to hug … or get a supportive word from … or just to tell me I’m doing great and don’t give up… but I knew that the whole Facebook is counting on me.

I mean I’m the one and lucky one who get’s to race an “Ironman” in 2020 when almost almost all races been canceled due to covid.

So I have kept plodding along. 2 laps to go. That’s only 2 parkruns, if I came this far I can’t give up this close to the finish. When I turned onto my last lap I knew I had it. Quick look on my watch and I had just under 45mins before the clock hits 14hrs.

At this lap I thanked all the volunteers, all the supporters who were cheering on us. The all told me you’ll be an ironman in less than 5km time. There was still a fair few runners out there and when they asked me who long left for me I said it’s my last one. All of them said congrats, and I said to them keep going you’ll get there too.

Before I turned into the finishing tunnel, I made sure I look good haha. You know for the photos. Tri suit zipped up, towel into my back pocket, and try to smile.

Gabriella …. You are an Ironman …. 13:58:25

Gabriella You ARE an Ironman . This 5 simple words only lasted like 3 seconds across the tannoy. It won’t mean anything to most of my friends, well hell no, it won’t mean anything for most of the worlds population. But those 5 words are means the world to me.

It took me well over a year to train for it. It’s not Bolton, due to Covid, but it’s my first long distance race, hell not, it’s my first ever triathlon, and I’ll going to remember this forever. This race proves that I can do this, and I’m definitely not as bad as I think. Erm… Also ended up with a marathon PB.

Run Lap 19:16:4740:285.230 km7:45 /km284
Run lap 29:54:5338:075.230 km7:18 /km273
Run lap 310:34:3939:475.230 km7:37 /km283
Run lap 411:13:4439:055.230 km7:29 /km294
Run lap 511:56:1242:295.230 km8:08 /km284
Run lap 612:37:3641:255.230 km7:55 /km284
Run lap 713:15:4838:125.230 km7:19 /km284
Run lap 813:58:2542:385.230 km8:09 /km284

Post race thoughts:

Got my medal at the finish and a can of alcohol free beer and my rose. Went to get a pizza and sat down in a bench. I really thought I’ll cry my eyes out but I didn’t cry at all ( I’ve cried more now writing this though haha ).

So I sat on that bench and was just wondering about things. Like I’ve done this. 14hrs ago at 7:30am I had zero clue if I going to cross this finish line or not. My bike mechanical skills are rubbish, so one mechanical issue and I would have been out. I really had no clue if I can do this all alone, without anyone being there for me. Usually Luke was there for me, and last year my sister and Richard came to my races. So I always had someone, they never ran with me, but all those little motivations all those supportive words meant a lot. This was totally different, me there totally alone.

But on the other hand I knew I can’t give up, I had the whole Facebook cheering on me, even though I didn’t see it till I’ve got my phone back from my post race bag. I had 100s of messages, text, Facebook tags and it felt so good that so many of you kept cheering on me. It really means a lot to me.

Overall I’m happy with my race, I didn’t give up, nutrition worked really well, all my splits were constant, and I managed to stay in the required HR zone.

Have to be honest a week later I’m a bit disappointed with my run time, I came off the bike 2/3rd in my AG, but I’ve totally lost it on the run. I ended up being the second slowest, the slowest person only ran 2 mins slower than me. So that 5:22 marathon is pretty slow. I really need to work harder my runs off the bike. So yeah a week in I’m bit deflated about the run. But hey it was my first triathlon, so I can’t win it straight away. Spoke with my coach and we do have an action plan for the future, so hopefully I can do better IM marathons.

But as I said I won’t complain, it was my first ever triathlon and I have finished it. So I need to concentrate on the positives, and learn from the negatives ( which is not much ) and try to be better for next time.

I want to say a massive Thank you for everyone who cheered on me, it really did mean a lot to me.

Thank you and loads of Love 🙂

Massive thank you very every Volunteer 🙂 and also for the race organisers to make this happen during this worldwide pandemic. I might be back next year 🙂

Mi ott leszünk! from eXtremeMan Nagyatad on Vimeo.

My split times all the way round :

TimepointTimeSplit TimeDistanceSpeedWomen OverallWomen 30-34 Year
Swim 133:2833:281.266 km2:39 /100m377
Swim 21:08:5035:221.266 km2:48 /100m387
Swim 31:46:1737:271.266 km2:58 /100m397
Transition 11:54:518:35377
Bike 80 Km4:50:512:56:0082.000 km27.96 km/h336
Bike 95 Km5:14:4923:5912.500 km31.29 km/h336
Bike 109 Km5:52:4237:5416.000 km25.34 km/h315
Bike 123 Km 6:17:4825:0612.500 km29.88 km/h315
Bike 137 Km6:56:4038:5316.000 km24.7 km/h304
Bike 152 Km7:21:4225:0212.500 km29.97 km/h294
Bike 165 Km7:59:3037:4816.000 km25.4 km/h274
Bike 180.58:25:4326:1412.500 km28.59 km/h264
Transition 28:36:1910:36264
Run Lap 19:16:4740:285.230 km7:45 /km284
Run lap 29:54:5338:075.230 km7:18 /km273
Run lap 310:34:3939:475.230 km7:37 /km283
Run lap 411:13:4439:055.230 km7:29 /km294
Run lap 511:56:1242:295.230 km8:08 /km284
Run lap 612:37:3641:255.230 km7:55 /km284
Run lap 713:15:4838:125.230 km7:19 /km284
Run lap 813:58:2542:385.230 km8:09 /km284
Total (Corrected)13:58:25– 284

Women 30-34

BibNameClubSwimTransition 1BikeTransition 2RunFinish TimeGender RankCat. Rank
108Szikszai MónikaMegathlon SE1:09:222:045:30:122:383:58:1610:42:3021
409Csada ÁgnesFTC1:22:306:326:56:1910:114:43:4013:15:46222
430Brucker Amanda Mária1:27:395:017:01:268:584:56:2113:39:23273
336Gabriella Waller1:46:178:356:30:5310:365:22:0613:58:25284
418Nyári OrsolyaPolythlon ETK1:22:247:047:48:376:574:50:0914:15:11295
414Kiss EvelinTRIATÁD1:47:089:317:00:237:575:20:4314:25:40306
345Lénártné Bene Kinga1:07:308:327:48:4811:135:25:0014:41:02327
103Hajnal AdriennFTC1:05:102:245:40:353:29– – 

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