The Powerman Duathlon in the Netherlands was an easy one. With 15km on the first run (6 laps of 2.5km), 60km on the bike (3 laps of 20km) and another 7.5km on the second run (3 laps of 2.5km) the distance was clearly shorter than a 70.3-Ironman and therefore the right place to feel the engine for the first time on a longer course. As I only trained in the basics and in short but very hard intervals I did not have a feeling for my „enginge“ on a higher performance level over 3 hours and more.
Heart beat as an indicator
For the first time I ran and rode with my heartbeat in the corner of my eye. My coach Kurt Muller gave me some indicators which were calculated – his words: „at the upper limits“. But learning from my own experience that I can perform quite long at a high heart rate i took the upper limit of the range as a measure. First run deliberately low, first bike lap again low and then increasing for the following two. The last run at the threshold and above. That‘s the one i liked most 😉
Starting as the very last male starter I found my pace and soon i was passing the first runners. Slowly but surely. Overall I reached a 4:50 pace which I could hold for a much longer distance too. So let‘s give it a try a the San Francisco Marathon – a solid 3:30 or even less?
Fresh on the bike I found soon an other athlete. Riding with 10 to 15 hearbeats less than on the first run the first bike lap was a bid boring. This was maybe the reason why coach Kurt was writing: „wishing you all the best and enough patience“. At the end of the first lap i passed my german colleague in front of me and increased the pace constantly leading me to a moderately hard ride on the third one. We all had to fight hard against the wind. Eating and drinking with a timetable helped me to go through that very positively. On the last 10 to 15 km of the ride I passed a lot of athletes that were up to 10 minutes faster than me on the run!
With this motivation in the backpack I almost crashed the guys at the entrance of the transition zone. And I realised that it was quite cold out in the fields and that my legs had to work harder than I realised. Take it easy. After changing the shoes with the obligatory but controlable cramp in the upper legs I started running. It worked quite well. All the brick runs after my rides payed out. But there was a totally new feeling I had to work with.
Listening to my heart or to my legs?
After about 1km on the last run I was feeling like my turnover was far too high (heartrate above threshold) and breathtaking wasn‘t that easy anymore. On the otherside my legs felt like running their own pace. Much faster than I felt like I could run. Trying to find the balance between the two of them I was in an ongoing seesaw between my legs and my heart. During the last 5 km I was listening to my legs and trying to find a certain „comfort“ with the speed. Don‘t ask me if there was a reserve or not. On the last 2km I felt like loosing my legs and being empty.
First of all I was the only Swiss finisher at the Powerman over the long distance. And I was really running at my limits during the last lap I am very proud and happy about all. The field was highly motivated, coming from all over Europe and the course wasn‘t easy with all it‘s edges and turns, the wind on the bike and totally flat 60km without the chance to relax the legs. I feel stronger and fresher than last year and also very free in my mind. With the experience of my coach in the back I can easily go through a sickly week and start sure of myself. But I also realised that I have to work more on my muscular endurance and strength on the bike. Rapperswil and Zofingen will be longer with much more difference in altitude. I‘ll work on that during my bike trainings and with pumping iron.