A memorable race
I tell you frankly I haven’t even heard about the city GDYNIA. I didn’t know for a long time how to pronounce its name (/ˈɡdɨ.ɲa/) And now I connect my best half distance time to it.
In November 2018, the organizers of Ironman Gdynia 70.3 invited me to the event by letter. The IRONMAN brand is in itself a good pedigree, but combining a race with discovering new places has added an extra for it. This is a new trend anyway in the running and triathlon world, or at least in the world of hobby sports, which I personally really like.
It fits me to complete a half distance triathlon close to the end of the summer, as I sit relatively late on my bike outside
With the guidance of my coach, we have actually begun preparations since the invitation, which was somewhat interrupted by the 2-month total absence due to winter surgery, but we already knew this when we accepted the invitation. The winter foundation for running was missing, but in return I rolled more on my new “smart” roller.
I concentrated on keeping my level of swimming, improving my bike, and on the run I trusted that many, many years of work won’t let me down.
As part of my preparations for the Ultrabalaton in May, I was doing a running crash course. I can’t write anything special or interesting about my preparation, it’s like talking about a good relationship, if everything goes relatively well, it’s boring to the audience. 😊
I’m getting right to the point, because the purpose of this post is to provide insight for amateur athletes who sort of the wide range of competitions based on personal experiences.
The bus and train must be immediately excluded by anyone who doesn’t want to rent a bicycle in the location of the race.
Bicycle transport on night trains is not allowed, but the Hungarian Train Company’s international ticket vendors did not find any chain of connections on daytime lines where the bicycle would have reached its destination with its owner. However, it is well known that triathletes are very attached to their favorite toys. Getting there by bus would have been possible, but the same bus company did not have a bus with bicycle holder on the way back. I think it would have been my most expensive bus trip if I had to leave the bike in Gdynia. The plane and the car were left. I’m one of those who, if they don’t have to, won’t register their bike sas a luggage on an airplane. And although I don’t like to drive for so long, I stayed at the car version.
The distance is 1100 km, which ideally can be driven in 11 hours.
However, the Czechs and Polish people are nonstop digging their roads, they are real moles. On the highway, the stationary traffic is typical, just as it’s quite common in Budapest downtown. So 11 hours long trip can quickly reach up to 16 hours with just short stops. It is uncomfortable, annoying, spiritually tiring and not ideal at all before a race. And as I was informed later, this traffic situation is not special this year, it is the same whole summertime.
It should be added that we set off on a Friday and continued driving on a Saturday, which is of course the busiest period of vacationers and locals. If I had to start again, I would probably take the flight to Gdansk from where you can get to Gdynia with a short train ride. And when choosing a freeway, I would definitely go on Wednesday or Thursday before the race to keep the congestion to a minimum. The experience also showed: we drove back on Monday, the situation was a bit better, but it still seemed horribly long, though maybe just because the man on the way home is always more impatient!
Gdynia is located on the shores of the Baltic Sea, a real port town and, above all, the port part that is spectacular.
We called it “the Polish Siófok” (Siófok is a typical Hungarian weekend city at Lake Balaton): vendors, cafes, restaurants and local wurstli give the place a special atmosphere and charm: ferris wheel, amusement park, fridge magnet and sailor cap, lighting balloons.
The temperature in August is ideal for racing: 25-30 degrees, cloudy-sunny, relatively rain-free and the sea provides fresh air.
The sea is quite cold due to its northern location, even in summer, even during the hottest month of August, the swimming in neoprene is almost guaranteed.
The competition and accompanying programs take place both at the marina and the beach, so it is worth booking a hotel near it.
The two largest nearby hotels in town are Mercure and Marriot, which are then overwhelmed by triathletes. The hotels are flexible and patient with the special needs of the racers (early breakfast, room storage, late checkout, etc.). The best thing was that everything was accessible by foot. Amateurly, I didn’t have my ID card with me wheen wanted to pick up my BIB, it would have annoyed me if I had to get in the car. It was pretty good like this. And I loved waking up to the sound of the seagulls in the morning.
This is the fourth year that this competition has been held in Gdynia, with statistics showing that it is becoming increasingly popular with foreign competitors (in 2015 only 5%, compared to 35% this year).
Organizers are really starting to meet the needs of foreign legionnaires, there is a shortage of English-speaking volunteers and bilingual speakers. Some locations of the programs were very scattered, due to the lack of signage on the one hand and the lack of layout and markings on the printed program book on the other. We found out later that we should have found out about the program sent by email. Anyone says anything and no matter how sophisticated the flow of information on the Internet is nowadays, when people are in the field, paper based things work.
The organizers are cute, kind, flexible and responsive to suggestions. After all, that is why I was invited to, experience the eyes of a foreigner and to express my opinion in order to make the destination attractive to other foreigners. I believe that with this organizational attitude the future development and success of the competition is guaranteed! IRONman competition with individual taste, local character and wonderful fans!
What I really liked:
- late bike check – the advantage is that there is no crowd, either in the transition area or at the bike service center. The disadvantage is that in the morning sun you have to measure the precise directions of movement within the transition zone after swimming and cycling, and that is not a good thing if you do not want to waste your time on improvised orientation
- the transition zone – it was in a beautiful location in the harbor, in the shade of old big ships and the horizon of the sea.
- the medal – depicts the steering wheel of a ship, which fully reflects the character of the venue, making it a “not just a pendant”, but a true memory.
- the starter kit includes a high quality and practical sports backpack.
- a prominent elite racer is always invited, last year Daniela Ryf set the world best 70.3 time (3:57:55) and this year we were able to compete with the world’s best man competitor, Jan Frodeno. I wonder who will they come up with next year!
- Polish people cheer so enthusiastically! They are loveable!
We were very lucky with the weather, as the day before at the sprint distance ca. 200 people had to be taken out of the water due to the huge wind, but by Sunday the weather had calmed down and the sea showed a very different face. Of course, wearing neoprene was a must at 18 degrees, where the temperature was absolutely comfortable.
To my great surprise, the water was barely salty, so there is no problem with the few sips that people unwillingly drink while swimming. Due to the rolling start, the swim took place without fighting. Even jellyfish could be caressed.
Footnote: Although this is not the specialty of this competition, but since it has been shown here while swimming, I will write it down. It has been a common practice for runners for years and years to start from specific starting zones. With rolling start in swimming, it is perfectly logical to try to categorize the athletes so that people with the same pace will be able to compete in the same field from the start.
Overtaking, unintentional bumping / kicking can take a lot out of a person. Unfortunately, as I often see in running races, many people are not in the right zone. I always try to be good-natured, but in a half distance triathlon race or a marathon, I find it strange that someone can’t realistically estimate his or her average ’traveler’ pace.
We all practice a lot for these competitions, only very few are not prepared properly, so everyone has a clue of what she or he is capable of. Why do many people feel the urge to stand into a better time zone? Because they have the same experience of being ahead of others, so they follow this trend so they don’t have to be overtaken. Is this a negative butterfly effect? I do not understand! I want the butterfly effect to work backwards so I set myself at the very end of the zone where I was positioning myself, swam just the same, but was overtaking constantly. I would like to try once how to race by cruising a bit! It would be a good idea for everyone to follow the start etiquette! In any case, I stubbornly insist on the rules of competition and the unwritten rules of the “honor box”! I believe it will work in the long run!
After a short urban exit etap, there was a very good, varied, technical, long forest section. The single-track course started off with elevation, its center was pleasantly wavy, and it ended with a pleasant slope, which was especially good for the feet. All elevations were 800 m.
For me, the most enjoyable part of the race was the bike, maybe because I have improved on bike the most compared to myself, and this gives me the greatest success at the moment, but I think the track itself is very attractive to gourmet cyclists.
For me, it will be an everlasting experience, as for the first time I felt the goose-skin ‘runner’s high’ experience while cycling. Does this have a name on bike?
There are few triathlon races where the running course is fun. This is probably because at the end of the race, running is not so good and many people have difficulty tolerating multi-circuit courses. That’s what triathlon is all about. Anyone who drips in as a runner must adjust his or her mind.
Running will never be like running a classic one-lap race where we start with relaxed legs. The 21km end game was divided here into 3 laps.
The two urban elevation sections, the cobblestoned parts and the southern warm (30 degrees), made the course difficult.
I found it particularly difficult, but it could also be that I was just tired of running because of the stronger cycling than usual. I managed to pull the half marathon under 1:40 anyhow.
On the bike course there were a total of 4 refreshment points with jelly, muesli, iso and water. At the run course they offered water, iso, jelly, banana, redbull, orange and some cookies in every 2,5 kilometers. I can’t comment on the products because I didn’t ask the volunteers for anything other than water.
On the bike I drank a bottle of ISOrun (tested throughout the summer during workouts) and ate a FlapJack cherry muesli bar, 4 salt tablets and 2 magnesium, and for my Achilles an Algoflex painkiller. Before running I took a sip of ISOrun and after that I just refreshed with water, there is still room for improvement.
ISOrun will be soon in my webpage, if you would like to recieve information about it subscribe to the newsletter in advance: http://www.irunmomshop.hu
After the finish line, the man arrives at the public beach, a little orphaned. I was looking for the racetrack but was not within sight. When asked the organizers, it was found that I had to walk about 200 meters away more. It was weird.
But after entering the Athletes’ Garden, the Canaan opened up to me: the mountains of oranges, melons and bananas endlessly, I loved it.
The usual massage was replaced by something else. The masseurs used a machine I didn’t know to “knead” the tired and stiff muscles. I’m basically skeptical about massage machines versus human hands, but now I’m very pleasantly disappointed. This shockwave-like machine relaxed the muscles amazingly. I also asked the price of it: could have been bought locally for around 350 EUR. Otherwise, it’s not a bad idea!
And while you were sitting in the queue, you could stretch on polyphones or use vibrating SMR rollers to lighten up. These rollers also vibrated with enormous power, adding a lot of extra to the familiar “rolling” feel.
There were also three recovery boots available for free use and I observed that they were thoroughly and professionally disinfected after each use. So the services here are literally got me off my feet and I’ve got a lot of new features compared to other tournaments! The evening’s official afterparty was free of charge, so many of the performers were at a cozy harbor club.
I’d like to write about them. Because I’m terribly grateful for their last-minute commitment to this journey.
That I didn’t have to come down alone, that I had an excellent company, that they were cheering me on, that they helped me with the orientation there, with the logistics. How they escorted me!
They were my sherpas, they were my support, they were having fun, that they are my friends! Thank you Andi and Judi!
And then about body and mind, the subjective part that doesn’t interest everyone or anyone:
Overall, I loved the competition. I loved it because it started so Réka-like, but it ended very well. However on purpose I wanted to do this differently now, to test how much it really matters to be really prepared – not the training preparation, but mentally and phisically relaxed in the days right before.
I wanted to be prepared, so that I did not want to fall into the starting zone from the kids as usual and not just have a few minutes to tune in. Unusually, on the top even months before I was going. I wanted to have a good sleep before and eat in decent way. I wanted to get there a few days earlier to take a little hike and relax. I wanted to stay for a few more days to recover calmly.
Of course, things turned out differently.
That just doesn’t seem to be my way of racing. In the last minute, Thursday the program changed, Peti did not come with me, I reorganized everything.
On Thursday I didn’t even know how to get there, I tried to avoid the long drive alone with nobody in the car. Instead of starting early on Friday, it turned into a late Friday afternoon, with two of my girlfriends, Andi and Judi, jumping in at the last minute, for what I’m really thankful and I can thank them for the whole weekend was filled with humor and constant laughter despite all the difficulties.
Andi is not driving, and Judit is a student, so the lion’s share of the journey came to me. I was driving approx. for 10 hours to Gdynia. On Friday night we stopped to sleep on the way to a motel because we could no longer drive. We wrote to the accommodation in Gdynia. We ate all day at gas stations, which is zero food for me. We booked a reservation sometime around 11am but managed to find a good enough place to sleep.
On Saturday morning we had at least a normal breakfast and continued our journey, but due to traffic jams we reached the city by 3 pm. Check-in, race center, we didn’t even pack out at the hotel – of course, there was a lot of buzz about Saturday’s sprint distance. Took the BIB and then back to the hotel, I swam an easy recovery swim – there was a swimming pool in the hotel, but I had a total of 40 minutes, it was a rush.
We were late the technical briefing because we could not find the location of it due to the bad information system mentioned before.
Back to the transition zone. We were walking between places and we were already really hungry. Let’s say we could alleviate that easily.
In the evening I packed everything for the race with the help of the girls.
This part is not easy for me, on the one hand this is challenge in triathlon compare to running, that it is so complex in terms of racing and on the other hand it is very tiring. (I always think, oh, I just throw in my running shoes for a running race, I get there to the start 10 minutes before and then it’s done!) It’s like when you suddenly stay one instead of three kids … everything is relative!
And of course, we went to bed relatively late, around midnight. Waking up in the morning, breakfast. I can’t eat much at this time. Oats, scrambled eggs and some waffle. Maybe that’s it. Then morning depot, water fill, bike check, neoprene, swimstart.
And here I switch. I put down a lot of zeal, mental distress, rush here and concentrate on the competition here.
It was no different in Poland. 😊 And I enjoyed the race, every moment went well, I liked it, there was no stalemate, nothing really hurt, neither my stomach, my achilles, nor my soul. It went well, with a smile, not easily but with ease. And that’s important to me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t like to suffer too much on competitions. I didn’t suffer, I enjoyed it. There was hardly any problem on the race (because it always comes!) – I forgot to pee in the sea so I was forced to do it in the transition zone. It was stupid because I even remembered during swimming, but it wasn’t so urgent, so I thought I’d do a bit before getting out. But of course I forgot! The other problem was that I changed the lens of my glasses the previous night, but I didn’t wear the nose saddle. It didn’t bother me while riding the bike but it would have fallen off during the run so I couldn’t use it on a hot day. Anyway, this is a minor annoyance compared to a 5 hour race. So the technical part went also pretty well.
I wanted to check out the award ceremony, but we couldn’t find the venue again. It’s annoying! But we went to the official afterparty, where we had a little celebration, but the girls were tired too, the previous days were rolling and we wanted to sleep. We hit the road back on Monday morning because the girls had things to do at home.
As a result, the planned sightseeing in nearby Gdansk was missed, which I very much regret.
So from Sunday to Monday the sleep was not too much either, after breakfast we were on our way again, left at around 10:30. And we arrived to Budapest at 2:30 am Tuesday. I drove 80% of the road, in the dark, during heavy rain in the second part of the route. I was in bed at 3:00 and at 9:30 my dad knocked on the door, that he took Nr. 3 – Huba. I did not even know where I was .Life goes on…quickly. No time to chill.
I have written somewhere that I can easily overtake myself on the success or failure of a race. I live it, but its after-vibrations are short. I live in the moment of competition, the aftermath doesn’t overwhelm me for days. It is also possible that I have not yet gone through a serious ordeal that really turns people off, or I do not complete my competitions by experiencing it, or by going into that dimension. It may be called superficiality, but the way things are lived is different. After all, you can run a 100m without leaving your soul there. I don’t know, because I’ve never been touched for days, weeks of body performance. Nonetheless, I have a lot of respect for myself, for others, and I am fascinated, and it is no accident that I am passionate about pushing the boundaries of our bodies with the power of the soul and the will, only I do it in moderation. But I love it this Gdynia-way!!
- Travel – fly or car! If you go by car, it is advisable to leave before Friday due to congestions and even clever to stay for the night, sleep somewhere and then continue the journey!
- Accommodation – book near the beach in time, if possible!
- Depo – I recommend to visit the depo late. The queue is long in the afternoon!
- Swimming – count on jellyfish (harmless) and neoprene swimming. By the way, you can get some neoprene on the spot! Rental is also available!
- Bicycle – the elevations in Budapest and at Lake Balaton are plenty enough for the course!
- Running – It’s worth practicing a with little elevation! In a sunny day there is just a little shadow!
- After run-in – it is worth waiting for the massage, recovery boots. The next day, I had almost no problems with my muscles next day.
- Sightseeing – nearby Gdansk, a fairy tale city, on your way back to or back Poznan, Krakow and Warsaw are definitely worth to visit.
Go for it! I really hope that next year there will be a lot of Hungarian racers as well, as they are giving away slots too!
I thank the organizers for the invitation, the local volunteers for their help, the Polish fans for the atmosphere, Andi and Judi for the company, Marci Flander – my coach – for the guidance and everyone who added to my trainings! Thank you for watching the competition and thinking about me or cheering for me at home, thank you for reading the article and I hope I could share some useful experiences with you!
For you with love: Réka
- Swimming: 36.53 (1900 m – pace: 1:56 / 100 m)
- Transition 1: 3:29 (with WC and neopren change)
- Bike: 2:53:33 (90 km – pace: 31,1 km / óra szint: 764 m)
- Transition 2: 3:40 (transition is relatively long)
- Futás: 1.38:55 (21 km – pace: 4:44 min / km asc: 177 m)
- overall 710. (1825-ből)
- overall women: 43. (238-ból)
- category 40-45: 7. (42-ből)