It’s no secret that I love Ironman Distance racing…of the hundreds of multisport races I have done, I honestly only really remember the epic ones- ones wherein I have had to dig deep to finish. The others are unfortunately just blurred images of lycra, sweat, aid stations and pasta parties.
But that’s me, and people are different. I actually prefer swimming, biking and running for longer distances, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I love the race and the whole process that I have to go through to get there—it makes me feel alive. I WANT MORE, SO I DO MORE. And this here is the story of my 11th Iron Distance journey.
And oh, what a journey it was. It was not just any other race, this was Challenge Roth, the triathlon race of lore.
GRFB and GLENDA: Two forces to be reckoned with!
My running group Girls Run For Breakfast had organized a send-off dinner a few days before I left. They are an amazing bunch of Kick-Ass women and just amazing friends and I really wanted to do this race well for them.
Getting out of Manila was a bit of an ordeal in itself though, as I had left the Wednesday Typhoon Glenda decided to showcase her wrath. The airport was in utter chaos, and it took us more than an hour to go through immigration, so our flight was more than two hours delayed. I had a connecting flight from Abu Dhabi to Dusseldorf, and when I landed in Abu Dhabi the flight to Dusseldorf was already on its Final Call. That was my main workout for the day, running as fast as I could with my luggage from one gate to another, and I made it just as they were about to close their doors. From there it was two more plane rides, one subway ride, one train ride, and one car ride to get to Roth on a fine Thursday afternoon. And what a lovely welcome I received from my homestay family, the Woelfels:
3 Flags: Philippines, Roth, and Germany
The Rhine–Main–Danube Canal
On Friday Morning I arranged to meet with one of the other Filipino participants, Noelle, at the swim practice. I felt great in my brand new Blueseventy Helix Wetsuit, and the water temperature suited me perfectly.
Yay my Blueseventy Helix wetsuit fits! Phew (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Was great to see Noelle (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Roaming Around the Expo
I picked up my race packet afterwards and roamed around the humongous expo grounds.
Cool ZOOT car!
Lunch with Sven
Hanging out by the registration
Roth Town Welcome Party Friday Night
In the evening I had a blast at the Bayern 3 welcome party!
Bayern 3 Party
My lovely German Homestay Family, the Wölfels
Challenge Women Run on Saturday morning
The next day the Woelfels and I cheered for Eva as she ran the 5k Womens Race.
My homestay Eva raced in the Challenge Womens 5k on Saturday morning
A photo with race emcee, my favorite Belinda Granger (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Cheering for Eva with Leo, Johanna, Sven, and Lucia
Bike Check In on Saturday afternoon
It was getting very hot so we fled from the sun and came out again in the last hour of the bike check in to tuck my baby in for the night. It was going to be a long day tomorrow. I kissed my trusty steed for luck.
See you tomorrow my trusty steed! (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
All Racked Up! (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
3,500 Individual participants and 650 Relay Teams make for a Giant Transition Area
Race Day Beckons
Yes, I still get very nervous, very very much so, on race morning. People ask me this question all the time. This is what I live for. The gut wrenching feeling which signals the impending battle you are about to take on.
Arland checking out the swim (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Noelle and I started in the same wave (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
The song choices of the DJ that morning were very motivational, including an Olympics anthem which made my hair stand up even more.
We swam underneath this bridge (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
250,000 Spectators on Race Day. 40,000 Spectators at The Canal. Crazy! (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Individual Participant Sister Madonna leads the prayer
Rockstar Sister Madonna Buder, 83 yo (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Inspirational CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation) Ambassador Rudy Tolson Garcia
Out of the water
Walking to his bag
Out of the swim in good spirits
I felt like I swam well enough, so I was very happy. I set out to do a fast transition as every second counted!
Photo by Sven Woelfel
Smashed on the Bike
On the bike I started out fine but began to worry when after 2hours or so the hills didn’t seem to let up. Then I realized they weren’t going to. Haha. I shook my head and laughed. The times here are fast because of the strong Germans, not because it’s a fast course!
Okay Mathias, Jurgen, Thomas, Dirk 1, Dirk 2, Jens and Wolfgang. You have permission to overtake me!!! :)
After that I let myself relax a bit more as there was still a long way to go. I had to maintain a decent pace but made sure I did not overdo it. Energy management: that is Ironman in a nutshell for you!
I just need to talk about this hill. It is amazing. It is magical. I was sobbing and laughing wildly at the same time. I am a big fan of classic cycling races and the Tour De France, and I have always wondered what it felt like to be cycling in one of the stages. Well, you get a wicked glimpse of it on Solar Hill. It may have lasted but a few minutes, but these are minutes from my life that I will always remember.
Slugfest on the Run
The marathon course of Roth is very scenic and forgiving on your joints due to the hard packed trail surface. I would have probably appreciated it better on any other day. But today, it was a slug. I just did not have the energy left to produce a decent run. I only had myself to blame as I had to admit I probably did not do enough bike and run volume, which had now led to this. But every race you learn. Or re-learn.
One of the things I love about Iron distance racing is that it always give you a big serving of humble pie when you need it most. At this point in my career I tend to take basic things for granted, like laying the groundwork properly, and when I go to races like this unprepared I pretty much pay for it. Racing long distance constantly keeps me grounded. I can never stray too far once I start being too complacent!
Emotional Finish (yes, again)
I saw my host family waiting for me in Town at the 40k mark, and I was very very happy to see them. Little Leo ran about 150meters with me. It was great. Macca just happened to be standing nearby too and ran to give me a High Five as I passed.
Finally, I was on the last stretch. Once you hear the noise from the stadium you are home free. I looked for Sven as I wanted to get the Philippine Flag from him. It meant a lot to me to carry it through the finish line.
When I saw him a few hundred meters to go I was in such an emotional state already. I always am. I just can’t help it. I let the tears flow. I guess my finish does not feel complete without them.
Unfolding the flag before I take the last few meters towards the finish line (Photo by Sven Woelfel)
Forever Grateful to be able to Finish. Always grateful to be able to FINISH. Thank you God for another amazing journey.
Women’s Champ Mirinda Carfrae, blazing fast run
Challenge Roth 2014 Winner TIMO BRACHT
And just like that, the race weekend was over. I stayed two more days in Roth before heading home mostly because I wanted to spend some time with Dan’s homestay family the three times he had raced there. It was great to meet the Wölfs as I had heard so much about them from Dan. They were very happy to meet me as well. They showed me some photos during Dan’s stays with them. I could see why my husband liked them very much.
I was very happy to finally meet Dan’s family in Roth!
Dan’s homestay family in Roth got out their photo albums and showed me some pics of Dan the couple of years he did Roth and stayed with them
Some gelato in the square with Lucia and Leo
My parting gifts…Timex watches for Eva and Sven and some dried mangoes from the Philippines!
On my last day in Germany the Wölfels took me to Nuremberg wherein we had a few hours to stroll around before my train took off. They are a lovely family and I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to stay with them. I thought of my own small family, Dan and Dash, and how much I longed to see them. It was time to go home.
It had been an eventful and productive trip, with new friends and lasting memories made. Auf wiedersehen Roth, until we meet again!
Girls Run For Breakfast and UNILAB–THANK YOU!!! Timex, Gatorade, Rudy Project, Zoot/ Light’N’Up Marketing, Yurbuds, ALASKA Milk, Enervon Activ, Shimano, Glen Colendrino for my RETUL fit, my ULAH teammates and my boys Tyrone Regaliza, David Almendral and Maiqui Dayrit.
Felix Walchshoefer and Elke Angermann.
Thanks to my ever loving family, Dan and Dash, the de Leons, Sarabias, and the Browns. My Team Transformers Claire and Epoy, Ben, Philip and Mark🙂 And of course my homestay family the Wölfels and Dan’s homestay family the Wölfs.
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