IRONdream... a story about becoming a MAN, an IRONMAN

Dlouho očekávaný report od našeho ridera a nově také IRONMANA Pavla Draštíka je tady! Připravte si slovníčky a jdeme na to! ;)
Long expected report from our rider and freshly IRONMAN Pavel Drastik is here! Get your dictionaries ready and there we go! ;)
 
When you are a kid and see firefighter on TV, you might say to your parents: «I want to be a firefighter when I grow up» I don't know what I wanted to be as a kid, but certainly not an economist I have became.

Well, I'm not even an economist, I'm basically a failure in society's point of view – I'm 30 years old, I don't have a steady job, I have no home (except for a room at my parents place in Prague and my van), no girlfriend, no kids, I don't even have a health insurance. But, despite all this, I live a happy life, because I have dreams which I live and those dreams are truly mine, rather than someone's else!

Pavel Drastik Swim IronMan Colin Trevor Pavel
I saw a reportage from the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii when I was a kid, I was impressed but I didn't think much of it as the lenght of it was beyond my comprehension. Later I competed on mountainbikes and remember thinking about trying terrain triathlon, but because I was a poor swimmer I abandoned that idea soon after. Things has changed when I met a swiss guy in Norway who was training for Ironman. It amazed me and inspired me at the same time: I thought I should be able to do this if he could. The break point was when I ran a Prague marathon in 2012, which went really well. I knew I can cycle, marathon proved I can run, which left only one huge worry – swimming!
 
I learnt how to swim in a third year at the primary school, that is pretty late. I was always a "turttle", that means a poor swimmer as appose to "dolphins" like my sister. I had never swum more than 1,5 km in the pool, always combining breast stroke with crawl, which I couldn't sustain for more than 50 metres.
 
My favourite quote is «the only failure in life is not trying» so in September 2013 I registered, I registered for Ironman Lanzarote which was held on 17.5.2014. It's vital to register early as it tends to sell out rather quickly. I paid close to 500 euro to take part and I had a reason to start worrying.
 
Ironman triathlon consist of 3,9 km swimming, 180,2 km cycling and 42,2 km running, which is in other words a marathon. The competition usually starts at 7:00 am and cut off time is at 00:00, that means you have to finish within 17 hours in order to classify.
 
Apart from couple of runs and 2 hopeless swimming efforts in the cold North sea I haven't done any training untill the end of the year. But since I like to do things full on once I decide for something, I stocked up my van and at the beginning of January I was on my way to Lanzarote allowing myself 4 months of proper training.
Plavec Pavel Priprava IronMan
I slept in my van the first nights, then I had a room for a week, before I found my own place in a little village on the north side of the island. My training could finally start! I started swimming in a lagoon down the road, my first sessions were just couple of 50-100 m efforts, depending on how fast I was short of breath. Later I signed up for swimming for adults at the municipal swimming pool in the capital on the other side of the island, where I swam 3 times a week. The rest of the time I would fill up with cycling, running and still some surfing and windsurfing, whatever I felt like.
 
After a while I started meeting people, most of them were experienced triathletes who were willingly helping me out training-wise and answering all my questions. This was a huge boost to my confidence and social life. I was happy and I felt I'm getting somewhere! Pretty much every Wednesday, when we regurarly swam in the sea on the other side of the island on the actual Ironman course, I would break a new personal swimming record in distance or time. I was no longer afraid of 2h 20 mins time limit for the swim leg!
 
At the end of March, aproximately after 2 months of training and 2 months before Ironman Lanzarote, there was a triathlon race on the island called TRI122. 122 represents 2 km svimming, 100 km cycling and 20 km running, which is about half Ironman distance often reffered to as Ironman 70.3 as well. I was advised to take part as a trial for the full Ironman race which was my main objective and I was eager to try! The race unfolded amazingly for me. I swam fine in a rough sea, considering the strong winds had pretty good bike, especially on the mountain climb to Tabayesco (11 km long steep climb) and finished of with excellent run averaging 4:01 mins/km. I didn't have any lows during the race, nutritional intake worked great and so did my first experience with transitions zones and combination of all 3 diciplines together. It could hardly be better in a first race I though. That boosted my motivation and sent my confidence high.
 
After came the very low of my whole preparation. Cold 2-3h bike ride the next day followed by a massive party and little sleep, together with a day out at sea windsurfing and full training load straight after (for example running a half marathon 3 days after the race) led to an illness/overtraining. I can't blame anyone than me though, I should have listened to my body because I got clear signals. Anyway, curing myself with tea, vitamins, garlic, onion with honey and similar hasn't improved my health, I was still weak and unable to train. Two weeks later I went to see a doctor who hasn't diagnosed anything spectacular and prescribed me antibiotics. I was out of the game for another 10 days. I was desperate like I haven't been in a long time! Finally, after almost 4 weeks, I could resume training and there was not much time left – 5 weeks exactly.
Promenada narodu Před Startem Ironmana
I was extremely happy once I was out training with my mates again, but I was worried as well. Ironman scares me just like it is and considering how weak I was just 5 weeks before the race, I was nervous and I had a reason. I got my confidence back up after an Englishman Trevor approached me, offered me help and tailor made a training program for me for the last 5 weeks. Trevor is an amazing athlete himself and a man of wisdom in his late fiftie's. I didn't want to take any chances and the last weeks I strictly followed the program, took a great care about nutrition and obeyed the rest days, instead of going surfing like I did before.
 
Still I was anxious every time I had a sore throat or any other sign of getting sick. It's such a fine line between the best one can train and overdoing it, your body is constantly tired and your immune system weakened so you are virtually step away from falling into a sick hole. Psychics play its role as well. Luckily, I felt good and ready the last days prior to the race. I was actually looking forward to being in the race, I was looking forward to switching off my brain and just doing it, there was so much going through my head before the race!
Fanoušci ironman Fanosci Pavel
My family and some friends came to support me, which was great and even though I didn't pay much attention to them before the race, I was really glad they were there. I went through the registration on Thursday, bike and bags check-in on Friday and sleepless night Friday to Saturday – the day of the race. I woke up at 4 am, ate a huge and rich porridge, put vaseline all over my body, got my water bottles with drinks and gels ready and drove to the start in Puerto Del Carmen. I dipped in the sea 20 mins before the start to warm up and that was it, I have done my best I could to be ready for this day and it was about the time to sell it now!  
 
At 7:00 am the crowd of 2300 athletes started what would be a very long day for most of them, including me. I was between the first athletes in the queue hoping for a swim time around 65 mins. Who would have expected it in January! Swim consisted of 2 laps and it was a madness. The water around me seemed to be boiling, people kicking and splashing all over, occasionally under or on top of you as well. I was familiar with the course which was very calming, my biggest worry was not to lose my mask and even though I received some kicks it stayed on. I could see my split time after the first lap which showed something over 30 mins. It felt amazing! Second loop was a bit slower, but much nicer as the crowd dissolved slightly. I was out of the water just under 64 mins, what a great start to the race I thought.
Swim IronMan Paulie Bike Ironman
In T1 (transition zone between swim and bike) everything went smooth and shortly I was clipping into the pedals on the bike slicing off the first km of 180,2 km long circuit, which I knew very well. I had a nutrition plan about my liquid and gel intakes I planned to stick to. All I had to do now was to pedal, drink and eat. I was hoping for time around 6 hours which means an average speed around 30 km/h. I knew I could do it and I knew I should have enough strength to run a solid marathon after that. The beginning of the course is more hilly and against the wind, then around 110 km the course turns south with the wind in the back and no major climb ahead. It went flawless, after about 80 km I was already averaging 30 km/h and I knew I would soon be going downhill and having the wind behind me. But that was when the unexpected came, slowly but surely I started feeling pretty uneasy, I lost appetite for the gels and stared suffering a bit. I got to that turning point and I hoped things would get better with a 10 km downhill, but it didn't happen. The contrary actually, I was no longer able to consume the gels or anything else but water. I slowed down significantly and almost vomited few times, my stomach was letting me know something was wrong. The last 20 km I just hanged on the handlebars and I couldn't picture myself running marathon after that at all.
 
But I wasn't there to win, I was there to finish primarily and I had enough time still, there was no reason for panic. I got to T2 (transition between bike and run) after 6 h 22 mins, bit behind the schedule and feeling terribly, but I also knew that I still  had more than 9,5 hours to finish in order to be classified. I started running at least and at the first aid station I got an idea about a new plan. I started drinking Coca Cola and even swallowed some oranges. The oranges didn't make me feel better so I stopped trying eating them, but coke did. I was running slow compared to what I expected, but I was running. There were 3 laps, first two of 16 km and the last one around 10 km. I made a first lap and that was probably the lowest I have been, just running, totally zoned out, not responding to anything. All I cared about was the next aid station, cup of coke, cup of water, cold sponges and over and over again for the remainder of 42,2 km. However, at the end of the second lap the coke made wonders and kicked in, my stomach stopped aching and I felt revived. The last lap I was actually feeling pretty good and I was running this time for real!
Bike 110 km IronMan Run 41 km

I was speeding up towards the end and slowly it sank down to me that I was so close to achieve my goal. I zipped up my trisuit the very last km and crossed the finish line with the Ironman ribbon high up in my hands after 11:21:37, I became an Ironman! Immediately after crossing the finish line I rejoined my family, friends, coach and hugged them all through the bars of the transition zone and thanked them for their amazing support. They were probably more happy than me at that time, because I knew I could do better. I was sad, but now, exactly 2 months later I'm truly happy and I appreciate my achievement like it is! I have to mention again that I'm not a triathlete and I couldn't swim properly just couple of months before.

Iron Man Finish line Czech Iron Man Finish
Reflection:
I had a dream, I worked towards that dream, I made commitments, I spent most of my money, I trained hard, I was tired, I fell sick.....but I made awesome friends, I learned some Spanish, I had an amazing time, I learned a lot about myself, I lived the dream and at the end I succeeded and it was so worth it!
 
On top of this together we helped a little disabled kid named Oliver! We have managed to raise up enough money for a costly rehab he has to undergo in order to learn to walk! Big thank you to everyone who contributed!
 
LIVE YOUR DREAMS
 
Pavel Drastik Ironman Celebration
See video