The build up is usually worse than the actual event. We hoped it was true! Michiel is nervous, I am nervous, but of course, we stay positive, I know he has done enough to get to that finish line, but anything could happen. Keep the pressure off – no matter what, he had won, he had conquered so much already.
Bags packed, bike ready, checklist ticked, we were off to Calella. The home of the Ironman! Around an hour up the coast from Barcelona. The weather was predicted to be rainy all day on race day – another thing we were trying to stay positive about.
Two years in the making, all of the rollercoasters and obstacles to get to this point now. It seemed so surreal! Like we were in a dream – was the day we had talked about so often really upon us!?! Already!?
As his coach, it is my job to ensure he is calm, his nutrition is on point, and his body is ready for this. As good as I am at my job, even coaches are nervous before race day. Anything could happen, and all the training, reassuring, late nights doing plans, adjusting, stretching etc etc came down to this. The big day. I was trying to not say any of this to Michiel, it would only add to his nerves, and was my confident, happy, calming self beforehand.
Calella – usually a quieter town with tourists who liked to not do much except sit on the beach and drink in their hotels, now was packed full of athletes. A buzz filled the air as soon as we got off the train. The streets scattered with people and their bikes, nerves and excitement all around.
The finish line, up and ready for days beforehand
Check in, briefings and the obligatory buying everything in the merchandise tent commenced. Camaraderie and a deep understanding between athletes made it feel so exhilarating!
Signing the famous Ironman wall of fame!
More checklists, more reassurances that we had done enough, and Michiel was as ready as he could be.
Got the all important chip to wear on the day, that will track his time
The day before, it was time for the 3 checks. A swim in the sea, a ride of the bike, and a leg turner for the legs. This is important to make sure everything is ready for the next day, but also that his body is ‘warm’ and primed for the mammoth task at hand. The sea was rough, and the waves high. Wind didn’t help anyones nerves, and so many people looked terrified as they did their swim checks too.
A quick swim in the rough sea
Bike checked and placed on the rack ready for the big day
A deep stretch, some breathing, and a dinner rich in carbohydrates for the energy source, very important beforehand, and it was time to hit our beds and hope for a decent night sleep. He can do this.
As I lay in bed, wondering, overthinking, imagining every eventuality, I knew we had done enough. Inside I felt so nervous for Michiel, but I had no doubts that he could do this. I just hoped the pressure wasn’t too much.
It was soon time to wake up, overnight oats at the ready, wet suit in hand and head to the start line. Let’s do this.