Virtual 70.3 Ironman Course Graduate races 70.3 Luxembourg

You are a 70.3 Ironman in Luxembourg!

Isaac is a fresh graduate from our 8-month 70.3 group training program and he has proven to himself that he has what it takes to get to the finish line! Isaac lives in Brussels and has been following our program on Training Peaks, listening to the Zoom calls, and jumping on Zwift with us. Last Summer he was in Ottawa and took multiple open water swim lessons with Coach Dawn and then he was ready to join the team! 

Dear mates, here is my 70.3 Ironman Luxembourg report. Hope I covered my main feelings and impressions. Hope to see all of you at the finish line in Mont Tremblant or Muskoka!!!

I apologize for my poor English, it’s my third language, French is my second, and Spanish my mother tongue ….with a bit of Italian in the middle !!

I went from Brussels to Luxembourg (200 km) on Saturday morning with a friend as my “ironman crew” to help me with all logistics and …driving. Weather: 28° and a bit windy so, promising !!! 

I went directly to the registration and attended the briefing session. First surprise: water temperature was 23.5° so they told us that in case Sunday water is 24.5° wetsuit will not be allowed…for me, this means 5 minutes more swimming …first info, first bad news. Sunday morning was still 23.5 so wetsuit allowed.

Went to the transition zone to leave the bike …huge queue to enter under the sun …luckily my friend queued for me with the bike while I was doing the registration ….first lesson learned: you need someone to support you until you enter the transition zone (only athletes are allowed) !!!

Left the transition area after taking some photos and videos of my bike placement (quite important when there are 2500 bikes in 15 different and not always consecutive numbered rows !!! ) Checked for the T1 and T2 transition, the toilets (important where they are located those for men! & those for women!! ) and the water station.

Conclusion: those that say Luxembourg is a “flat country” are liars. I saw in my Garmin bike some paths at a 12% gradient !!! An overall 30 km flat + 40 km of continuous ups and downs + 20 km flat. 

Went to the hotel, small run (20 minutes), a nice shower, and…dinner: tagliatelle with salmon and veggies..and a streusel (German Apple crumble). After dinner, 30 minutes walk for digestion around the hotel, finished packing the remaining stuff (mainly for the swim), checked again nutrition and fuelling … and the timing chip !!! Then go to bed and rest …well I never rest the day before a triathlon …

Race Day arrived !!! Nice breakfast, put ice in my bike bottles (was announced 32° at 1 pm so just when biking the hills), suncream, and vaseline, and arrived at the transition zone with all my stuff one hour before timeline.

After putting all nutrition and fuelling on the bike and checking again my transition bags, 10-minute run, put on the wetsuit, swam “warm up” (mainly to take a shower – temperature at 8h45 was 26°). Then to the swim start area …long wait …first athletes (the pros) started at 8.45 am …me at 9:50am. Took water (inside and outside) and a gel. First 700 meters swim was easy going, then turn on the buoy and more difficult …of course I was swimming upstream and it was windy!

Left the water (It was traffic jam in the exit so should wait few seconds before I get out), start removing my wetsuit (from my arms only). Do not forget to remove your GPS watch if you have it and put in your mouth otherwise unless you are a magician you will manage to remove only one arm of your wetsuit !!!. Then walk and run 300m to T1. I did not feel comfortable to do a run sprint to win …30 seconds of my overall time !!!.

Then removed the wetsuit (used a bottle of water with soap to easily remove from my legs,, put on helmet and bike shoes and pick-up the bike (did not put my bike shoes into the pedals, should practice this more often …next 70.3 maybe) and went out T1…

The real battle started !!! First 50 km were fine, but was more and more windy …and HOT!!! Just realised when climbing (and I climbed a lot, not big climbs but one after the other (in French is called a “casse-jambes”) that some people did not respect the drafting rules. I did …but I understand is not easy to decrease or increase your cadence and speed depending on how the people in front of you are doing …mainly when they suddenly decrease the cadence …I do not understand this “drafting” rule least when climbing.

Km 65: the devil was there !!! I got a flat tire. Pros: it was the front’s tire and managed to remove and to fix it quickly. Cons: happened in the middle of a hill! I walked until the top and then found a “shady” place to repair it. So around 15 minutes in total lost !!!

Then I did not feel as comfortable as before on the bike, I think my legs paid for the stop and the walk with the bike. From fuelling and hydration I think I did well, even if at the water stations the water was not cold at all..I was “dreaming” for ice water …not easy to drink “warm” water with 32° at 2 pm…We got ice on the run stations, I do not understand why not on the bike stations….

When I arrived at T2 (after 3h30 biking)- I felt my thighs like bricks when leaving the bike. Put on cramp pain cream …and got finally cold water !!! First 5 km run was fine, then cramps appear again. I realised that I must run and walk for the remaining 15 km …forget to finish in less than 2 hours for the run. The only motivation is that I was not the only one running and walking …more and more often people stopped running and walked…weather and fatigue ( “sorrow of many is a fool's consolation”).

In each water station I put ice on my thighs…this alleviated my leg cramps and allowed me to run more often. The advantage when walking is that it is easier for fuelling and drinking !!!

Last 2km I run all the time …incredible how the brain manages the pain when you see you will finish …your first 70.3 Ironman. Finish line: I cannot explain what you feel when crossing the finish line and you hear your name (well my name is ISAAC not ISACS !!!).

After getting my medal directly to the showers and cry, cry and cry again ….Yes I did, I did, I did …. In Spanish of course !!!

Some lessons learned: I may review my fuelling and nutrition plan when hot weather and buy sport (bike) bottles that can keep the water cold. I also should be calm and not “push” after a flat tire to win the time lost, this could happen, and you must be ready for this mentally and physically. I do not know the statistics but I’m curious to know the percentage of people must withdraw from the race for mechanical or flat tires problems during a race. The good news for you is that it happened to me, so I’m sure will not happen to you guys, I told you I am the guinea pig of the group !!!

Thank you for your detailed report, Isaac! Your lessons learned are everyone's lessons and a great preparation and reminder for those doing Tremblant this weekend. Below I have posted a photo of Issac's race kit preparation. This a great example of just how much stuff you need to prepare before you leave for your race!!


Julia Aimers
CSEP Clinical Exercise Physiologist
CSEP High-Performance Specialist

Certified Triathlon, Cycling, Yoga and Swimming Coach
USA Cycling Level 2 Coach
Training Peaks Accredited Coach

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